Few months ago, I was at Eke Awka. Famished, I got to a small eatery. Two boys were there when I joined. Consumed in their conversation, at first, I bothered not to pay attention but the one that sat opposite me was lecturing the one beside me about the inata ike – obtain power, syndrome. Such conversations often lure me to join in creating bias and lecturing the good outcome but for inexplicable reasons, I rather listen than join in the conversation.
The young man opposite me kept stealing glances at me to know if I was listening and when he thought I was, he struggled to speak in codes. But I pretended not to be interested in the conversation but my food.
To the young man, who was enthusiastic about the subject, inata ike is a good thing and the new thing in town which ensures the success of the person. That summarises the rapt attention of his student for whom he was explaining the different categories and different merchants who offer the services often referred to as ndi oru. These categories come with certain amounts of money and a period of waiting before the onye oru will attend to the client.
There are several videos online that show the likely barbarism and voodooism at play in places where these young Igbo men go to inata ike. These don’t seem to be shows, even though it could be in a way for these merchants to showcase their prowess but what happens is beyond showmanship; it is a manipulation of the mind and it is a subversion of hard work to riches to a new get rich by any means possible.
Poverty is somehow criminalised in the land in a way that whatever one does to bring the likelihood of success is supported by the beneficiaries. In the process, the ethos of working hard with the strong utilisation of one’s talent and backing of his personal Chi, is being lost to the ideology of get-rich-quick syndrome which drives the seeming manipulation that one gets success by inate ike.
Many people want and love that their family is also registered in the success story as no one wants to be referred to as a failure. The poverty affecting many Nigerians is harrowing that out of desperation, people go into many barbarisms like having blood or blood look alike to be poured on them for likely protection, to make money and to show their family and friends or even do ritual killing to get rich quick. But that is not all that sends these young people to go down the road. Greed and lack of recognition of personal potential drives young people thinking that the people who have recorded success, did so overnight. They become scared of the long years of trials and errors, failures and hard work put in to achieve success. They believe their Chi is different or that they can personally rewrite their history by inata ike. No one runs faster than their shadows.
But, in Igbo land today, people do die young and from some of these lifestyles.
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These young men are manipulated to pay certain amounts of money in millions in order to bute ike – making the merchant smile to the bank. They disregard what such a fund could do to turn around their business and life but they offer the fund and most times on this pyrrhic success that may not last beyond a few months. That in itself, if there is a dint of success, give them hope and belief that their ike is working well.
This syndrome which some mistake as an aspect of traditional religion is permeating Igbo land especially in Anambra state and this is wrong. Such social and mental malaise should not be tolerated.
We cannot talk about this issue without bringing in the roles of family, social, religious and traditional leaders. There is often a disregard for those regarded as poor. They are seen as failures and are undermined even if they are full of wisdom. Doing so, they disregard one’s source of wealth as they focus more on achievement which is often revered. The mark of success is to brandish money, drive a car, look clean and live large and become a respected person who will speak and others will listen even if the person talks gibberish. Even as a poor person, there are many successful people with not much money to throw around. It is largely based on one’s definition of success. This misplaced recognition of success is now what drives these young people to engage in nefarious means in order to “hit and hammer” and become respected.
There was a time when family, social, religious and traditional leaders did not recognise people based on the money they brandished but based on the actual work they do, the value they exude which connotes respect for the achievement from it. The mantra “ezi afa ka ego” was very sacred and respected. But today, however the means are termed, blessing from God.
Hard work pays and the joy and reverence of the achievement is enduring. It gives more rest of the mind.
The chase for ego mbute and inate ike should worry all. These affect the young people who are the future generation. It is equally sad for the future of Igbo land.
“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. He is considered successful in our day who gets more out of life than he puts in. But a man of value will give more than he receives.”― Albert Einstein