Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Should President Goodluck Jonathan Resign?

It has been noted in some circles that President Goodluck Jonathan should resign for his feeling very irresponsible and not showing possible leadership of the country by not demonstrating his ability to manage crisis - which case he is not intuned with the sadness being caused by the suffering Nigerian people. That the Christmas Day simultaneous bombings was not the first time, second time or third time it had occured in the country.

That by not doing much, he is giving credence to the perpetrators of injustice. That his statements demonstrates his lack of sense of leadership and very apathetic about the suffering of his subjects - the Nigerian people. That he needs to show more responsibility to handle every situation protecting Nigerians. That if he cannot perform to secure his own people from his ineptitude, he must resign.

Have your say/opinion

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Odumegwu Ojukwu's Message on the Pogrom to Biafran Students in America


“The people of the former eastern region of Nigeria had believed, as if it were an article of faith, in the concept of a united Nigeria. No section of then Federation of Nigeria worked assiduously for the attainment of this ideal as did Eastern Nigeria and her people. No section made as many and varied positive contributions toward the realization of true unity.

Having, over the years, spearheaded the movement for closer union, having demonstrated our faith in Nigeria in concrete terms by allowing our sons and daughters to sojourn in other parts of the country, thereby contributing tremendously to the development of such areas to the neglect of our own, it was a hard decision for us to opt out of a federation in which we had invested so much. But we had no other choice.

Over the years, our erstwhile compatriots made it clear in unmistakable terms that they did not want us in the Federation. Since the 1950s our people were expropriated and discriminated against in parts of Nigeria other than their own. Furthermore, the experience of three harrowing waves of remorseless genocide in 1945, 1953, and especially in 1966, involving a total of nearly 50,000 dead and countless others maimed or destitute, provided an object lesson which could not be but taken seriously.

Self-preservation is probably the strongest human instinct, and it is this that has compelled the harassed and prosecuted people of eastern Nigeria to seek refuge in their own home and among their kindred. As a proverb of one of our Biafran languages has it, “A man who is rejected by others cannot reject himself."

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu's "Message on the Pogrom to Biafran Students in America," November 24, 1967

The Red Bull Miss Florence Welch Interview



FLORIAN OBKIRCHER/RED BULLETIN

I read somewhere that you're still sleeping on a mattress on the floor of your mom's house. Is that true?

[Laughs] Yeah, that is true! I haven't had time to change my home--I'm hardly ever there, so it's quite hard to. I haven't had time to move out, so yeah, I'm just still on a mattress on the floor of my mom's house.

Speaking of your parents, your dad was the tour bus driver when you supported MGMT. How did that come about?

We didn't have any money, and they offered us tour around Europe. So my dad had this camper van, and he said that he'd drive us around. So we clattered around in this camper van, with all the pots and pans shaking, and we were all sleeping on the floor, but it was really fun.

He's not your tour-bus driver anymore?

[Laughs] No.

You were nominated for a Brit Award last year, and performed at the Grammys and the Oscars. Was there a personal highlight?

I really enjoyed the feeling after having just played the MTV Video Music Awards. It was such a huge undertaking, the performance was on such a grand scale. We had 10 blue people, tribal drummers, psychedelic choir people, and I had to sing on rotating platform without falling over in this big, floating dress. I was in shock after we'd finished, and then I realized that we'd done it. I was running down this hallway screaming with everyone I hadn't fallen over, and it wasn't a total disaster. I also really enjoyed playing places like the Greek Theatre in L.A. and san Francisco. Playing those big, beautiful ampitheaters was really enjoyable.

British acts have often had a hard time of it in the U.S. Is success here something you've always aimed for?

I don't know. If things haven't taken off in certain places, I've never really fretted about it. It's not really like my job to worry about that kind of stuff. I'm like, "I don't care, I just want to sing and make music. It's not my job to worry about the numbers.." We'd been doing a bit of stuff in the states here and there, but it was more of like an underground thing, and then all of a sudden it was like [gasps] "Oh my God!"--it was everywhere, and that was so strange, 'cause it happened so late in the game. So when I was doing US tours, I also had to be in the U.K. making the next record. I was still touring the first album while trying to make the second one. I'm really grateful about what happened in the Statesm 'cause they seem to have really embraced it.

Not just the audience. Beyounce cited you as an influence on her album "4." Has she ever told you that in person?

No. not in person, but I have met her, and I think she's so sweet [laughs]. I've been listening to "4" a lot trying to figure out which bit maybe might have influenced her, but I don't know, I can't figure it out. Listening to one song, being like, "maybe this guitar part?" [laughs]. I don't know, you'd have to ask her.

An old pop-music adage claims that the second album is the hardest one to make, because for the first, you had your whole life, and for the second, just a few months.

I think the first album was so hard. I don't know what I was doing. I didn't have an assured idea of who I was as a person yet because I was 21. Everything was so terrifying. I was drunk half the time, because it was my first tour. I was not in stable place, and right now I feel much more ready to cope with things, which is a good place to be in.

What music did you listen to while writing the songs?

I've been listening to a lot of spiritualized, and I was listening to a lot of stack-soul records like Otis Redding. I was also listening to more things, like Fuck Buttons and Suicide. It was real mix of stuff--Ariel Pink and things like that.

The material on your first album was a reaction to a temporary breakup with your boyfriend back then. Was there something similar that shaped the new one?

Not really, I think it's general feeling of conflict between wanting to be safe and secure--and that battle going on within your spirit and your body.

Do you throw yourself into something headfirst, or do you stay on dry land?

I think it's more about a question of growing up and whether or not I want that.

You once said that you're not very good at expressing your feelings in real life, and your songs are a way to do that.

I think especially with people I love the most, I have a hard time with face-to-face emotional interactions. I don't know if that's why I perform, or if it's because I perform--do you know what I mean? I feel maybe it's because in performing, I have such a huge emotional outlet, and everything is expressed on such a grand scale, that when I try to express things in a small, face-to-face way, it almost feels fake. I feel like I'm not doing it properly, because you're tearing yourself open in such a huge way it feels like there's all these layers in front of me, and I can't get past them--and when I'm on stage, they kind of open up.

What was the inspiration behind "What THe Water Gave Me"--the first single on the new album?

Sometimes I like to write songs just from things I pick up in a room, and what you can see around you can be really inspirational. There was this book on Surrealist paintings, and in it there was a painting by Frida kahlo called "What the Water Gave Me." Frida Kahlo has always inspired me, visually and lyrically--just her whole aesthetic, and how she viewed the world, and her clothes and everything. Then I got these images of Virginia Woolf walking toward that river with her pocket full of stones, and it was such a powerful image--that tragedy and that bucolic setting of an English countryside--and I just started thinking about water and my fascination with drowning, and being submerged in something. I don't know...that's kind of romanticizing it, I think.

Does visual art have an impact on your work, generally?

Yes, it really does--it's a really important part of it, actually. "Dog days" was inspired by an Ugo Rondinone installation. I love the artist Ed Ruscha. He just uses massive...what he calls "hot phrases," like "Went out for cigarettes, never came back" in this beautiful Ruscha font that he sometimes paints on these beautiful mountain backgrounds.

You said in reference to your first album that you have to listen to everything to understand the body of work. Do you still believe in the album as a concept of presenting music?

Yeah, I do. I don't mind people who just listen to a song. I do it all the time. I think a record like Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" is a really good example of how the album still stands, because it has such a good flow, and you really have to listen to it from beginning to end. I have tried to do that with this record, too. However people want to listen to it is fine by me.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How Shagari Granted Ojukwu Amnesty


The late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s former media aide, Mr. Kanayo Esinulo, today concludes his account of life with Ikemba Nnewi
Saturday December 17, 2011
- Daily Sun

Gowon’s pardon

By 1981, particularly after President Shehu Shagari granted amnesty to General Yakubu Gowon, Emeka, who was fond of calling Gowon ‘Jack,’ felt that their ‘two cases’ could have been considered in tandem, but because the people of Plateau made a strong case for Gowon, while ‘the East’ was not able to present a united front on his case, it would appear to Shagari that Gowon’s case was a more pressing national issue. He then suggested that we pursue a new initiative by making the necessary contacts with those within the listening range of President Shagari and others outside of this orbit. The primary targets were Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Dr. Ibrahim Tahir and Chief Victor Masi.

Okadigbo was to be the arrowhead, since he was the Political Adviser to the President. Tahir, then Chairman of the Board of Nigerian Telecommunications, was chosen because of his influence and political pre-eminence within northern political circles. Masi was an important Minister of Works in the Shagari administration and a brilliant Army Captain with the Biafran Army Engineers. General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu gave these as his reasons for preferring that we worked with these eminent Nigerians.

The meeting with Tahir and Obiano

In part two of this narrative that appeared last week, I traced the initial involvement of Okadigbo in the project of Emeka’s homecoming, and how I took him and Obiozo to Bingerville to meet and discuss with the General. Soon after we returned to Nigeria, we tracked Dr. Tahir at Ikoyi Hotel, where he was temporarily accommodated. He was very warm and polite to us and Okadigbo had tutored Vincent Obiano and I how to present the case to Tahir. As he chain-smoked, he listened us out and made promises he so dutifully fulfilled. We then moved to Victor Masi’s official residence in Ikoyi. He was waiting for us. Obiano had contacted him, for they knew themselves at the University of Nigeria in the early sixties. Here, again, the reception was warm and friendly. Before we knew it, Emeka called Chief Ike Onunaku, a top management staff of the United Africa Company (UAC) (I mean the UAC under Chief Ernest Shonekan), who was a part of us and who hosted so many of our meetings in those difficult days, to say he was getting feelers on how effective the team had become. By this time, Emeka had asked Colonel Joe Achuzia to join us and to handle the security component of the project. We continued to meet regularly at Onunaku’s Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi residence – Bless his soul.

Ojukwu met Shinkafi in London

One early Saturday morning, Onunaku sent his driver to bring me to Ikoyi. ‘What about’? I asked the driver. He wouldn’t know beyond the instruction to get to my Ikeja residence and “get Kanayo here before two o’clock.” When I arrived, I was told that the General wanted to give me a new brief by 3pm, and since I didn’t have a telephone at home, Onunaku’s place at Ikoyi was the best option. At exactly three o’clock, the call came through and Emeka said he had just returned to Abidjan from London, where he had “fruitful and rewarding discussions” with the Director-General of the Nigeria Security Organization (NSO), Alhaji Shinkafi. I was to constitute a strong media team to start working on softening the ground for his journey home. His meeting in London with Shinkafi had increased his optimism that his days in exile were, indeed, coming to an end, he said. He sounded slightly excited, and I was happy and so was Chief Onunaku.

The media campaign

Two days later, I traveled to Enugu on a Nigeria Airways flight, in the company of Vincent Obiano. We were in Enugu to ask for the support of a good friend and colleague, Obinwa Nnaji, who was then Editor of Sunday Satellite of the Satellite Newspaper Group in Enugu. We confided in him and told him precisely how the General wanted the media aspect of the project handled from the East. After getting his advice, support and firm commitment, Vincent and I came back to Lagos. The following day, I drove to Iwaya Road Yaba, Lagos to brief and request the support and sympathy of veteran journalist and editor, Gbolabo Ogunsawo, the former editor of Sunday Times. Emeka knew him by reputation and specifically advised me to reach out to him. In his days as the editor, the weekly was reputed to be the highest circulating newspaper in Africa, south of Sahara. And from exile, he was a loyal reader of Sunday Times.

We secured Gbalabo’s sympathy and through him the understanding of the Unity Party of Nigeria, as well as access to as many editors in the Lagos/Ibadan media axis as possible. Obinwa Nnaji also inherited the duty of getting his editor colleagues in the South East to step up the media campaign. Before we all knew it, Ojukwu’s return to Nigeria had developed into a huge national discussion and conversation. Indomitable Tai Solarin added his voice in an article that was published in both the Nigerian Tribune and the Daily Sketch.

The debate was now widening and going in the direction we had planned. And Emeka was letting us know that he was following developments closely but warned: “You must not relent until Shagari pronounces the magic word ‘Emeka, Come Home.’” Dr. Chuba Okadigbo was doing just fine in the political turf. He called me one day to say that the media tempo must not go down at all. Gbolabo, Obinwa and I were taking care of the media angle. Colonel Achuzia (now a chief in his native Asaba and its Ochiagha) was making progress with security arrangements. Everything was going good. Everybody was cooperating and the end of Emeka’s days in exile was nearing its terminal stage.

Shagari’s declaration

In a terse statement issued by the presidency, Shehu Shagari allowed Emeka to come home and a huge volley of joy and jubilation were unleashed. Preparations for his trip home began in earnest. Individuals and groups that were afraid to mention Emeka Ojukwu’s name in public since January 1970 began to come out of their holes, like termites. I remember one fellow who refused to touch the letter from Ojukwu to him in 1972, and even warned Emeka Enejere and I never to mention that we ever saw or came to his office located in central Lagos, was busy granting elaborate press interviews soon after the amnesty announcement. He was hailing the General as “my infinite hero,” who is on his way back home. Such is life.
At the end of it all, however, many genuine Igbo groups made contacts with us and began to donate time and buses that would convey people to Lagos and back.

The Cote d’Ivoire angle

Many Ivorians, too, voluntarily donated huge sums for the printing of thousands of T-shirts. Emma Ackah, an Ivorian presidency staff, was in-charge of that. Emeka had instructed what should be written on the shirts – simple Igbo words, ‘ONYEIJE NNO.’ What happened at the airport the day he arrived Nigeria is now history. The day his body arrives Nigeria will record yet another history.

It is on this note that I say, with tears in my eyes, to my General, mentor, adviser and ogam: sleep well and good night – Chukwu nabata mkpuru obi gi. Ka emesia!

Interview: Ojukwu Never Repeated His Instructions - Orderly


Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka - Daily Sun Exclusive Interview

Sixty-five-year-old Elder Chief Godwin Okeke-Ejim was the Police Orderly to the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu for three years when he was Head of State of Biafra till the day he left the shores of Nigeria to Ivory Coast (now Cote d’Ivoire).

In this exclusive interview with Saturday Sun at his Enugu residence, Elder Ejim confessed that he felt terribly bad on hearing the news of the death of his former boss, saying, “My father died, my mother died I did not shed tears, but when Ojukwu died, I shed tears.

Elder Ejim, who hails from Ugbawka in Nkanu East Local of Enugu State, was 25 when he started working with Ojukwu. The orderly revealed some intimate aspects of Ojukwu including the fact that the late Ikemba never repeated his instructions.
He also graphically related a day Ojukwu had a brush with death.
Excerpts:

Posting to Ojukwu

I served as a police officer and retired in 1978. I came to serve Ojukwu in 1967 till the last day he departed to Ivory Coast in 1970 as his personal and police orderly. I was so close in a way that he trusted me so much. We were seven of us slated. We didn’t know why we were called, because in the police force, we had a routine called Daily Order. We go there every evening to pick or know where you may go or about anything at all that might concern you. In the course of that day, we read the Daily Order; we were seven short-listed sergeants and it said we had to prepare for special duties tomorrow morning and to report to Commissioner of Police’s office by 8 o’clock. The Commissioner of Police of the Eastern Region then was P. I. Okeke, now late. When we assembled, seven of us that day, around 10 o’clock, the Commissioner of Police arrived and addressed us. He said: “Well, I’m tired of sending orderlies to Col. Ojukwu. Each time, none serves up to one month to three months before he comes back for one accusation or the other”, that now, he was taking all of us to go and see him in his office at the State House. Whoever he picks, it’s his luck because this was a man that when his name is mentioned, you begin to shiver.

We were driven to that place from the Police Headquarters, Enugu to what is now the Orthopedic Hospital where we had the State House. We got to that place around 11a.m. Ojukwu arrived. We were marched before him as he sat down and when we lined up, they introduced us and he looked from left to right and immediately he pointed at me and said, “You, come out, the rest can go”. That was the verdict. Every other person left in jubilation. I didn’t know how I felt, it was a mixed feeling but I thank God. He told the ADC, who was the Major, to tell me what to do. He told me exactly why others left; that I am the 7th person now, that I should look very sharp because I am serving him directly.

His job

From there, the job started. The next thing he did by the time he was retiring by 6pm in the evening was that he gave me one key to the office and said: “Look, I am having one key to this office and I am giving you one. So, make sure that nothing leaks, make sure that no information leaks from my office and that nothing is being searched for, otherwise…” he nodded. I said that by the grace of God that nothing will go amiss. So, he said okay. He didn’t even ask me questions about where I come from. We have worked for almost two to three years before one day he asked me: “Where do you come from, Edwin?” He calls me Edwin instead of Godwin and I said, from Ugboka.

Our movement from Enugu started when Enugu fell. We were the last to move. He likes truth and he likes cleanliness. He told me that whenever he calls me, I should be at least one yard away from him; that he need not be shouting to me. I agreed and I maintained that. Even if he was in a meeting and you know he always stays at the extreme, once I hear him through the signs he made electronically, I will march and go there, greet him and then he will give me the instructions.

It so happened that, throughout my service with him, he trusted me and I maintained it. The instructions made me to deny every other association with everybody even friends. He gave the instruction, I feed from the kitchen; they give me food three times or as much as possible because I wouldn’t have time to go to my house to do anything. I prepare, anytime he goes out or has occasion to wear military uniform, I do it because the ordinary squad wouldn’t starch it well or do maintaining because this is what I was trained for as a policeman. I maintained my own uniforms. As the war developed, I wouldn’t go to war because I was not a war cabinet member but he made sure that every other domestic matter, I take care of them, he instructs me and he never repeats his instructions. He was very strict. He liked me so much that, throughout three years, he never for one day scolded me; he never scolded me at all, having learnt what made others to be brought back. Even as I was there, my promotion ran up to the ASP within the war period. I was promoted. You know, after the war, you have to abandon your old rank and go back.

The man Ojukwu

He was a man who loved work more than anything; that is why, when I got to hear that his eyes were bad, I knew exactly that he overstressed his eyes even though I’m not a doctor. He was always reading, he was writing always, he was always there buried in books. Imagine a man who read in Oxford, obtained a Master’s degree and everyday he was there – day and night – holding series of meetings, writing, doing all these and giving out instructions. So, the much I can remember is that we worked very cordially as much as I could and the family members all know me. I know the mother, the father; I got to know him when he died at Nkalagu. That was where he passed on. Maybe he didn’t want to be carried overseas because the money was there. I liken Ojukwu to Jesus Christ because he was a man who obtained his degrees from overseas and shunned every other work only to join army and in the army, he proved beyond every reasonable doubt that he liked the job.

He rose very well in rank and because of his love for the Igbo people, he denied himself of everything and later became Head of State of Biafra as mandated by the people then. You can imagine how he ran that war, using everything; I think he might even have used his father’s money. But what I’m sure of is that he used every opportunity he had to see that the war progressed, aimed at making his goal to be achieved by establishing the Republic of Biafra. But due to the fact that so many things were against him, it had to be abandoned. You know Jesus came into this world, abandoning the best things God set for Him in heaven only to come and suffer and die for us. So the man, Odumegwu Ojukwu, picked that attribute of Jesus because, with his wealth and his father’s wealth, he needed not suffer for us at all. He was as a sacrificial lamb, which people are now realizing. In fact, his actions tended to stabilize Nigeria, otherwise it would have been a different matter. I don’t condemn him for the actions taken, otherwise you and I would not have been talking. We would have been decimated long ago.

Close shave with death

I met him when he was just three months old as the administrator of the Eastern Region. Everything was going normal until the Biafran was declared. That time, we never slept again. The moment Biafran nation was declared, there was no rest for him; there was no rest again for anybody serving him. Wherever he was, I will be at the door. I screen anybody entering to see him. You do not enter unless I announce you and before then, I must have searched you and announced you and he said okay, come immediately or give me five minutes to finish up. I took up security at the doorpost before you go to meet him.

We were close to death on one particular day due to aircraft bombing. We would have perished at Madonna, Mbano area because that very day, during the heat of the bombing mission by the Nigerian aircraft, we were there. He was interviewing people and doing his normal duties, suddenly an aircraft zoomed in around 12 noon. When the aircraft came, myself and the security officers zoomed into his office because the canon fires were too close, even the aircraft bombed the Mercedes car with which we arrived. I know exactly that it was targeting us and the car was very close to the office. We pushed him (Ojukwu) down and all of us lay on him as protection but when this aircraft became desperate and the bombing became intense, we remembered there was a temporary bunker. We said, let’s go into the bunker and he reluctantly rose up and we walked into the bunker. The moment the last of us entered the bunker, there was darkness everywhere. His table, chairs, books and documents, which were on the table where he was working, all got shattered and burnt. That could have been a calamity. This happened at Madonna near Isieke, Mbano in the present Imo State.

That was the only close shave with death I witnessed by myself and you know that whatever happened to him that time will affect us. I wouldn’t have been here with you by now. That was the day I shivered. When we came out, there were so many casualties. I remembered that one European came to our office in the name of offering relief few days before the attack, I suspected him. It was when the aircraft took the first dive; it was so low that I noticed his face. We didn’t know that he came to sabotage us and it was less than a week. He was an Egyptian pilot because it was a Russian-made aircraft that could have destroyed us, but we thank God really. That was an incident that was touching.
The next one was when Ugwuta was falling; he (Ojukwu) went there too. I was there and he was at the war front. He taught me how to load HMG. Until water bomb finished our cars there, the cars we took there, we had to retreat. We came back in the night with another car. The man suffered. He took strange actions, which a Head of State wouldn’t even take. So, these were the sacrifices he made. It would have been a tragic event for us.

Lessons from Ojukwu

You know, he is not a relation, he is not a friend, and my approach with him was always instructional. You do this, you go there, and so, we have no social contact. He was a man who didn’t drink. He takes coffee and by then he was a chain-smoker. 555, that’s what he takes. He never tasted alcohol and he wasn’t eating too much. He never told me anything that was not instructional or related to my duties. He kept me at a distance and I kept him at a distance, knowing that there were other people ahead of me and his immediate brothers who he could always converse with.

Ojukwu’s departure

We sojourned longer at Umuahia. We got disorganized. We even ran to Ogwa in now Mbaitoli Local Government of Imo State in the house of Iheanacho. After about a day or two, we moved to Nnewi and that was in January. The last day, all the dignitaries you can think of in this Biafran setup, they all went in and held a meeting. I don’t usually stay in their meetings, I can’t be there. I will be at the corridor. Eventually, that meeting held for a whole day; from morning till around 1 O’clock in the night. Suddenly, vehicles were set up, heading for Uli Airport. I normally sat in the front to open the door and close it as an orderly. On getting to Uli, it was just like a market, filled with people with a very large plane; Super Consolation, stationed. He entered with most of these dignitaries that went out with him and I realized he was leaving.

Before the door of the aircraft was shut, he sent somebody to the door of the aircraft to say I should come in. I replied to that man to tell him that I didn’t know we were leaving here. That, in fact, I cannot enter the plane. If my wife had been around or if I had known that it was a movement of that nature, I would have joined him to fly. That was the last I saw him and that was the end of my service to him. That was also the end of the war. Since then, I was communicating with his brothers and at a certain time; they wanted me to come to Ivory Coast because when they come, they would say they want that honest orderly.

Yes, that’s what they branded me honest orderly. They came to my house and said my master wanted me to come to Ivory Coast; that there is a job I will do for him. I told them that my family has expanded and that I can’t just be moving like that. They needed me then but I said no because I know it was either to take care of some of his businesses there or things like that.

Ojukwu’s return

When he returned around 1983, I went to him. He was happy. He received me and asked me to take lunch with him. When it was announced that that orderly came, he left every other thing, came and embraced me. He said I shouldn’t go until I take lunch and I obeyed. You know, he was not a person you visit anyhow without having something serious. He was down-to-earth, he likes you to come but the duty of the work wasn’t really giving him the chance to be receiving people anyhow because he was not a man you go to gossip to about anything. He was a very intelligent man. I later became President of the Customary Court; writing and doing other court duties. I saw him when he was at Hill view area this Independence Layout. There was a day he was passing through this area, eventually he stopped at a suya spot. I raced to that place and called him ‘master.’ He said ‘orderly.’ He came down and we embraced. People converged and were surprised. After asking about my welfare and family, he bought what he wanted to buy and left. He was a very brave man. When he went into politics, people were skeptical about his involvement in politics. When you have your facts at your fingertips and you know that God is with you, you can go to your enemies’ camp and come out. He will tell you the reality; he will tell you exactly what happens.

After Ojukwu’s depature

Immediately he left, there was order for me to return to police. I rejoined police and I got resposted like every other person. Along the line in 1970, I was in Lagos where I was posted, I attended an interview on two occasions and I was confronted with “you served the rebel”. They threw the accusation to me during Board members promotion interview in 1976 because we used to have annual Board Interview. I said how, sir? The then Commissioner of Police said, “look at your picture with Ojukwu.” I said, “yes, I served him, sir, but I was there on posting. I did not apply for it.” He said but why didn’t you refuse it? I said that if I declined it, I would be declared a saboteur; that was why I had to be there. I didn’t apply.

In 1977, they confronted me in Lagos again when I went, “you are a rebel agent” and I told them I didn’t apply. I was on posting by the Commissioner of Police then, later IG. So, there was noting I could do. My situation was defenceless. Immediately after that interview, I planned to leave before I would be dismissed, because there were people who could take action against you. I had to quit the force at least to have a good record that I wasn’t dismissed. Till today, I get my pension with the little rank that I held, otherwise by then, I was having more than 15 years to serve and by then I would have risen but today, I thank God, its no longer an issue.
So, that ended my career abruptly. I didn’t think of it, there were no consultations. I said why should I be defending one thing, instead of asking me questions on my police duties, why do you then come to blackmail me? I can’t defend what is indefensible and I thank God because now, I’m not indebted to anybody. God has blessed my family. I have children and almost all of them are now graduates and they are doing well. It’s God who leads. He provided and He makes provisions for my children.

News of his demise


I saw the news of his demise as I was watching CNN. I saw only that Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Biafran leader is dead. The spoon with which I was taking my jollof rice, I didn’t know when I dropped it on the ground instead of the table, I dropped it on the ground. I shivered. I felt it to the marrow of my bones. I thought he would have made it. I never expected his death now. I did not; if he had been in Nigeria, maybe but in overseas? No. But I am praying that God never abandons him in His kingdom. When Jesus came, He liberated the oppressed, He gave the blind sight, Ojukwu followed that example, he liberated the oppressed. Igbos are being desecrated, I was there; from time to time, we will go to the airport to receive corpses during the pogrom. He had the mind to carry the people, unshaken for that period of three years. God didn’t want him to go beyond this.

So, I thank God for his soul because God will not abandon him because His ways are not our ways, His plans are not our plans, His thoughts are not our thoughts. It’s there in the Bible; people might condemn you but God will not do so. God is a powerful God and He gave him the chance to do all these things. He could have been eliminated during the war, but no, he did as a human being, Jesus is a Spirit. I’m only sorry that much time was not given to him so that he would eventually live to see more progress in Nigeria.

Utterances of Bigotry and Hatred against the Igbo, Northern Nigeria House of Assembly, Feb-March 1964


“On the allocations of plots to Ibos, or allocation of stalls I would like to advise the minister that these people know how to make money and we do not know the way and manner of getting about this business. We do not want Ibos to be allocated with plots, I do not want them to be given plots.”

---------------Mallam Muhammadu Mustapha Maude Gyari

“I would like you, as the Minister of land and Survey, to revoke forthwith all certificates of occupancy from the hands of the Ibos resident in the Region. [Applause from the assembly floor].

--------------Mallam Bashari Umaru

“I am very glad that we are in Moslem country, and the government of Northern Nigeria allowed some few Christians in the region, to enjoy themselves according to the belief of their religion, but building of hotels should be taken away from the Ibos and even if we find some Christians who are interested in building hotels and have no money to do so, the government should aid them, instead of allowing Ibos to continue with the hotels.”

--------------Mr. A. A. Agigede

“I am one of the strong believers in Nigerian unity, and I have hoped for our having a United Nigeria, but certainly if the present trend of affairs continues, then I hope the government will investigate first the desirability and secondly the possibility of extending the Northernization policy to the petty Ibo traders. [Applause].

--------------Prof. Iya Abubakar (special Member: Lecturer, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria)

“I would like to say something very important that the Minister should take my appeal to the federal government about the Ibos in the Post Office. I wish the members of these Ibos be reduced. There are too many of them in the North. They were just like sardines and I think they were just too dangerous to the region.”

---------------Mallam Mukhtar Bello

“Mr. Chairman, Sir, well, first and foremost, what I have to say before this honorable House is that we should send a delegate to meet our honorable Premier to move a Motion in this very Budget Session that all the Ibos working in the Civil Service of Northern Nigeria, including the native authorities, whether they are contractors, or not, should be repatriated at once.

--------------Mallam Ibrahim Muse
“There should be no contracts either from the government, native authorities, or private enterprises given to Ibo contractors. [Government Bench: Good talk and shouts of “Fire the Southerners.”] Again Mr. Chairman, the foreign firms too should be given time limit to replace all Ibos in their firms by some other people.”

--------------Mallam Bashari Umaru

“It is my most earnest desire that every post in the region, however small it is, be filled by a Northerner. [Applause]”

-------------The Premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sarduana of Sokoto

“What brought the Ibos into this region? They were here since the colonial days. had it not been for the colonial rule, there would hardly have been any Ibo in this region. Now that there is no colonial rule the Ibos should go back to their region. There should be no hesitation about this matter. Mr. Chairman, North is for Northerners, east for the easterners, West for for the Westerners, and the Federation is for all. [Applause}.”

--------------Alhaji Usman Liman

“Mr. Chairman, Sir, I do not like to take up much of the time of this House in making explanations, but I would like to assure members that having heard their demands about Ibos holding land in Northern Nigeria, my ministry will do all it can to see that the demands of members are met. How to do this, when to do it, all this should not be disclosed. In due course, you will all see what will happen. [Applause]”

-------------Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Cashash, Minister of Land and Survey

(Statements on the floor of the Northern House of Assembly on what to do about the Igbos - [Feb-March 1964] presented by Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu at the OAU Special Session, Addis Ababa, August 05, 1968.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

C. Odumegwu Ojukwu on "The Future Of Africa"


“...Colonial state generates a colonial posture. This automates a series of complexes which remain with the African long after the colonial stimulus has ceased to have direct contact. The continuation of these complexes is seen in a state of mind which permits colonialism as a reflex. During this period the remoteness of the stimulus is often misinterpreted as nonexistent, thus generating a false sense of security in the minds of Africans lately out of bondage. The stimulus exists, its virulence undiminished. In fact, what happens is that the imperial power at this time, finding itself undisturbed, conserves energy, spreads its contagion, prepares the ground, and concentrates all its efforts toward the achievement of its main objective--that of economic exploitation.

These were my views as a student, discovered in a pile of my student-days essays. Today, after fifteen years, my views remain sunstantially unchanged. The future of Africa depends entirely on the ability of the African to overcome his own colonial mentality, which permits his erstwhile colonial masters to manage him by impulses generated from a remote control station, usually some European capital.

For the African, therefore, to measure up as a man in the full sense of the word, for him to be truly free, it becomes imperative that he must first understand himself, his psychological disability, then recognize his enemy--still his erstwhile colonial master--recognize the fact of neocolonialism, its destructive potential, and then take urgent and drastic steps to rid himself of this malignant blight which, if left unchecked, will surely destroy him. This is why I believe that the Black man will not emerge until he is able to build modern states based on a compelling African ideology.

The need for an African ideology arises from the fact that the withdrawal of the colonial masters and the effect of a long period under tutelage left most emergent African countries with an ideological vacuum. In order to fill this vacuum, the battle for men’s minds continues in Africa today. The African leaders is often left with very little to choose between one ideology or the other, each designed to serve needs other than his own. It is this that creates in Africa a state of instability, and this instability is bound to continue until Africa generates from within an ideology of equal dynamism that can fill the vacuum and act as a bulwark against foreign imposition. Our struggle, therefore, is African nationalism conscious of itself and fully aware of the powers with which it is contending...”

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Biafra Lodge, Owerri, May 30, 1969

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Ojukwu on "Our Role In The Development Of Nigeria"


Christian education and Western training stimulated and enriched our native resourcefulness, industry, and dynamism and so contributed in no small measure to the leading role we played in the development of Nigeria during the half century before 1966. In all spheres of life in the former Federation of Nigeria--economic, social, cultural, political, and constitutional--we were in the forefront of the struggle for unity and equality, justice and progress. Economically, down to the late 1950s, our territory was relegated to the backwaters as a destitute area. national institutions, projects, and utilities were deliberately sited outside our territory.

Nevertheless, we invested confidently in the development of whole of Nigeria. We unhesitatingly built houses, hotels, shops, market stalls, etc,. in various parts of the country, sometimes on the strength of mere certificates of occupancy which could be, and indeed often were, revoked at will in Northern Nigeria. We provided intermediate and high-level manpower for the development of Nigeria, only to be later frustrated and expelled from positions we had earned on merit.

After the fashion of the Christian missionaries, we built schools and colleges and supplied teachers and lecturers for general education throughout the country. In the same manner, we established hospitals and nursing homes and provided doctors and nurses for healing and tending the sick. We strove in every way to identify ourselves with the peoples of the areas in which we settled. We spoke their language; we intermarried with them; and Northern Nigerians even declared that, because we wore their dresses, they had conquered us culturally. Yet, in spite of all this, in Northern Nigeria we were physically and socially segregated from the indigenous people. In contrast, the people of Western Nigeria who shared the same education and cultural experience, took pride in being “traditionally reluctant” to settle in and contribute to the development of places outside their region...”

In the field of political and constitutional development, while we advocated a strong united Nigeria and had for our watchword one country, one constitution, one destiny, Northern Nigerians consistently and openly maintained that the Amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914 was “a mistake.” Not surprisingly, in January 1950, at the General Conference Summoned at Ibadan to discuss proposals for the review of the Nigerian Constitution, the Northern Nigerian delegates announced that “unless the Northern Central Legislature it would ask for separation from the rest of Nigeria on the arrangements existing before 1914.” In other words, Northern Nigeria would secede. Eventually, to avoid breaking up the country, we conceded this demand.

At the Ibadan conference of 1950, also, Northern Nigerians insisted that “only Northern Nigerian male adults of twenty five years or more, resident in the region for three years, should be qualified for election to the Northern House of Assembly.” In reply, our delegates were obliged to enter a minority report in which they raised an issue of fundamental principle. They asserted:

“It is our view invidious that any Nigerian could under a Nigerian Constitution be deprived of the right of election to the House of Assembly in any region in which he for reason of the accident of birth or ancestry.”

Three years later, in May 1953, during one of the recurrent constitutional crises of those years, Northern Nigeria again agitated for secession. They published an eight point proposal for the establishment of a “Central Agency” to maintain what was in effect a Common Services Organization. To secure the implementation of this proposal by force, Northern Nigerian leaders organized and carried out violent demonstrations, during which they slaughtered and wounded hundreds of our people then resident in Kano, Northern Nigeria, acts of genocide which they had perpetrated at Jos in Northern Nigeria earlier in 1945. In the end, we had to abandon the idea of a strong and united country which we had been advocating and, with difficulty, persuaded Northern Nigeria to accept a stronger federal system of government than that which was envisaged by them.

The following year, as a result of its failure to absorb Lagos, Western Nigeria also threatened to secede and was only prevented from proceeding to make good the threat by a stern and timely warning from the British Secretary of State for the colonies, Mr. Oliver Lyttleton (afterward Lord Chandos).

Address Delivered at the OAU Special Session, Addis Ababa, August 05, 1968

Interview With Los Angeles Fashion Designer Porscha Starr


Tell me about yourself

Porscha Woodard was born in Los Angeles, California. She is a 22 year old entrepreneur. Her interest is designing Lingerie. She is currently the CEO and Founder of Porscha Starr.

What inspired you into fashion and modeling?

For as long as I can remember I have been interested in fashion. I can think back to being a little girl and playing dress-up in my mother’s clothes, shoes and accessories.

I used to wish that I was old enough to wear her clothes and imagine my friends and myself going out and wearing the hottest clothes and driving the fanciest cars to accent our wardrobes. For Christmas I would get lots of dolls in all shapes, heights, colors and sizes and lots of clothes to dress them up in. My friends loved coming over to play and to see what amazing new thing that I have done to my dolls. As I got older, my friends began to call me up and ask if I could go shopping with them and assist them in finding the perfect outfit, especially at the beginning of the school year.

So what is fashion modeling to you?
Fashion Modeling is Classy, Sexy and very Edgy. Fashion Modeling introduces all the new hot and upcoming trends to the public eye.

What’s your take on the fashion industry?I believe the fashion industry is changing to a more futuristic style. The two female artists that have a huge impact on the fashion industry are Lady Gaga and Beyonce.

What are your best moments in the fashion shows you’ve featured?

My best moments are watching the models walk the runway; I love the walk, the wardrobe and the energy.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No

Who is your favorite performer?

Beyonce. She is an amazing performer, brings lots of energy to the crowd, and has awesome wardrobe and hairstyles.

What are you working on now?
Porscha Starr Lingerie new designs and upcoming events, currently preparing for Porscha Starr Launch event.

Any clothing line yet?

Yes. Clothing line is Porscha Starr.

www.porschastarr.com

Porscha Starr Lingerie Fashion Photo Shoot by Arthur St. John

Monday, December 05, 2011

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (1933-2011)




“Our struggle is a positive commitment to build a healthy, dynamic, and progressive state which will be a bulwark against neocolonialism, and the pride of Black men the world over. The failure of the Nigerian experiment was a tragic result of a refusal by both Nigeria and the world to recognize, accept, and accommodate the obvious and painful fact that Nigeria was not and could never be a nation. The nations comprising the Federation lacked all the necessary factors for cohesion, and her peoples the necessary will. The center, therefore, could not hold.”

----------------------Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, 1969

Mississi, ele ebe umuazi gara? where have the kids gone, my father would ask my mother upon his return from his daily routine of trading at Mokola market in Accra, Ghana. My father never called the woman (my mother) he spent his lifetime savings to marry, by her first name until death did them part. It had always been mississi, and my father never added the letter “m” to lay a claim. It was just respect for the lady who bore all his children. Mma and Mpa, we hope you are all doing well out there in the environment only our Creator knows, and, still, beyond our reasoning.

We talked a lot about a country and ethnic group we knew nothing of; just that our parents spoke the language to us even though we talked back sometimes in Ga, having identified themselves as a people with distinct language and culture, way far from where we lived.

We were little brats, diversified in culture and ethnic origin, growing up, playing together on the playgrounds and amusement parks at Ruga, Nima and Kanda Estates. We watched all the television movies and knew all the casts by their names, including the sports telecasts--Bonanza, High Chaparral, “Marverick,” The Lone Ranger, The Saint, Ghanaian National Football League engagements and often times, the Black Fire card playing games in our neighborhood--together with my childhood pals; Theodore Onyeji, Eugene Onyeji, John Bull and Hellistus and on occasions, with Chukwu Egbejimba.

While growing up in that multi-ethnic, multicultural and multireligious community, I watched my father and his Igbo kins in the neighborhood, gather and talk about developments in their homeland, the fate of their brothers, sisters and relatives. I had noticed something out of the ordinary brewing in my native-land as my father’s gestures and expressions obviously indicated, which as it appeared, was full of uncertainties. It was not to be pleasant; the consequences would be ominous when Yakubu Gowon’s-led genocidal campaign against the Igbo nation was all over.

Afrter my first experience during the time Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in Ghana, February 1966, some five weeks before the military juntas carried out a coup that would fail in Nigeria from around which the Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and a few northern Nigeria politicians and military personnel lost their lives. My father and his kinsfolk within the Accra metropolis wore troubling looks, and had been restless on what they have been hearing over the air waves and reading all along from the news reels, including the speculations which spread all over, in form of propaganda about declaration of war.

Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi had been flogged, kidnapped and brutally murdered in a counter coup, organized by a Murtala Mohammed-led northern Nigeria military mutineers, six months after taking the nation’s affairs of state, during which time he sacked the regional administrations and appointed military governors, promulgating new decrees, particularly Decree no. 34, also known as the Unification Decree in attempt to unite the country after the January 15, 1966 coup.. Lt.-Col Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was assigned to the Eastern Region. “Decree 34 was intended to establish a National Executive Council for the whole country with the regional military governors as members and to unify the top cadres of the civil service to ensure the efficient administration of the country for the duration of the military regime. Ironically enough, it was this decree that sparked off widespread rioting and violence directed against the lives and property of Eastern Nigerians in Northern Nigeria. It did not seem to matter to the leaders who planned the riots that Eastern Nigerians were in a terrible minority (3 out of 9 members) in the Supreme Military Council that too the collective decision.”

But the pogrom which would erupt in the aftermath of Ironsi’s assassination by the bloodletting nihilists would be a case of a shocking realization to my father and his kinsfolk who had become worried on the sudden about face in the country’s state of affairs that would place Nd’Igbo in fear, being sought from place to place, persecuted and murdered in the most brutal way; and which would eventually lead to the thirty-month civil war; Igbos would be desperately starved to death, outnumbered, plundered and demolished.

While my father and his folks focused on the next line of action as to the fate of their country men all around Nigeria, coupled with the fear of what was unfolding; we, the little kids, also, wondered what was going on, even though we were clueless of what had become of my native-land, especially on relatives in a far away land we knew nothing of or have seen, and yet to encounter.

However, it came to a point when we got the drift--that war had broken out in my native-land between the federal Nigerian vandals and a newly created sovereign nation of Biafra. The chant of Biafra begun to fill the air in our neighborhood with my father and his folks clung on to the transistor radio my father used to check for updates and the goings on in and around a war torn Biafra-Nigeria world. A new nation had been born and, Ojukwu had justified the declaration of Biafran nationhood from series of consultation with the international and diplomatic community; his regional kith and kins; the Consultative Assembly and Council of Elders and Chiefs; and a war-mongering Yakubu Gowon-led federal Nigerian invaders and vandals who would not respect and uphold the decisions reached at Aburi, Ghana.

Ojukwu was born on November 4, 1933, in Zungeru, Northern Nigeria, a very small town the colonial administrator Frederick Lugard picked as capital over Jebba and Lokoja on the basis Zungeru was in the center. Before the crisis of 1966, many Igbo people lived in its proximity. Zungeru, also, the birthplace of the Great Zik of Africa, the nation’s keystone founder, as well, had a population of about 3000 by then.

Ojukwu’s military conversion took place in 1957 when he joined the Nigerian Army as the first indigenous university graduate. He would enter Eaton Hall Cadet School in Chester, England, that same year, and would be commissioned with the rank of second lieutenant. He would later attend officers courses at the Hythe and Warminister and would return to Nigeria in 1958; and would be appointed Company Commander of the Fifth Battalion of the Nigerian Army, in Kano, immediately. In May 1969, he was promoted to general by unanimous decision of the Biafra Consultative Assembly. Upon his return from the Ivory Coast on unconditional pardon by President Shehu Aliyu Shagari in 1982, countless honors were bestowed on him. Among the honors, the first title granted an Igbo by his kith and kin, the Ikemba 1 of Nnewi; Dike Di Oranma 1 of Igboland; Eze Igbo Gburugburu and numerous other titles as title holding in Igboland had become paramount.

Ojukwu had been the subject of uncountable literary works by writers, journalists, documentaries and scholarly projects. Practically everything known about Ojukwu up to his return to Nigeria from exile through his jail time under the despotic Muhammadu Buhari-Tunde Idiagbon military juntas, had been based on what he said and wrote in his books, and countless newspaper articles by writers and journalists; and speeches and interviews.

And like in his book “Biafra: Selected Speeches and Random Thoughts,” (Harper and Row Publishers, New York: 1969) he talked about a Nigeria the Igbo had given much to in order to make it work only to be faced with bigotry and hatred by a collaborative Hausa-Fulani-Yoruba and foreign backed nihilists who had proclaimed Igbos to be the nation’s problems. Nevertheless, as it was clearly known that the Hausa-Fulani northern Nigeria had been the architects of secession with a mandate to opt out of a Nigerian national state they had said was not workable, until they ate up their words from a British guided thinking to stay put with the opportunity to take control of the fabricated nation, in its time of crossroads and foreseeable conflicts leading to the pogrom of May 1966 through Declaration and then a terribly costly civil war which by all accounts could have been avoided had Gowon and his murderous gang heeded to the genuine mandate at Aburi.

And despite all the efforts for Nigeria to work, avoiding the current trend of friction in the country after the July 29, 1966 murder of Ironsi and a continuous pogrom that followed, which had begun to spread all over the country from region to region as Igbos flee wherever they were and a federal Nigeria guaranteeing no Eastern Nigerian lives, the Consultative Assembly and the Advisory Committee of Chiefs and Elders of eastern Nigeria in its ever tasking assignments after its August 31, 1966 session, passed the following resolution:

1. We the representatives of the various communities in Eastern Nigeria gathered in this Consultative Assembly, hereby declare our implicit confidence in the military governor for Eastern Nigeria, Lieutenant Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu, in all the actions he has so far taken to deal with the situation which has arisen in Nigeria since May 29, 1966.

2. In view of the grave threat to our survival as a unit in the Republic of Nigeria, we hereby urge and empower and advise him to take all such actions that might be necessary to protect the integrity of Eastern Nigeria and the lives and property of its inhabitants.

3. We advise constant consultation by His Excellency with the Consultative Assembly.

4. In view of the gravity of the present situation, we affirm complete fault in and urge the need for solidarity of eastern Nigeria as a unit.

On September 12, 1966, Ojukwu’s broadcast with regards to the Eastern Region delegation to the regional conference in Lagos was seen as a move to seek mediation to the crisis in the country and possible agreement on agitated confederation. As it turned out, all said and endorsed was negated by a preplanned Gowon’s-led nihilists, erupting a new cycle of pogrom in Makurdi, Minna, Gboko, Kaduna, Kano and several other cities against folks of theEastern Nigeria region, killing thousands of people in a body count that included women and children.

It was not until January 1967, that after much bloodshed and, looting and coercion and theft of Igbo properties by the bloodthirsty cannibals of northern Nigeria, that another mediation was sought by the international community on advisory and, on how the pogrom could be brought to an end; giving peace a chance. Gowon’s-led genocidal campaign to wipe out Igbo from the face of the earth had agreed to submit to a meeting that probably would amount to cessation of the widespread killing of Igbos in the north and elsewhere in the country with resolutions seeking and mandating moderate ways and means to living as neighbors. Ojukwu had organized his entourage in an occasion to be chaired by Ghana’s Joseph Ankrah, who had called for the meeting in Aburi, Ghana. The meeting was well attended and a resolution reached after presentations were made from both sides.

I remember the time when the federal Nigeria delegation  and Ojukwu’s-led Eastern Nigeria entourage had arrived Aburi, and my father and his kinsfolk listened and watched each other talk about the conference, and the ongoing conflict in Nigeria; being bold and confident that a presentation so compelling and posturing brought along by Ojukwu and his eastern Nigerian delegates presenting its case of pogrom, an act carried out on a wholesale enterprise to eliminate the Igbo nation, would come to an end and both sides could move on until a path to good and normal governance was generated. But that wouldn’t be the case; Gowon and his murderous gang would change their minds disagreeing with the decision, and would fire the first shot to declare a full blown assault on the Eastern Region.

Even as little kids, we were conscious of these things and able to read the dailies including the late editions. I remember the day Teddy’s father walked in one evening with a copy of the “Evening News” its headline read, “Ojukwu wants Gowon.” I had read out loud the headline as Teddy’s father held the newspaper. Teddy’s father was uplifted in spirit though somehow astonished that a kid my age could read and perhaps knew more about the forbidden war.

The year was 1967, and Biafran troops, in a minute, on August 9, had overrun Benin, and had mounted a flag, proclaiming the Midwest a republic of its own, the Republic of Benin, with Lagos, its next target of invasion to end the unnecessary war, had a simple resolution held at Aburi was respected and upheld; which was what begun all the betrayals. First, the Igbos were determined to distance themselves from their Igboness by collaborating with a federal Nigeria initiatives to put to stop what was going on. That did not happen. There was an agenda. Igbo must be eliminated.

The case of one of Igbo intellectuals in the likes of Anthony Ukpabi Asika who had taken up the assignment of administrator of the East Central State Gowon had mapped out as war strategy to plunder and demolish the Igbo nation, was a typical example of intellectuals of Asika’s magnitude who succumbed to gullible, vulnerable rhetoric in a situation their own people were massacred anywhere they were found by the British-Russia backed federal Nigeria vandals. Asika was in Lagos as absentia administrator of the East Central State when his own very kith and kins had been denied access to the outside world, capsuled and destroyed beyond comprehension, Ojukwu compassionately mentioned of those who had betrayed “our” confidence in a blink of an eye to wipe out Igbo in its totality, and from its existence. Asika would turn out to be the worst thing ever to happen to Igbo people when he had returned to Enugu after the war to sit in as administrator on his own slogan that “onye ube ruru le ya rachaa” which was the beginning of bribery and corruption in post-civil war Igbo nation.

The Lagos government of Gowon had panicked on Biafra’s fast pace development in catching up with federal Nigeria war of annihilation which extended to the military governor of the Northern Nigeria, Lieutenant Colonel Usman Hassan Katsina, “not ruling out compulsory military service for Northerners” bragging Biafra would cease to exist in “a matter of hours.” A very long war and the most blood soaked event in the entire continent’s history, would continue apace, even when the Midwest governor Lieutenant Colonel David Ejoor had sworn while addressing Asaba people, said he would not live to see a Midwest turned into battlefield, while Gowon, in his so-called “tactical move” warns against tuning in to Biafra radio, arresting “500 people” in its violation.

The external service of the Broadcasting Corporation of Biafra (BCB) was indeed a powerful tool by way of its efficient, effective and thorough broadcasting, announced by Ikenna Ndaguba, among others. My little neighborhood on the outskirts of Accra would be unusually spooky and normal when Ndaguba is on the air proclaiming that:

“Nigerian troops had entered Ogoja. Chief Awolowo, leader of of the Nigerian delegation to OAU meeting in Kinshasha, leaves Lagos for Congo. He tells the press that before the end of the meeting Biafra will be crushed and the Biafran government will be overthrown.”

Though such announcements did not fly, it was something serious and a more formidable, strategic Biafra, well placed to resolve the drama, ending the war after Major A. Okonkwo had made the “Declaration of the Republic of Benin.”

But there would be an interference in that major breakthrough which gave Benin its sovereignty as Biafrans were western hinterland bound to Ore and then in a move that would have closed the ugly chapter. On September 20, 1967, the Biafran Liberation Army under the order of Brigadier Victor Banjo would withdraw Biafran troops from Benin to Agbor for no apparent reason which would bring about the fall of Benin to federal Nigerian troops, shattering all the hopes of liberation and “ceasing hostilities” by “offering peaceful settlement and by publishing proposals for a future relations bewteen Nigeria and Biafra.”

With the unfolding events as Ojukwu had prepared to present to OAU in its next meeting to be held in Kinshaha, Congo, a coup plot would be uncovered to overthrow the Biafran government through a high profile Biafran intelligence. Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Ifeajuna who would collaborate with Banjo and two others in their command, would be apprehended while leaving the compound of the British High Commission. During the course of Biafran intelligence work, thousands of Nigerian pounds would be found at Banjos apartment given to him by the British High Commission as fee to mastermind the overthrow of the Biafran government, with intention to abrogate the sovereign state of Biafra.

As it happened, Ojukwu would make a national broadcast with the notification of the fall of Benin because of the “deliberate withdrawal of our troops by the coup plotters.” On September 23, 1967, the four major actors of the coup--Banjo, Ifeajuna, et al.--would be court-martialed and summarily executed, which begun a whole new chapter in a war that was almost done with a Biafran victory--liberation, jubilation and celebration.

Upon the summary execution of Ifeajuna and his sabo-colleagues, traitors, the name Ifeajuna instantly became a notoriously household name as the brother who sold his own brother on the way to fight the enemies. There was a song for it: “awee mu na nwanne kwuru gaa ogu, Ifeajuna di na uzo ree nwanne ya...”

Ifeajuna had fled to Ghana on the warmth embrace of Nkrumah (who had applauded the first coup of January 15, 1966 masterminded by Ifeajuna and his colleagues in the Nigerian Army) but would return home an Ironsi’s amnesty.

As seemingly the war would drag on accounts of Banjo, Ifeajuna, et al. betrayals conniving with the Gowon-British High Commission deal, and the recapture of Benin by federal Nigerian troops, Ojukwu, before addressing the joint meeting of the Council of Chiefs and Elders, January 27, 1968, to introduce Biafra’s new currency in circulation, compiled the following in his diary:

December 25, 1967: Pope Paul VI sends two representatives to Lagos on a peace mission.

January 1, 1968: Gowon gives March 31, 1968, as the deadline for crushing Biafra...Lagos government announces change of currency as an economic measure against Biafra.

January 5, 1968: Gowon boasts about his “biggest military machine in Africa” which is to crush Biafra by March 31, 1968.

January 6, 1968: Collin C. MacDonald, Headmaster, Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar, in a letter to the London Times, accuses the Lagos government of not providing the “fundamental requirements” of security of life and property of law abiding citizens. This letter arouses protest from the International Red Cross against the conduct of the war by Gowon’s troops.

January 16 1968: Poisoned foodstuffs being smuggled to Biafra by Lagos government are seized by Nigerian troops at Ena Ora (Midwest) and mistakenly distributed to areas in Benin, Western Nigeria, and Okene in the North. Cases of death.

January 22, 1968: Nigerian currency notes cease to be legal tender in Biafra.

January 27, 1968: Biafra new currency introduced at meeting of the 7th Session of the Consultative Assembly and the Council of Chiefs and Elders.”

The nasty war would, however, rage on; losing all options to have overcome a British-Russian backed vandals, until formal ceasefire in January 1970. The war, would be declared “no victor, no vanquished,” by the leadership of a blood-lust Gowon. Ojukwu would leave and seek exile in the Ivory Coast, where he would spend thirteen years.

In Accra, the reactions was a cold feeling for a lost battle, and warmth feelings of euphoria for a bitter war begun from the pogrom, eventually ended with staggering casualties. Without much ado, my father summoned meetings, like he had done during the course of the conflict, to monitor and analyze the effects; but this time around by which the war ended, the meetings had been on body counts, family loses and what would be next step to follow. Apparently, every of my father’s kins residing in the Accra metropolis lost at least one soul to the civil war. Some had left immediately back to homeland while some had stayed for one  reason or the other. My father did not leave for reasons behind his children’s education until he was able to figure something out, especially for this writer who had to be homeward bound; and getting to know a people whose history had been unique and profoundly rich in culture, and whose history would turn out to be of political impotence and violence, of late.

As the relative discourse of the war and the wondering of Ojukwu’s plight which took center stage in every aspect of life among my father’s kinsfolk, and with the mental exhaustion of a pogrom-civil war era, and a downsizing Ghana’s workforce and collapsing economy due to an inept, corrupt and mismanaged Ghanaian resources by the Emmanuel Kotoka-Joseph Ankrah-Akwasi Amankwaa Afrifa-led military juntas, upon overthrowing Nkrumah’s administration, most Igbo residents in Accra made up their minds to leave with their families back home and start life anew or seek life elsewhere.

Ojukwu would arrive Lagos on the coach of Chuba Okadigbo, the presidential adviser on Political Affairs to Shagari, and who also had been Ojukwu’s personal friend and counsel, and chief negotiator and spokesman on matters of pardon to the erstwhile Biafran leader. Okadigbo had left a legacy during the political debates and series of television interviews that led to Ojukwu’s pardon. And when asked why Gowon had to be pardoned before Ojukwu on the basis Ojukwu was the first casualty of the nation’s most wanted men. Okadigbo, in a nutshell, came up with the riddle of the African continent where big trees falls on one another, on the road, and that lifting the one on the ground one must start from lifting up the one on top of the one on the ground.

Lagos had to be “bursting loose” upon Ojukwu’s return clouded all around the coast by Igbo men and women from all walks of life, gracefully appreciating a pardon and return that was seen in some circles as politically motivated. Ojukwu’s pardon was preceded by that of Gowon, who, too, had been declared a fugitive for masterminding on February 13, 1976, the brutal murder of Mohammed, who had relieved Gowon of his post in a coup, six months earlier, and had begun the immediate purge of the civil service that had no sense of purpose and mostly corrupt.

Within the trend of inexplicable events, Ojukwu would register his membership with the ruling party, National Party of Nigeria (NPN) that granted him unconditional presidential pardon, declaring his senate candidacy for Nnewi Senatorial District, his home base, on the platform of the NPN. There would be shouting matches, fights organized on political thuggery, deadly gangs, road rage in bitter political campaigns at Nkpor Junction, incitements of division among the Igbo elite, and all sorts of friction between Ojukwu and his political opponent, Dr. Edwin Onwudiwe, in the senate race.

Ojukwu would lose in that bitter election, and the administration that had granted him pardon would be overthrown in a bloodless coup three months after the incumbent, Shagari, was inaugurated for a second term.

Ojukwu’s political rebirth would surface again in the Fourth Republic when the Abdulsalami Abubakar’s-led military juntas had lifted the ban on political activities. In Ojukwu’s political reawakening, Chekwas Okorie, who had founded a new political party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) with the intention of an Igbo stock, had shopped around the United States for a Igbo Diaspora alliance and stalwarts to add flavor to the party’s agenda. I was in many of the meetings on the arising matters regarding the direction of APGA before Okorie went back home to place APGA’s agenda on the table and ballot for the presidential election.

As it also happened, Ojukwu was nominated APGA’s presidential candidate and a shot at the presidency with incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo, and numerous other parties’ presidential candidates. Ojukwu lost the presidential election to Obasanjo and would henceforth be active in all Igbo-related politics which came with making political enemies along the way, typical of the saying, politics makes strange bedfellows.

Ojukwu would be struck with a major stroke and would be flown to a London hospital for treatment. On Saturday, November 26, 2011, Ojukwu died after more than a year battle trying to recover from the stroke. He was seventy-eight years old.


Ambrose Ehirim

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Anti-Igbo Pogrom--Wole Soyinka


“And there, with the shift of power, the nation hoped that the bloodletting would cease -- but no. A progressive pogrom of the Igbo erupted in October the same year, a hunt for Easterners of all ages who were unfortunate enough to have heeded the call of the new regime to return to their places of work and residence in the North, reassured that all was well. They were gruesomely mistaken. Not merely from the North but from every corner of the nation, the Igbo fled homeward, wheeled contraptions every kind bearing their dismal remains and possessions into Igboland. The trainloads of refugees from the North bore pitiable cargoes; some survivors with physical mutilations, some women in such a state of shock that they clung to the severed heads of their spouses or sons, cradling them on their laps. Even within Lagos, the hunt for the Igbo continued unabated, in their homes and at roadblocks. The depletion of my wife’s wardrobe during the months of October and November was only one of many private testimonies to the desperation of one’s Igbo male acquaintance--not all of them soldiers--who resorted to female disguise to escape detection as they fled eastward. Images of death and mutilation in eastern journals and the television coverage of a savaged humanity erased the final sense of belonging in a people who saw themselves isolated within the nation and catalyzed their resolve to secede.”

Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka from his memoir “You Must Set Forth At Dawn.” The Random House Publishing Group; New York: 2006

Monday, November 14, 2011

Story Never Ends For Igbo Writer In America




Just like any other day in Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the universe, and a world that stomps on the Hollywood Walk of Fame twenty four hours a day, seven days a week and three hundred and sixty five days in a year, sightseeing and appreciating the good things of life brought about by inspiration and the wisdom of humankind.

With a flexible schedule and as things happen, and with all the stuff in my head -- some mysterious voices -- the projects I carry on my shoulders keeping up with time, thinking that I have it all together and figured out, not knowing it’s a whole lot of bunch untouched; that kept piling up as I lay pretending to be unperturbed; that it’s all fine, when a caseload of stuff yet to be done, drives me crazy.

Now overwhelmed and all mixed up; looking more and more like going through stuff I have crossed in the past while shuffling. But again, I was only visualizing from what I had been encountering all these moments, I dabbled myself into something of a long, packed closet boxes, that now needs to be dusted off; going back to the past like starting all over again.

Like one of the days back in the day, I usually keep the tabs of the goings on within my schedules every popped out events I had imagined was worth the take for keeping up toward the scheme of things in making the surroundings one lives in, a place that should be known for what it produces, characterizing it as trademark and universally accepted.

It has been a year or something now I have not been that outgoing due to the circumstances I found myself in -- diverting my course of direction, devoting more time on projects I had thought should get going before not catching up anymore and wasting all the precious time that may not be regained again; coupled with a whole lot of writing assignments -- notes on the facts and logic about a complicated Nigerian national state, affairs of state of a jumbled and bellicose Igbo nation I have been weary of pointing out, an all time Igbo Diaspora life, the African Union and an organization without rhythm, African Americans I have encountered in Los Angeles and all around the United States.

Moreover, it also did not keep out my contribution to creation, knowing my value by way of growth doing scholarly work, helping folks at public institutions who needed me on a variety of their quest for knowledge, and meeting new people in a new era; going with the flow as filmmaker, actress and friend, Esosa Edosomwan would tell me.

In my own world, what I thought I had accomplished in this day and age of madness in a dramatically changed world I have been very slow catching up.

The times of turmoil and triumph-trending women in my life; experiences with Igbo professionals, accomplished scholars and intellectuals; my colleagues in the media and generally the entertainment landscape I never imagined in a lifetime would be so, as in thoughts, passion, and actively the way it streamed along to my liking.

Reflections and the streaming days of the playgrounds at Ruga Park, by 37 Barracks of the Ghana Army at Accra; the childhood buddies -- Eugene Onyeji, Theodore Onyeji, Edward Chukwumezie, Hillary Akabuilo, Chukwu Egbejimba, Ijeoma Egbejimba, Hellistus Eke, Fanmi “Polo” Ahmed, Oko Ahmed, Emmanuel Kudjo, John Kudjo, Zakary Ibrahim, Adamu Ibrahim, Manma Sani, John Satorji, Paapa, John Bull whose Mary Go Round crash got us all cracking up but with feelings for the spoiled brat who could not hang with us at the Kanda Estate playgrounds, the Adangbe friends, Akan friends, Ashanti friends, Hausa friends, Wangara friends, Tamale friends and friends too numerous to mention, including Said Usman whom I had bumped into some few months ago while on research work and he looking for an ideal place for recess before his routine prayers at the Mosque on Exposition and Vermont, just by the corridors of University of Southern California. Usman was the last guy I could have thought grew on the same block with me in Ghana, I would meet after all these years.

With all that interest, friends long lost I have found and friends long forgotten that found me in this new age of social networking -- Silas Onyeiwu Snr. (during our Lagos days of uncertainties and our future), Gordy Ekechukwu (our Lagos days of projected higher learning pursuits), Kendryx Alfadoh (colleague in disc-jockeying, rooftop dancing, pub-crawling and partying all around Eko), Emmanuel Okafor-Ize (my hangout guy at FESTAC Town who shovelled me around and showed me the way of Los Angeles upon my arrival), Pius Obasi Totti (from the high school days of NASCO and Ikeji Arondizuogu), Aloysius Duru (from high school to the days of invading my village and me paying back invading Umuowa in return, just for the girls), Tony Ike Okpara (from high school to bad bay image days in Los Angeles), Destiny Anorue (my little cousin who saw me last when I bid the village bye), my nephews Tobechukwu, Kelechi, Iwgebuike, Ezenwa, Chika, Chidera and Uchechi (who finally caught up with me and getting it straight, eventually, in the long run.

The hurdle, inspiration, motivation and getting orderly coming to terms with reality on life being what you make it.

And, of course, that little boy about to be six-years-old in Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana, held to his hand by his father while they walked down the street to Nima Roman Catholic School in what would be a journey to eternity, commencing his first day at school, learning every day of his life that he would be an obedient boy and become the youngest ever to receive the Holy Communion and Confirmed according to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. The little kid talked about in the Diocese -- Rev. Fr. Lobianco, Rev. Fr. Tonti, Sister Mary, Brother John, and Arch Bishop Joseph Bowers.

The little kid on his way to school on that morning of February 24, 1966, grabbed by soldiers of the Ghanaian Army. Not scared and having no clue what the siege was all about, the soldiers comforted him just by the barriers of Flagstaff House and Nima, telling him that Ghana has changed, heading toward a new order on a calculated operation for a better Ghana. Nkrumah’s regime had been toppled by the Emmanuel Kotoka-led military juntas (upcoming memoirs), and a new era in the nation’s history, which would lead to many, many inexplicable events -- the counter coup, Arthur-Yeboah, Ankrah, Afrifa -- and the Afrifa transition -- to the nation’s Second Republic taken away by Kofi Busia.

Life’s journey -- the trails, good, bad and ugly -- never ceases to be amazing, amusing and fascinating. It has been what kept humankind going, the inspiration and hope of getting it straight that the future is well abound, the expectations -- high and fortunate -- not to give up.

It is with these high expectations that humankind continues to explore, work very hard to meet these goals on the ideological bearings there is no substitute for hard work, which pays off, eventually.

So, as I sat down in my little study with heaps of junked literature, neglected newspapers and magazines needed to be dumped in the waste bin, clipped articles, abstracts from archives culled from libraries around my state and other channels open for learning and research work elsewhere in America, I venture into using what I have acquired by way of the endeavors to gather and provide, in order to appreciate and extend to others what had been given to me, which makes a better world that we live in today -- the gift of sharing.

Through the gift of sharing and things like that, I have approached many institutions noted for collaborative works on research, philanthropy, welfare and other related social programs, to stand by my worthy causes as the chain and community grows.

So, as it happened, I bumped into folks while snacking and freelancing at the Wilshire Corridor hangout around the Miracle Mile in Greater Los Angeles, meeting diversified folks and going through “L.A. Rebellion: Creating A New Black Cinema,” the ongoing project playing for about a month now and ends on December 17, 2011 with closing remarks and special presentation by Ben Caldwell of “Spaces Looking In Looking Out” taking place at the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum, in collaboration with the Pan African Film Festival; and also initiated by the Getty Foundation, bringing together more than sixty cultural institutions from across Southern California to tell the story of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene with presenting sponsors -- bank of America, The Getty, Pacific Standard Time: Art In L.A. 1945-1980, The warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, California Council for the Humanities and the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences.

What had captured my attention in this phenomenal epic project launched by UCLA School of Theater, Film And Television were: “Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification,” directed by Barbara McCullough; “Penintentiary,” directed by Jamaa Fanaka; “Sankofa,” directed by HaileGerima; “To Sleep With Anger,” directed by Charles Burnett, featuring Danny Glover; “Daughters of the Dust,” directed by Julie dash, about the story of descendants of escaped slaves living on the Southern coast of the U.S. in 1902 preparing for qa move to the mainland; “Bush Mama,” directed by Haile Gerima, inspired by seeing a Black woman in Chicago evicted in winter which he developed as his UCLA thesis, and many others.

“Penitentiary,” in particular, I had watched at the Roxy Cinema, Apapa-Lagos, upon its release, reading the movie’s preview in the Right On Magazine, way back when the movie premiered. Seeing it gain took me back to this Fanaka film, depicting prison as a microcosm of African Americans, seeing the prison system as a site of continual violent struggle against bot external (the prison itself) and internal (fellow prisoners) forces played out on the bodies of inmates, who are either sexually exploited or “beasts” (the exploiters).

As the historical event unveils at UCLA through December, the African American community, the African American Association of Journalists, scholars in film, television and the arts have focused on the need to bring forth the awareness of the history and origin of Black cinema, including the director of the project, Dr. Jan-Christopher Horak who had called it “seen the amazing expression of a unified and Utopian vision of a community and in “over three years getting to know the filmmakers, collecting their work.”

In one of my travels to see a couple of films at the event and while poking around the complexes before heading home I met South African born Razianna Myeni, Cassandra Pinson, Julius Baxter, Britney Johnson, Dee Dee Richardson and Ted Calloway who had just walked out seeing “Daydream Therapy,” directed by Bernard Nicolas while we sat on the balcony of one of the eateries talking about the festival over some coffee and light drinks, applauding Horak, the events director and Shannon Kelley, the events head of public programs for collectively coordinating with the filmmakers Haile Gerima, Zenaibu Irene Davis, Barbara McCullough, Charles Burnett, Fanaka, O. Fumilayo Makarah, Jaqueline Frazier, Billy Woodbury, Ben caldwell, Larry Clark, Julie dash, Carroll Parrott Blue, Allie Sharon Larkin, Alicia Dhanifu and many others, for the approach and allowing their works to be used at the festival.

Britney, who had been working on a documentary about inner city youths in South Central Los Angeles, simply put by Dr. Jan-Christopher Horak as “there are projects that take on a life of their own, as if reality suddenly asserts itself, grabbing an idea and shaking it so that it grows and grows,” which was the case when Britney took center stage in our round table discourse giving us a hint on one of the best documentary texts, pulling out from her bag Jack C Ellis and Betsy A. MClaine’s book “A New History Of Documentary Film,” in which every discussant (besides myself who’s yet to have a take on documentary films of sort), acknowledged Ellis and MClaine’s book being a guideline for those in documentaries and stuff of that nature.

Britney, who aspires to take her projects to the shores of Africa which would be part of her knowledge-based programs in the near future, with focus on Africa and its ever growing turmoil and cases of sad reality in the continent on varieties of complicated, ethno-cultural and religious issues and differences. As related, we begun to cite series of the continent’s problems from its precolonial state to its present day, in which, I, personally, have seen many unfold -- Ghana and Nigeria -- the many coups and counter coups I bear witness.

Within this very perspective, the troubled and unstable nature following independence of the number of nations in the continent and the purpose of that pursuit being able to rule on its own standard and based on its culture, I am compelled to ask, who are the Africans? How did they get there? How was it fabricated?

In reading Ali A. Mazrui’s “The Africans: A Triple Heritage,” with regards to the African question, I came across a passage of inquiring minds and the conduct by which the continent named Africa came into being, popping out the question, “Where is Africa”? and Mazrui’s explanation:

“It could be said that Africa invented man, that Semites invented God and that Europe invented the world, or rather the concept of the world. Archaeology indicates that man originated in Africa. The Semitic people gave us the great monotheisthic world religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Europe developed the concept of the world in the wake of its voyages of discovery in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but it even imposed its form of that concept on the outlook of peoples in other continents including Africans.”

And:

“ It is not possible to overestimate the enormous impact of Europe upon our perceptions of ourselves as Africans and upon our view of the universe...Even with regard to the size of the African continent, it is quite remarkable how far European ethnocentrism has influenced cartographic projections over the centuries.”

Mazrui would go on to be mad at African ancestors on considering the actual names of the different continents of the world. Mazrui, wondering about the political stupidity of Africa when other nations and continents had chosen its own name that conforms to the nature of their being, noting on the consequences and tragedy of the African continent and with a close look, may have provoked the ancestors and obviously could be seen all around “us” by which ancestral voice could be heard in the curse depicting neglect and abandonment:

“Warriors will fight scribes for the control of your institutions;
wild bush will conquer your road and pathways;
your land will yield less and less,
while your off-springs multiply;
your house will leak from the floods,
and your soil will crack from the drought;
your sons will refuse to pick up the hoe,
and prefer to wander in the wilderness;
you shall learn ways of cheating,
and you will poison the cola nuts you serve your own friends
Yes, things will fall apart...”

Of course, it all fell apart and the walls came tumbling down. Nkrumah predicted the fold, saw the debacle in and around the African continent which he forewarned in his earlier fear of a linkage between nuclear tests in the Sahara, racism in South Africa and recolonization of the entire continent; and astonishingly revealing from what he had said over fifty years ago. In April 1960, Nkrumah had addressed an international meeting in Accra on what he had seen with his two naked eyes in vision, which would be exploding sooner than later. Nkrumah said:

“Fellow Africans and friends, there are two threatening swords of Damocles hanging over the continent and we must remove them. These are nuclear tests in the Sahara by the French Government and the Apartheid policy of the Government of the Union of South Africa. It would be a great mistake to imagine that the achievement of political independence by certain areas of Africa will automatically mean the end of the struggle.”

In a statement made by the sage half a century ago and twenty-first century African continent, should it not be mind-boggling that Nkrumah who engineered the concept of a Pan African national state and had he been around today seeing the sorry state of the continent, would he not be worried and would he not be asking, what happened?

In Wole Soyinka’s “The Burden of Memory, The Muse of Forgiveness,” lectures the Nobel Laureate delivered as the inaugural for the Dubois Institute Macmillan Lecture Series at Howard University in April 1977 citing President Nelson Mandela’s open confrontation with African National Congress (AFC) on “its own dismal record of needless cruelty and abuse of human rights, especially in prisons and detention camps run by the movement within friendly front-line states,” when the legendary Mandela had launched the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human right abuses during the Apartheid era on which Mandela spent twenty-seven years in prison. The commission was established to heal the nation’s wounds through fact findings of the demons engaged in the human enterprise of unnatural taste, and to seek resolve by way of apologies and reparations.

And Soyinka had asked on such grounds, and in retrospect using the South African post-Apartheid model, if the same could be said of post-dictatorships in other African countries with its new democratic order, following in the foot steps of the Truth and reconciliation Commission. Soyinka writes:

“Would the Truth and Reconciliation ethic have been applicable, even thinkable in post-Acheampong Ghana? In post-Mobutu Zaire? Will it be adaptable in post-Abacha Nigeria? That circumstances make such a proceeding expedient is not to be denied, but we must not shy away from some questions: would it be just? And, more important, how does it implicate both the present and the future? The crimes that the African continent commits against her kind are of dimension and, unfortunately, of a nature that appears to constantly provoke memories of the historic wrongs inflicted on that continent by others.”

No question, I too had seen many documentaries, stories and newsreels of most atrocities in Africa by Africans. In my native land on which I have written extensively to near exhaustion on too many of the subjects. I weep each time I reflect to the atrocities, with the never ending question; Is humankind alert and would it happen again? Of, course, given the necessary circumstances, it would, and still happening, and would continue, over and over again while the world watch it unfold.

And my reaction to this had always been that when the unthinkable happens in a world that deliberately inflicts wounds on its own with the thought that at the end of every tragedy, there must be a moment of reconciliation. But what would reconcile what Elemi John Agbomi, in what he had told me not too long ago when I had interviewed him (this part not published) and narrating to me his experiences as a little boy in high school, then Government Secondary School, Afikpo, and how the federal Nigeria vandals invaded the land, sacking the place and cutting short his secondary education upon declaration of war by the vandals, thus firing the first shot. “Certainly, the Biafran War was a tragedy,” Agbomi would say. And what he had seen as a nation that deliberately ignored the ominous consequences of the pogrom and civil war, Agbomi begins to talk about his experiences during the war.

At barely fifteen years old when the vandals invaded and sacked his hometown of Adadama in what is now Cross River State, and while in refugee camp at a location near Mbano in what is now Imo State, he had been drafted and enlisted in the Biafran Army with badge number BA 30 400. He talked about all sorts of atrocities committed by the vandals upon arrival to any village or town they seem to have run down. Rape, looting, kidnapping was just the order. Agbomi, just young as to not knowing what had cut his education short, a full blown assault on his homeland and all the displaced persons he could not fathom how it came about “as people like “us” were all put together at one place (refugee camp) with rationing meals, not knowing when the next order will be made for evacuation as enemy attacks draws near and becomes imminent.” “Us” means Biafra, the Igbo speaking people (Ibibio, Kalabari, Efik, etc.)

Even with hunger and food rationing, some no doubt, at the camps, hopeless and having lost some of their relatives, held on, despite all the uncertainties, until the end of the war when he had felt liberation in a war torn eastern Region; and starting life anew, all over again, with a clean slate. But Agbomi’s eyewitness account of an Orwellian drama, did not stop, short of tales horrific in human nature -- the widespread raping of Igbo women, looting of properties, demolition and plundering of the Igbo nation by the vandals.

In Minna, then northern region of the fabricated Nigeria, and under the premiership of Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto who ran the affairs of state and controlled the power block of the nation even though the central capital, Lagos, was the seat of government with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as prime minister on the platform of the Northern People Congress (NPC). Minna was another town of orgy revenge for the assassination of Balewa, Bello and other northern politicians who perished in the first military coup of 1966.

Michael Achebe Okongwu, only six years old, was in a Minna classroom as a primary school pupil when elements of the northern Islamic Jihadists, who were also hoodlums and nihilists, struck, invading the primary school where Okongwu attended, attacking every Eastern looking persons. In Okongwu’s classroom, where they were taking lessons from their teacher, a female and Yoruba by tribe, mistaken for Igbo, was brutally slain in the presence of her pupils by the nihilists who had been instructed to kill every Igbo. Even if the bare facts were known, almost no one understood the full intentions of the Hausa-Fulanis, including their Yoruba allies’ attempt to exterminate all Igbos. It was simply beyond the power of most peoples imagination. Okongwu, who now calls Southern California home, still cannot fathom the chaos, callousness, bigotry, hatred and ignorance of the premeditated pogrom of 1966 and 1967. In most times that we speak, and especially on the related pogrom and what he saw with his eyes as a little boy beginning the long walk and hauling, from Minna to Ogbunike and the continual assault by the vandals who violated every order, bombarding every enclave in Igboland, until vanquished, indicated there no such thing as one Nigeria. “I will never, ever forget,” Okongwu would always say.

Or the case of the late Egbebelu Ugobelu, born Samuel Obi, in Class 2, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Grammar School, Abagana, when, also, the vandals invaded the land in the quest to wipe out the Igbo nation from the face of the earth through its war strategy of economic blockade, hunger, starvation and stone-walling. Growing up in Port Harcourt before admission to Nnamdi Azikiwe Grammar School for his secondary education, Pot Harcourt was an Igbo dominated town and had flourished with Igbo men of commerce and industry; higher education, academia and intellectuals.

During Gowon’s genocidal campaign against the Igbo nation, Ugobelu was enlisted in the Biafran Army and stationed at the Umuahia Brigade Command before Umuahia fell to the federal Nigeria vandals. The post-civil war would see him through National Grammar School, Nike, Enugu, completing secondary school and obtaining his West African School Certificate (WASC); employment at the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Lagos; and selection for the “Crash Program” during the Murtala Mohammed-Olusegun Obasanjo-led military juntas’ projected courses, getting a shot at the United States and studying Accounting and Management Science before returning home and coming back to the shores of America four years later on the grounds of a failed state.

Ugobelu and I spoke uncountable times, and each time was about the pogrom, the civil war, Nd’Igbo and their place in history, and his experiences during the disturbances and conflicts that swallowed over two million people.

In his book, “Biafra War Revisited: A Concise And Accurate Account Of Events That Led To The Nigerian Civil War,” Ugobelu had suggestede “Biafra War,” on a title based on his notion that the war was “virtually” fought on Biafra. In many of our related discourses, he had thought I was one of the child soldiers, just from around my narratives of the northern Islamic nihilists and Gowon’s-led genocidal campaigns, until we had both begun to know each other very closely as we continued to learn from one another, detail by detail, what happened in the killing fields, the refugee camps, Obafemi Awolowo’s orchestrated “Economic Blockade,” the starvation to death of women, infants and children; and the aftermath of the projected pogrom --the horrific rape of Igbo women, and where many of the women (some tired, some reduced to animal and skeletal nature from being desperately starved), having no choice but to embrace the vandals, proclaimed liberators, to the chagrin of the survived Igbo men, who were too tired, poor, plundered and inhibited to take part in anything like that when the women were taken away, becoming the vandals’ stock.

And yet, after all these acts of human tragedy perpetrated on a people by the vandals, the Truth and Reconciliation commission created by the Olusegun Obasanjo-led regime in the Fourth Republic modelled after Mandela’s earlier commission in South Africa, under the chairmanship of Justice Chukwudifu Oputa was laughable and had no intention from its set up to investigate and find, arriving to conclusions acts of genocide committed by the blood thirsty cannibals. It is ironic, that most of these blood-lust vandals could not be asked to testify during the Oputa commission.

During Mandela’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Nigeria was already going through the hands of the despot, Sani Abacha. Soyinka’s W.E.B. Dubois’ Lecture at Howard University, particularly bent on the Truth and Reconciliation anticipating similar situation in his native country while on exile trooping the planet promoting his movement of democratic dispensation, and away from a country that had been ravaged by the despot Abacha, wishing it was the other way round. Abacha had wanted Soyinka dead or alive for inciting a pro-democracy movement that generated all the anger and frustration which was actually not concretely grounded because of its original base, and with that base, centered, on a section of the country that Abacha sought, to which they have been Abacha’s victims, and by which in the name of democracy, advocates for democracy joined without regard to the particular section being persecuted or looked for reasons behind the friction.

In “The Open Sore Of A Continent: A Personal Narrative Of The Nigerian Crisis,” Soyinka indeed lost every hope of a Nigeria that would one day become an entity again. However, I was not sure why the movement had assured itself of victory when most of the staunch advocates had already fled the country, and could not stay to have faced the consequences, for freedom and democracy does not come by a distant pen alone, but by proxy movements, relative activism and fighting in combat.

Many did not align with the movement on the grounds of its related, fractured foundation which had a lot to do with the interest it protected, and again, the generators of the movement were not viable and intact to have gathered enough following being one of the reasons the platform of the movement was not taken seriously, at all, until luck struck, leaving Abacha dead, and a swift transition that would usher in a fabricated Fourth Republic.

But Soyinka bent on the annulled “June 12,” 1993, election his cousin Moshood Abiola was allegedly said to have won in a landslide, suddenly to be reversed and cancelled by the Ibrahim Babangida-led military juntas on the grounds of election wuruwuru and magomago, rigging, which in a 180-degrees about face erupted a set of civil disobedience resulting to Gestapo-like regimes which inevitably chased the junta, Babangida out of power in a twist of transition through Ernest Shonekan, then civilian administrator, paving way for Abacha to usurp power which chased all the pro-democracy backers out of sight.

Soyinka, in series of his books, essays and lectures, had been about frustrated efforts and anger, on the continent in its leadership woes having no sense of purpose to have propelled the states to the forefront of democratic orderliness. And, like Soyinka, I, also, ask why a continent, first in natural resources, first in human capital, second most populous and second largest in the world could not utilize its overwhelmingly abundant natural resources and its unquestionable, enormous human capital to have formed a one, strong unified entity to have subdued colonial conquests of peoples and cultures, by all accounts?

And, angry Soyinka questioning the kind of country his native land was, lamented:

“In a world tormented by devastation from Bosnia to Rwanda, how do we define a nation: is it simply a condition of the collective mind, a passive, unquestioned habit of cohabitation? Or is what we think of as a nation a rigorous conclusion that derives from history? Is it geography, or is it a bond that transcends accidents of mountain, river, and valley? How do these varying definitions of nationhood impact the people who live under them?”

And, as developed, just like the African Union and its Organization of African Unity (OAU) parent could not take any serious measures in all the years the entire continent had problems fixing and putting all its loopholes together beginning from the first shot opening the doors for coup plots and assassinations of government officials and heads-of-state in the Republic of Congo, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, etc. And, looking at South Africa and, Apartheid, why was OAU not able to form an army to liberate South Africa? Why could OAU not to have form an army to liberate the Congo from the mess well orchestrated by the West and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in savagely axing Patrice Lumumba? Why could OAU not swiftly to have reinstated Nkrumah in Ghana when the military juntas wrestled power from him? And why would OAU to have sat idly and watched Samuel Doe forcefully remove William Taubman from power in a bloody coup? And why would OAU do practically nothing when Tafawa Balewa and some of his cabinet members were kidnapped and shot execution style by a murderous gang of mutineers? And why would OAU, the most powerful union in the continent’s history allowed and endorsed the diabolical nature of the anti-Igbo pogrom, when Igbos were sought from place to place and murdered in the most brutal of circumstances? Why would OAU, upon Hassan Katsina and his northern Nigeria blood thirsty Islamic nihilists could not be stopped in its genocidal campaigns against the Igbo nation? Why in what had erupted in Sierra Leone, the chaotic civil war, OAU could not arrest the situation until a terribly, costly price had been paid? And, all in all, why could OAU not seize the moment to have stopped the Western Hemisphere’s consistent dominance of Africa through coercion and theft? And as the case goes on and on, and on, what is OAU/AU doing?

The Nigerian crisis and the rest in Africa during the sixties was very unique with a OAU that had no alternative, especially with the first military coup in Nigeria and all the stories that followed when Aguiyi Ironsi was flogged and murdered in what OAU could have stopped from spreading. Even when Joseph Akahan, according to Frederick Forsyth in his book, “Making Of An African Legend,” the northern nihilists under Akahan had concluded that its by the brutal murder of Ironsi that he (Akahan) and his group of mutineers at the Government House, Ibadan, agreed that it has been made even and there should be no more bloodletting, “balancing out” the act in allegedly what the top Igbo Military brass had begun, the “Igbo Coup.”

And never minding the fact that it had been made patently clear the first military coup was not an instigated Igbo coup from its plot, the mutineers would continue in their widespread wholesale massacre of Igbo personnel and military officers. The air force aide-de-camp who witnessed the brutal murder of Ironsi while fleeing into the bush and other slaughtering campaigns of the Igbos around the Ibadan area recorded the following account:

“At Lemauk Barracks, Ibadan, the commanding officer Col. Joe Akahan claimed at sunrise that he had known nothing of the midnight movements against General Ironsi. But it is unlikely that the troops, transport, arms and ammunition used for the siege of Government House were, removed without the C.O’s knowlede. At 10 A.M., Colonel Akahan called an officers’ conference, from which he himself stayed away. When the officers were assembled the Easterners were taken away to the squadron, then later to the taylor’s shop. At midnight, that night, thirty-six hand grenades were lobbed through the windows. The survivors inside were shot down. Eastern soldiers were then made to was the blood away, before being taken out and shot. The easterners in Ironsi’s retinue were also finished off. On the afternoon of the 30th, Colonel Akahan called together the northern soldiers and congratulated them, saying at the same time that there would be no more killing since events had been balanced making it even.”

Ironsi’s murder would be the key ignition to bring about the wanton killing of Igbos around the nation in a “premeditated and diabolical” act which continued apace through the Civil War until now, with an end not yet in sight. Despite Ironsi’s attempt in assuring the northern nihilists that he was for the stability of the country announcing the shuffle of the military governors and ordering the immediate transfer of several military units trading places with the Fourth Batallion in Ibadan and the First Batallion in Enugu, putting away fears of another possible coup, which would pave way for a unitary government he promulgated and was declined by the northern hoodlums and Vandals, and with too many blood in their hands, rounded Igbos, torturing them and killing all execution style.

Such would be the case and Nigeria would not be the same again. In Ghana, there were similar cases, too, but short of wholesale massacre, pogrom and civil war. The overthrow of Nkrumah in February 1966, by the Kotoka-led military juntas was followed two months later by the bloody assassination of Kotoka by a group of mutineers from the Ho, Volta Region Camp led by Moses Yeboah. In the Congo, similar events had occurred previously when Patrice Lumumba was captured and assassinated. Such had been the pattern; the assassination-coup-war dance in the 1960s Africa -- the aftermath of Independence.

Like Ironsi, whose story had never been told at length by those who were close to him and knew him very well, things like his life before the combat in Congo, his series of casual and not casual affairs, his increasingly heavy drinking days as told partly by some of the stories, while most of his counterparts elswhere in the continent whose tenure and era had been covered and written by close friends, relatives, haters, admirers and authors of varied flavors, I requested a copy of Ironsi’s biography “Ironside,” written by one of the nation’s finest journalists, Chuks Ilogbunam.

Ilogbunam, this past September 15, on wishing me well on my birthday told me that “Ironside” had been out of print, and that no immediate plans to continue since Ironsi’s story had been told in many ways, that he could embark on “second edition by next year”, and that the copy he had, had been worn out. Ilogbunam writes;

“I throway salute. Ironside sold out "centuries" ago. But if I locate a tattered copy anywhere, might just send it on to you. I chose not to do a reprint because about 10 books dealing with the same period have since appeared. It will make little sense, I think, to reprint without due scrutiny of alternative opinion. But I scarcely had the time the past five years to do anything connected to scholarship. Now that I am in some "freedom" I should redo Ironside for a second edition by next year. Regards.”

Iloegbunam, I will look forward to that second edition, and I do hope that more is yet to be known in what had been the most blood-soaked event in the entire continent where the major actors, some still alive, living in denial as if those innocents that perished was a mere political dance on which Igbos have to start all over again, which was the case in a Nigeria that had been doomed to fail.

But nevertheless, despite all the failed talks resulting to Gowon’s-led assault which shouldn’t have erupted in the first place had the Aburi Accord been respected and upheld, followed by related faile meetings, the British-Russia aided Nigerian vandals did not find the combat easy. Biafra fought. Against all odds, in what President Julius Nyerere had seen as worthy and on the principles of self-reliance, the government of Tanzania recognized Biafra as a Sovereign National State. That profound recognition was followed by Ivory Coast’s President Houphouet Boigny on May 08, 1968; President Omar Bongo of Gabon on May 14, 1968 and President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, May20, 1968.

Several other countries in and outside the continent had planned to join the league recognizing the new nation, but were dissuaded by a contingent led by former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Alfred Palmer, who had met with these country’s leaders and public intellectuals, charging that a Biafran recognition for sovereignty would not be proper at the moment for the ongoing conflict, which was upon Ojukwu’s Special Squad “S Brigade” invaded and captured the Mid-West, which sent shocking waves to the rest of the world.

The shocking waves resulted to the failed talks in Kampala, Uganda, when the Biafran delegation led by Justice Louis Mbanefo went back home on a breach of the peace talks. The Nigerian delegation which was obvious of deceit and betrayals was led by Anthony Enahoro the traitor, Aminu Kano and the three “Biafran renegades”--Dr. B.I. Ikpeme, Brigadier George Kuruba and Anthony Ukpabi Asika, with proposals meaning a ceasefire should be on the terms of the conqueror, mandated by a British-Russian support.

Thus a whole lot happened, a whole lot is still happening and a whole lot will be happening as time goes on. The question here is, what should be done? Evidently, the saga continues and the Story Never Ends For Igbo Writer In America!

Ambrose Ehirim


Notes: See;

Apologies, Reparations and the Path to Healing; Ambrose Ehirim, BNW/Igbonet/The Ambrose Ehirim Files, (2000)

L.A. Rebellion: Creating A New Black Cinema; UCLA School Of Theater, Film & Television. (2011)

The Burden Of Memory, The Muse Of Forgiveness; Wole Soyinka, Oxford University Press, New York: 1999

The Open Sore Of A Continent: A Personal Narrative Of The Nigerian Crisis; Wole Soyinka, W.E.B. Dubois Institute

The Africans: A Triple Heritage; Ali mazrui; Little Brown and Company; Boston: 1986

The Igbo Of South Eastern Nigeria: Victor C. Uchendu, Holt Reinhart and Winston, New York: 1966

Without Bitterness; Nwafor Oritzu, Creative Press, New York: 1944

Making Of An African Legend; Frederick Forsyth; Pen & Sword