Working Paper

Ako-na-Uche versus Nzogbu-nzogbu: Interrogating the Rupture between Igbo Elite and their Lumpen in Igbo Nationalism

Post-war Igbo ethno-nationalism has witnessed two distinct but interconnected generations. Both
of them emerged as a response to the ineffective and objectionable implementation of post-war
peace-building initiatives as well as the progressive victimisation of the Igbo since the end of the
Nigerian Civil War in 1970. While the first generation is championed and dominated by conservative Igbo petty bourgeoisie, the second is revolutionary and commonly associated with populist youth-led lumpen neo-Biafran separatist movements. In line with the philosophy of akona-uche, the former seeks mainstream inclusivism through democratic and non-confrontational approach in its response to the perceived widespread victimisation of the Igbo. On the contrary, the latter is inspired by the principle of nzogbu-nzogbu and seeks radical separatism as the most sustainable solution to the Igbo question in Nigeria. The reinvention of the nzogbu-nzogbu approach to Igbo nationalism in 1999 has attracted substantial public and scholarly attention. However, extant studies are mainly awash with explanations of the recurrent agitation for Biafra. There has not been any systematic investigation of how the fissure between the lumpen and aristocrats (Oha-na-Eze) of Igbo extraction undermines the pursuit of Igbo nationalism. Using the Marxist social class analysis, the study found that the Igbo question will remain a wild goose chase until the contradictions in the material conditions of the Igbo petty bourgeoisie and their masses are conscientiously harmonised.