By Bala Ibrahim.
In all my write ups, I always spell Anambra as ANAMBRAH, and I do so on purpose, until an Ibo friend, who didn’t know why I was adding the H to the word, in boxed to suggest I should remove the H. I obliged, because I didn’t want to go into an unnecessary debate with him, knowing fully that he innocently meant well.
As voting to elect another Governor for the state is continuing today, Sunday, 07/11/2021, with voters, that have not completed the exercise yesterday as a result of some hitches that are linked to the late arrival of INEC officials and materials, startling revelations and mind boggling questions are cropping up, about the conceptual meaning of the word ANMBRA, and it’s strategic sense in the Ibo language.
Before going into the election brouhaha that is ongoing in the state now, I would digress a little into history, with the hope of explaining to my friend why I was adding the H to the word, and by so doing, make bare the twist and turn, or the complexity of Anambra as a state, and Anambrians as a people.
History has it that, as a state, Anambra was created in 1976 from the old East Central State, and it’s capital was Enugu. However, in 1991, a re-organization divided Anambra into two states, viz: Anambra state and Enugu state. The capital of Anambra is called Awka. Anambra is the abbreviation of Anam branch, a name the earliest British colonialists described the Omambala area with.
Although my name, “bala” found it’s way to the tail end of the colonial nomenclature, the “Omambala”, that is not in any way the reason for my bias spelling of ANAMBRAH. The coming of the H is from what late Prof. Ali Mazrui used to say about the Ibos, and the strategic position of the state of Anambra to the prestige and widespread respect accorded the Ibos, when it comes to commerce and trade achievements.
In his famous documentary, the Africans, Professor Mazrui described the Ibos as the Jews of Nigeria, because of their economic prosperity and geographic mobility.
I am not a historian, nor one that is trying to re-invent history, but in arriving at the linkage between the name Anambra and it’s umbilical association with the genuine Ibos, I make haste to visit a version of history that said, the Igbos are an off-shoot of the south Hebrew tribes. When juxtaposed with Mazrui’s Jewish submission, one can see how Hebrew comes closer to the Ibos.
Again, there is another version of history about the origin of Igbo. This version said two Anambra communities – Nri in Anaocha local government area, and Aguleri in Anambra East local government area, claimed the Igbo originated from their areas. The origin of Nri is from Egypt, about two centuries ago, and the father of Nri was called Gad.
Folklore, or stories circulated orally among people has it that Eri lived in Egypt as a high priest during the reign of Joseph. When he foresaw the intending slavery of his people, he fled Egypt through the river Nile, crossed the river Benue, transverse across the river Niger, then settled near the confluence. With the people he was able to recruit, he established in that location. Eri had a son there, and he called him Nri. Nri is believed to have practiced Judaism, another reason to link the Ibos, and by extension the Anambrans, with the Hebrews.
Every time I add the H in Anambra, I do so out of respect for the historical origin of the Ibos and the esteemed relationship between the state and the revered religion of the Hebrews. Anambra state has a peculiar history that makes it always different from what is normal or expected, hence the need for the added H, which, depending on convenience, can stand for Hebrew in silence, or a people in a HASTE to make it.
The peculiarity of Anambra, made it the first state in Nigeria to have a sitting elected Governor kidnapped right inside the fortified premises of the Government House. History would continue to remind us of how the present minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, became the first civilian governor to be kidnapped in Nigeria’s political history, organized by a clique of high-handed godfathers. The high handedness of these bold politicians also gives another reason for the H in Anambra.
If we fast track everything to what is happening in the state since yesterday, where reports of ballot snatching at gun point, alongside the pre-election terrorization of the state by the unknown gun men, we shall equally arrive at another political surprise, that may cast aspersion on the reputation and integrity of the electoral process in use by Nigeria.
Already, long before INEC is to announce the conclusion of the election, reports are in the air that the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, candidate in the gubernatorial election, Mr. Charles Soludo, is on his way to being declared the winner.If the story turns out to be true, no one should be surprised. ANAMBRA is a state where unexpectedly, the happen can happen in a haste.
So if you like, take my omitted H in Anambra, for the dogmatic doctrine of the unforeseen Happenings, almost always in a Haste.