On May 30, 1967, the Nigerian government led by Yakubu Gowon, with the help of some foreign powers, declared genocide against Ndiigbo, in the name of civil war, because, a people whose security wasn't guaranteed in the Nigerian nation, decided to opt out of the British arranged entity in order to control their lives and destinies by themselves. But the neo-colonialists, in collaboration with their local cohorts, didn't allow that, because, letting the Biafrans to secede, would had denied them the continuous control of the purse and pulse of the Nigerian oil that was only obtainable then in the former Eastern Region that was seceding. Just as a U.S. State Department Memo (1944) has it that "Oil resources constitute a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history."
Prior to the war, Ndiigbo were haunted and killed everywhere in Nigeria. During the first massacre in the north, about fifty thousand Ndiigbo were killed. Then, during the second massacre that happened both in the north and in the west, about seven hundred thousand Ndiigbo were marked out and slaughtered. After all efforts to stop the massacring of Ndiigbo failed, the Oha Ndiigbo mandated Ojukwu to declare the former Eastern Region an independent nation, on the basis of self defence. Then, the Fulani oligarchy, and their foreign masters, mandated the government of Gowon to declare the genocide against Ndiigbo. Nikolaevich Tolstoi (1828-1910) wrote "You may not be interested in war, but war is very interested in you". Suffice it to say that there was a calculated plan to annihilate Ndiigbo out of existence in Nigeria, once and for all. The Nigerian forces bombed market places, hospitals, schools and homes, killing unarmed civilians who didn't provoke them in any way. Those they couldn't finish through air bombardments, the Nigerian soldiers wiped out with tanks and guns. No wonder that Edward Abbey (1927-1989) wrote that "the tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state controlled police and the military are the weapons of dictatorship". According to Ojukwu, "the only reason why it was not called genocide then was because of the cold war. If it were today, what they did to Igbo people were much much worse than what happened in Rwanda or Eastern Europe. At that time, anything ethnic based was an insult to humanity and ethnicity became a term of abuse in politics. The aim of the genocide: it was to impose the final solution to the Igbo problem in Nigeria (to wipe out the entire Igbo race)".
Unfortunately, the international community overlooked the genocide committed against Ndiigbo, while those who committed the holocaust against six million Jews were tried and imprisoned by the Nuremberg Tribunal, and, Germany is still paying restitution to the state of Israel every year, since then, till this day. Justice Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954), a member of the Nuremberg Tribunal then wrote "We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it...No grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy". Those who committed genocide in former Yugoslavia, were tried and imprisoned by International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Slobodan Milosevic died in custody, and Radovan Karadzic is in custody. Those who committed the Rwanda genocide were tried and imprisoned by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. People like Callixte Nzabonimana and Augustin Ngirabatware had been sentenced.
Today, this column is not going to write about the war, as a lot have been written in that regard. Today, this column wants to remember and honour the men, women and children who lost their lives for Biafra. Those people lost their lives for our collective good, although that Biafra is still a mirage for now, they deserve better from us for all they gave to the cause. Because, the Bible says in 1John 3:16 that "this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His Life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers". Our big hero and the great one, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, has marched on to higher glory, he will remain in our hearts forever, just as Benjamin Disraeli wrote that "the legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example". But, there are other unsung heroes and heroines, who made the ultimate sacrifice, who laid down their lives, so that Biafra will stand. Just as Will Rogers (1879-1935) wrote that "Diplomats are just as essential in starting a war as soldiers are in finishing it." Those forgotten ones, are the ones this column is honouring and remembering today.
The crux of this article is that the three million plus Ndiigbo, who lost their lives during the genocide called Nigerian civil war, deserve recognition, they deserve commemorations, they deserve our honour and they deserve our constant remembrance. Just as Henry Ward Beecher (1813 -1887) wrote "they hover as a cloud of witnesses above this nation", and, unless the ultimate sacrifice they made is recognized, there may be no head way for Ndiigbo, as a people, in particular, and Nigeria, as a nation, in general, because, their blood is crying out for justice. The Bible tells us in Proverb 10:7a that "the memory of the righteous will be a blessing". So, as America marks its memorial day and remembers its fallen heroes, so is this column remembering those who died for the sake of Biafra, for the Bible says in John 15:13 that "greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends", and, just as James A. Garfield (1831 -1881) wrote that "for the love of country they accepted death". Today, we all should salute their courage, we should recognise their sacrifice, and we should do something memorable in honour of those Biafran heroes who gave their lives. Of course, they were heroes, just as Joseph Campbell (1904 -1987) wrote that "a hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself".
This column boldly writes that some of those dead Biafrans died, because, some of their fellow Ndiigbo betrayed the cause then by sabotaging the efforts made to win the war. Ojukwu said it so many times, when he was alive, that there were some Igbo personalities he would never see or talk to, again, in life, because, they were some of the saboteurs who helped derailed the actualization of Biafra. Those Igbo men, Ojukwu referred to, were those who were given money to buy weapons for the Biafran army then, but, they absconded with the money or supplied guns without the magazines (ammunition cases). How can somebody supply guns to a fighting army without the ammunition to shoot them? Some other saboteurs were those who torpedoed the Biafran effort by crossing over to the other side or by passing sensitive information to the Nigerian side for pecuniary gain. Those were the Igbo people Ojukwu said he would never talk to, again, in his life time. Some of those saboteurs are still alive, while some of them have passed on. But for there to be peace, progress and political emancipation of the Igbo people collectively, we need to sit down as to find out why those people betrayed their kith and kin at that critical juncture in their history. Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) wrote "The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed", but, those Igbo criminals left their fellow Ndiigbo unarmed, defenceless and at the mercy of the rampaging enemies with no conscience. This betrayal of the Biafran cause by some of the Biafrans who were asked to procure the weapons for the prosecution of the war really affected the outcome of the war, because, before then, the fulgent Biafran Army bulldozed its way through Ore and was on the verge of capturing Lagos, before its fortune changed and it was pushed back to the other side of the River Niger in a jiffy. If all those who betrayed Biafra, in any way, didn't do it, many of the more than three million Ndiigbo who were slaughtered, in one way or the other, by Nigerian forces, would had survived. Suffice it to say, that the series of betrayal, demoralized an enterprising Biafran forces. As we honour those Biafrans who died during the genocide, let it be known that Nigeria and some fellow Biafrans killed them. In the words of Admiral Gene LaRocque (1918) "I hate it when they say, "He gave his life for his country". Nobody gives their life for anything. We steal the lives of these kids. We take it away from them. They don't die for the honor and glory of their country. We killed them."
Although the genocide "ended" in 1970, but, still Ndiigbo are living through psychological and political genocide till today. Some Nigerians from other tribes still see the ascendancy of an Igbo man as the president of Nigeria, as a dream that will fizzle when the morning comes. The war changed everything for Ndiigbo, but, we haven't being able to isolate the root cause of our problem. We, Ndiigbo, say that "he, who doesn't know where the rain starts beating him, would not know where it stops (beating him)". To start with Nigeria: since the time the Nigerian government and the military forces serving the interest of their Fulani (feudal) Lords and their foreign masters committed genocide against Ndiigbo, thereby killing even women and child, who were defenceless, the country has seen no progress and has known no peace as it has being engulfed, at one time or the other, by interethnic bickering, strife and animosity. And there will be no peace and progress, until Nigeria apologizes for the genocide, and the people who paid the ultimate price are recognized. That will be the brave thing Nigerian leaders should do now just as Elmer Davis (1890 -1958) wrote that "this nation will remain the land of the free, only (if) it is the home of the brave". On the Igbo side, the blood of the innocent wasted, want recognition; the whole of Igboland is of blood; those innocent people killed want decent burial. If those people are not pacified (not diabolically, not ritually), Ndiigbo will be groping in the dark for a long time to come! Since Nigeria, as a nation has failed to honour those Biafrans its forces killed, and, since Ndiigbo has failed, as a people, to collectively honour their own, confusion has taken over Alaigbo. Although different families still remember their loved ones killed during the war, but, it seems Ndiigbo, as a people, have forgotten them. Blood is too precious to waste and the after effect is what's affecting Ndiigbo, in particular, and, Nigeria, in general, till now:
*The general Igbo philosophy of "onye ahala nwanne ya (to be our brothers/sisters keepers) changed after the war and now the mentality is that of "survival of the fittest, or, the end justifies the means". Now, it's the "dog eat dog" world in Igboland as everybody is on his or her own. Previously, Ndiigbo had the mindset of "igwee bu ike (together we are stronger)", but, since after the war, the new mantra is "otu onye anasi nnoo (one person that's stronger than many)". It's now "me-against-the-others" instinct rather than "all for one, and one for all" it used to be. After the war, the "mine is yours and yours is mine" attitude Ndiigbo were known for hitherto, was replaced by "mine is mine and yours can be mine also" summed up as sin of greed (covetousness and materialism unheard of before)
*Now, Ndiigbo and Nigeria have virtually accepted 419 as a way of life, in that it's no longer how a person makes money that's important, but, that he or she has it. Anybody who made it, even through dubious means, is hailed as being "wise". Quite different from how it was before. Now, Igboland is the homeland of criminals of all shades: Armed robbery and kidnapping have been rampant over there, more than in any other part of Nigeria. The youths have no respect for the elders and what matters most, now, is wealth. It wasn't so before. Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) noted this point when he wrote "For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are."
*Today, Igbo and Nigerian elders are selling their conscience for money and are no longer saying or standing for the truth. And, Igbo and Nigerian traditional rulers are now errand boys to politicians and have debased the traditional institution for pittance. It wasn't like that before.
*The Igbo political class are amongst the most corrupt and clueless ones in Nigeria. Igboland is the most undeveloped, infrastructural speaking, in Nigeria. There's no love lost between the Igbo politicians as they hate and work against each other. Think about how Governor T.A. Orji of Abia State sacked all Igbo non-indigenes from the state public service. And today, Governor Orji "is at war" with Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State. Instead of the south-east governors to work together for the good of the zone, they're busy hating themselves. Only the zone suffers from such interpersonal animosity and disagreements. The presidential ambition of Onyeigbo may be a pipe dream till further notice, if there's no change of attitude by Igbo politicians and people.
*Abroad, the stories are the same: Igbo marriages are the most unstable and divorce rate amongst Ndiigbo in North America and Europe is second to no other Nigerian or African tribe. Numerically, Igbo women are the highest single mothers in Europe and North America vis-à-vis other women from other Nigerian tribes. This column advises anybody abroad, who wants to go home to take a wife, to make a prenuptial agreement (antenuptial agreement) (a written contract between two people who are about to marry, setting out the terms of possession of assets, treatment of future earnings, control of the property of each, and potential division if the marriage is later dissolved). This "agreement before marriage" would save some lives or inconveniences later in the marriage. Because, most of the women brought from home to abroad are not interested in real marriage, but, only want a way to come out of Nigeria and have no qualms divesting their husband the houses they bought even before marrying them. Safe-guard yourself with prenuptial agreement! Ask your lawyer for a help here!
For every three Nigerians in foreign jails, for financial crimes, two of them must be Ndiigbo. Many of the drug couriers and peddlers in Nigeria and abroad are Ndiigbo. Majority of those on death row or those already hanged in Asian countries or those in jails in the Americas or all over Europe, for drug related offences, are Ndiigbo. Igbo meetings and organizations have been turned into places for insult, fighting, settling personal scores, display of wealth, new car, new clothes etc. If in doubt, ask WIC members! Igbo meetings are breaking up everywhere; even some members have taken Igbo meetings' problems to courts. Suffice it to say that Ndiigbo are finding it hard to organize themselves, and, unity and peace amongst them are becoming far-fetched. Ndiigbo abroad are even worse than those at home; they have imported all the odious traits from the homeland to their foreign abode, and had them (those ugly traits) refined in worse ways. When a corrupt politician visits from the homeland, the foreign based Ndiigbo will be falling over themselves to get his or her complimentary card/connection, making merry with the corrupt politician, without condemning his or her corrupt tendencies. Ndiigbo abroad tend to protect and defend the corrupt politicians from their areas, or their benefactor, but, would condemn similar corrupt politician from another area. Those Ndiigbo, supporting the corrupt politicians, will be the first to bemoan the condition of things in Alaigbo.
Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) might have summed up the condition of Ndiigbo in particular, and Nigerians in general, today, when he wrote that "The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice." On personal levels, Ndiigbo are successful, but, why hasn't that transcended into the political, moral and political emancipation of the ethnic group? Ndiigbo have suffered, and are suffering, and will continue to suffer unless they come together, as one, to help themselves. Sorry to say it; since after the war, Ndiigbo became greedy, they don't like to build, but, love to reap where they didn't sow. Many Ndiigbo don't want their brothers or sisters to progress more than him or her. During the war, destruction and suffering were unleashed on Ndiigbo and even with the "no victor, no vanquished" slogan after the war, Ndiigbo are not emancipated in today's Nigeria. The Nigerian state will never give Ndiigbo the chance to participate fully in Nigerian politics, unless Ndiigbo get their act together and then convince the other tribes that it's time for Ndiigbo to call the shot, "'cause playtime is over". But will Ndiigbo ever unite with a sense of purpose? They must, or else, they will continue to lose. Because, those on the other side are deceitful! Today, Gowon is twisting the civil war stories to his favour since Ojukwu is no longer there to challenge the distortion of facts.
This column in its article captioned "Ojukwu, the people's General, goes marching on to a higher glory (concluded) of Friday, March 2, 2012, wrote amongst other things:
"*Just as Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 -1896), in little Foxes, wrote that "The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone", many Ndiigbo are crying more than others about Ojukwu's death, because, of what he failed to do. Ojukwu lived a fulfilled life no doubt, and that's why he's being celebrated all over the world. But he failed many of us in one aspect or another. Ojukwu said in Owerri in 2010 "I ask myself on a daily basis whether Ndiigbo fully understand the cause, essence and import of the war, where we defended ourselves to the admiration of the world against a senseless pogrom. I have therefore decided that my full story on that war shall be told this year, by me, in a book, so that future generations and all who like us and even those who do not like us, shall appreciate that Ndiigbo are nation-builders not nation-wreckers, but that the strong Igbo moral sense, handed down to us by our ancestors, will always resent and rebel against injustice, inequity and mindless blood-letting". From the quote, one can deduce that Ojukwu promised to write a book about the war as what's in public domain is only speculation or second hand stories or information. We were hoping to read it all straight from the horse's mouth, but, that will never happen. Ojukwu is gone and was buried with all the information about the war, so he denied us the authentic facts about the war. Hopefully, the other principal actor during the war, General Yakubu Gowon, will write a book, from his own perspective, before he dies, as time is no longer on his side (although there will be no one to ascertain or dispute the accuracy of the facts with the death of Ojukwu). This column implores Ojukwu's family to publish his memoir of the war, as we know that he wrote it before his death, so that we all would read it first hand. We would like to know why Ojukwu handed the leadership of the Biafran Army over to Victor Banjo, a Yoruba man, and, why Ojukwu was bent on liberating Yoruba land during the war, even when Igbo land has not been fully liberated and secured.
*Also, Ojukwu failed to groom a successor just as Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges wrote that "As a servant leader the way you serve the vision is by developing people so that they can work on that vision even when you're not around. The ultimate sin of an effective servant leader is what happens when you are not there. That was the power of Jesus' leadership - the leaders He trained, went on to change the world when He was no longer with them in bodily form."
*Jim Loehr wrote that "The ability to summon positive emotions during periods of intense stress lies at the heart of effective leadership". Sadly, Ojukwu didn't achieve his ambition of liberating his people from the clutches of the oppressors and murderers during the Biafran war, despite all he sacrificed. Ojukwu said, in 2009 in Rhodes Island, United States, during the Chinua Achebe's lecture, that he will not die until Biafra is liberated; unfortunately, death was stronger, as he didn't live to see that ambition achieved. The worst is that there's no hope on the horizon for Ndiigbo to be emancipated too soon; there's nobody out there to take over from Ojukwu, he fought and has dropped the gauntlet, but, front and back, there's none to pick it up. Unless there are ethical and moral regeneration in Igboland; unless there are the reinforcement of Igbo value system and the remoulding of Ndiigbo's mindset and attitudes to create a civilized society, their emancipation may be far off. Unless the insatiable love for money by many Ndiigbo is contained, there will be nobody like Ojukwu for now or in the near future. Ojukwu once said: "….the answer is that Biafrans don't feel defeated because the war was more about values held dear than mere territory. But I must warn that in recent times, the Igbo have started a process of losing the war as all those values we held dear are being desecrated. Today money rules, giving rise to vices like kidnapping and ritual killings. These are unBiafran!"
Ojukwu never ceased to fight for Igbo cause till the time he was flown abroad for treatment. When Ojukwu was hale and healthy, the political leaders in Abuja threaded very cautiously and were careful in whatever they say or do when it comes to matters concerning Ndiigbo, because, all of them were afraid not to provoke Ojukwu, so no one wanted to antagonize him, because, he (Ojukwu) would never hesitate to hit back and his "punch" used to be devastating. But now that he's gone, this writer wonders what's going to happen from now to 2015. Prof. Akunyili (we pray that she gets well fast from that mysterious illness afflicting her right now) who was the Guest Lecturer at the Ojukwu Memorial Lecture held at Nike Lake Resort Enugu in 2012 said "Above all, we should ensure Igbo unity and keep Ojukwu's legacies alive. We should ensure justice and equity and protect Igbos wherever they are. We should also hasten to assist and rehabilitate those displaced by the unfortunate Boko Haram violence. We must find a way to assist these unfortunate victims to pick up the pieces of their life because Ojukwu wouldn't have liked to see any Igbo man or woman suffer. . . And now the big one - we should work to actualize Igbo presidency someday, which Ojukwu so much desired to see become a reality but is going to the grave without seeing that happen."
Ojukwu has moved on, but, is not dead. Many have been wishing him a peaceful rest, but, for this wish to come true, Ndiigbo should close rank very fast and achieve their emancipation, because, it is only when Ndiigbo are emancipated politically that Ojukwu will then rest in peace. As of now, his spirit is still hanging, he is disturbed, he is watching over us and although death was stronger, his spirit still lives on until Ndiigbo get to the new "Jerusalem"".
Back to the topic: what Ndiigbo, at home and abroad, should do is to address this issue of betrayal, that has eaten deep into their soul, that cost more three million lives during the genocide, that is denying them unity, peace and progress, rather than engaging themselves in frivolous events. Some of those who took the Biafran money and didn't deliver what they were sent to buy are still alive. Many of the principal actors during the war knew who they were. Let Ndiigbo know what happened and why it happened. Then, those who betrayed the cause should be made to apologize. Then, monuments should be erected to the slaughtered Ndiigbo in all major Igbo cities with the inscription "tomb of the unknown dead Biafrans" Then, every year, churches should hold commemorative services in honour of the dead Biafrans, because, Psalm 34:18 says that "the Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit". All these will put the spirit of the dead Biafrans at rest, and, there would be positive changes in Alaigbo. The Bible in 11Corinthians 10:4 says that "for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but might in God". And, Psalm 116:15 says that "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones". In the words of William Cullen Bryant (1794 -1878): "Ah! Never shall the land forget how gushed the life-blood of her brave".
THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!
This article is a re-publication with slight changes. It was first published in 2012!
Please note that my E-Mail was recently hacked, and the hackers sent mails to some of my contacts for financial help (Yahoo has restored my mail address).
For now and for the future: if you receive any mail purportedly from any of my e-mail addresses soliciting for any financial help in any form, please ignore and discard any such mail. I will never ask for financial help