Sunday, 21 October 2012

Commanding the Igbo genocide…

The Nigerian state murdered 3.1 million Igbo children, women and men, a quarter of this nation’s population, during the genocide of 29 May 1966-12 January 1970. This genocide is still ongoing (phase-IV). Yakubu Gowon headed the junta that executed the genocide and Obafemi Awolowo, a lawyer, was his deputy and genocidist “theorist” for the campaign and head of the all-powerful finance ministry. The ghoulish anthem of the genocide, broadcast uninterruptedly in Hausa on Kaduna state-run radio (short wave band) and television throughout its 44 months’ duration has the following blatantly-expressed gruesome lyrics for this crime’s tactical and strategic goals: 

Mu je mu kashe nyamiri
Mu kashe maza su da yan maza su
Mu chi mata su da yan mata su
Mu kwashe kaya su
(English translation: Let’s go kill the damned Igbo/Kill off their men and boys/Rape their wives and daughters/Cart off their property)

Those responsible for the death of 3.1 million Igbo people must face trial for this crime against humanity. Thankfully, there is no statute of limitations in the prosecution of genocide in international law. If the Nigerian genocidists had been tried after 12 January 1970, Africa would probably have been spared the additional 12 million who have been murdered in subsequent genocides in Rwanda, Darfur, Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan (all three in the Sudan) and Zaïre/Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in other wars in Africa. 

Finally, a genocide-state, such as Nigeria, has indeed no future as its raison d’être is nothing else but murder and murder and murder...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Wole Soyinka on the Igbo genocide

 “... Of course I used my weapon, which was writing, to express my disapproval of the [Biafran] ... war into which we were about to enter. These were people who’d been abused, who’d undergone genocide, and who felt completely rejected by the rest of the community, and therefore decided to break away and form a nation of its own” –   Wole Soyinka (emphasis added), interviewed by Peter Godwin, Hay literary festival, Xalapa, Mexico, 12 October 2012.

Monday, 15 October 2012

A snap reflection on these times!

The Nigerian state murdered 3.1 million Igbo, a quarter of this nation’s population, during the genocide of 29 May 1966 and 12 January 1970. This genocide is still ongoing (phase-III). Since the September 2012 publication of Chinua Achebe’s There was a Country, the world has witnessed the staggering depravity that underscores the ways and means a stretch of Nigerian intellectuals (especially journalists and writers – even a “poet”! –, etc., etc.) in Nigeria and abroad continues to “defend” the genocide. Everyone must know that there is no statute of limitations in the prosecution of the crime of genocide in international law.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Two pertinent questions on genocide

1. How does Raphael Lemkin who, in 1943, formulated the word “genocide”, define this crime?
Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.
2. What is the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 9 December 1948?

For details, please click on following link from Office of  the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: (accessed 11 October 2012).

In Africa, since this UN convention, the following peoples have been subjected to the crime of genocide:

1. Igbo, 1966-1970; still continuing – see particularly article II (a), (b) and (c) in link above

2. Tutsi, 1994

3. Darfur, west of the Sudan, since 2004

4. Abyei, south of the Sudan, ongoing

5. Nuba, south of the Sudan, ongoing

6. Multiple nations/nationalities, Zaĩre/Democratic Republic of the Congo (especially east region), variously, since the late 1990s

Since the presumed conclusion of the Igbo genocide, during which 3.1 million Igbo were murdered, 12 million additional Africans have been murdered in the subsequent genocides (see above) and in other wars in Liberia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Algeria, Libya, Kenya, Central African Republic, Angola, Zimbabwe, Burundi and Mali, Ethiopia, Congo Republic, Somalia, South Sudan and Chad.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Lest we forget – Salient features of the Igbo genocide

The major preoccupation of an aggressor/conqueror state is to seek to effectuate a process of memory erasure over its overrun nation and land. This is the opportunity for the conqueror to begin to construct a bogus narrative of possession and control of the targeted society that arrogates it to the fictive role of primary agent of the course of history.

The enduring success of Chinua Achebe’s Things fall Apart
is that the classic not only anticipates this conqueror’s predilection but it subverts the triumphalism of the latter’s Pyrrhic victory. Despite the District Commissioner’s bombastically-captioned anthropological treatise at the end of the novel, heralding the latest European “possession and control” of another region of Africa, this time Igboland, the future direction of history here neither lies with the administrator nor his evolving occupation regime – nor indeed with his conquering capital back home in Europe! 
To locate the source for change and transformation in Igboland, subsequently, we need to examine, carefully, the import and circumstance of historian Obierika’s address to the administrator on the life and times of his friend and people’s hero, Okonkwo, who had recently committed suicide. We are reminded that as he speaks, two full sentences into a third, Obierika’s voice “trembled and choked his words”, trailing off into gasps and silences of deep contemplation. It is precisely within the context of these kaleidoscopic frames of Obierika’s recalls and introspection that we discern the sowing of the Igbo nation’s regenerative seeds of resistance and quest for the restoration of lost sovereignty. It is therefore not surprising that Okonkwo’s grandchildren would spearhead the freeing of Nigeria, to which Igboland had since been arbitrarily incorporated by the conquest, from the British occupation – beginning in the 1930s, just 30 years after the so-called formal inauguration of the conquest.

(George Russell Sextet, “Ezzthetic” [Russell, piano; Don Ellis, trumpet; Dave Baker, trombone; Eric Dolphy, alto saxophone; Steve Swallow, bass; Joe Hunt, drums; recorded: Riverside Records, New York, 8 May 1961])
Abolish the sun now!

For the aggressor state with a clear genocidal goal, memory erasure of the crime scene at the targeted nation is even more frantically pursued. On the morrow of the conclusion of its execution of the third phase of the Igbo genocide in January 1970, Nigeria wheeled out pretentious cartographers to embark on erasing the illustrious name Biafra from all maps and records that it could lay its hand on! During its meetings, the genocidist junta in power banned the words “sun”, “sunlight”, “sunshine”, “sundown”, “sunflower”, “sunrise” or any other word-derivatives from the great sun star that unmistakably reference the inveterate Land of the Rising Sun. This task and symbolism of sun-banning and sun-bashing were of course bizarre if not daft as the junta itself was to discover much sooner than later – and from a most unlikely source indeed… 

At the time, a British military advisor to the junta, who was out dining with a senior member of the council in Lagos, unwittingly compared Igbo national consciousness and tenacity with that of the Poles. The advisor, who had studied modern history at university and was a great admirer of the exceptional endurance of Polish people in history, stated that the Igbo had demonstrated similar courage in the latter’s defence of Biafra and that the “rebirth of Biafra is a distinct possibility in my lifetime” – this was unlike the 123 (one hundred and twenty-three) years it took the Polish state to re-appear in history after its disappearance from the world map! The advisor was then in his early 30s and the obvious implications of his Igbo-Polish analysis were not lost on his host. The junta member co-diner was understandably most outraged by the advisor’s crass insensitivity on the subject which he readily shared with his junta colleagues. Predictably, the immediate consequence of the hapless advisor’s impudence was an early recall home to Britain. 

There were other bouts of farcical treats on display in Nigeria during the period aimed at erasing the memory of the Igbo genocide. Junta and other state publications and those of their sympathisers would print the name Biafra, a proper noun, with a lower case “b” or box the name in quotes or even invert the “b” to read “p”, such was the intensity of the schizophrenia that wracked the minds of the members of the council over the all important subject of the historic imprint of Igbo resistance and survival. 

3.1 million Igbo or a quarter of this nation’s population were murdered in the genocide between 29 May 1966 and 12 January 1970. This is the foundational and most gruesome genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa.
Despite the catastrophic stretch of slaughter in 44 months, it was business-as-usual, or so it appeared, for the genocidists on the morrow of the conclusion of phase-III of the murder on 12 January 1970. Lest we forget, the new phase was pursued with utmost vengeance, with the added highly prized fiscal and capital assets sequestrated by the genocidists – namely, the pillaging of the multibillion(US)dollar-Igbo economy at home and those located in Nigeria, particularly in the Lagos/greater Lagos industrial-commercial region. Many operatives who worked as advisors, at varying layers of the genocidist command and control infrastructure, went to, or returned to universities and colleges as professors and researchers, some became university administrators, bureaucrats, media editors and executives, company chief executives and directors, ministers of state, ministers of religion, businesspeople; many of the commanders and commandants became generals and admirals and marshals, and state legislators, administrators and the like; some even sought the highest office of state – head of regime (Obafemi Awolowo, variously, without success; Olusegun Obasanjo, three times successful; Muhammadu Buhari, once successful; Ibrahim Babangida, once successful; Sanni Abacha, once successful; Abdulsalami Abubakar, once successful).

The Awolowoists and Awolowoids (supporters of Obafemi Awolowo – junta deputy chair, genocidist “theorist” and head of finance ministry) on the junta even toyed with the idea of abolishing money altogether in the economy of the soon occupied-land of the resourceful and enterprising Igbo. They reasoned that this would deliver the “final solution” that had eluded them during the “encirclement, siege, pounding and withering away”-strategy of the previous 44 months… They ended up with the “compromise” pittance of £20.00 sterling (twenty pounds sterling only) per the surviving male-head of the Igbo family – a derisory sum, which, they reckoned, stood no chance of averting the catastrophe of social implosion they envisaged would occur in Igboland subsequently. We mustn’t fail to note that the £20.00-handout excluded the hundreds of thousands of Igbo families whose male-heads had been murdered during the genocide… Dreadfully, the accent placed by Nigeria on this fourth phase of the genocide, starting from 13 January 1970, was the economic strangulation of the 9 million Igbo survivors…


Igbo survival from the genocide is arguably the most extraordinary feature for celebration in an otherwise depressing and devastating age of pestilence in Africa of the past 46 years. Few people believed that the Igbo would survive their ordeal, especially from September 1968 when 8-10,000 Igbo, mostly children and older people, died each day as the overall brutish conditions imposed by the genocidist siege deteriorated calamitously. 

The Igbo are probably the only people in the world who were convinced that they would survive. And when they did, the aftermath was electrifying. In spontaneous celebration, the Igbo prefaced their exchange of greetings with each other, for quite a while, with the exaltation, “Happy Survival”
Igbo survival, at the end, does represent the stunning triumph of the human spirit over the savage forces unleashed by Nigeria and its allies that had tried determinably, for four years, to destroy it.

Forty-two years on, first and second generations removed from their parents and grandparents, respectively, who freed British-occupied Nigeria in 1960 and survived the follow-up genocide, Okonkwo’s progeny are once again tasked and poised to restore Igbo lost sovereignty and track of progress and transformation. Everyone knows of their firm resolve and ability to achieve this goal. The Igbo can feel it; they indeed feel it; the rest of the world feels it. Surely, the successful outcome of this endeavour is one of the most eagerly awaited news developments in contemporary Africa.

*****Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe’s 2192-word essay on Chinua Achebe’s all-important memoir, Another Country, London: Allen Lane, 2012, is published in Literary Encyclopedia, 4 October 2012,