Thursday, 16 October 2014

Salute to intellectuals in defence of the people during the Igbo genocide!

Let it never be forgotten that, four decades ago, Igbo intellectuals and others, many very talented and widely accomplished men and women in their varying fields of expertise – writers, academics, artists, diplomats, bankers, military officers, clergy, accountants, scientists, physicians, lawyers, engineers – contributed most profoundly to the eventual survival of the Igbo during phases I-III of the genocide, 29 May 1966-12 January 1970, when only few in the world thought they would accomplish such an improbable feat. The following names are etched in our memories forever: Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Louis Mbanefo, Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo, Flora Nwapa, Kamene Okonjo, Godfrey Okoye, Michael Echeruo, Ifeagwu Eke, SJ Cookey, Sam Mbakwe, Janet Mokelu, Obiora Udechukwu, Uche Chukwumerije, Kalu Ezera, Philip Efiong, Ignatius Kogbara, Alvan Ikoku, Celestine Okwu, Benjamin Nwankiti, Benedict Obumselu, Donatus Nwoga, NU Akpan, Adiele Afigbo, Michael Okpara, Chukwuka Okonjo, Akanu Ibiam, CC Mojekwu, Okoko Ndem, Agwu Okpanku, Tim Onwuatuegwu, Chudi Sokei, Pol Ndu, Ben Gbulie, Chuks Ihekaibeya, Conrad Nwawo, Dennis Osadebe, Osita Osadebe, Chuba Okadigbo,  Okechukwu Ikejiani, Winifred Anuku, Francis Arinze, Anthony Modebe, Alex Nwokedi, Zeal Onyia, Chukwuedo Nwokolo, Pius Okigbo, Godian Ezekwe, Felix Oragwu, Ogbogu Kalu, Kevin Echeruo, Emmanuel Obiechina, Uche Okeke, Chukwuma Azuonye, Onuora Nzekwu, Chukuemeka Ike, Eddie Okonta, Cyprian Ekwensi, Nkem Nwankwo, John Munonye, Gabriel Okara, Kenneth Onwuka Dike, Eni Njoku, Okechukwu Mezu, William Achukwu.

(John Coltrane Quartet, “Lonnie’s lament” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood, Cliff, NJ, US, 27 April 1964])
For contemporary Igbo intellectuals, this, surely, is an historic legacy to contend with particularly in response to phase-IV of the genocide. The Igbo genocide is one of the most comprehensively documented crimes against humanity. 3.1 million Igbo, one-quarter of this nation’s population, were murdered by Nigeria and its allies during those dreadful 44 months of unrelenting slaughtering and immiseration. Igbo intellectuals must contribute robustly to continue to inform the entire world of the nature and extent of the genocide, examining, pointedly, the variegated contours of the expansive trail of the crime, the parameters and strictures of the monstrosity of denialism of the crime (especially by some clusters of the core perpetrators of the genocide in Nigeria and their collaborators abroad including some in academia and media) and the debilitating and oppressive burden of 40 years of Nigeria’s occupation of Igboland. 

The crime of genocide, thankfully, has no statute of limitations in international law. Igbo intellectuals should therefore double their efforts to work for the prosecution of all individuals and institutions involved in committing this crime, and effect the restoration of Igbo sovereignty, Biafra.


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