GENOCIDE, BIAFRA AND FORGIVENESS
The evolution of the human brain is what sets us apart from the lower animal lives. It is basically this development that has helped to cause humans to arrogate to themselves a false sense of uniqueness and superiority over other animal creatures. Apart from a very few other animals such as dolphins human brains are about the only ones that have been able to develop quite considerably away from the basic simple instinctual level of problem solving to a more complex level that enables humans to process very diverse and complex stimuli. With the human brain they no longer need a long period of time to adapt to changes and events in their environment. It is hardly an accident of nature when humans lost most of the primordial instinctual perceptions as the primary method of interacting with their environment because Nature expects humans to use the power of their brains to solve most of the challenges they encounter in life. The brains of humans are supposed to help them make up for their loss of for example the phenomenal sense of smell of the dog or the extreme vision of the eagle. With their brains humans can develop other methods far superior to the endowments of nature in these areas and be able to accurately sense gases and other substances billions of miles away and see into many light years away with a clarity that is infinitely far better than the eagle’s.
We may not be in the position to argue here which is better, to exist on the instinct level or evolve away to the complex processing level. But we know that in whichever level we are, Nature expects us (all existence, plants, animals) to explore every aspect of it and exploit all the potentials to the fullest to our advantage or well-being. Nevertheless, it is because the gift of the complex brain can be assumed to be higher then, it comes with higher responsibilities. Most species that go extinct is because they exist at the basic level of instinct. At this level it takes longer time to process unusual information (challenges if you like) and then decide on an effective line of action for self-preservation and prosperity. And because sometimes these events or challenges happen too fast there may not be time enough for them to finish their adaptations and so they are overtaken by the drastic events and swept away into extinction. To slow down the rate of this scourge today, gradually humans are beginning to own up to their responsibilities by thinking fast and acting preemptively for the species that have lesser brain power for their preservation and safety. Though as we said earlier that we will avoid the argument of saying which is superior, the instinct or the complex level of existence yet we cannot resist accepting here that one will definitely have a better feeling when he can think and do things for oneself rather than when someone else does it for them.
Someone might be asking why we have to go to this extent in this introduction but we consider it necessary because the issue we are discussing here is of the utmost importance. As much as possible we would rather not want the message to be misread because of a long and winded preamble but at the same time we would have serious and patient readers to correlate the link between this introduction and the rest of this discussion. The Igbo/Biafra genocide is an open sore on the conscience of not only the victims but also on that of the perpetrators that must continue to fester and putrefy until a befitting justice has been obtained.
Over the years I have come across certain individuals of the Igbo/Biafran extraction who admitted to having lost one or more loved ones to the genocide but who on being asked what they intend to do to obtain justice for the murdered ones and forestall any future occurrence would say that they would want to forgive and let the past be. These individuals are pathetic because we see in them a people who have hardly evolved away from the instinctual level of existence.
One does not need to probe far to come up with the reasons that inform this simple and easy approach to such a complex and of a brain-power tasking importance. On each occasion of these encounters I have not failed to notice the presence of these three elements in these individuals; laziness, selfishness and fear. Most times you see this ugly and shameful state of humanity written all over them so bold and so disgusting and, you marvel. For anyone who knows a typical Igbo it would seem out of place to impute laziness on him. But we must have to remind ourselves here that for any complex matter such as the one facing every Igbo today with regards to righting the wrong that has been done to the people it will require the mobilization of all the physical strength and brain power there is to get the job done. Every Igbo and all Biafrans must be involved using all the talent and intellectual ability everyone has got to get this job done. It is expected that every Igbo everywhere must use his brain power and his position to obtain justice and liberate Igbo land from the clutches of the obnoxious Nigerian occupation.
When you talk of letting the past be, you are saying, in other words to forgive and most probably to forget it. And most likely some of us advocating that may have given to our children such names as Echezona. To forgive is the simple and easy route and it is always the option preferred by the lazy, selfish and fearful ones who choose it because they do not have to use their brains to resolve complex issues and are not willing to endure any discomfort for the good of others. This is so because when you do not have to go that route you must exercise your brain and work harder than usual and act with courage to follow through with your convictions and conclusions. It takes a lot of boldness and courage to live by what you believe in. When a society or a people have formed the habit of forgiving crimes and criminals then such a society or people are doomed. That society or a people that forgives will never survive because it is bound to live in a total state of lawlessness and confusion and the repeat of all detrimental events in their past. But a true society or a group of people does not forgive, that is why it has various correction and rehabilitation centres and institutions where individuals pay penance for their mistakes. Justice, not forgiveness is what sustains a society and makes it function and prosper.
Every Igbo everywhere must start today to raise money, time, talent and position to fight this battle. Time for excuses had long past, it is approaching a century of (counting from 1945 in Jos) pogrom, genocide and ethnic cleansing visited on the people. I want to begin to see individuals and groups go all out to fight this battle. I want to see individuals whose father or mother or brother or sister or cousin or uncle or nephew or niece or friend or neighbour was murdered by the combined forces of Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba and the others for no reason other than they were Igbo or Biafrans go out individually and collectively to fight for justice for these murdered people. Go search the records find out these individuals hunt them down, put them in crates like Umaru Diko, move them to places where they can be prosecuted and true justice served as a deterrent to others. We have waited for too long already. Every Igbo/Biafran everywhere who has any money to his or her name must donate one tenth of it to fight this injustice. For those who do not have, go and sell the cloths off your back, sell your land, house, chairs, tables, plates, cups and give one tenth of the proceeds to fight this battle. It is this serious. Let people endow funds for this purpose. Check out this story on Google of Frank Dryman who shot and killed in cold blood the man Clarence Pellett, who gave him a ride. Frank Dryman hid and evaded the law for forty years until the victim’s grandson read about the incident, carried out research, then spent time and money to find the murderer who was rearrested and is back to jail where he will spend the rest of his life. Mr. Pellett’s grandson did not have to wait for the government, not even for the rest members of the family. And do not forget one important lesson there, no family member asked for Dryman to be forgiven. There are enough record of the genocide and crimes against humanity to prosecute Obasonjo, Gowon, Babangida, Danjuma, Bali, Adekunle, Akinriade, Buhari, David Mark, etc. These people still walk the lands free and come to Igbo land and stand before crowds to address them. Aru! Where is the Igbo spine and sense of justice?
Every morning you wake up as an Igbo/Biafran the urgency for the revenge of these crimes must be the first thing you say to your wife, husband, child or roommate. Talk about it in the drinking bars, churches, shrines, on the streets, in schools, at market places, village squares, in town halls. No day should pass you by without talking about it. As a people and on individual capacity, we must begin to confront this our collective demon, head-on. Not talking about it is the reason why we have not yet received the due justice. And let us not forget that the only option we have as a people is self-determination, a sovereign independent homeland, free from every form of oppression. The truth is that since on the 30th of May 1967 Biafrans renounced their Nigerian citizenship forever. Human beings do not go back to their vomits when they are no dogs.
Ironsi had children, Fajuyi had children, Major Ekanem had children, Lt-Col Okonweze had children, Major Obienu had children, Lt Orok had children, Chief Elijah Akpan Okon had children, Isaac Boro had children, Akaluka had children. Indeed, they all have grandchildren right now, we are collectively and individually the children and grandchildren of all these unfortunate victims and they are waiting for us to do something. I want to see the children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, friends, neighbours take up arms (legal arms) whatever, to fight to obtain justice for these people who were hunted down and murdered so brutally just because they were hated by the other people. We have every legitimate reason to fight. Ofor is on our side. We cannot wait for someone else to do it for us. It must be done by us, for us and for them, the victims and the perpetrators. It is also for the good of the perpetrators because they need their souls to be redeemed by paying penance for unjustified crime. Let the people who have been wronged get vengeance. Let the guilty pay. Forgiveness is a very inhuman way to solve any human problem. Yes, does not the popular saying tell us that to forgive is only the preserve of the divine? It is not for us humans to forgive but rather to err, and these people have made mistakes as humans and must be made to pay.
Forgiveness is too easy or cheap and does not require the exercise of the human brain. Apart from the divine we can also conclude that perhaps the lower animals can forgive crimes, not humans otherwise the human society will be in a permanent state of confusion and turmoil as we have said already. Moreover, the living has no right to forgive on behalf of the dead. We need to remind us that when a victim forgives, the act does not help to alleviate the pain caused rather it only gives the victim, a false sense of feeling of being a “good” person. But such act rather than achieve anything positive for both the perpetrator and the victim, it debases the victim and the wrong doer and reduces both of them to a level that is below the humanness in us, (the human mind would not have been tasked as it should, to confront a challenge. And that amounts to intellectual laziness, to say the least). Selfishness and fear or cowardice is also involved because behind the reason for this sort of forgiving is usually the inordinate feeling and desire of the victim to become again part of (reintegrate into) the pain-inflicting community.
If anyone still doubts these conclusions, let him try reading the level of seemingly insensitivity to the Igbo genocide by many Igbo writers today. Can anyone imagine their inordinate and rabid sense of “patriotism” to the Nigerian state? Very disgusting. It is like The Gambian toying with the idea of being more Ghanaian than the Ghanaian. Try reading some of their pathetic “patriotic” writings like when they are lamenting the consistent pattern of loss and failure at every legitimate glory which has always dogged Nigeria as a nation, you will almost feel like throwing up, take the recently concluded World Cup in South Africa, for instance. But you know that these people are only making a fool of themselves and that they should have known better that no country or an individual that sows to the wind will ever expect to reap excellence. In the end, we are going to leave us with this final word, the real kind of forgiveness is one of the hardest things to achieve and cannot be imagined as having any place in the area of premeditated mass murders as in the case of Nigeria and Nigerians against Biafra and Biafrans.