Igbo Ukwu

The bronze and other associated archaeological finds in Igbo Ukwu town prove that Igbo civilization was one of the earliest in the West African rainforest area.
Dated over 1000 years ago, Connah (2004) acclaims the high level of skill, brilliance, uniqueness and technological sophistication of the finds, and wonders how the Igbo got involved with such a complex venture at such an early date (Connah 2004 p. 116). But latter day ingenuity of the Igbo people in science and technology would only confound those who marvel at Igbo Ukwu discoveries carbon-dated to be over 1000 years.

In fact, the Igbo Ukwu finds could be described as a foretaste of the Igbo and Biafran feats in indigenous technology. It’s a fact that most of the Biafran scientists are of Igbo origin. At the height of the war, Biafran scientists single-handedly put their brains to work, which engendered enviable inventions, such as the dreaded Ogbunigwe (mass killer or destroyer) and oil refineries. Ukaegbu (2005) lists other exploits of the Biafran scientists, including: production of grenade and rocket casings, mortar shells, bullets, armoured cars, building of airports, refining and mass-production of salt, production of alcoholic drinks, soaps and other consumables which cushioned the effects of the blockade. Above all, he emphasizes the superb organising structure of the Biafran Research and Production Board, and the teamwork, efficiency and commitment of all its personnel (Ukaegbu 2005).

It’s noteworthy that the war-era feats were achieved due to the assemblage of qualified people who rose up to the challenge of the time. They had the vision, they loved their land, and they worked patiently as a team and made a visible difference. Today, their work is remembered and written about. While commenting on the war-time achievements, Madiebo (1980) states that the Biafran Research and Production Board considered no problem impossible to solve (Madiebo 1980 p.114). That is the indomitable spirit of the Igbo!

Nevertheless, since after the war, some Igbo scientists and professionals have proven that the Igbo can contribute to the technological advancement of the world, amongst other things. Examples of such are: Ezekiel Izuogu (scientist and inventor of the first indigenous African automobile technology, the Z-600), Augustine Njoku-Obi (developer of Cholera Vaccine), Damian Anyanwu (Inventor), Philip Emeagwali (American computer scientist and mathematician), Augustine Esogbue (NASA scientist), Peter Nwangwu (Famous pharmacology research scientist), Bartholomew Nnaji (Robotics scientist), Cyprian Emeka Uzoh (Father of Modern Chip Interconnection Technologies, World-class scientist and prolific inventor holding over 100 US patents), etc. etc (Source: Nation Master).

One noticeable dilemma is that Igbo scientists and inventors in Nigeria have never been encouraged to thrive. Rather, countless impediments are placed on their wheel of progress in order to scuttle their efforts and ruin their chances of emerging as contributors to societal development. For instance, the moulds for the engine blocks, the engine blocks, mud guards, crankshafts of Dr Izuogu’s proto-type, a hard work of many years were removed in a suspicious scenario on March 11th 2006 (Daily Sun, 10 Apr 2006). This incident had the semblance of a motive that was more sinister than robbery.

Conversely, the Igbo scientists overseas have operated on fertile, friendly and enabling environment; hence they have lived up to their calling. What an irony!