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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Who lifted the veil on Biafra?

~The SUN Nigeria. Thursday, June 1, 2017.

A major thematic concern of Chinua Achebe's last literary work, "There Was a Country", is the official ring of secrecy, which was run around the subject matter of Biafra by successive Nigerian governments. Achebe's concern here is that Nigeria as a country is living in denial. A country called Biafra existed. A war of attrition was fought over it. While the war lasted, the world quaked. The big powers were involved. British armoured tanks and Russian planes were freely deployed. The Arab League joined in the war. They were all on the side of the federal aggressors. In the face of mounting humanitarian crisis, the World Council of Churches, the Caritas and the Red Cross came in to save lives. They provided Biafra with food aids. At the end of the fratricidal strife, some three million lives were lost. The war was the inevitable consequence of a state-sponsored pogrom directed at the Igbo people in 1966. After 30 gruelling months, the Biafran resistance caved in. The new republic was crippled by huge odds. It collapsed.

This momentous event did not escape the attention of writers. They penned their experiences and concerns in various genres. Strangely, however, the Nigerian state did not want to commit the events of the war to history. It shut it out both from current affairs and historical studies. The country conveniently ignored the subject by refusing to talk about it. It treated the matter as if it never took place. It censored any form of discussion, bordering on Biafra. It decreed that the subject must never be discussed officially. History was not allowed to incorporate it. It must never be taught in schools so that those who were not old enough to witness the events of that period will never get to know about it. The result was that the lessons that ought to have been learned from the historical upheaval were, regrettably, lost.

But the ploy of keeping the matter secret did not work. Regardless of the fact that our schools are barred from broaching the subject matter of Biafra in their curricula, the issue has remained an open enterprise. Younger Nigerians whose mothers were not yet married when the cataclysm took place know that there was a country called Biafra. They do not just know that, post-Civil War men and women from the defunct republic are very much aware of what transpired between 1966 and 1970. They are very conscious of the events of those years. They know about the republic in which their people found solace. 

They romanticise it. They yearn for it. They are not interested in the odds. They do not even imagine any hang-up. They want the dream republic because they believe that it would guarantee their generation and future generations of Igbo the space and freedom they need to actualise their potentials. They feel claustrophobic in the Nigerian environment. They are aware of the fact that Nigeria discriminates against them on the basis of their place of origin. They have borne the degradation for too long. Their patience has run out. That is why they are insisting on Biafra. What all this tells us is that in spite of the restrictions imposed on the subject matter, the silences are so loud that even the unborn are already thinking Biafra.

For these and related reasons, Biafra has become a leitmotif. It has become the keynote in the symphony to which the strange melody will always return. The way it is, Nigeria cannot run away from the subject matter. It has become a recurring decimal in the Nigerian equation.

It was probably in the light of the foregoing that the veil of secrecy has been taken off Biafra. But the lifting of the veil is sudden and unexpected. Suddenly, everybody is talking about Biafra, even from unexpected quarters. Before now, Biafra did not have that privilege of open discourse. It was one word that was avoided publicly. It could only be talked about in muffled tones. Those who wanted to be politically correct ensured that Biafra did not intrude into their vocabulary. It was such a delicate subject matter. It was so delicate that one of my lecturers in the Department of English of the University of Lagos ran into a storm over it. The year was 1985, 15 years after Biafra. The subject of study was Eddie Iroh's "Toads of War". Biafra was the subject matter of the novel. The lecturer, while taking us through a literary analysis of the novel, had described the Biafran debacle as a "wasted emotion". The pronouncement was greeted with murmurs. Moments later, the murmurs graduated into an open disagreement. A section of the class revolted against that unsavoury label placed on Biafra. The lecturer, a young woman in her 30s at that time, was shocked to her marrows. We were first year students, just a few months old in the university community. Yet we had the courage of our convictions. We joined issues with the woman. We felt she did not understand the issue. Thereafter, the lecturer was advised by her more experienced colleagues to tread softly whenever the subject of Biafra was involved.

This has been the sort of delicateness and sensitivity that has trailed the subject of Biafra over the years. But all of that seem to be giving way. Biafra has just turned 50 and the subject matter, for the first time since its advent, is being discussed openly and publicly. At a public forum last week on Biafra, the acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, freely talked about Biafra. Nigeria's former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, also spoke matter of factly on the same subject. With the way they spoke, and considering the fact that a public forum was solely organised for the purpose of re-examining the Biafran question, it should be taken for granted that the veil of secrecy has been taken off the subject. Biafra is no longer an issue that can be discussed in muffled tones. Suddenly, Nigeria has come to realise that the ghost of Biafra cannot be buried. As a matter of fact, the subject has left the hands of the Igbo. It has become a matter for international discourse. The way things stand; it is impolitic for Nigeria to continue to treat the Biafran issue with irritation and belligerence. The matter has to be confronted. The Nigerian state has to engage the agitators. The time to climb down from the high horse has come. Experience shows that high-handedness has not driven the agitation underground. It has not deterred those who believe in the cause. What this tells us is that the issue cannot be wished away.

As the Nigerian state tries to purge itself of the prejudices with which it has been approaching issues about Biafra, its attention should be directed at its security agencies. The Department of State Service (DSS), the Army and the Police are major culprits here. The high-handedness they have been visiting on the agitators is begging for redress. It is at the root of the anger in Biafran circles. Their disposition is fueling tension. They must be called to order. That is the least we expect the authorities to do.

The more substantive stage will involve the enthronement of justice and equity in the land. As Buhari's government of hate winds down, Nigeria should begin to think of enthroning a new order where every section of the country will have a sense of accommodation. When they do that, we will begin to make sense of the veil of secrecy that has been taken off Biafra.

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I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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