Nigeria News

Biafra: the danger of the single story and the mistakes of the past

Have you heard the story of Biafra lately? It has become the story of how igbos were massacred in the north, how they exodused all parts of the country back to the eastern part of Nigeria, how messiah Ojukwu couldn’t take it any longer and declared the igbos independent and the new country called Biafra was born. The story of Biafra is being told as the story of how Gowon was angered by the declaration of the independence of Biafra and how he sent soldiers to kill the igbos.

This is the story you will read in countless books written by the igbos; this is the story you see in the movie “Half Of A Yellow Sun”, a movie adapted from a book with same name written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who was not even born during the war but was told about the war.

Watch the movie and you will see what they told her about the war: in the movie you will see the bombings of the igbos and the destruction of the land of Biafra. You will see disease and pain, suffering and death caused by the Nigerian troops. That is what the story of Biafra has become. It is not a lie. But it is a single story, with the other part being deliberately left out.

In the movie we were not shown how the Hausa/Fulani lived happily with the igbos before some young igbo soldiers gathered the Hausa/Fulani leaders and shot them to dead. Sadly there is no scene in that movie that showed how Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu raided the home of the revered Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto and killed him brutally before his wives and children, even killing one of his wives alongside.

No scene in that movie showed us how the Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa was killed and how the president Nnamdi Azikiwe escaped the bullets of the young igbo coupists. No one is telling us about how Ironsi came on board and failed to bring the coupists to quick justice. No scene told us about the insolence of Ojukwu in refusing to submit to the authority of Gowon. This is the danger of the single story.

So nobody knows the pains of the north in waking up one day and finding out that their top leaders have been killed by their igbo brothers. We will never understand their rage and heartbreak. Maybe because they have refused to write their own single story books or produce “The Other Half Of The Yellow Sun” movie.

The coup was wrong. The killings in the north was wrong. The declaration of Biafra and civil war was a mistake we could have avoided. But these mistakes happened not because of the existence of the above facts but due to the generalization of these facts. When the igbo coupists killed the northern leaders, the northerners were enraged and attacked their igbo brothers. That was a generalization. Major Nzeogwu and his boys were igbos but they were not representatives of the igbo nation, the coupists didn’t consult the igbos before they struck but the north poured their rage on innocent igbos. Their rage might have been justified but their conclusion and outpour of their rage was not.

Then Ojukwu foisted his dreams on a frustrated people. He led a people to fight a war they didn’t want, a war they were not prepared for and when ultimate defeat came, he ran away and left the people he promised he will never leave. In the heat of the civil war the voice of Ojukwu boomed over the Radio: “Fellow Biafrans, where will you run? We ran away from Lagos and fled Northern Nigeria by the thousands. In the battle fields, we ran and allowed the enemies to advance. Must we also run in our homeland? Face the enemy and fight him, street by street, house by house. This is the moment to die for Biafra.” Such powerful oratory. But Ojukwu didn’t stand and fight, he ran.

Before Ojukwu declared the Biafra independence he did not inform them about the consequences of war. He refused all political solutions to the crisis and forced the hand of Gowon who like Abraham Lincoln in 1861 must keep the country one. The rage of Ojukwu might have been justified but was declaring the birthing of a nation the way he did the best solution or he was just carving out an empire to rule?

Today, we are here again; confronted with a ping pong of aspirations, egos, errors and generalizations. Are we going to repeat the mistakes of the past or we are wiser? In 1966 we concluded, erroneously, that Major Nzeogwu and co represented the igbos in their bloody coup, today we are making the same mistake; we are concluding that MASSOB and Radio Biafra represent the generality of the igbos.

These people or groups have not acquired the rights, legally and culturally, to speak for or represent the igbos in anyway. Their aim is to deceive us that they represent the Igbos and they are flourishing because we are buying into this lie. When MASSOB and their ilk talk they speak for themselves then mislead us into thinking they are speaking for every igbo, then we reply, enraged, at every igbo man or woman, our friends and brothers. Let history not repeat itself.

Even some of the igbos who are being deceived that these groups speak for them should also be wary. Biafra has become the password to fame, glory and wealth to a lot of people. They don’t really care about igbos. They have discovered that all they need to say to get on TV is the word BIAFRA. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie did not share the monies she made from selling the book/movie “Half of A Yellow Sun” with hardworking Igbos who are toiling daily to make ends meet. For her Biafra is simple another material to write fiction for book signings, awards, fame and fat accounts.

They only shout BIAFRA when it is profitable to them. A true Igbo woman will marry and bear the husband’s name. A true Igbo will not support same sex marriage, homosexuality and lesbianism as Chimamanda does. Biafra is simply their password to manipulate the Igbo masses.

My brothers and sisters be wise. When the bullets begin to sing and the bombs begin to drop these “give-us-Biafra” leaders have access to helicopters like Ojukwu to escape to safe havens. The sad irony is that those who through their oratory and garagara lead millions to die during wars end up dying at a very old age.

Don’t let them use our common problems to manipulate you. The problems of poverty, deprivation and want is truly with us in this country. No part of Nigeria is having it easy at the expense of others. Don’t let them fool you. Together we will work this out.

Those who are looking for an empire to be carved out for them to rule will tell you that if you break away from Nigeria all will be well, but that is not true. Don’t trust them. The problems won’t just go away because you change a country’s name, coat of arm, flag and national anthem. See how Kanu and Uwazurike are fighting each other. They are already struggling for who will be the Lord and Master of the igbo Biafra. They think Biafra is their path to greatness. But as the venerable Nnamdi Azikiwe once put it “Greatness can be achieved by an idiot just as immortality can be achieved by an ass. But true greatness and worthwhile immortality can be achieved by a selected few.”

Even if anyone wants to leave the Federal Republic of Nigeria there are legal and international acceptable procedures to be followed not the song of war being played on Radio Biafra. Forget all those Generals of invisible armies on social media calling for war. They don’t know what war is. They think what they saw in the movie “Half of a Yellow Sun” is war. This generation has not seen war. Ask those from Sierra Leone, Sudan and Syria, let they tell you what war is.

The duty of the armed forces, Police and DSS is to keep this country one and indivisible. Except any part of this country is released legally from the oneness as enshrined in our constitution any part that tries to pull out illegally and forcefully must be stopped. The security operatives should not take the threat of these violence mongers lying low. Every bit of information should be investigated and nipped in the bud before we get to the point where brothers will begin to kill brothers… again.

And I call on our leaders to improve our commonwealth. This has always been the root cause of all agitations. “All nations of the world are afflicted with tribal consciousness. Good government can minimize or obliterate it.” – Nnamdi Azikiwe

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