Sunday, 27 January 2013

Ozoemena, Never again

Denial is the eighth stage that always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide …try to cover up the evidence … They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims…” – Gregory Stanton, president, Genocide Watch; professor in genocide studies and prevention, George Mason University, Virginia, US
Today, Sunday 27 January 2013, is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is dedicated by the United Nations as a worldwide memoriam for the six million Jews murdered by Nazi Germany during the course of the Second World War. Today also marks the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, one of most notorious Nazi concentration camps in its occupied Poland where the Jewish genocide was perpetrated in addition to camps elsewhere in east and central Europe.

On 29 May 1966, just about six months to the day after the world commemorated the 21st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and made the customary solemn declaration of “Never Again”, Hausa-Fulani emirs, muslim clerics and intellectuals, military officers, politicians and other public figures in Nigeria defiled that season of reflection, commiseration and hope. They planned and executed the first phase of the Igbo genocide, the foundational and most expansive genocide in post-(European)conquest Africa. Apparently emboldened by the scant criticism of this crime from across Africa and the rest of the world, including, particularly, the United Nations, the Nigerians expanded the territorial range of their genocidal campaign on the Igbo by attacking Biafra, Igboland, in July 1967. A band of intellectuals from west Nigeria led by Obafemi Awolowo, a lawyer, provided the genocide-perpetration with its presumed “theoretical” cover. Awolowo himself doubled as chief genocidist “theorist” and head of the finance ministry and vice-chair of the waging junta. 3.1 million Igbo or a quarter of this nation’s total population were slaughtered during the 44-month duration of the genocide.

Age of pestilence

The Igbo genocide inaugurated Africa’s prevailing age of pestilence. It is the launch pad for the haunting killing fields that have expanded almost inexorably across the African geographical landscape since. During the period, 12 million additional Africans have been murdered in the ever-expanding genocidal killing fields of the continent in Rwanda (1994), Zaïre/Democratic Republic of the Congo (variously, since the late 1990s), Darfur – west of the Sudan – (since 2004), Abyei – south of the Sudan – (ongoing) and Nuba Mountains/south Kordofan – south of the Sudan – (ongoing) and in other killings in Liberia, Ethiopia, Congo Republic, Somalia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Chad, Mozambique, Algeria, Libya, Kenya, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Angola, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Mali.

The lives of these additional 12 million Africans would probably have been spared if Africa and the world had worked robustly to prevent the genocide of the Igbo. The United Nations could have stopped this genocide; the United Nations should have stopped this genocide instead of protecting the interests of the Nigeria state, the very perpetrator of the crime. In the wake of the Jewish genocide, Africa was, with hindsight, most cruelly unlucky to have been the testing ground for the presumed global community’s resolve to fight genocide subsequently, particularly after the 1948 historic United Nations declaration on this crime against humanity.

The Igbo genocide is one of the most comprehensively documented crimes against humanity. Nonetheless, Igbo intellectuals must endeavour, assiduously, to continue to inform the entire world of the nature and extent of the genocide, examining, especially, the variegated contours of the expansive trail of this crime, the parameters and strictures of the monstrosity of denialism of the crime especially by some clusters of the core perpetrators of the crime in Nigeria and their collaborators abroad including some in academia and media, and the debilitating and oppressive burden of 43 years of Nigeria’s occupation of Igboland. 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Reminder – Readings from Reading

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, Readings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, Literature (Dakar & Reading: African Renaissance, 2011), ISBN 9780955205019, paperback, 236pp., £19.95/US$29.95/CDN$30.68/EUR23,99/¥2,580

Do you have a copy of Readings from Reading? Does your library have one? If not, why not order one today – right away (please see order details below). Have a feel and be part of the discussion in this seminal study which has part of the following excerpts in its concluding optimistic insights about the future of Africa (p. 199):

The bridging of 29 May 1966 and 9 January 2011, the two most important dates on the African calendar since 1885, will henceforth chart and transform the continent’s political landscape in this evolving epoch of the post-Berlin state of Africa. After 9 January 2011, the bridge becomes a panhandle unto which the new successor states will embark on the construction of an unprecedented polycentric connectivity of relations on the African scene. 
Fifty-five years after 1956, the wheel has undoubtedly turned full circle in Africa. Africans are back to the beginnings but this time clearly on their own terms. The constituent African nation – so long maligned, so long impoverished, so long brutalised, so long humiliated, so long massacred, is recognised, at last, as the principal actor and agency of its being. This nation can now decide what precepts, what aspirations, what trajectory, what goals, it has set its new state to embark upon…[1] Whoever says that history isn’t so incorrigibly fascinating?! As Aimé Césaire deftly puts it in the interview already referred to, the challenges of the times become the “quest to reconquer something, our name (sic), our country … ourselves”.[2] 

[1]To underscore an important feature of this fast moving development in Africa, even if some might wish to categorise this particular example as “retrogressive”, Omar al-Bashir, the head of the Sudanese regime, made the following broadcast on Khartoum radio and television on 19 December 2010: “If south Sudan secedes, we’ll change the constitution. There will be no question of cultural or ethnic diversity. Sharia will be the only source of the constitution, and Arabic the only official language”. The people of the south would probably have responded, presumably quietly, in the confines of their homes: “This is your right, Mr al-Bashir! We have gone!”
[2]Melson, “The Liberating Power of Words: An Interview with Poet
Aimé Césaire”.

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Sign on letter to Germany re investment conference for the Sudan

Dear Colleagues

Act for Sudan is coordinating an open letter to the German government which is hosting an international conference to promote investment in Sudan. The conference is scheduled for January 29, 2013 in Berlin. 

We are asking civil society and human rights organizations around the world to join us in asking Germany to cancel the conference which will put Germany and the international community at risk of funding a government that continues to perpetrate massive human rights violations against its own people.  

The deadline for sign-ons is the end of the day on Thursday, January 17 2012. 

To sign on, send an email to Susan Morgan at
and include your sign-on 

Organization name
Name and title of signer
City, State

Act for Sudan welcomes sign-ons from as many international groups as possible, including organizations that are not affiliated with Act for Sudan. 

Susan Morgan

--------------------------------------- text of sign-on letter ---------------------------------------------

TO:  Minister Guido Westerwelle, German Foreign Minister
CC:  H.E. Ms. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Ambassador Dr. Peter 
Wittig, Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN

FROM:  XX  Undersigned International Organizations
SUBJ:  Cancellation of Conference to Promote Investment in Sudan
We are writing to protest Germany’s plans to host an international conference to promote investment in Sudan on January 29, 2013 in Berlin. We ask that you cancel this conference that places Germany squarely in the role of generating financial support for the genocidal Sudanese regime.
As you know, genocide continues in Sudan. The National Congress Party (NCP) regime in Sudan, led by a president indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, is causing the death, starvation, displacement, and destruction of livelihood of Sudanese civilians in Darfur, Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and the Blue Nile state.
Among the issues of greatest concern are the fact that unlawful attacks against civilians continue in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Darfur, and the East even as the Government of Sudan continues to restrict movement and access for international humanitarian aid organizations operating throughout Sudan. Further key issues with South Sudan remain unresolved, including final definition and demarcation of the north-south border and the final status of the Abyei area. People across Sudan who protest the current regime are denied basic rights and face attack, arrest and torture.

Efforts to promote investments in Sudan are premature and put the international community at risk of funding a government that continues to perpetrate massive human rights violations against its own people.  Such investments should not occur prior to a cessation of attacks on civilians, the granting of unhindered humanitarian access across Sudan, and a clear demonstration of progress on all remaining issues, including an inclusive constitutional review process followed by free and fair elections.

Without real, on-the-ground progress in Sudan, Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur, Sudan's history of genocidal violence makes it extremely likely that this conference, hosted by Germany, will help to fund more atrocities against civilians.  Please cancel the conference to avoid raising funds that will help support genocide.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Samuel Totten’s letter from the Nuba Mountains

Dear All

Happy New Year! I hope all is well with you and your loved ones as 2013 gets under way.

I am extremely pleased to report that I just returned home from what was the toughest trip I've ever undertaken in my life. The heat, dust, body-breaking (in part, motor-cross like-) dirt “roads”, along with the irritant of daily flyovers by Antonov bombers and “the mail” (as the locals put it) they delivered, quickly took their toll on my poor body. That said, the information I gleaned in interviews and informal conversations  with civilians, rebel soldiers, rebel commanders, journalists from various areas around the world, the only surgeon (an American educated at Duke University Law School) at the only hospital in the Nuba Mountains, among many others, was in many cases nothing short of revelatory. 

A huge, huge thank you to all of you who took the time to write me with your kind words and sentiments. Believe me, they meant the world to me. The reason you did not hear back from me is that I only had email a single evening throughout the entire three weeks in the Yida Refugee Camp (where I was five days) and the Nuba Mountains (where I was for two weeks) and that was for a very short period of time during which I was trying to reach my wife, Kathleen, on Christmas Eve. As I unwind, get some badly needed rest and get focused, I will drop many of you individual emails. 

I am intent on getting the word out about what I experienced, witnessed, and gleaned in regard to the ongoing onslaught by the Government of Sudan against the Nuba Mountains people as well as the projection that they may end up facing widespread and abject starvation (not JUST widespread malnutrition and worse as they do now) once the rainy season hits IF the world does not truly begin serious efforts to address this matter in an efficacious manner  -- and not three or four or five months from now but ASAP. I should note that many, many people have already suffered terribly from the bombings  (not only those who have been killed but who have been terribly maimed, having arms and legs sheared off and worse) and the ongoing lack of food (including, in certain cases outright starvation but mostly malnutrition and severe malnutrition).

I am personally contacting radio and tv networks, university programs (particularly those dealing with human rights and/or crimes against humanity and genocide), and other organizations about  my availability. I am willing to speak at any time of the day or night to media across the globe and am willing to fly anywhere to give talks, take part in panel discussions, etc. 

Ideally, university programs would cover the cost of my flight and room and board. I’d also greatly appreciate it if the latter would contribute a donation (which is tax free) either to an ongoing effort by a small team of remarkable humanitarians with whom I am currently working to insert tons of food into the Nuba Mountains (notably, just this past month we inserted close to six tons of food into the Nuba Mountains, with an aim of getting it to those individuals in most critical need at this time) or the nonprofit foundation, The Post Genocide Education Fund (which I co-founded in 2008 with Rafiki Ubaldo, a close friend who is a journalist and survivor of the Rwandan Genocide, whose express purpose is to provide full scholarships for young survivors of genocide to gain a university education).  Generally, my fee for a speech is $3,000.00 but in order to get the word out about the Nuba Mountains situation I am willing to accept donations a third of that. 

This is all to say: if you have any solid contacts in the media, human rights/genocide-related organizations, or at one or more universities who you think might be interested in conducting an interview or having me present a talk, I would greatly appreciate (1) your contacting them on my behalf, and ccing me when you do so and/or (2) providing me with their key contact information (name, position, affiliation, email address and direct phone number). A personal introduction (via email) would also be extremely  helpful. I thank you in advance for your kind assistance. 

For the most part, the world is blind to the fact of the crisis in the Nuba Mountains and that must change. Those in the know (including the UN, U.S., EU, among others) need to be pressured to get serious about halting the daily bombings and killings and a food crisis  that could easily result in widespread starvation and mass death if greater attention and help is not undertaken immediately to ameliorate the situation. 

I’ve been up cranking away, wide awake, for several hours now but am beginning to fade so I shall close. 

With all best wishes,


Dr. Samuel Totten
Professor Emeritus
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Author of Genocide by Attrition: Nuba Mountains, Sudan (Transaction Publishers, 2012)

PS. If several universities in an area (i.e., UCLA, UC Irvine, Long Beach State, Fullerton State Uni or Harvard, Boston U, Boston C., MIT, et al) wish to have me speak at a general location or host me on each of their campuses then they may wish to share the costs of the flight/accommodations and honorarium and have me speak at each in one fell swoop. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

2013 – time for reflections

In a seemingly paradoxical vein, 2013 begins on an optimistic note for Africa. Even though more states in Africa failed in 2012 than the previous year and yet more will fail or indeed collapse in this new year
it is to the next dual indices of crucial data on the continent that the immense possibilities of African restorative and reconstructionary quests are typecast – Africa remains, since 1981, a net-capital exporter to the Western World
( and African émigrés in Europe, the Americas, Asia and elsewhere presently constitute the primary exporters of capital to Africa itself (Ibid.). In a sentence: The African humanity currently generates, overwhelmingly, the capital resource that at once sustains its very existence and is intriguingly exported to the Western World. It is precisely the same humanity that those who benefit immeasurably from this conundrum (over several decades and are guaranteed to benefit indefinitely from it, except this is stopped by Africans) have consistently portrayed, quite perversely, as a “charity case”. Surely, this historic big lie of characterisation can no longer be sustained. Africa is endowed with the human resource and capital resource (in all its calibration and manifestation) to build advanced civilisations provided Africans abandon the prevailing “Berlin-states” of dysfunction that they have been forced into by the West’s creators

Just in case there are any constituent nations in Africa who still wish to be “boxed in” in these states, they are very welcome to their preferred choice but should be honourable and democratically disposed not to obstruct those who will embark on this inalienable right to flight of freedom. 2012 is a reminder, if we indeed needed one, that the blueprint for African transformation will neither be scripted nor actuated in a London, Paris, Brussels, Washington or New York, or even in a Beijing or Delhi as some fanciful commentaries have appeared to contend. The answer remains firmly lodged in Africa. So, the dynamic of Africa state failure, cited earlier, is nothing else but symptomatic of that defining truism of contemporary Africa: for the fundamental interests of African peoples, the post-(European)conquest state is not fit for purpose

2013 will particularly be a year of intense reflections across Africa on the continent’s genocidal regimes. This year marks the 47th anniversary of the beginning of the Igbo genocide, during which the Nigeria state slaughtered 3.1 million Igbo children, women and men – a quarter of the total Igbo population at the time – between 29 May 1966-12 January1970. This is the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. Africans elsewhere remained largely silent on the gruesome events in Nigeria but did not foresee the grave consequences of such indifference as 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 every geographical region of Africa during the period have demonstrated catastrophically.  Just as the Nigerian operatives of mass murder appeared to have got away without censure from the rest of Africa, other genocidal and brutal African regimes soon followed in Nigeria’s footpath, murdering those additional 12 million people in their countries considered “undesirables” or “opponents”. These 12 million murdered in the latter bloodbaths would probably have been saved if Africans had intervened robustly to stop the initial genocide against the Igbo people.
Chinua Achebe’s memoirs on the Igbo genocide, There was a Country, is the most important book published in 2012 on and for Africa. It is a priceless gift to a much-beleaguered people, a compulsory reference to our understanding of Africa of the last 47 years – this turbulent age of pestilence. Just a few months before his 28th birthday, in 1958, Achebe writes Things Fall Apart, the classic restorative narrative of African affirmation which subverts the European conqueror’s frantic efforts to construct a historiography of African-memory erasure in the wake of a devastating conquest. Fifty-four years later, just a couple of months before his 82nd birthday, in 2012, the literary interventionist genius publishes There was a Country, an indefatigable reminder to an oft-complacent world of the Igbo genocide and the incredible survival of Igbo people. 

Forty-seven years and 15 million murders on, Africans finally realise that there cannot be any meaningful advancement without abandoning the post-conquest state, essentially a genocide-state. This state is the bane of African existence and progress. Africans on the ground are working tirelessly to build extensively decentralised new states that ensure full democratic aspiration, participation and representation for constituent nations and the individual. It is in the longer-term interest of the rest of the world, especially in the West, to support African transformations initiated by its peoples rather than the “helmspersons”/“helmsconstituent nations” ostensibly entrenched in the hierarchical architecture that maps the typical continent’s genocide-state.