Monday, 29 September 2014

81st birthday of Samora Machel

(Born 29 September 1933, Madragoa, Mozambique)
Nurse, brilliant and highly accomplished commander of Frente de Libertação de Moçambique, Mozambique Liberation Front, which frees Mozambique from nearly 500 years of the Portuguese conquest and occupation, June 1975, and becomes first African president of the victorious republic


Saturday, 27 September 2014

2nd anniversary of the publication of Chinua Achebe’s There was a Country

(Published 27 September 2012, Penguin, LondonBritain)

Father of African Literature’s incomparable memoirs on the Igbo genocide, the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa, 29 May 1966-12 January 1970, when the Nigeria state murders 3.1 million Igbo people or one-quarter of this nation’s population


90th birthday of Bud Powell

(Born 27 September 1924, Harlem, New York, US)
Virtuosic pianist, composer and one of the inaugurators of the bebop revolution in jazz in New York in the early 1940s

(Bud Powell Trio, “Un poco loco” [Powell, piano; Curley Russell, bass; Max Roach, drums; recorded: WOR Studios, New York, 1 May 1951])

(Thelonious Monk Quartet plays “In walked Bud”, a 1947 Monk composition, a jazz standard, in honour of fellow bebop revolutionary Bud Powell [personnel: Monk, piano; Johnny Griffin, tenor saxophone; Ahmed Abdul-Malik, bass; Roy Haynes, drums; recorded: live, Five Spot Café, New York, 7 August 1958])

Friday, 26 September 2014

93rd birthday of Cyprian Ekwensi

(Born 26 September 1921, Minna, Nigeria)
Pharmacist and one of Africa’s most prolific writers with particular interest in the exploration of urban life and its immense challenges – may have inaugurated the Onicha (Oshimili Delta) market literary genre with his 1947-published Ikolo the Wrestler and other Igbo Tales and When Love Whispers (see Emmanuel Obiechina, An African Popular Literature, 1973: 3), subsequently publishing over 20 novels (including People of the City [1954], The Drummer Boy [1960], Jagua Nana [1961], Burning Grass [1961], Beautiful Feathers [1963], Iska [1966], Jagua Nana’s Daughter [1993]), innumerable short stories (including several adapted for radio and television), and children’s books


Thursday, 25 September 2014

103rd birthday of Eric Williams

(Born 25 September 1911, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago)

One of the most outstanding African Caribbean intellectuals of all time, author of Capitalism and Slavery (1944), classic on African enslavement in the Americas by the pan-European World –  from his 1938 Oxford University doctoral thesis, and first prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, 31 August 1962, after centuries of  the British/European World conquest, enslaving and occupation


91st birthday of Sam Rivers

(Born 25 September 1923, El Reno, Oklahoma, US)
Seminal tenor saxophonist/multiinstrumentalist and composer who has recorded with varying ensembles (big bands, octets, quintets, quartets, trios, duos, even solo!) and whose exquisite ballad “Beatrice”, named after his wife, is a classic

 (Sam Rivers Quartet, “Beatrice” [personnel: Rivers, tenor saxophone; Jaki Byard, piano; Ron Carter, bass; Tony Williams, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US, 11 December 1964])

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire celebrates archival collection in honour of Osonye Tess Onwueme, Saturday 18 October 2014

(Osonye Tess Onwueme)
On behalf of the Chancellor and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation, I have the special pleasure and honor to announce that on Saturday, October 18, 2014, our institution will be hosting a celebration of the Archival Collection in honor of Professor Onwueme, eminent University Professor of Global Letters at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire for her exceptional achievements and contributions to World Literature/Drama, the University of Wisconsin system, the Africana, and the world at large. 

To mark this historic event, international scholars, writers and speakers are expected to dialogue and participate in the celebration of the remarkable Archival Collection of the literary icon now being acquired by the University Wisconsin, in addition to showcasing a production from Onwueme's award-winning plays, “The Reign of Wazobia” during the event.

As you are aware, Dr. Onwueme is the recipient of several prestigious national and international awards, including the Fonlon-Nichols award, the Phyllis Wheatley/Nwapa award for outstanding black writers, the Martin Luther King, Jr./Caeser Chavez Distinguished Writers Award, the African Distinguished Writers Award, and the Association of Nigerian Authors Award (ANA).

We would like to invite you to attend this prestigious event and join in the celebration.  We also invite you to spread the word about this once in a lifetime celebration of Dr. Tess Onwueme, international treasure.

Please let me know if I can answer any questions you may have regarding this invitation.  

Debra Lang
Events & Special Projects Coordinator
Chancellor & Foundation Offices
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

120th birthday of E Franklin Frazier

(Born 24 September 1894, Baltimore, US)
Influential sociologist and academic who publishes expansively on subject of race and human rights in the United States, research institute at Howard University named after him


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

88th birthday of John Coltrane

(Born 23 September 1926, Hamlet, NC, United States)
Iconoclastic tenor (and soprano) saxophonist and composer who, arguably, has had the most profound impact on the development of jazz, African American classical music, in the past 50 years

 (John Coltrane Quartet, “Equinox” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Steve Davis, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; recorded: Atlantic Studios, New York, US, 24/26 October 1960])

Monday, 22 September 2014

82nd birthday of Benedict Obumselu

(Born 22 September 1932, Oba, Igboland)
Distinguished literary critic

Benjamin Adekunle: The portrait of a genocidist

(Benjamin Adekunle)
By EC Ejiogu***
I do not want to see any Red Cross, and Caritas, any World Council of Churches, any Pope, any Mission, or any United Nations Delegation.  I want to prevent even one I[g]bo having even one piece to eat before their capitulation.                (Major Benjamin AdekunleThe Economist [London] August 14, 1968)
Research by this writer reveals that ever before Benjamin Adekunle, who died this month—September 13, 2014—of natural causes after a protracted illness, uttered the excerpt above to the World Press in 1968 as “one of the most notorious of the genocidist commanders in southern Igboland” (Ekwe-Ekwe, 2014) during Nigeria’s genocidal war against Biafra, he was not just an individual who woke up one morning and suddenly found himself in a situation of duty that compelled him to play a circumstantial role that happened to impact the Igbo adversely.  In the rapidly shifting scheme of events in the Nigeria project during the period that commenced with the termination of de facto British rule on October 1, 1960, the first time in the research for this piece that a young Benjamin Adekunle was encountered was in May 1966.  This was right after the May promotions in the Nigerian Army, which the Major-General J. T. U. Aguiyi-Ironsi-headed military regime that had just been in power for barely five months seemingly embarked upon to consolidate its delicate hold on state power and to of course placate the north and its ruling feudalist establishment over the death of their prominent politicians and personalities in the January 15, 1966 coup d’état.

As it turned out, in the super-charged atmosphere that arose then and has sustained in varied forms in the Nigeria project ever since, that promotion exercise, which “Under normal circumstances…would not have raised eyebrows” became an excuse for the hateful to let mayhem loose on the Igbo.  Although it “could be justified on the basis of merit and correcting the anomaly of deserving officers that had been passed over for promotion in the past …”, still, it “was interpreted as favoring Igbo (sic)” (Siollun, 2009: 91).

Benjamin Adekunle, then a major, and three others—Olusegun Obasanjo, Oluwole Rotimi, and Emmanuel Sotomi—who all happened to be Yoruba were by-passed in that promotion exercise.  But that was not the first time when promotions in the officer corps had not favored some officers.  For instance, in 1964, when Yakubu Gowon, then a major was promoted to the rank of a lieutenant-colonel, his “course mates at Sandhurst—Alexander Madiebo, Patrick Anwunah, Anthony Eze, and Michael Okwechima—all Igbo were passed by and no eyebrows were raised.

Although, a significant number of the 21 officers who benefited in the May 1966 promotion exercise were Igbo, clarity remains that: “several majors were promoted to acting lt.-colonel and some others were promoted substantive lt-colonels” (Siollun, 2009: 91).  Those of them who were in the latter category, were prior to the coup d’état, “already acting lt-colonels, and simply had their temporary/acting ranks confirmed”.  Another reality worthy of mention is that although the Igbo predominated the officer corps especially the middle rank of major at the time, it was an ‘advantage’ that accrued to the Igbo by default: ‘The imminent end of de facto colonial rule forced the British who needed to replace the all-British officer corps with indigenous men, to alter their recruitment policy into the colonial military forces in the Nigeria project beginning from the 1950s to look for qualified indigenous men with the requisite Western educational qualifications.  They found them mostly in the nationalities that inhabit the lower Niger areas, especially amongst the Igbo.  Since the Yoruba had not yet over-come their age-old aversion for enlistment and participation in the colonial military forces over the latter’s excesses during the course of colonial conquest and subjugation, even though the British on their part deemed the Igbo unsuitable colonial subjects due to their exceptional democratic social authority patterns, the prevalent acute military manpower pressure left the British no other viable option than the recruitment of the well qualified Igbo young men who presented themselves for recruitment. As for the Igbo, this writer observed elsewhere paraphrasing William F. Gutteridge (1970) that:
Ahead in Western education, and being a nationality in which the individual is free in society to embark on pursuits for personal advancement without first securing the approval of the ruling elite, the Igbo quickly took advantage of the window of opportunity which opened in the officer corps and enlisted in record numbers.  In 1956 and in 1960 when colonial ended, 68% of the officer corps was composed of the Igbo (Ejiogu, 2011: 164).  
In contrast, only 17% and 14% respectively were from nationalities in the north and the Yoruba. 

Furthermore, due to the preponderance of men from the nationalities that inhabit the upper Niger in the junior ranks of the officer corps, and the non-commissioned officer (NCO) ranks, that promotion exercise benefited the north and its political establishment in the main.  One researcher puts it quite succinctly:
Conversely, most junior officers and NCOs were Northerners and the primary beneficiaries of the promotion exercise in the junior ranks were logically also Northerners.  The promoted Northern soldiers included Theophilus Danjuma, Muhammadu Buhari, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Abdullahi Shelleng, Ibrahim Bako, Muhammadu Jega, Garba Dada (“Paiko”) and Paul Tarfa.  Strangely there were no complaints about the preponderance of Northern promotions in this category.  All eyes remained formed on the Igbo majors promoted to lt.-colonel.  A group of Northern air force cadets were also dismissed due to their underwhelming educational achievements.  The exercise seemed to be part of a broader leaning by Aguiy-Ironsi away from quota towards more merit based system (Siollun, 2009: 92).

Of the five northerners who were promoted—Murtala Mohammed, Joe Akahan, Hassan Katsina, and Mohammed Shuwa were the most generously favored: “The promotion to lt.-colonel of Murtala [Muhammed], Shuwa and Haruna was particularly generous because at the time of the promotions, all three were only substantive captains (holding temporary ranks as majors) yet they were promoted to lt.-colonel”.

So then, it turned out that in a time space of just a few months, the next phase was being readied to pounce yet again on the Igbo who Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe describes as “the world’s most brutally targeted and most viciously murdered of peoples” with deadly, wanton orchestrated political violence.

Murders, infamous phone call, murders

As those heady days unfolded further, the next time that Major Adekunle is encountered in the thick of the tragic events that aimed at spilling innocent Igbo blood was late in the wee-hours of July 29 in Enugwu, Igboland, which was also the regional capital of the then Eastern Region where the army’s 1st Battalion was based.  He was the deputy to the Igbo battalion commander, Lt.-colonel David Ogunewe.  The revolt and targeted massacre of Igbo officers and other ranks in all the army formations, which was systematically planned by Murtala Muhammed, Theophilus Danjuma and a host of other officers from nationalities in the upper Niger, had already commenced in the Abeokuta Garrison late in the night of the previous day.  It had spread to Lagos and Ibadan, the capital of the Western Region where Major-General Aguiyi-Ironsi and his host, the military governor of the Region, Lt.-Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi had been abducted from the State House by northern soldiers under Theophilus Danjuma’s command.  Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon’s infamous telephone call from Lagos to the State House, Ibadan had, according to Theophilus Danjuma, been made and coincidentally taken by Danjuma himself and the following conversion had ensued between them:

Gowon: Hello I want to speak to the brigade commander.  I want to speak to Colonel Njoku.

Danjuma: May I know who is speaking?

Gowon:  My name is Gowon.  Yakubu Gowon.

DanjumaRanka dede. This is Yakubu Danjuma.

Gowon:  Yakubu. What are you doing there? Where are you? 

Danjuma: I am in the State House here.

Gowon:  Where is the brigade commander? 

Danjuma: He is not around. 

Gowon:  Have you heard what has happened?

Danjuma:  Yes.  I heard and that is why I am here. We are about to arrest the Supreme Commander.  The alternative is that the Igbo boys who carried out the January coup will be released tit for tat since we killed their own officer[s]. 

Gowon (after a long pause):  Can you do it? 

Danjuma:  Yes. We have got the place surrounded. 

Gowon:  Alright but for goodness sake we have had enough bloodshed.  There must be no bloodshed. 

Danjuma:  No.  We are only going to arrest him.
(Siollun, 2009: 105)

What illogical meaning would any reasonable person read into the chummy-chummy conversation between Yakubu Gowon, a lieutenant-colonel, and Chief of Army Staff at the time and Theophilus Danjuma, a junior officer who was evidently caught red handed in the course committing a grievous offence?  The “Can you do it?” and “Alright…” clearly constitute a “go ahead”, while the “…but for goodness sake we have had enough bloodshed” is a worrisome after thought.  What would a junior officer who surrounded the location of his Supreme Commander with unidentified and armed soldiers and proclaim that they were “only going to arrest him” without explaining to the superior officer—who never bothered to ask—where he would take the former to, do with him after he does?  Take him to a picnic?   The world has since that horrible day known that it was not what happened.  Furthermore, it is incontrovertible that even Yakubu Gowon himself is implicated from that outset in the phases of the Igbo genocide that took place in the period, 1967-1970.  Back to Benjamin Adekunle.

In Enugwu where Adekunle is encountered again in that stream of events, not much is heard about him even though quite a lot can be gleaned from the stream of events to implicate him in the genocide of the Igbo during the time.  In the 1st Battalion, there is a Captain Baba Usman, a northerner in the army intelligence unit who Murtala Muhammed and his gang designated to spearhead their assault on Igbo officers and men in Enugwu.  But as fate would have it, Usman was in faraway city of Aba that night.  His absence deprived his fellow northern officers in the battalion of the catalytic leadership they needed to swing into action after they dressed up and got themselves ready.  Ogunewe was quick to deploy his able crisis management skills right after he was alerted by the fabled distress telephone calls from a Lt. Ogbonna in the Abeokuta Garrison.  That, coupled with Usman’s God-sent absence from base, put Ogunewe ahead of the genocidists:
Ogunewe found Northern soldiers inn his battalion (including Captain Gibson Jalo and Lieutenants Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, M. D. Jega and A. A. Abubakar) dressed in combat fatigues and readying themselves to commence an assault in Enugu.  Using all his persuasive powers, he managed to convince them to hand over the armory keys and negotiated a tense but effective truce with Northern soldiers” (Siollun, 2009: 16).  That, not withstanding, Murtala Muhammed’s repeated signals to his fellow northerners still galvanized some of them who still “attempted to break into the Enugu armory but were overpowered (Siollun, 2009: 16).
As the spilling of innocent Igbo blood sustained, was it by happenstance that when Yoruba officers felt so ‘concerned for their safety’ and “sent a delegation consisting of Lt.-Colonel Obasanjo, Major Oluleye and Captains Akinfenwa and Timothy B. Ogundeko to the Northern Region’s military governor Lt.-Colonel Katsina, to report their fears” (Siollun, 2009: 132), not Benjamin Adekunle whose father is Yoruba from Ogbomosho and mother is Bachama; a nationality in the upper Niger, not Emmanuel Abisoye, not David Jemibewon and the other Yoruba officers from northern Yorubaland, which was part of the then Northern Region were included?

The tenor, i.e. his complicity in the wanton wastage of innocent Igbo lives, of the narrative remained the same when next Benjamin Adekunle is encountered:  As
the deputy commander of the 1st battalion in Enugu… [w]hen a decision was made to repatriate army officers [and rank and file] to their regions of origin, Adekunle and Northern soldiers in his unit (sic) were to leave Enugu and head first to Kaduna, and then to Lagos.  Simultaneously a group of surviving Igbo soldiers that had been detained in Kaduna prison for their safety were to be repatriated to Enugwu via Lagos.  When they were released for transportation by train to Enugu, Adekunle promised them safe passage to Lagos from where they could then proceed to Enugu.  Northern soldiers in Adekunle’s battalion and the Igbo soldiers were placed on the same train.  Some Northern soldiers having long been frustrated at their inability to kill Igbo thus far, finally got their opportunity.  They descended upon the Igbo soldiers, killed them and threw their bodies off the train.  For promising safe passage to the Igbo soldiers, Adekunle too was attacked, but was saved by the intervention of Captain Jalo.  Although his father was a Yoruba from Ogbomosho, Adekunle’s mother was like Jalo, from the Bachama ethnic group of the Northern Region (Siollun, 2009: 132-3).
Think of it:  Major Benjamin Adekunle, the deputy battalion commander was simply “attacked” by the same northern soldiers from his battalion, on the same train, who “descended on Igbo soldiers, killed them and threw their bodies off the train … but was saved” by Gibson Jalo whose mother and Benjamin Adekunle’s mother are from the Bachama nationality in the upper Niger.  For full disclosure, this is the same Captain Gibson Jalo of the Ist Battalion who was encountered on the night of July 29 when he was dressed in combat attire with other northerner officers “and readying themselves to commence an assault in Enugu” to massacre Igbo officers and other ranks in the army.

As battlefield commander, Benjamin Adekunle projected such unparalleled ruthlessness from the very onset of the genocidal war against Biafra that earned him notoriety and the ghoulish moniker, ‘Black Scorpion’.  He had no qualms looking the World Press in the eyes in 1968 in southern Igboland where he gave a press conference and proclaimed the following as the London-based weekly, The Economist reported in its 24 August 1968 issue: “I want to prevent even one I[g]bo having even one piece to eat before their capitulation”.  In the same story in The Economist, he expressed what is best termed his combat conduct mantra being: “We shoot at everything, even at things that don’t move” (The Economist, August 24, 1968 in Ekwe-Ekwe, 2014).

Asaba, relief aircraft, outing memoir

Could such an individual with such checkered antecedence have cultivated such hatred against the Igbo overnight?  He was Yakubu Gowon’s only battlefield commander in that war who was quietly removed from command and sidelined into private life and made to forfeit every opportunity to have the access to enrich himself as an actor in successive military and non-military regimes in the Nigeria project.  Benjamin Adekunle’s mortal sin could probably have been his loud mouth, which enabled him to get account of his atrocities on the Igbo to the World Press in his own words.  Others—including Murtala Muhammed who was implicated in the massacre of Asaba males, and even Olusegun Obasanjo (1981: 79 in Ekwe-Ekwe 2014)) who personally outed himself in his 1981 war memoir, My Command over the downing of one of the clearly marked International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) small civilian aircraft that ferried relief supplies to starving Biafran women and children by Gbadamosi King on his orders on June 5—who kept mute over their own atrocities faired quite better.

Measure for measure

The last encounter with Benjamin Adekunle is this time right after he passed away.  From newspaper reports, in his last days, he experienced what he inflicted on the Igbo as battlefield commander:  He could not even get enough to eat or with which he could seek adequate medical attention anywhere descent in the West.  His children scrapped around from his few benefactors for just enough to ferry him to India for the third-rate type of medical treatment that flourish over there in backyard hospitals and clinics.  Perhaps the Bible is right on the mark when it intones: The measure you give, will be the measure you will reap.

Reference List

Ejiogu, E.C. (2011) The Roots of Political Instability in Nigeria: Political Evolution and Development in the Niger Basin, England and USA:  Ashgate Publishing.
Ekwe-Ekwe, Herbert (2014) On This First Day of April: Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month: Genocidist generals, Genocidist “theorists”, April 1, 2014, accessed 19 September 2014.
Gutteridge, W.F. (1975) Military Regimes in Africa, London:  Methuen.
Obasanjo, O. (1980) My Command: An Account of the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970, Ibadan:  Heinemann Educational Books.
Siollun, M. (2009) Oil, Politics, and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture, New York:  Alegora.

***Professor EC Ejiogu was with the Centre for Africa Studies, University of the Free State, South Africa.  He is the author of the paradigm-changing, The Roots of Political Instability in Nigeria: Political Evolution and Development in the Niger Basin, Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2011.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

FWD: Arrow of God at 50 School of Oriental and African Studies University of London Symposium Programme, Saturday 4 October 2014 (1000-1900)

1000: Welcome

1010: Breaking of Kola Nut

1030Readings from Arrow of God – read by Anthony Ofoegbu

1045: PANEL Social Transformations in Arrow of God

Louisa Uchum Egbunike, “Contested Spaces in Arrow of God

Oladipo Agboluaje, “Before God and Man’: Social and Religious Conflicts in Arrow of God

Mpalive Msiska tbc

1230: Lunch

1400: PANEL  Arrow of God and the Igbo Experience

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, “Does Arrow of God anticipate the Igbo genocide?”

Chikwendu Anyanwu,  “‘What kills a Man is Inside Him’: The Dialectics of Umunna!”

1515: Presentation by Afrikult – an online contemporary African literary forum

1545: PANEL Reflections on Chinua Achebe and Arrow of God

Nana Ayebia, “The Making of Chinua Achebe: Tributes and Reflections”

Kwadwo Osei-Nyame Jnr, “Arrow of God and African History: Philosophical Reflections”

Wangui wa Goro, “Impact of Achebe on global cultures through translation: the case of Arrow of God

1630: Break

1700: Roundtable - Reflections on Arrow of God, its impact and legacy

1830: Igbo Cultural Performance

1900 Reception and Conference Close

Convened by Dr Kwadwo Osei-Nyame Jnr and Louisa Uchum Egbunike. Enquiries should be directed to Louisa Uchum Egbunike:


78th birthday of Sunny Murray

(Born 21 September 1936, Idabel, Oklahoma, US)
One of leading innovative jazz drummers in the 1950s/1960s who frees the drums from the “traditional” time-keeping role in the music ensemble, with the drums now engaging more proactively and continuously in multiple-centred dialogues with other instruments whose soloists resultantly feel less inhibited by time in their own creative enterprise
(Albert Ayler Trio, “Ghosts – first variation” [personnel: Ayler, tenor saxophone; Gary Peacock, bass; Sunny Murray, drums; recorded: ESP-Disk, New York, 10 July 1965]) 

105th birthday of Kwame Nkrumah

(Born 21 September 1909, Nkroful, Ghana)
Influential philosopher and theorist of an encompassing African World consciousness and first president of contemporary Ghana, July 1960, following the 6 March 1957 restoration-of-independence after a century of the British conquest and occupation


Saturday, 20 September 2014

81st birthday of Emmanuel Obiechina

(Born 20 September 1933, Nkpo, Igboland)
Pioneering and distinguished scholar of the historic Onicha (Oshimiri Delta) market literature genre and versatile literary critic and author


58th birthday of Steve Coleman

(Born 20 September 1956, Chicago, US)
Intensely creative alto saxophonist and composer who categorises his music (as well as that of Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and other masters) as “spontaneous composition”

(Dave Holland Quintet, “Blues for CM” – featuring Steve Coleman [personnel: Holland, bass; Kenny Wheeler, trumpet; Robin Eubanks, trombone; Coleman, alto saxophone; Marvin “Smithy” Smith, drums; recorded: ECM, New York, US, February 1987]) 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Why the Scot referendum is a turning point

The Scots have voted 55 per cent to 45 per cent to reject restoration-of-independence in their Thursday 18 September 2014 referendum. The Scots must be commended for voting democratically to decide their future in the outcome they have chosen. Thankfully, this process of democratic participation and affirmation on the crucial question of a people to exercise their right to decide for freedom is not restricted to Scottish history and geography but is indeed universal ( 

Many across the world have rightly acknowledged that this recent Scottish process is a turning point. The genie is out of the bottle. Many more of these freedom referendums will surely follow across the globe, but especially in Africa. Even if a people ends up saying “No” to restoration-of-independence, as the Scots have demonstrated, they would have had the right, inalienable, to make that decision – themselves.

 (John Coltrane Quartet, “The last blues” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, NJ, US, 10 June 1965])

Thursday, 18 September 2014

63rd birthday of Ben Carson

(Born 18 September 1951, Detroit, US)
Distinguished neurosurgeon, academic, and author of several books of inspiration including the bestselling Gifted Hands (2009), his autobiography


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

92nd birthday of Agostinho Neto

(Born 17 September 1922, ĺcolo e Bengo, Angola)
Physician, poet, co-founder of Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) and first African president of Angola, November 1975, after the people’s victory terminating 400 years of the Portuguese conquest and occupation


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Thoughts on the survivor-victor

No people who survives genocide is a “loser”: Armenians, Berg Damara, Boulangui, Darfuri, Herero, Igbo, Jews, Kongo, Luba, Mangbetu-Azande, Mongo, Nama, Tutsi... Someone or a people that survives genocide is at once a survivor and victor, hence that stunning incantation of the triumph of life itself on the morrow of overcoming the slaughter: “Happy Survival”! 


In the case of the Igbo genocide, 29 May 1966-12 January 1970, the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa in which Nigeria murders 3.1 million Igbo (one-quarter of this nation’s population), the agency that has consistently acknowledged this fact of the survivor-victor, throughout this dreadful epoch, is, pointedly, none other than Nigeria – the key perpetrator of this crime itself. Whatever else explains why Nigeria segues almost effortlessly to a new phase of its campaign, as early as 13 January 1970, to coincide with that Igbo celebratory life-invocation-of- “Happy Survival” that they proclaimed to the whole world:

(a) new vistas of charging murder trails, since, targeting and slaughtering tens of thousands of Igbo domiciled particularly in the geographies of north Nigeria but also elsewhere in the country with the murder-machine now morphed into Boko Haram   

(b) enhanced disarticulation/degradation/dismantling of Igboland economy and programmed “marginalisation” of the well-known contending assets of Igbo intellectual/politico-economic-cultural establishment – a crucial plank of the overarching goal of the Nigeria occupation

(c) unrelentingly fiendish valorisation of the genocide by genocidist “theorists”/ commanders/commandants/heads-of-regime including the Saturday 13 September 2014 outrageous, fulsome “eulogisation” of septic génocidaire Benjamin Adekunle by head-of-regime Goodluck Jonathan

(d) just as Adekunle, a Boko Haram-forebear, both organically and operationally, since 29 May 1966, those who currently execute Boko Haram’s slaughtering on the ground can look forward to being candidates for future bouts of “eulogisation” by a Jonathan or some other successor Nigeria head-of-regime

(John Coltrane Quartet, “Living space” [personnel: Coltrane, soprano saxophone, McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, NJ, US, 16 June 1965])
We are here
Yet despite the desperation and savagery of genocidist Nigeria, the Igbo refuse to go under. Igbo will never go under, thanks to the resilience of the survivor-victor. In dazzling contrast, the world presently watches, unmistakeably, as Nigeria trots along to an ignominious collapse, having run the course of its bloody trail in history. Consequently, for the Igbo, they have their work cut out as they embark on constructing a new civilisation in their new state in the aftermath of Nigeria. They don’t only have to negate, in its entirety, that which was Nigeria, but subvert the very ideational crucible which inaugurated this pulverising nightmare 129 years ago.  


Monday, 15 September 2014

125th birthday of Claude McKay

(Born 15 September 1889, Nairne Castle, Clarendon, Jamaica)

One of the leading intellectuals of the 1920s-1930s Harlem Renaissance – prolific poet, novelist, autobiographer, essayist, journalist, whose works include “If We Must Die” (1919), Harlem Shadows (1922), Home to Harlem (1928),  Banjo (1929), A Long Way from Home (1937),  Harlem (1940), My Green Hills of Jamaica (1979) and Amiable With Big Teeth (the eagerly awaited new novel from a 1941 McKay manuscript discovered in 2009 [68 years later!] in Columbia University archives)


Saturday, 13 September 2014

FWD: Open letter from concerned genocide scholars on situation in Syria and Iraq


129th birthday of Alain Locke

(Born 13 September 1885, Philadelphia, US)
Distinguished philosopher and prolific multidisciplinary scholar aptly described by Martin Luther King as one of the preeminent philosophers that “came through the universe”, dean of the 1920s-1930s Harlem Renaissance


Friday, 12 September 2014

90th birthday of Amilcar Cabral

(Born 12 September 1924, Bafatá, Guinea-Bissau)
Agricultural engineer, outstanding theorist and philosopher of the national liberation resistance (see, particularly, Amilcar CabralRevolution in Guinea [New York: Monthly Review, 1970] and Cabral, Return to the Source [New York: Monthly Review, 1973]) and founder of  Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e CaboVerde (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde) that frees Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde in 1974 from 500 years of the Portuguese conquest and occupation


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

87th birthday of Elvin Jones

(Born 9 September 1927, Pontiac, Mich, United States)
Renowned drummer and member of the 1960s John Coltrane classic quartet (Coltrane, tenor and soprano saxophones; McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Jones, drums), who provides the polyrhythmic anchor for the group’s restless stretch of creativity, and whose duet passages with Coltrane in many a performance of compositions, during the period, are opportunities for profound commentaries and analyses on pertinent subjects of both domestic and international affairs
(John Coltrane Quartet, “One Down, One Up”: in this composition, which has Coltrane’s longest solo recorded (26 minutes), pianist Tyner and bassist Garrison create the space at approximately 13.13 minutes into the saxophonist’s solo for 13 minutes of one of the most breathtaking of duets – between Coltrane and Jones [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; Tyner, piano; Garrison, bass; Jones, drums; recorded: live, The Half Note, New York, US, 28 March 1965])


80th birthday of Sonia Sanchez

(Born 9 September 1934, Birmingham, US)
Distinguished prolific poet, playwright, academic, human rights activist


Monday, 8 September 2014

83rd birthday of Marion Brown

(Born 8 September 1931, Atlanta, US)
Distinguished lyrical alto saxophonist, composer, and academic, with a distinct Youngesque-low-key seemingly effortless tone who is the second alto (besides John Tchicai) in the historic 11-person ensemble that plays on John Coltrane’s composition, Ascension (June 1965)


59th birthday of Osonye Tess Onwueme

(Born 8 September 1955, Ogwashi-Ukwu, Igboland)
Award-wining prolific playwright and academic whose works include Broken Calabash (1984), The Desert Encroaches (1985), Ban Empty Barn (1986), Legacies (1989),  Tell It to Women (1995), Then She Said It (2003), What Mama Said (2004) and Riot in Heaven (2006)