Monday, 16 October 2017

PROFILE: Chi-chi Nwanoku, bassist, professor of double bass historical studies, Royal Academy of Music London, and founder of Chineke! Foundation

(Chi-chi Nwanoku)
 (… critically-acclaimed bassist)
(Professor Nwanoku is here interviewed by Sergio MimsArise News, 12 May 2015)
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe




Sunday, 15 October 2017

79th birthday of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti

(Born 15 October 1938, Abeokuta, Nigeria)
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

CELEBRATED Afro-beat musician, bandleader and one of just a handful of genocidist Nigeria public figures, particularly in the Lagos and west region of Awolowoist/Awolowoid/Adekunleist agglomeration of Igbo genocide perpetrators and/or denialists, who consistently and unequivocally condemns the Igbo genocide (as he evocatively reminds the world in his authorised biography, Carlos MooreFela: The Bitch of a Life, Lawrence Hill, 2009: 47-49: “The Biafrans were right … That’s evident now … The I[g]bo were right … The Biafrans were f***ing right to secede...”), untiringly and expansive critic of regimes in post-Igbo genocide age-of-pestilence Nigeria, employing the expressive lyrics of his myriads of compositions and the operatic drive of his orchestra to assail genocidist sergeants and generals and corporals and “colonels” and financiers and politicians and their cohorts who control and wheel and deal in the kakistocratic lair that calls itself Nigeria
(Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Africa 70, “Everything Scatter” [recorded: LP Nigeria, Coconut PMLP1000, 1975])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Genocidist Nigeria: Where is Nnamdi Kanu? Where are Nnamdi Kanu’s parents?

(Nnamdi Kanu and his loving parents)
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

TODAY marks one month since the 14 September 2017 genocidist Nigeria military stormed the home of Nnamdi Kanu’s parents at Afaraukwu-Ibeku, eastcentral Biafra. Consequently, the whereabouts of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (constituted integrally in the Biafra freedom movement), and his parents, remain unknown. Scores of the Kanus’ relatives and friends were murdered during the assault and scores of others are still unaccounted for.

GENOCIDIST Nigeria surely knows that it will account for the safety of Nnamdi Kanu and his parents and take full responsibility of the consequences of that savage raid on a family home.
(The New York Contemporary Five, “Consequences” [personnel: Archie Shepp, tenor saxophone; Don Cherry, pocket trumpet; John Tchicai, alto saxophone; Don Moore, bass; JC Moses, drums; recorded: live, Jazzhus Montmarte, Copenhagen, Denmark, 15 November 1963])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe


Friday, 13 October 2017

108th birthday of Art Tatum

(Born 13 October 1909, Toledo, Ohio, US)
Piano virtuoso, arguably the most influential jazz pianist in history
(Art Tatum Trio, “Blues in C” [personnel: Tatum, piano; Benny Carter, alto saxophone; Louie Bellson, drums; recorded: Pablo Group, New York, US, 25 June 1954])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

115th birthday of Arna Bontemps

(Born 13 October 1902, Alexandria, Louisiana, US)
AWARD-WINNING prolific poet, novelist, children’s writer, editor, biographer, historian, and librarian, whose work plays a cardinal role in the emergence of contemporary African American letters
(Andrew Hill Quartet, “Cantarnos” [personnel: Hill, piano; Joe Henderson, tenor saxophone;  Richard Davis, bass; Roy Haynes, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US, 8 November 1963])

Twitter@HerbertEkweEkwe


Thursday, 12 October 2017

FOR THE RECORD: Four compelling views on the ongoing genocidist Nigeria military’s mandatory vaccination of Igbo school children in regions across (occupied) Biafra with unknown “vaccine(s)”


Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

THE FOLLOWING views, posted here completely unedited, are derived from the Facebook wall of each commentator except that of Dr Chin Akano’s which comes from Carol Munday’s wall:

Chin Akano (medical doctor)
I have seen a few video clips and posts regarding the so called charitable immunisation exercise allegedly being carried out by soldiers in Anambra. I have also heard that children are being immunised without parental consent.
To me this is criminal. It can only happen in a primitive country. For starters you cannot immunise a child without parental or guardian consent. It’s child abuse and assault. Secondly you must know a child’s immunisation history before you administer a vaccine to avoid repeating those that the child has already developed immunity against, unless a serological test confirmed that the immunity is absent or partial. Also some children may have allergies which could lead to fatal outcomes if they are vaccinated. You cannot also vaccinate an ill child and some vaccines contain live organisms which can cause fever and even febrile convulsion if unchecked, so the parents need to be properly counselled prior to vaccinating their wards. Pls this barbaric and unsolicited nonsense must stop pronto.

Chikwendu Anyanwu (Catholic priest and commentator)

A constrictor cannot be a lifesaver. So it is reasonable to reject anything medical from a python.


George C E Enyoazu (social critic)
One of the numerous problems of Nigeria is the systematic assigning of the wrong job to the wrong people. A trained engineer is encouraged to do the job of a medical doctor or a lawyer. In the same vein, someone without a vocational training at all is assigned the job of an automobile mechanic or a carpenter. Thus, the military who ordinarily should mark the external enemy have found themselves with no job of substance to do, hence, they find their way into national politics, producing misleaders, such as Buhari. Because the army and other segments of the armed forces are idle, they are programmed to kill and brutalize hapless citizens as we've seen in the ill-fated Oppression Python Dance II in the South East. 
As if they were not satisfied with the scale of damage and destruction inflicted on the Igbo civilian population, the army started forcing their way into schools in the region, claiming that they were there for a free medical mission to pupils. The most irritating of this uncouth imposture is forcing little kids at gun point to be vaccinated. The question has been why the forced vaccination? When did the job of the Ministry of Health become that of the army, especially an army with a notoriety for killing Igbo youths under the flimsiest guise? Flashback to my childhood days. The Health authorities announced a periodic inoculation exercise for kids. Parents would willingly take their wards to the designated centres. This was done devoid of any force, coercion, threat or bullish intrusion into the private lives of families. Every parent realised it was in the child's interest to be inoculated. So, we all got the jab on the upper arm. The scar remains till date. Contrary to today's Ministry of Health doing the job, the army who are in a killing field in Biafraland have suddenly extended their obnoxious services to inoculating our children without our consent; whether we like it or not. 
What sort of repressive society is this? Whose idea was it?Interestingly, the Imo State Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association has risen to the occasion by faulting the so-called army inoculation, and advised parents and schools not to submit to that. Very succinct to the letter. Embarrassed by the pandemonium it has caused as pupils and their parents were running helter skelter to avoid it in Anambra State, the unusual voice of the State governor, Willie Obiano was heard asking the army to suspend the exercise, pending enough sensitization. One begins to imagine that an Igbo governor could now advise the army to stop! But when our youth were being mauled to death by army bullets in Asaba, Nkpor and Abia State, no Igbo governor could raise a finger of protestation. No Igbo politician advised the ruthless army to hold back. The good news though is that the Igbo populace have zero-trust where the Nigerian Army are concerned. Any politician who thinks that a sensitization exercise would be a fore-runner of an army inoculation exercise on our children should please get real. An Igbo adage says, “the lizard marks the footsteps of those who would pelt it”. In this era of unconscionable terror of Fulani herdsmen, and 97% versus 5% voting pattern, monkeypox and army rampage in the East, everyone should concentrate on their vocational training. Army's vaccination in the East is ill-willed!

Osita Ezeliora (academic)
Only a lunatic would suggest that Nd’Igbo should go for any form of vaccination from a hateful regime that only weeks ago murdered our sons in broad daylight. Only a monumental idiot would advise onye Igbo obuna to accept possibly poisoned chemicals when only recently our children were suffocated in mud water while many others were brutally shot dead… Any clown of a priest that tells parents to go for any vaccination at this stage deserves the combined visitation of Amadioha, Udo and Ogwugwu... And even more: the visitation of angry Igbo mob. Ndi aruru ana kagbulu onwe fa n’uka!!!!
(The New York Contemporary Five plays Don Cherry’s composition, “Consequences” [personnel: Archie Shepp, tenor saxophone; Cherry, pocket trumpet; John Tchicai, alto saxophone; Don Moore, bass; JC Moses, drums; recorded: live, Jazzhus Montmarte, Copenhagen, Denmark, 15 November 1963])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe






109th birthday of Ann Petry

(Born 12 October 1908, Old Saybrook, Connecticut, US)
Pharmacist, award-wining influential novelist and journalist – publications include the classic, The Street (1946), Country Place (1947), The Narrows (1953), Tituba of Salem Village (1955, novel for children), Harriet Tubman: Conductor of the Underground Railroad (1960, non-fiction)
(pt-I)
(pt-II) 
(Alice Coltrane Sextet featuring Pharoah Sanders, “Isis and Osiris” [personnel: Coltrane, harp, piano; Sanders, soprano saxophone, percussion; Charlie Haden, bass; Vishnu Wood, oud; Rashied Ali, drums; recorded: live, Village Gate, New York, US, 4 July 1970])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

This Hausa-Fulani/islamist-led genocidist Nigeria and Africa


Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

TO UNDERSTAND the international politics of the ongoing Igbo genocide in Biafra, southwestcentral Africa, is to have an invaluable insight into the salient features and constitutive indices of politics across Africa in the past 50 years. The African-based perpetrator of this genocide is the Hausa-Fulani/islamist-led Nigeria.

Template

As very distressing reports today (Wednesday 11 October 2017) from many regions in (occupied) Biafra attest, genocidist Nigeria is adamant that it is prepared to tap into any degenerate constituent in the genocide template to effectuate its entrenched objective to destroy Igbo people. It has already murdered more Africans in Biafra since 1945 than the total number of Africans murdered in Africa since 1900 by all of Europe’s conqueror-powers in Africa: Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain – including the number of Africans the Germans murdered in the genocide of the Herero, Nama and Berg Damara peoples of southwest Africa (1904-1907). 

HAUSA-FULANI/islamist-led Nigeria now rates a not-too-distant second to Belgian King Leopold II’s notorious position as Lead Génocidaire of African Peoples Since the 19th Century in the Leopold II/Belgian state’s genocide against Africans in the central regions of the Congo River basin (1878-1908).
(New York Art Quartet“Mohawk” [personnel: John Tchicai, alto saxophone; Roswell Rudd, trombone; Reggie Workman, bass; Milford Graves, drums; recorded: Nippon Phonogram, New York, US, 16 July 1965]) 
Twitter@HerbertEkweEkwe

98th birthday of Art Blakey

(Born 11 October 1919, Pittsburgh, US)
PRODIGIOUS DRUMMER and bandleader whose band, The Jazz Messengers, cofounded with multifaceted pianist and composer Horace Silver in 1954, becomes a conservatoire for over 30 years, developing the careers of  scores of graduates who would subsequently contribute immensely to the landscape of improvisation and composition in the jazz repertoire – Messengers’ alumni include the following, grouped by their key performing instrument: trumpet (Clifford Brown, Donald Bryd, Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard), trombone (Curtis Fuller, Julian Priester, Slide Hampton, Steve Turre, Robin Eubanks), alto saxophone (Lou Donaldson, Jackie McLean, Bobby Watson, Donald Harrison), tenor saxophone (Benny Golson, Johnny Griffin, Hank Mobley, Wayne Shorter, John Gilmore, Billy Harper, Bill Pierce, Javon Jackson, Jean Toussaint, Branford Marsalis), piano (Kenny Drew, Walter Davis, Jr., Benny Green, Wynton Kelly, Bobby Timmons, Jaki Byard, Keith Garrett, Cedar Walton, John Hicks, Mulgrew Miller, James Williams), and bass (Doug Watkins, Wilbur Ware, Spanky DeBrest, Jymie Merritt, Reggie Workman, Charles Fambrough, Lonnie Plaxico, Essiet Okon Essiet)
(Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, “Mosaic” [personnel: Blakey, drums; Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; Curtis Fuller, trombone; Wayne Shorter, tenor saxophone; Cedar Walton, piano; Jymie Merritt, bass; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US, 2 October 1961])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Chuks Iloegbunam, the respected journalist and author, reviews The Asaba Massacre by S Elizabeth Bird and Fraser M Ottanelli

(Asaba Massacre Memorial)

Chuks Iloegbunam

The porter’s predicament

Book title: The Asaba Massacre: Trauma, Memory and the Nigerian Civil War

Authors: S Elizabeth Bird and Fraser M Ottanelli

Publishers: Cambridge University, 2017

Extent: 258pp

Price: £22.99pb/£80.00hb/£14.04kindle; US$29.97pb/US$99.97hb/US$18.64kindle

WE FIND this introduction in the book:

“In October 1967, early in the Nigerian Civil War, government troops entered Asaba in pursuit of the retreating Biafran army, slaughtering thousands of civilians and leaving the town in ruins. News of the atrocity was suppressed by the Nigerian government, with the complicity of Britain, and its significance in the subsequent progress of that conflict was misunderstood. Drawing on archival sources on both sides of the Atlantic and interviews with survivors of the killing, pillaging, and rape, as well as with high-ranking Nigerian military and political leaders, S. Elizabeth Bird and Fraser M. Ottanelli offer an interdisciplinary reconstruction of the history of the Asaba Massacre, redefining it as a pivotal point in the history of the war. Through this, they also explore the long afterlife of trauma, the reconstruction of memory and how it intersects with justice, and the task of reconciliation in a nation where a legacy of ethnic suspicion continues to reverberate.”

Having read the book, I attest to the veracity of the above claim. The credibility of the publication is grounded in the impeccable academic credentials of the authors. Bird is Professor of Anthropology at the University of South Florida. She has to her credit more than 80 articles and chapters on popular culture, media, heritage, and memory, as well as five books, two of which are award winning.

Ottanelli, her co-author, also of the University of South Florida, is Professor of History. He has authored and co-authored four books and several articles and essays on radical movements, ethnic history, and comparative migration in the twentieth century.

YET credibility often rides on more than the currency of academic triumph. On Africa, for instance, notable literary voices like Chinua Achebe and Ngügï wa Thiong’o have argued that the continent’s stories are better rendered by Africans and in their own tongues. But their standpoint does not invalidate the benefit of detachment often achieved by non-partisan non-Africans. This point profits from the consideration that, through half a century, Nigerians have failed to agree on what actually happened in Asaba on October 7, 1967.

The authors are mindful of the fact that they are liable to the charge of appropriating and running with a story not their own, a charge that, of course, pays scant attention to the reconstruction of today’s world as a Global Village in which what happens in Alaska is much the business of its denizens as it is the concern of the inhabitants of Sarawak. Thus, they take the pains to state that funding for their book did not come from Africa, while the story they have told is the result of extensive research, and the aggregation of the voices of massacre survivors, the relations of the victims and other assorted quarters. All told, 77 people were interviewed. The result is a 239-page book of six chapters:

1. The Road to War and Massacre

2. What Happened at Asaba

3. Causes and Consequences

4. Surviving the Occupation

5. Reclaiming Memory in an Age of New Media

6. Trauma, Identity, Memorialization, and Justice

WHAT emerged, therefore, is a particularly sad story whose continued denial can only be by bigots. The book also strikes a blow for hope, for justice and for renewal. The sequences of the sorry events of October 7, 1967 and the nonchalance with which they have been responded to in some quarters induces consternation and depression, in that in 1967, officers and men of the Nigerian Army lined up thousands of unarmed civilians, their fellow citizens, and mowed them down by machine gun fire. It represented impunity and callousness. But, the atrocity is not novel in contemporary history.

A few examples are apposite...

The My Lai Massacre
On March 16, 1968, U.S. Army soldiers of the C Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd (America) Infantry Division massacred some 504 unarmed civilians in My Lai, South Vietnam. Victims included men, women, children, and infants. Some of the women were gang-raped and their bodies mutilated. It was described as “the most shocking episode of the Vietnam War.”

The Rwandan Genocide
This was the genocidal slaughter of ethnic Tutsis in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority. About a million Rwandans were killed during the 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994. The killing orgy cut the Tutsi population by 70 percent.

The Khmer Rouge Killing Fields
These refer to sites in Cambodia where collectively between two and three million people were killed and buried by the Pol Pot Communist Khmer Rouge regime, between 1975 and 1979. The mass killings were a state-sponsored genocide (the Cambodian genocide) that targeted people suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, as well as professionals, intellectuals, ethnic Vietnamese, ethnic Thai, ethnic Chinese, ethnic Cham, Cambodian monks and Cambodian Christians.

The Holocaust
The Holocaust was the Nazi programme of exterminating Jews under Adolf Hitler that cost the lives of six million Jews, and others during World War ll.

IN ALL, one ominous string ties massacres everywhere in the world, irrespective of their scale. And that is the string of evil. But that, precisely, is where the similarity ends with the evil of massacres in Nigeria. Massacres in Nigeria are rarely acknowledged in official quarters and never punished in Nigeria. The reverse is the case in most other parts of the world. For instance, there were spirited efforts in top political and military circles to cover up My Lai. But soldiers, who objected to the massacre, a determined American press, and an outraged public refused.

Twenty-six soldiers eventually faced trial for criminal offences, but only Lieutenant William Calley Jr., a platoon leader in C Company, was convicted for the killing of 22 villagers. Handed a life sentence, he ended up serving only three and a half years under house arrest. Minimal as the sanction was, and despite its exposition of American establishment’s reluctance to conclusively pursue the cause of justice, the trials served one big purpose. It demonstrated in America, in Vietnam and across the globe a universal acknowledgement of evil perpetrated by some of the loudest exponents of democratic credentials.

In 1997, 12 years after the toppling of the Khmer Rouge junta, the Cambodian government, with the UN’s
assistance, set up a genocide Tribunal. Nine years later, the Tribunal started sentencing the convicted. Nuon Chea, second in command of the Khmer Rouge and its most senior surviving member, was tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was given a life sentence in August 2014. In July 2010, Kang Kek Iew (aka Comrade Duch), director of the S-21 prison camp, was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to 35 years' imprisonment, later extended to life. Many others were similarly sentenced.

Some of the most celebrated trials for war crimes and crimes against humanity have to do with the Holocaust. At the end of World War ll, international and domestic courts conducted trials of accused war criminals. This followed the 1942 declaration by the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union that officially noted the mass murder of European Jews, and resolved to prosecute those culpable. The trials of leading German officials before the International Military Tribunal took place in Nuremberg, Germany.

Twelve of those convicted were sentenced to death, among them Reich Marshall Hermann Göring, Hans Frank, Alfred Rosenberg and Julius Streicher. Three of them got life, while four others received long stretches behind bars that ranged from 10 to 20 years. Hundreds of other war criminals were tried in what was called Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings. About half of these were convicted. About the most famous of the trials of German war crime perpetrators was held in Jerusalem in 1961: the trial of Adolf Eichmann, chief architect in the deportation of European Jews. He was condemned, executed and his remains dumped in the sea.

The trial of Rwandan perpetrators of genocide was particularly daunting. The judicial system was in shambles after the genocide; of 750 judges, 506 did not remain after the genocide – many were murdered and most of the survivors fled Rwanda. By 1997, Rwanda only had fifty lawyers in its judicial system. Yet, over one million people were potentially culpable for their role in the genocide. The trials proceeded at a very slow pace. Of the 130,000 suspects in Rwandan prisons, only 3,343 cases were handled between 1996 and 2000. Of those defendants, 20 percent received death sentences, 32 percent got life behind bars, and 20 percent were acquitted.

Twenty-two individuals were publicly executed by firing squad in April 1997. Meanwhile, the UN established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in Arusha, Tanzania, with jurisdiction over high-level members of the government and armed forces. Many of those that appeared before the Tribunal ended up in prison.

DESPITE THESE EXAMPLES of the trials and conviction of perpetrators of genocide and war crimes, Nigeria remains uninterested in emulating this course of justice. That is why it boasts a personality like General I. B. Haruna. The authors say the following of the man on page 80 of their book: 
(A 2001 news account quoted Haruna’s testimony to the Nigerian Human Rights Violations Investigations Commission [HRVIC], the “Oputa Panel,” which was formed in 2000):

“As the commanding officer and leader of the troops that massacred 500 men in Asaba, I have no apology . . . I acted as a soldier maintaining the peace and unity of Nigeria.” 
This quote has been widely circulated online, and Haruna has often been named as the perpetrator of the massacre. However, Haruna was nowhere near Asaba at the time and could not have been involved. In 2016, Haruna wrote to us that his words were taken out of context and used to bolster the Igbo case for genocide. Furthermore, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, he maintained his position that there never was a massacre: “The so-called Asaba massacre is a figment of propaganda!” Essentially, Haruna’s statements on Asaba are contradictory and self-serving, and are not useful in establishing what happened.
YET Haruna’s words are poignant. Because the man is not only an Army General but also a trained lawyer, his viewpoint properly situates wantonness in Nigeria. The point is not really his denial of Asaba. After all, they abound today who are adamantine in the insistence that the Holocaust is a figment of Jewish and pro-Zionist imagination. The problematic is, however, tied to the premeditated killing of “500” human beings indexed as unworthy of remorse and apology. People could ask what iron would do if gold rusted. They cannot fail to see the corollary between Haruna’s Nigerian template and Soviet ideologue Georgy Plekhanov’s observation that, “the dominant ideology in any society is that of the ruling class.” This, then, is the score: the all-powerful sit pretty at a pinnacle high above all laws, national and international. From this Olympian height, they could own up to serial atrocities and yet remain legally unscathed; they could brazenly deny even the self-evident and dare the nonplussed to self-destruct. It all explains why an argument with a uniformed and armed Nigerian could force from his mouth the ominous warning that, “If I kill you, you die for nothing.” That is also why cadres of the country’s Police Mobile Force are known as “Kill and Go” free.

THIS Kill and Go Free mentality was clearly at play in Asaba on October 7, 1967:
“Twenty of our men were selected and lined up in front of us and told as follows, ‘Today, I be your God. Me first, God second. God give you life, me I go takem. Two minute time you go die.’ ... Two minutes afterwards these 20 men were shot. Another 20 were picked up and the same ritual followed.” 
Apparently tiring of killing individuals with rifles, the soldiers then readied machine guns, both mounted on trucks and freestanding, and mass shooting began. Fifteen-year-old Ify Uraih had joined the parade with his father and three older brothers, Paul, Emmanuel (Emma), and Medua; he described what happened:
“Some people broke loose and tried to run away. My brother was holding me by the hand; he released me and pushed me further into the crowd . . . They shot my brother in the back, he fell down, and I saw blood coming out of his body. And then the rest of us … just fell down on top of each other. And they continued shooting, and shooting, and shooting ... I lost count of time, I don’t know how long it took … After some time there was silence. I stood up … my body was covered in blood, but I knew that I was safe. My father was lying not far away; his eyes were open but he was dead.”
Exactly how many died in this single incident is unclear; around 700–800 seems likely, in addition to many who had died in the previous days. Sporadic shooting continued for hours until darkness caused the soldiers to disperse…
“My cousin said we should wait till it was dark so that we could go together, and I agreed. You could hear the sound of the injured crying. One man, who heard us talking, he was as old as my father. He had his hand almost severed from the rest of his body. And he told me that he had a knife, that I should please help him amputate the hand ... I told him I could not do it. He died later. I knew his children.”
Ify Uraih and his cousin ran to their grandmother’s house, where they found his sisters and three younger brothers. He told them their father and three older brothers were dead; later he learned that Medua had survived, gravely wounded, and had been carried to the bush by his friend.
Community elders Michael Ugoh and Leo Okogwu were among large numbers of the leading age grades to die. With all the men in hiding, it was left to women and children to attempt to retrieve the bodies of their fathers, brothers, husbands, and other relatives and then drag them back to their compounds for burial. Joseph Nwajei, the boy who had returned with family from Ibadan, had escaped into the bush from the family compound after watching the earlier execution of his uncle George, a prominent civil servant. When he returned a few days later, he learned of the death of his two brothers, aged 12 and 17, in the mass shooting:
“Mum told me that in the evening hours of the 7th, she had to go and look for their corpses at the mass place where they were shot . . . Mum, in the evening, was able to identify their corpses, took them in a wheelbarrow, pushed them to the family house, where they were buried. So, I never saw their corpses, I never saw their bodies.” 
Most victims, however, were dumped in mass graves or thrown into the Niger. Few people had any opportunity to conduct requisite burial practices – an affront that is deeply resented to this day. When it was safe to move about, Frank Ijeh, a local Red Cross worker, enlisted surviving men to dig hurried, shallow graves wherever they found bodies around the town: “There are so many, I cannot remember. So many, so many, so many.”  In spite of these efforts, many lay unburied for several days. Interviewed in 1977, a Mrs. Mordi reported that “for nearly two days . . . the soldiers wouldn’t let us come near . . . without opening fire. It was only when the stench of decaying corpses was all over the place that the soldiers relented . . . ” She retrieved her husband’s body, but not that of a Catholic lay brother, Ignatius Barmah, who had died beside him. She was able to put tinyele’a, a white cloth, over him – an important ceremonial act usually done by close relatives. Esther Nwanze recalled how wives went searching for their husbands, dragging them home if they could find them: “Some dragged two days before they reached home.” (pp. 47-49)
FIFTY YEARS after the mass sacrifice at the Altar of Moloch, Asaba remains. Resilient. Resourceful. Thriving. Hopeful. Peaceful. Thanks are due to the authors for recognizing the laudable role of Asaba women who, when their menfolk were wiped out, moved in and held up the Asaba family. But the extremely sad memories of five decades linger. The people wait for closure. The authors mention and discuss “transitional justice.” That has its place, of course. But can it really happen in the absence of official acknowledgement of the evil done? Can it proceed without official apology?

While this is pondered, there are a number of assumptions and conclusions by the authors that lend themselves to interrogation. This may sound mundane but they describe the people of Asaba as Asabans. No. They are Ndi Asaba or Ndi Ahaba. More seriously, their narrative on the Aburi talks is astonishing: “In early January 1967, at a two-day summit in Aburi, Ghana, between federal authorities and the country’s regional governors, Gowon and Ojukwu were unable to reach a compromise over whether Nigeria should become a loose confederation of semi-independent states or remain a federation. The failure of the Aburi summit accelerated the Eastern Region’s movement toward secession.” (p. 10)

THIS account is unfortunate, to say the least. Gowon and Ojukwu did reach an agreement at Aburi. The records of meeting termed the Aburi Accord are public property, even available on the Internet. They show unequivocally that it was Gowon who reneged on the Accord, the last straw whose snapping inevitably led to the shooting war and the avoidable wastage of millions of precious lives. This embarrassing misrepresentation of a crucial piece of Nigerian history ought to be corrected in the next edition of the book.

The authors are spot on in concluding that the Asaba massacre and the shielding of the terrible development from public knowledge by Lagos and London helped to prolong the war for two main reasons. Had the story of the massacre hit the public domain, indignation in Britain and elsewhere could have forced Whitehall into reconsidering their unconditional supply of weaponry to the Federal side, thereby making Lagos more amenable to the idea of a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Again, the massacre compelled a lot of Ndi Asaba to join the war on the Biafran side, which used the macabre event to argue that laying down their arms would result in conclusive genocidal action against them. It was from this jump off point that the authors argued that Gowon had not prosecuted a war of genocide. Without playing on words, the Biafrans had a good case in terming the war genocidal.

THE ANTI-IGBO pogrom of 1966, a prelude to the war, had claimed an estimated 50,000 Igbo lives, according to the Massacre of Ndigbo in 1966: Report of the Justice G. C. M. Onyiuke Tribunal. That’s one. Two, the Gowon regime blockaded Biafra on the strength of a policy that proclaimed starvation a legitimate instrument of warfare. This cost kwashiorkor-induced deaths, mostly of children, by the tens of thousands. Three, throughout the war itself, the bombing and strafing of Biafran churches, hospitals, markets and refugee camps by Nigerian fighter-bombers were incessant, remorseless and systematic, leading to the deaths of thousands which never elicited official condemnation from a Britain solely interested in Nigeria’s oil. As a matter of fact, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s sanction of the punitive method of Gowon’s war underscored its genocidal configuration. Because of the importance of this point as a factor that framed the war, concise citation is imperative here:
“... Harold Wilson is totally unfazed as he informs Clyde Ferguson, the United States state department special coordinator for relief to Biafra, that he, Harold Wilson, ‘would accept a half million dead Biafrans if that was what it took’ Nigeria to destroy the Igbo resistance to the genocide ...” (Roger MorrisUncertain Greatness: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy, London & New York: Quartet Books, 1977, p. 122 – quoted from Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, “Igbo genocide, Britain and the United States”, re-thinkingafrica, 4 October 2015, http://re-thinkingafrica.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/herbert-ekwe-ekwe-conquerors-concord-in.html)
ASABA remains to this day, it must be reiterated. But, to fully understand the Massacre of October 7, 1967, it must be seen as an integral part of the overall plan for and course of Nigeria’s prosecution of the civil war. Bizarrely, Radio Kaduna broadcast on a daily basis and throughout the war a Hausa song that gave a chilling message in translation:
 
Yes, let’s go, let’s march
Let’s go chase them from their homes
Kill them, plunder their homesteads
Ravage their wives
And abandon them in futile wailing

The entire experience of the Asaba Masaccre and the Nigerian Civil War itself is so bleak that recourse to a specific pattern of Igbo prayer is apposite here. Ozoemena (May it NOT happen again); Ozoemezina (May it NEVER happen again.) It is a fervent prayer indexed on hope. But it is also a prayer against the grain of the Nigerian condition, a country in which red-hot pepper has invariably been administered as the cure for conjunctivitis. The problems that landed Nigeria in internecine war over five decades ago have since been compounded. The country is today much more disunited than it ever was. The telltale signs of wild political excesses proliferating the contingences of fresh cataclysms are all too obvious for the realistic to be apprehensive. Solid foundations are being laid for further anniversaries of massacres. On December 12, 2015, peacetime Nigeria witnessed the Army troops’ massacre of hundreds of Shiite Muslims in Zaria. Since last year IPOB agitators for self-determination have become cannon fodder in the hands of the same military. And then there are the Fulani herdsmen invading communities and snuffing out the lives of unsuspecting hundreds.

IT IS at this point that the somber parable of the porter’s predicament must come in. He has quit moaning about the long decades it has been his unenviable lot to bear an oppressive burden; his worry now is tied to not knowing for how much longer he will be forced to groan under its dead weight.

This review was read at the 50th Anniversary of the Asaba Massacre in Asaba, Delta State, Nigeria, on Saturday October 7, 2017

Chuks Iloegbunam (chuks.iloegbunam@gmail.com)

100th birthday of Thelonious Monk

(Born 10 October 1917, Rocky Mount, NC, US)
PERSPICACIOUS pianist and composer whose seminal works include a range of contributions to the jazz repertory standards with his “Round Midnight” being the most recorded standard of all time
(The master at work! Thelonious Monk’s solo here on the classic “Blue Monk” begins at 3.10 minutes into this performance [Thelonious Monk Quartet] for 3 minutes after tenorist Charlie Rouse’s own majestic offering [personnel: Monk, piano; Rouse, tenor saxophone; Larry Gales, bass; Ben Riley, drums; recorded: University Aula, Oslo, 15 April 1966]) 
Twitter@HerbertEkweEkwe

Monday, 9 October 2017

111th birthday of Léopold Sédar Senghor

(Born 9 October 1906, Joal, Sénégal)
ONE OF THE most outstanding poets of the African World, academic, and race and cultural theorist, statesperson, first African president of Sénégal, September 1960, following the termination of 300 years of the French conquest, occupation and immisiration
(John Coltrane SextetDakar [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone, Cecil Payne, baritone saxophone; Pepper Adams, baritone saxophone; Mal Waldron, piano;  Doug Watkins, bass; Art Taylor, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, US, 20 April 1957])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Igbo resourcefulness, Nigeria, genocide: 1930s-29 May 1966


Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

THE IGBO were one of the very few constituent nations in British Nigeria, southwestcentral Africa, prior to the 29 May 1966 Anglo-Nigeria launch date of the Igbo genocide, who understood, fully, the immense liberatory possibilities ushered in by 1 October 1960 (presumed day for the restoration-of-independence for the subjugated African peoples) and the interlocking challenges of the vast reconstructionary work required for state and societal transformation in the aftermath of the British occupation.

Enterprise

The Igbo had the most robust economy in the country in their east regional homeland, supplied the country with its leading writers, artists and scholars, supplied the country’s top universities with its vice-chancellors (presidents/rectors) and leading professors and scientists, supplied the country with its first indigenous university (the prestigious university at Nsukka), supplied the country with its top diplomats, supplied the country’s leading high schools with its head teachers and administrators, supplied the country with its top bureaucrats, supplied the country with its leading businesspeople, supplied the country with an educated, top-rated professional officers-corps for its military and police forces, supplied the country with its leading sportspersons, essentially and effectively worked the country’s rail, postal, telegraphic, power, shipping, and aviation services to quality standards not seen since in Nigeria…

And they were surely aware of the vicissitudes engendered by this historic age precisely because the Igbo nation played the vanguardist role in the freeing of Nigeria from Britain, beginning from the mid-1930s...

Suzerain’s response

BRITAIN responded to this Igbo fervent resourcefulness by plotting the genocide against the Igbo along with its on the ground north region Hausa-Fulani/islamists who were vociferously opposed to African freedom. Indeed, the Hausa-Fulani/islamists wanted the British occupation indefinitely – which, in fact, is the case, 57 years after!
(Charles Mingus Sextet, “Passions of a man” [personnel: Mingus, piano, vocals; Jimmy Knepper, trombone; Rahssan Roland Kirk, flute, siren, tenor saxophone, manzello, strich; Booker Ervin, tenor saxophone; Doug Watkins, bass; Dannie Richmond, drums; recorded: Atlantic Studios, New York, US, 6 November 1961])
Twitter@HerbertEkweEkwe