Nnewi, more than any other town in Nigeria has the most number of millionaires per 10 family units. From time immemorial, Nnewi boys become rich so early in life to the bewilderment of natives of other towns and tribes. In ignorance of what drives an Nnewi man, outsiders ascribe this phenomenon as “Ọgwụ Ego” or “Ego Ọbala” meaning “blood money”.
From the foundation of the town, murder or ritual killing known as igbu ọchụ is treated as a horrendous abomination.
When an Nnewi man, no matter his standing, is suspected of wilfully killing a fellow human being, he is expected to run away from the town and shall never be allowed to return until after 7 years. It is called “ịgba ọsọ ọchụ”. This also applies to killings resulting from fights, provocation or even a murder of someone caught atop of the killer’s wife.
If any person is suspected of using juju to kill someone for ritual purposes, the following procedure is followed:
- The person is formally confronted with his offence,
- If he admits, then he is chased out of the town after being stripped naked and taken around the main markets of his village.
- The funeral rites especially the release of canon shots are performed and the offender is said to have been sent off to the land of the dead while alive, an act known as “ịkwa mmadụ na ndụ”. He will never enter Nnewi town again. The offenders usually die thereafter or become hardened criminals in another town.
- Should the accused denies the offence, he is taken to a seer or diviner who will either indict or exonerate him. If he is indicted, he will never get home. His house will be set ablaze by the youths and he will be taken round the town naked and be driven out of the town after his funeral has been conducted while he is alive.
- Alternatively, the accused is asked to swear by a powerful deity. He must choose between swearing by Ogwugwu or by Udo. The guilty must die after four market days otherwise the accused is adjudged innocent.
Killing a human being for riches is alien to Nnewi. In fact, people openly ask rich men to account for the sources of their wealth before such men are allowed to execute any public project.
I am an Nnewi man I was born in Nnewi and I never left Nnewi until after my school. I went to primary school and secondary school in my village and would always return home during holidays while in the university. I have not applied for and neither has any member of my nuclear family applied or received citizenship of another country. My parents and their own parents hailed from Nnewi hence as someone who once lives and work their
WHAT DRIVES AN NNEWI MAN
I have tried to highlight below, some of the inherent factors that drive a typical Nnewi man.
- Lack of Enough Fertile Soil
Nnewi has no alluvial soil for bumper harvest of agricultural products. Most agricultural endeavours in Nnewi are at the subsistence level. There are pockets of animal husbandry but not big enough to make one so wealthy hence anyone desirous of wealth has to be innovative.
Also, because necessity is the mother of invention, our people took to trade and have inculcated the acts of trading in the sub-consciousness of their children. It is now etched in the DNA of every child born of Nnewi parents.
An Nnewi man can sell a repackaged devil to an unwary pastor. He can also trade with and make profit from the meanest of the tribes.
2.Skewed Inheritance Sharing Formula in Favour of The First Son
Any Nnewi male child knows that the first son practically inherits the father’s wealth. Other children get a small fraction of the share of first son; that is, if their father shared his wealth before dying, otherwise everybody is at the mercy of the first son.
Nobody questions the first son on how much of his father’s wealth he decides to share or keep for himself. In fact, the first son assumes hundred per cent of the father’s business while his brothers are expected to go find their destiny.
Given this scenario, our boys grow up to know that they are on their own and should work hard to make it in life.
- Ban on Professional Begging
Professional begging is banned in Nnewi. Anybody found begging as a profession is flogged or pilloried in the public. There is no food for a lazy Nnewi man. That does not mean that we do not have drunkards and imbeciles, but no healthy man in Nnewi would ever contemplate choosing begging as a profession. It’s also the responsibility of a wealthy to fend for his entire father’s family to the best of his ability. No man in Nnewi kills a goat or a cow and eats alone. He must share with his extended family members.
Every rich man knows that he has a responsibility to help train the children of the poor to become rich. We teach people how to fish not how to eat fish. Every Nnewi knows that “akụ enwe be” meaning that wealth doesn’t reside permanently in a particular family but goes round and rests on the most prepared, lucky and diligent. So every diligent young man in Nnewi is helped to succeed by ndi oga. But the candidate must be ready to serve. There is an adage in Nnewi that “onye fee eze eze e luo ya” meaning that becoming wealthy or the boss is a reward of a diligent service of the master”
An Nnewi man will learn a trade or business and will willingly introduce his brother or townsman to the same line of business under our perfected apprenticeship scheme called “ịgba bọị” or “ịmụ afịa”. A young boy (aged 10-14) serves his master for 5-7 years and his master settles him at the end of the service tenor and mentors him until he becomes successful.
A grown up who does not want to serve for longer tenor shall pay for coaching on the business methods for tenor usually less than 2 years. This species of entrepreneurship has become an interest in my world universities.
That is how our people dominate many areas of commerce.
- Recognition and Celebration of Excellence
Nnewi has a vibrant community associations that award scholarships to brilliant students. Not all must be traders. “Ahọrọ ụmụ ụmụ gbuo ichi ahọrọ ụfọdụ chie ha ọzọ.
An Nnewi man Dr. Okongwu, the father of Chu Okongwu, former and the longest serving Nigeria’s finance minister was the first Nigerian to bag a PhD in 1932.
It was epochal as the whole of Nnewi assembled in the 1940s at Onitsha to welcome Dr. Abyssinia Akwaeke Nwafor Orizu, the son of Igwe Nnewi on his return from USA with a PhD. He was carried shoulder high to Nnewi. This released the intellectual impetus to the brilliant youth. They were marveled at the highfalutin vocabularies Nwafor was releasing as thunder.
The records of Profs ABC Nwosu and Aghaji brothers in scholarship are legendary.
Up until 1990 Nnewi had many professors in many universities all over the world in diverse areas of knowledge. At that time, Nnewi had over 10 professors in the University of Nigeria Nsukka alone.
Would Ndigbo see in another, a leader like Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu?
- Preponderance Of Rich Forbearers
There are two persons in our history that are believed to have set the highest standards of business in Nnewi. They are:
a) Nwosu Ezeodumegwu:
This man lived in 18th and part of 19th century. His greatgrandfather, Ezeoguine was the Obi of Nnewi. He married 42 wives and had many concubines. He was the richest man south of the Niger. His fame made the colonial masters to seek and send for him. It is to his credit that colonial masters did not invade Nnewi as they did other major towns.
b) Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu:
He was at his time, the richest man in Africa and the only black man the British Colonial government allowed to co-habit with them in Ikoyi. He lent Nigeria his Rolls Royce to Nigeria for the use of Queen Elizabeth of England when she visited Nigeria before Nigeria’s independence.
Stop criminalizing the blessed Nnewi rich man. Why not nicely ask so that he may let you into his trade secrets?