HEROES OF BIAFRA AND THE NEW GENERATION
All Biafrans who are alive today owe the life they are living to these great unsung heroes of the Biafran War years. Biafra’s War veterans are the greatest source of pride, dignity and inspiration to all Biafrans alive today; they are literally live-givers. They are the reason that any Biafran is still living today. So, all living Biafrans anywhere today owe them their very existence and will always remain grateful.
Biafra War was a Nigerian project; to cleanse itself of all traces of every Biafran.
Looking back on the War years certain battles are considered as very remarkable and are supposed to remain in the collective memory of all Biafrans for all time. One of those battles was the Abagana Battle. It can almost be regarded singularly as the battle for the very soul of Biafra.
Incidentally it is the villain of the battle that can easily be associated with the Abagana Battle, Murtala Mohammed. He was the debased sadist who led the Nigerian troop to that battlefront. On the Biafran side there was no singular person to be associated with that battlefront because it was considered by Biafrans as a decisive battle that must be won. And win they did because Biafra’s military commanders in various fronts saw to it that the victory happened for Biafra. They sent re-enforcements as they became necessary and did not spare anything until they defeated the enemy.
The reason for this display of solidarity by the rest of Biafran military commanders was the contents of the miles and miles longs of eighteen-wheeler trucks and petrol tankers that the sadist monster Murtala Mohammed had loaded in those trucks and tankers. They contained horsewhips, hundreds of thousands of gallons of petrol and every kind of torture equipment and instruments. They were headed for Biafra’s hinterland. Murtala’s intention was that since he was sure of victory, he would then employ those torture instruments on the conquered Biafrans. The plan was to kill off every adult male and female in Biafra starting from the age of seven and up and with the petrol burn every town and village in Biafra. The tons and tons of horsewhips were to be used to flog and control the very young children that would be spared. The sinister plan had leaked out to Biafra, on purpose, to strike fear into the heart of Biafran civilians, hence the rallying of the various Biafran troops to Abagana to help stop the dastard plot.
One of the details of the plan among others was to kill off all the adults and send the very young children to foster homes and completely wipe away every trace of Biafra’s languages and culture. Nigeria’s hatred of Biafrans ran and still runs that deep. An officer in Nigeria’s army Benjamin Adekunle put it in a very graphic language when he told the German journalist, Randolph Baumann of Stern Magazine in the now infamous interview of August 18, 1968 that in Biafra they (Nigerians) shot at everything that moved and everything that did not move.
Nigeria’s genocidal program on Biafra was and still is indiscriminate and total. They never made any secret about it. The man Olusegun Obasanjo who was an officer in Nigeria’s army never hid his absolute hatred for Biafrans and his rabid intention of wiping them out. He has consistently carried out campaigns to drive home what he means ever since. Take the case of Odi and Odiama of 1999 and the Onitsha raids and killings as recent examples.
It is important to remind everyone who is alive today as a Biafran that whatever he or she is today is only because some people gave their lives, their wealth, their limbs and other body parts and comforts to make it possible for him or her. And for every act of kindness there ought to be a corresponding show of gratitude by the beneficiaries. This is true even in the lower animal world.
What we are saying in this place is that the gratitude that the survivors of Nigeria’s Genocide on Biafra owe Biafran veterans is now overdue. Both collectively and as individuals all survivors must start now to pay back. Today’s generation of Biafrans must not be seen as a generation of ingrates. The only gratitude these heroes are asking for is the independence of the sovereign state of Biafra, completely and clearly severed from the genocidal Nigerian state. This is not too much to ask from a people for whom the veterans did not keep anything from trying to save them. The present generation of Biafrans has indeed received so much from the past generation and a lot more is required from them to demonstrate appreciation. The purpose of this piece is to provoke or incite every Biafran everywhere to wake up to their responsibility.
Today’s generation cannot afford to continue to shift their responsibility to other peoples and societies to handle it for them. Just one example will be enough to show what is meant by this. The Reverend Father Ameze Odogwu of the Roman Catholic Church is a Biafran veteran who fought on many battlefronts during those dark days of Biafra. It was by a sheer act of providence as he related that he survived with some manageable bodily wounds but he also suffered a very severe kind of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and for thirty five years he lived with this terrible human condition. For thirty five years this terribly debilitating condition made his life quite unbearable most of the time and though it was claimed that the war had ended but neither Biafra nor Nigeria could help Odogwu with his situation until when he visited the United States after thirty five years. Now it was in the U. S. that he got his problem taken care of by a different people and a different society.
The above story is an example of ingratitude on the side of today’s generation of Biafrans. As we write Emeka Ojukwu, Biafra’s head of state during the active war years is on a medical treatment overseas because all hospitals in Biafra land are inadequately equipped and lack the basic equipment to handle medium-to-critical level of health conditions. This is no doubt a source of shame on all living Biafrans of today. That is not how to show gratitude to a generation that sacrificed all. Nigeria is terribly faulty and has nothing in it for Biafrans and the continued stay in Nigeria by Biafrans is the height of ingratitude on the side of today’s generation of Biafrans.
At the conclusion of the War; Biafra’s towns and countryside were a wreck and in total shambles. The Biafran Nation and physical infrastructure were battered but more so were the men and women who put their lives on the line to make sure that Nigeria and its sadistic population did not succeed in their original plan of wiping out of the face of the Earth the entire peoples of Biafra. These heroes made it possible that all Biafrans alive today survived one of the worst kinds of genocides in human history. They gave theirs so that Biafrans living today may have their lives. Unfortunately, today’s generation of Biafrans have continued to deny themselves of the full benefits accruable from those heroic sacrifices that all the veterans did on their behalf. Today’s generation has been lazy. It has been afraid. It has displayed cowardice. It has not been forward-looking. It has been selfish. Above all it has been ungrateful.
By the first quarter of 1967 the Nigerian state and its intolerant citizens were already gorged to exploding on the flesh and sloshing drunk, bloated and intoxicated on the blood of tens of thousands of the Southeasterners they were actively murdering with a sadistic and bestial relish. The killings and lootings by now had lasted for nearly one full year almost without intermissions. It was nothing spontaneous; it was, in legal parlance, premeditated. Nigeria and all its peoples made up of Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, Egbira, Idoma, Tiv, Kanuri, Gwari, Nupe, Birom, etc descended to the lowest level of the beasts and crossed the threshold of social sanity into that twilight region of crass madness stymied in that dark abyss of ethnic and Islamic religious hatred.
Trainloads, truckloads, busloads and planeloads of bodies were being offloaded in Enugu, Owerri, Calabar, Uyo, Asaba, Onitsha, Aba, Umuahia, Port Harcourt. It was grisly. It was gory. It was inhuman. The loads were coming from the Northern and Western regions of Nigeria. The offense of the victims had been that they were human beings who were different from the perpetrators and had a different set of norms and cultural values.
The sight of disemboweled women who had previously been pregnant with babies, their unborn children were taken out and smashed to death for added pleasure of the Islamic jihadists. The headless bodies of school boys and girls who still had their school uniforms on were beyond contemplation. The teenaged kids who were bludgeoned to death with gashed and gaping skulls were indescribable. The decaying mangled and mashed up bodies of women and men was not a sight that would not excite a just anger even from the stonehearted.
So, as these many vehicles continued to bring back the decomposing bodies of the victims of ethnic and Islamic religious intolerance, the youth and all peoples of the Southeast went from a state of shock to real anger. They grew impatient by the day with their leaders. The leaders were still talking about peace and accords with Nigeria as if they were oblivious or impervious of the terrible sight of the unbelievable atrocities being committed on their people. The people seemed to understand the situation better than their leaders. The people knew that Nigeria is based on lies and both the state and its citizens never kept any promises. Nigeria and Nigerians tell lies, deceive, cheat, scam and break agreements with such impunity. (Words and agreements to Nigeria and Nigerians are meaningless).
So the people sang and cried for guns and machetes, any kind of weapon from their leaders to go fight back, anything, because somehow they felt this Islamic and ethnic madness must be stopped. But they would not get any of those because those weapons were not there. Hitherto, they never were preparing for any war. They had never before engaged in any massive uprising in which they killed their fellow human beings.
The Enemy, Nigeria was armed with machine guns, mortars and every conceivable kind of modern war machines and was mad and bloodthirsty. Biafrans and their leaders were aware of this fact and they had never been suicidal as a people but after digging thousands and thousands of mass graves and tripping into those holes the decomposing remains of their own kith and kin, they had enough. It was only a matter of time it would be their turn and they would not be lucky enough to have them buried in any mass graves, they would be left to rot above ground. That was a fact they could not shake off their mind. The Enemy was mad and abroad and never heard of or knew anything about the word; civility.
For one thing they, the Biafrans rather than being suicidal are a passionate group of people. They cherish life and freedom and love to be their brother’s keeper and to defend the weak and the helpless. So it was in the heat of that passion that they got moved to a just anger such that though they saw clearly the inferno of ethnic and Islamic religious hatred set up by Nigeria and its people they would not pull back. Like moths which had been whipped up into a state of frenzy by the sight of death and senseless destruction of their own brothers and sisters by a gang of Nigerian monsters, Biafrans were ready to dive into that fire in self-immolation. But that was that generation; the generation of heroes. This is now, a new generation, what shall this generation be called? Every generation must define itself to the next one.
Sometime ago a seriously minded Biafran had come to me and asked me; how best can I show patriotism and gratitude to Biafra and Biafrans who gave their all on our behalf. I told him to go out and buy himself a gun. He told me he did not have the money. I said to him go and sell the shirt off your back and use the money and he left me very sad and disappointed. To this person and a few others maybe, that sounds trite or too severe but it is difficult to put it differently. The truth is that it is only freedom that makes us humans. Once a group of people have lost their freedom they are no longer worth more than some base animals in a controlled environment such as the zoo. The truth is that all Biafrans today who still live in the coward notion of one-nigerianism are mere animals in the badly kept zoo that is Nigeria.
Let us illustrate in another way of how a true patriot can show patriotism and gratitude to those whom he owes appreciation. John Garang the South Sudan leader was an army officer in the then Sudanese Army in Khartoum. Then a conflict arose in the south and he was sent by the northern Islamic hegemony to go quail the conflict. In contrast with Ihejirika of Nigeria and the Ayokoromo genocide of December 1st 2010, Garang got to the South with his troop and demonstrated both professionalism and patriotism. He took time to study the situation on the ground and ascertain the truth in the matter.
He did not get there and began to bomb and shoot indiscriminately like a group of scared Boys Scout. No, instead after Garang had taken time to know the truth, he joined forces with the Southerners and fought off the oppressive Islamic hegemonic Northerners. He continued fighting on the side of truth and justice till today when finally his effort and that of the others like himself are paying off with South Sudan getting their independence in July this year. Mikhail Gorbachev of the then Soviet Union was bold enough to use the events in his day to change the course of the downward trend that the decayed Soviet empire was on. He was wise and did not stand in the way to be crushed by the force of life and progress; he guided sagaciously the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Today, Goodluck Jonathan is at the crossroad of history in the decayed Nigerian union and is expected to use good wisdom in guiding successfully the disintegration of Nigeria.
It only takes one or more acts of honest and pragmatic boldness to demonstrate patriotism and gratitude. And the question is why would anyone prefer to be chicken in the face of making a positive change for the present and coming generations? Someone had asked somewhere, what is a life worth if one is not prepared to put it on the line for the greater good? I think such life is worth nothing.
Break up Nigeria, it is irredeemable, that is the best way to demonstrate patriotism and gratitude by this generation of Biafrans who have received so much from the generation of the massive Genocide years. An act to show that one is in possession of his mind, being bold and taking responsibility and saying I will do it and do not have to wait for someone else to do it is all that is required from this generation of Biafrans. That is how to be grateful to those heroes. 3.1 million Biafrans were murdered by Nigeria and Nigerians from 1966 to 1970 and the killings are still going on. In Jos December 2010 and January 2011 the program of ethnic and religious cleansing by Nigeria and its people continues on Biafrans.
Busloads of murdered Biafrans were sent to Biafra in December 2010 and January 2011. And like mere weaklings and sissies, from the AbiaState governor to all the other so-called Igbo/Biafra leaders the best that came from them was like this; “hello, Northerners stop this rough play. Do not kill our people just like that because they are of the same country with you, you know what we mean. At least you know it is not a good thing to do”.
While such Nero’s response to a dire situation may call for celebration in the camp of the Enemy, Nigeria, that maybe deceitful, indeed it is. This is true because there is another group of Biafrans today who would want to say a hearty thank you to these broken and devastated heroes; the firebrands of a heroic generation, the Biafran veterans. They have waited patiently for the thanks which they rightly deserve and this new generation wants to do the right thing and to pledge that it will never happen again.