Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Longest genocide – Since 29 May 1966

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, Wednesday 29 May 2013, is the 47th anniversary of the beginning of the Igbo genocide. Starting from that fateful mid-morning of Sunday 29 May 1966 and through the course of 44 months of indescribable barbarity and carnage not seen in Africa since the German-led genocide against the Herero people of Namibia in the early 1900s, the composite institutions of the Nigeria state, civilian and military, murdered 3.1 million Igbo people or one-quarter of this nation’s population. The Igbo genocide is the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. It is still continuing. It is the longest, the most expansive, and the most gruesomely-sustained genocide of the contemporary era. This genocide inaugurated Africa’s current age of pestilence.

Yakubu Gowon headed the junta that executed the genocide and Obafemi Awolowo, a lawyer, was his deputy, effectively the prime minister, the genocidist “chief theorist” for the campaign and head of the all-powerful finance ministry. Awolowo also principally initiated and programmed phase-IV of the genocide aimed, strategically, to dismantle/degrade the Igbo economy in perpetuity. The Igbo economy, pre-genocide, was Africa’s most dynamic and resourceful.

Today’s commemoration will, as in the past, be a day of meditation and remembrance in every Igbo household in Igboland and the Igbo diaspora in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world for the 3.1 million murdered, gratitude and thanksgiving for those who survived, and the collective Igbo rededication to unrelentingly tell the story of the genocide to the world at large (expressively and exhaustively, covering each and every contour of its four discernible phases: 29 May 1966-29 October 1966, 30 October 1966-5 July 1967, 6 July 1967-12 January 1970, 13 January 1970-Present Day) and, finally, strive to achieve the urgent goal of the restoration of Igbo sovereignty.

These latter two Igbo endeavours have undergone a quantum leap since September 2012, thanks to the publication of the incomparable, There was a Country. The book has opened up the continent of possibilities that has indeed channelled the Igbo march to freedom to a steadier, assured victory – much sooner than most keen observers of this process of liberation would have contemplated this time last year. This is yet another priceless gift, as always, from the illustrious Chinua Achebe, the Father of African Literature himself, to his people. There was a Country is a resolute reminder to an oft-complacent world of the Igbo genocide and the incredible survival of Igbo people. Not many people in the world thought that the Igbo would survive, such was the savagery of the onslaught that they were subjected to by Nigeria and its allies. It is precisely this dual-track mission of There was a Country that has been most troubling to those fanged assailants of Achebe’s memoirs who, since, have been thrown into utter disarray.  Any reminder of the Igbo genocide and, particularly, the Igbo survival therefrom, riles the sensibilities of assailants whose life’s quest is to continue to dart around the crumbling edifice of a spurious sage, more demonstrably a genocidist “chief theorist” who insensately advocated and co-supervised the murder of 3.1 million children, women and men. That any human being would wish to be associated with the memory of such a vicious personage in history must be one of the most troubling cases of the human condition to be visited and revisited for analyses for quite a while…
We mustn’t ever fail to state and re-state that the Igbo could not have survived the genocide if they still remained Nigerian. They rightly chose the former course of their fate and not the latter which they cast adrift. For the Igbo, the renouncement of Nigerian citizenship on that horrific Sunday morning, 29 May 1966, is the permanent Igbo indictment of a state that had risen thunderously to murder one of its constituent peoples. Consequently, Nigeria collapsed as a state with few prospects for the future as illustrated most cogently and graphically today – 47 years to the day. Despite the four murderous years of siege unprecedented in recent African history, the Igbo demonstrated a far greater creative drive towards constructing an advanced civilisation in Biafra than what Nigeria has all but wished it could achieve in the past four decades of frightening and pitiable hopelessness. Surely, Nigeria couldn’t, cannot recover from committing this heinous crime – this crime against humanity. This is its epitaph.

Igbo will never forget. Happy Survival! Land of the Rising Sun. 

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

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