By Emanuel Adigwe
Prominent Nigerian social activist, Aisha Yesufu, has set social media abuzz with her assertion that the Igbo apprenticeship system is “clannish” and makes non-Igbos dislike Igbos.
The apprenticeship system gives a businessman the opportunity to take a young person and teach him the rudiments of the trade and eventually get settled through a startup capital. The duration of the training lasts between three to seven years during which the young person serves the businessman (master or oga) while learning the trade.
However, the renowned activist took to her Twitter handle to stress the need for Igbo to include other tribes in the apprenticeship system as ignoring others makes the Igbo “clannish”.
She wrote: “The Igbo apprenticeship is an amazing system and the reason Igbos are great in business.
“Everything has it’s advantage and disadvantage and that same system has also portrayed Igbos as clannish people who only employ their own people and never assimilate.”
Her statement elicited reactions as some Twitter users who are predominantly Igbo took to the micro-blogging platform to explain to the activist how the apprentice system works while some simply told her to mind her business and discuss other important political issues.
GWG presents some of their views below:
“Ifechidere@Ifechideere wrote: “Just maybe everybody should learn some history. If we did, we’d learn causes and effects. 1. The Igbo people primarily had their people as apprentices because it was cultural & organic. The Igbo people culturally run a communal-capitalist like system.”
Ichie Edozie Okeke@edozie01 wrote: “It may seem so, but The apprenticeship was a home grown solution to empower your family first. It was a means of alleviating poverty from one’s family. The Igbo believe in “Onye ahana nwanne ya”, loosely “don’t leave your brother when enjoying”. After the Nig v Biafran war.”
Aisha Yesufu@AishaYesufu wrote: “I was born after the Biafran war and this is the reality I see and there is a need to revamp the system. It can be tweaked to include others.”
Ichie Edozie Okeke@edozie01 wrote: “Sure, like I said even to get apprentice among Ndi Igbo these days is difficult. Most are not comfortable with the condensending tag of “trader” while others envy them. So it is a function of grass being greener at the other end. People take apprentice from anywhere now.”
Aisha Yesufu@AishaYesufu wrote: “I am a trader. Many people are traders. What I am simply saying is inclusion. In short you don’t even have to have them in the apprenticeship programme. Just employ them.”
Gozie nwa John@jayjayjohnsino wrote: “When a successful man stays in midst of unsuccessful people, envy, jealous and sometimes hatred builds up if they can’t meet up with him or pull him down.”
Onyemaechi Bosah@onyemaechib wrote: “Your take does not consider a lot & you are getting push back cos of your wrong assumptions. Firstly, the post civil war apprentice system was a defense against the poverty foisted upon the Igbo by the rest of Nigeria as such it very rich to expect “inclusion.”
Ugochukwu@expressions124 wrote: “The thing there is how many outsiders are willing to go through the pains of that system which also involves doing house chores for Madam after close of the days business, for upwards of 5yrs. It’s not easy only a family member or a kinsman may endure such. For that number of yrs.”
Donatus Amaechi@amadonxl wrote: “How do you bring in an outsider to come and live in your home for 6 yrs learning a business that you will eventually use your own money to set up for him at the end of the day when your family members are jobless?”
ifybenson@ifebenson wrote: “I think you made some valid points; please don’t mind some tribal bigots that are calling you names. But I think things are changing, Igbos are now employing people from other tribes in their apprenticeship. I know a number of guys that employed Yorubas in Lagos.”
and Sars wahala Thank you.”
William@_SirWilliam_ wrote: “Taking care of your people is not ” clannish”.. It’s the job expected of the elites of any ethnic group. The Igbo apprenticeship system has given boys born with nothing with a leg up in this world. That’s what elites are meant to do.”