In the Onitsha sector of the war, our gallant forces have kept the enemy confined in the town which they entered 15 months ago. Despite the fact that this sector has great strategic attraction for the vandal hordes, being a gate-way, as it is, to the now famous jungle strip of Biafra, and the scene of the bloodiest encounters of this war, it is significant that the enemy has made no gains throughout this long period.
In cost, probably twice what the Nigerian air raids have cost us in military equipment and installations. The only superiority left in the record of achievement of the Nigerian Air Force is the number of civilians and civilian targets their cowardly raids have destroyed. Proud Biafrans, I have kept my promise.
Diplomatically, our friends have increased and have remained steadfast to our cause; and despite the rantings of our detractors, indications are that their support will continue.
At home, our sufferings have continued. Scarcity and want have remained our companions. Yet, with fortitude, we seem to have overcome th once imminent danger of mass starvation and can now look forward to a period after the rains of comparative plenty. Our efforts in the Land Army programme give visible signs all over our land of imminent victory in the war against want.
Fellow countrymen and women, the signs are auspicious, the future fills us with less foreboding. I am confident. With the initiative in war now in our own hands, we have turned the last bend in our race to self-realisation and are now set on the home straight in this our struggle. We must not flag. The tape is in sight. What we need now is a final burst of speed to breast the tape and secure the victory which will ensure for us, for all time, glory and honour, peace and progress.
Fellow compatriots, today, being our Thanksgiving Day, it is most appropriate that we pause awhile to take stock, to consider our past, our successes notwithstanding; to consider our future, our aspirations and our fears. For two long years we have been locked in mortal combat with an enemy unequalled in viciousness; for two long years, defenceless and weak, we have withstood without respite the concerted assault of a determined foe. We have fought alone, we have fought with honour, we have fought in the highest traditions of christian civilization. Yet, the very custodians of this civilization and our one-time mentors, are the very self-same monsters who have vowed to devour us.
Fellow Biafrans, I have for a long time thought about this our predicament - the attitude of the civilized world to this our conflict. The more I think about it the more I am convinced that our disability is racial. The root cause of our problem lies in the fact that we are black. If all the things that have happened to us had happened to another people who are not black, if other people who are not black had reacted in the way our people have reacted these two long years, the world’s response would surely have been different.
In 1966, some 50,000 of us were slaughtered like cattle in Nigeria. In the course of this war, well over one million of us have been killed; yet the world is unimpressed and looks on in indifference. Last year, some blood-thirsty Nigerian troops for sport murdered the entire male population of a village. All the world did was to indulge in an academic argument whether the number was in hundreds or in thousands. Today, because a handful of white men collaborating with the enemy, fighting side by side with the enemy, were caught by our gallant troops, the entire world threatens to stop. For 18 white men, Europe is aroused. What have they said about our millions? 18 white men assisting the crime of genocide! What does Europe say about our murdered innocents? Have we not died enough? How many black dead make one missing white? Mathematicians, please answer me. Is it infinity?
Take another example. For two years we have been subjected to a total blockade. We all know how bitter, bloody and protracted the First and Second World Wars were. At no stage in those wars did the white belligerents carry out a total blockade of their fellow whites. In each case where a blockade was imposed, allowance was made for certain basic necessities of life in the interest of women, children and other non-combatants. Ours is the only example in recent history where a whole people have been so treated. What is it that makes our case different? Do we not have women, children and other non-combatants? Does the fact that they are black women, black children and black non-combatants make such a world of difference?
Nigeria embarked on a crime of genocide against our people by first mounting a total blockade against Biafra. To cover up their designs and deceive the black world, the white powers supporting Nigeria blame Biafrans for the continuation of the blockade and for the starvation and suffering which that entails. They uphold Nigerian proposals on relief which in any case they helped to formulate, as being “conciliatory” or “satisfactory”. Knowing that these proposals would give Nigeria further military advantage, and compromise the basic cause for which we have struggled for two years, they turn round to condemn us for rejecting them. They accepted the total blockade against us as a legitimate weapon of war because it suits them and because we are black. Had we been white the inhuman and cruel blockade would long have been lifted.
The mass deaths of our citizens resulting from starvation and indiscriminate air raids and large despoliation of towns and villages are a mere continuation of this crime. That Nigeria has received complete support from Britain should surprise no one. For Britain is a country whose history is replete with instances of genocide.
In my address to you on the occasion of the first anniversary of our independence, I touched on a number of issues relevant to our struggle and to our hope for a prosperous, just and happy society. I talked to you of the background to our struggle and on the visions and values which inspired us to found our own State.
Click to read: The full text of the famous AHIARA DECLARATION!