Saturday, 30 May 2015

48th anniversary of Biafra’s declaration of independence


The world turns and the world changes,
But one thing does not change.
In all my years, one thing does not change,
However you disguise it, this thing does not change:
The perpetual struggle between Good and Evil.
(TS Eliot, “Choruses from the Rock”, 1934)

On 30 May 1967, Biafra formally declares its independence from the Nigeria genocide-state in the wake of the murder of 100,000 Igbo children, women and men across most of north/parts of west Nigeria in phases-I and II of the genocide Nigeria launched on 29 May 1966 (29 May 1966-3 January 1967, 6 January 1967-5 July 1967) and which would be expanded, subsequently, to phase-III with the genocidist invasion of Biafra (6 July 1967-12 January 1970) and its murder of 3 million additional Igbo children, women and men – foundational, most gruesome and expansive and devastating genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

112th birthday of Countee Cullen

(Born 30 May 1903, Lexington, Kentucky [or alternatively New York, even Baltimore], US)
Poet, one of the brightest stars of the Harlem Renaissance of African American affirmation in the 1920s
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Friday, 29 May 2015

29 May 1966

Where is the life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
(TS Eliot, “Choruses from the Rock”, 1934)

Sunday 29 May 1966, 49 years to the day, is undoubtedly the most tragic day in Igbo history. It is the launch date of the Igbo genocide carried out by Nigeria – the most gruesome, devastating and expansive genocide in 20th century Africa. Nigeria murdered 3.1 million Igbo, a quarter of this nation’s population, between 29 May 1966 and 12 January 1970.

Open season, erase“deny”, perverse

The Igbo genocide is the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. Not since Germany’s genocide against the Herero, Nama and Berg Damara peoples of Namibia in the early 1900s had any African nation been subjected to such indescribable barbarity and carnage as the Igbo during the course of those 44 gory months. The genocide continues in multiforms and features. Only recently, in the wake of the 28 March 2015 “poll” for “president” in Nigeria, some very influential and easily recognisable public figures in the country including Rilwan Akiolu, the king or oba of Lagos (west region) and even intellectuals (such is this open season of staggeringly virulent pronouncements of Igbo hate and worse...) including, especially, a United States-domiciled cardiologist, called publicly for the mass murder of the Igbo because the Igbo electorate had voted overwhelmingly against the APC “political party”. The Igbo genocide is thus the longest and most remorselessly-sustained genocide of the contemporary era. This genocide inaugurated Africa’s current age of pestilence.

Yakubu Gowon headed the regime in Nigeria that executed the genocide and Obafemi Awolowo, a lawyer, a senior advocate of the Nigerian bar, 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 (ongoing) aimed, strategically, to dismantle/degrade the Igbo economy in perpetuity. The Igbo economy, pre-genocide, was Africa’s most dynamic and resourceful.

Elsewhere, beginning in 1969, regime Awolowoists/Awolowoids were in the forefront in formulating and implementing Nigeria’s “post”-genocide decision to abolish the teaching of history in its schools as part of its “broad package” of measures to erase the history of the genocide from countrywide consciousness and thus “deny” its occurrence. Thirty years on, 1999, these same regime operatives played a key role in Nigeria’s perverse proclamation of 29th of May as the country’s (new) annual “democracy day”, a desperate, albeit belated effort to try to “neutralise” the historic import of 29 May 1966 for Igbo people if not “celebrate” the genocide itself as some of the leading genocidists of this wing of the Nigeria genocide-state such as Benjamin Adekunle, Oluwole Rotimi, Olusegun Obasanjo and Obafemi Awolowo, himself, have indeed demonstrated in their high-profile gloated commentaries and memoirs on the genocide during the slaughtering and subsequently. 

29 May 1966 was the day that Igbo people were subjected to an overwhelming violence and unremitting brutality by supposedly fellow countrymen and women. This atrocity was clinically organised, supervised and implemented by the very state, the Nigeria state, which the Igbo had played a vanguard role to liberate from the British conquest and occupation from the 1930s to October 1960. Consequently, the genocide was perpetrated with full complicity of the British government led by Harold Wilson. This state, now violently taken over by murderous anti-African sociopolitical forces in 1966, had pointedly violated its most sacred tenet of responsibility to its Igbo citizens – provision of security. Instead of providing security to these citizens, the Nigeria state murdered 3.1 million of them or a quarter of their population.

Anthem

The words in Hausa of the ghoulish anthem of the genocide, broadcast uninterruptedly on state-owned Kaduna radio and television throughout its duration and with editorial comments on the theme regularly published in both state-owned New Nigerian (daily) newspaper and weekly Gaskiya Ta fi Kwabo during the period, were unambiguously clear on the key objectives of this crime against humanity:

Mu je mu kashe nyamiri
Mu kashe maza su da yan maza su
Mu chi mata su da yan mata su
Mu kwashe kaya su
(English translation: Let’s go kill the damned Igbo/Kill off their men and boys/Rape their wives and daughters/Cart off their property)

Not-Nigerian

Yet this 29th day of May 1966 is also the Igbo Day of Affirmation, Recovery and Freedom. The Igbo people resolved on this day, the day that marked the beginning of the genocide, to survive the catastrophe. This was the day the Igbo ceased to be Nigerian forever – right there on the grounds of those death camps in the sabon gari residential districts (north Nigeria) and offices and churches and schools and colleges and shops and markets and hospitals and rail stations and trains and coach stations and coaches and trucks and airports and planes and highways and village tracks and brooks and rivers and gorges and bridges and woods across Nigeria. They created the state of Biafra in its place and tasked it to provide security to the Igbo and prevent Nigeria, a genocide state, from accomplishing its dreadful mission. The heuristic symbolism defined hitherto by 1 October 1960 (date of the presumed restoration of independence for peoples in Nigeria from the British occupation) shattered in the wake of this historic Igbo declaration.

For the Igbo, the renouncement of Nigerian citizenship is the permanent Igbo indictment of a state that had risen thunderously to murder one of its constituent peoples. 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 decisively cast adrift. Consequently, Nigeria collapsed as a state with scarce prospects. Despite the four murderous years of comprehensive land, naval and aerial siege of Igboland by the genocidists, unprecedented blockade imposed on no other peoples anywhere else 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. Nigeria gburu ochu; Nigeria mere alu. Surely, Nigeria couldn’t recover from committing this heinous crime, this crime against humanity. This is its epitaph.

Freedom

Astonishingly, though, the world wonders what the Igbo are still doing in Nigeria, the burden of a strangulating occupation notwithstanding. In the past 49 years, the Igbo have written an extraordinary essay on human survival and resilience. These attributes have now been laudably demonstrated and the Igbo must now move on – to another dynamic threshold of their being. O zu gozie. No one should ever feel that they are trapped in the Nigeria quagmire. The Igbo must now actively begin to reconstruct their gravely battered homeland, transform the lives of their 50 million people, and contribute their ingenuity to working on the wider, inventive canvass of the African renaissance. To embark on these pressing tasks, the Igbo should, today, walk away from the Nigeria genocide state, this state of terror. The Igbo should go now. Go, Go, Go.

29 May is a beacon of the resilient spirit of human overcoming of the most desperate, unimaginably brutish forces. It is the new Igbo National Holiday. It is a day of meditation and remembrance in every Igbo household in Igboland and in the diaspora in Nigeria and the rest of the world for the 3.1 million murdered, gratitude and thanksgiving for those who survived, and the collective Igbo rededication to achieve the expectant goal of the restoration of Igbo sovereignty. Now is the time.

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

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Thursday, 28 May 2015

81st birthday of Betty Shabazz

(Born 28 May 1934, PinehurstGeorgia [?]/DetroitMichUS)
Outstanding human rights activist, academic, university administrator
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

89th birthday of Miles Davis

(Born 26 May 1926, Alton, Illinois, US)
Trumpeter, composer, bandleader, innovative musical genius whose First Great Quintet & Sextet (1955-1958) and Second Great Quintet (1964-1968), as well as the later independent careers of each and everyone in these ensembles (tenor saxophonists John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter, altoist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, pianists Wynton Kelly, Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock, bassists Paul Chambers and Ron Carter, and drummers Jimmy Cobb and Tony Williams), play a critically contributing role in the phenomenal growth and transformation of jazz, African American classical music, during this historic epoch of African American freedom affirmation
(Miles Davis Sextet, Kind of Blue [personnel: Davis, trumpet; Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, alto saxophone; John Coltrane, tenor saxophone; Bill Evans, piano; Wynton Kelly, piano {on “Freddie freeloader” only – track no. 2}, Paul Chambers, bass; Jimmy Cobb, drums; recorded: Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York, US, 2 March and 22 April 1959])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Monday, 25 May 2015

66th birthday of Jamaica Kincaid

(Born 25 May 1949, St John’s, Antigua)
Versatile novelist (especially Annie John [1985], A small place [1988], Lucy [1990], Mr Potter [2002], See now then [2014]), essayist (especially in the New Yorker, 1976-1996), academic

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Sunday, 24 May 2015

83rd birthday of Adu Boahen

(Born 24 May 1932, Osiem, Ghana)
One of Africa’s preeminent historians
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

78th birthday of Archie Shepp

(Born 24 May 1937, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US)
Tenor saxophonist, composer, bandleader, unrelenting human rights activist, academic
(Archie Shepp Quartet, “Rufus [swung, his face at last to the wind, then his neck snapped]” [personnel: Shepp, tenor saxophone; John Tchicai, alto saxophone; Don Moore, bass; JC Moses, drums; recorded: Fontana, New York, US, 23 August 1963])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Friday, 22 May 2015

FWD: Dan Hodges on Chuka Umunna and that British Labour party leadership quest… (The Spectator, London, Thursday 21 May 2015)

(Chuka Umunna, member of British parliament, Streatham, south London constituency)
 A few months after Ed Miliband was elected Labour leader I met with one of his supporters in the shadow cabinet. Who, I asked, were “Ed’s People?” He began reeling off a list of names. “Chuka Umunna, Peter Hain, John…” “Chuka?” I said. “But he’s walking round the Commons with a giant target on his back. They’re out to get him.” He was, even then, the bookies’ favourite – which, in politics, normally means that you are a dead man walking. The shadow minister smiled. “Well, they haven’t got him yet.”

Well, now they have. Umunna has finally been cut down, withdrawing from Labour’s leadership race just three days after entering. There was no proper reason, and no proper scandal. He was the victim of an elegant, silent old-fashioned Westminster character assassination.
For some it wasn’t personal, just business. Umunna was a candidate for Labour leader, and there were other people who wanted to be leader. So the whispers started. “Chuka isn’t going to run,” I was told by a trade union official back in March. “Personal issues.” He smiled, and tapped the side of his nose. A former Minister had heard it too. “The word is ‘Chuka’s out’. He won’t even enter.” Again, “personal issues” were cited.
The briefings became so intense that at the Daily Telegraph we discussed whether or not to run a story about them. But we decided that, if we did so, we’d become part of the spin operation. Umunna had been on what is called “a journey”. He had been a member of Compass, the anti-Blairite think tank run by former Gordon Brown aide Neal Lawson. Then, as his parliamentary ambitions looked like bearing fruit, he began building bridges with the Blairites. He angered them again by endorsing Ed Miliband for the Labour leadership, then he angered Team Ed by keeping his distance as the project began to unravel.

To some, this was evidence that Umunna possessed acute political antenna. To others, it was evidence of his being an untrustworthy chameleon. At the start of last year, in a sign of the direction the wind was blowing, the Blairite think-tank Progress switched its allegiance to Dan Jarvis.
Umunna also frequently harmed himself through his clumsy interaction with fellow Labour MPs. Despite his image as an ambitious sophisticate, he can be a quite introspective and sensitive man. And not very good at making friends with his northern colleagues. “A couple of us were at a reception,” one MP told me, “and Chuka turned up. And it was all ‘what are you couple of northern rogues doing here! Bet you’re up to no good!’. We just looked at him and said ‘actually, we’re just having a drink’”. His attempt to “speak northern” had backfired.

There was also the unspoken issue of Ummuna’s race. While the parliamentary Labour party is robustly progressive in political terms, it can also be quite culturally conservative. Umunna would frequently find himself the only non-white face in the room. This at a time when a number of Labour MPs were demanding a much tougher line on immigration to help stop their supporters defecting to Ukip. Labour MPs would openly ask one another whether Britain was quite “ready” for a black Prime Minister. While he never faced anything remotely resembling overt prejudice, the sense of remoteness identified by several of Umunna’s critics was explained by more than just his arrogance.
And there was one other reason that Chuka colleagues felt he had to be swiftly taken out of the contest for Labour leader: the unwritten rules of Westminster demanded it. When he first arrived at the member’s entrance of the House of Commons, he carried far too much baggage for a freshman MP. He had already been dubbed “Britain’s Obama”. One magazine had already run a feature on how he would save the world. Within twelve months he had been appointed to the shadow cabinet. All of which went against the natural order of political accession and succession.
“You do know what all the MPs think of him, don’t you?” one shadow cabinet minister once asked me. “They all hate him.” “Why do they hate him?” I asked. “Basically, because they’re jealous of him.” So there is no great mystery to the fall of Chuka Umunna. By entering the Labour leadership contest he did the one thing he could not afford to do – placed his political future in the hands of his colleagues. And they casually disposed of it.
There is not necessarily anything improper or tragic in any of this. If you look at that scratchy video Umunna produced to launch his campaign, it was a recognition of his disadvantages. The footage of his glad-handing of the defeated Labour candidates was an admission that he needs to be more collegiate. His decision to film the video in Swindon – a whole 80 miles away from Westminster – hinted that he realised the concerns about his reach outside the M25.
So in a sense, the system of scrutiny worked. The whispers. The re-scheduled meetings. The unreturned phone-calls. If he could not survive more than 72 hours of a Labour leadership contest (and the nastiness that comes with it) he was clearly nowhere near ready for the ordeal of a run at Downing Street. Those who questioned the breaches of the iron laws of succession were ultimately vindicated. “I’m gutted,” one of his small band of shadow cabinet supporters told me on Thursday, “but I also believe Chuka still has a huge contribution to make to the Labour party.” And now the natural order of things has been restored, perhaps he does.

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe



101st birthday of Sun Ra

(Born 22 May 1914, Birmingham, Alabama, US)
Pianist, bandleader, prolific composer whose output, arrangements and orchestra’s performances are influenced profoundly by Kemetic philosophical, astronomical and aesthetic conceptions
(Sun Ra and his Band from Outer Space, “Space aura” [personnel: Sun Ra, piano, clavioline; Teddy Nance, trombone; Ali Hassan, trombone;  Robert Cummings, bass clarinet; Pat Patrick, baritone saxophone, flute, percussion; Marshall Allen, alto saxophone, oboe, flute, piccolo, percussion; John Gilmore, tenor saxophone, percussion; Ronnie Boykins, bass; Clifford Jarvis, drums; James Jacson, log drums, flute, percussion; Carl Nimrod Malone, sun horn, gong, percussion; recorded, live, University of Buffalo, [?] May 1966])  

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Thursday, 21 May 2015

111th birthday of Fats Waller

(Born 21 May 1904, Harlem, New York, US)
Innovative pianist, prolific composer/co-composer including such standards as “Jitterbug waltz”, “Honeysuckle rose”, “Ain’t misbehavin’”, “I can’t give you anything but love, baby”, and “Squeeze me”, comedian
(Fats Waller, “Ain’t misbehavin’” [personnel: Waller, piano, vocal; recording date and other details: not available])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Most people know...

As most people know, the states that Europe created in Africa, in the aftermath of its November 1884-February 1885 Berlin conqueror-conference, cannot provide the fundamental needs of Africans.  This “Berlin-state”, with its cursed name (Nigeria, Niger, the Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad, whatever!), cannot lead Africans to the reconstructive changes they deeply yearn for after the tragic history of centuries of occupation. Such change was and never is the mission of this state but instruments to expropriate and despoil Africa by the conquest. Essentially, the “Berlin-state” still serves the interests of its creators and those of the ruthless cabal of African-overseers which polices the dire straits of existence that is the lot of Africans currently.

As in Berlin, the state is not a gift from the gods. On the contrary, the state is a relationship painstakingly formulated and constructed by groups of human beings on our planet earth to pursue interests and aspirations envisioned by these same human beings within a shared historical and geographical articulation. The African humanity is presently gripped in a grave crisis for survival. It is now time that it abandoned the contrived “Berlin-state” in order to survive. This state is a bane of African existence. African nations, namely the Igbo, Ijo, Wolof, Ibibio, Asante, Baganda, Bakongo, Gĩkũyũ, Bambara, Luo, etc., etc, remain the basis for the regeneration of Africa’s redevelopment. These nations are the sites of the continent’s intellectual and other cultural creativity.

Path to civilisation – even 1001 states if need be

What is being stressed here is that African peoples, themselves, must decide on the issue of sovereignty in the post-“Berlin-state” epoch even if the outcome were to lead to the creation of 1001 states in Africa – or more. In this epoch of freedom, any African peoples who, for instance, wishes to chart a future based on the precepts of their forebears in the 12th century Contemporary Era (CE) or even way back, to say, 8th century Before Contemporary Era (BCE), has the right to pursue this goal. Equally any African peoples who believes that their aspirations lie in working through challenges of the 21st century CE and projecting targets of creativity and transformations subsequently must exercise this right. 

To achieve the goal(s) of any of the stipulated paths does not therefore require anyone to embark on murdering someone else or have themselves murdered, as typified, for instance, in Nigeria.  For the future survival of the African humanity, let no more die for the path to their envisaged civilisation or, in other words, howsoever this civilisation a people chooses is construed. It surely can be attained and sustained without committing a crime, particularly genocide – a crime against humanity.

The right to self-determination is for every people. It is inalienable and is guaranteed by the United Nations. No people, any peoples, is exempt from exercising this right. This is why the slogan that proclaims such gibberish or ahistoricism as “indivisibility”/indissolubility”/“indestructibility” of a state, any state, as expressed sometimes in some African circles, for example, is not really worth the paper it is written on except of course it is an embedded code by a slaughtering-horde for the plot of the next pogrom or the reinforcement of the terror of an ongoing genocide...
(Mal Waldron Quartet, “Hymn from the inferno” [personnel: Waldron, piano; Clifford Jordan, tenor saxophone; Cecil McBee, bass; Dannie Richmond, drums; recorded: Vanguard Studios, New York, US, 15 August 1981])
Twitter@HerbertEkweEkwe

272nd birthday of Toussaint L’Ouverture

(Born 20 May 1743, Bréda at Haut de Cap enslaved estate [probably], Saint-Domingue)
Leader of the Haitian Revolution, embarks on the armed mobilisation of tens of thousands of enslaved Africans, beginning 1789, in revolt against French-occupied Saint-Domingue, west Hispaniola, wealthiest African-enslaved territory of the Americas during the epoch, with the eventual historic 1804 African military victory (against not only France but also the expanded forces of its pan-European allies who come to its aid) when they proclaim the Republic of Haiti
(Mal Waldron Quartet, “Hymn from the inferno” [personnel: Waldron, piano; Clifford Jordan, tenor saxophone; Cecil McBee, bass; Dannie Richmond, drums; recorded: Vanguard Studios, New York, US, 15 November 1981])
 Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

80th birthday of Cecil McBee

(Born 19 May 1935, Tulsa, Oklahoma, US)
Eminently influential bassist, composer, academic
(McCoy Tyner Quartet, “Bluesin’ for John C” [composer: McCoy Tyner] [personnel: Tyner, piano; Pharoah Sanders, tenor saxophone; Cecil McBee, bass; Roy Haynes, drums; recorded: Impulse! Records, New York, US, 9 July 1987])

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

90th birthday of Malcolm X

(Born 19 May 1925, Omaha, Nebraska, US)
One of the preeminent leaders of the African American freedom movement

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Sunday, 17 May 2015

64th birthday of Emma Okala

(Born 17 May 1951, Onicha, Igboland)
Towering goalkeeper of the indomitable Enuugwu Rangers International, the football club, during the 1970-1980s, which, arguably, most symbolises the dogged and resilient spirit of Igbo people in the wake of the cataclysmic genocide, 29 May 1966-12 January 1970, the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa, when Nigeria and its allies murder 3.1 million Igbo or one-quarter of this nation’s population

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

84th birthday of Jackie McLean

(Born 17 May 1931, Harlem, New York, US)
One of the preeminent alto saxophonists, bandleader, prolific composer including the classic Let Freedom Ring (1962), worked through as the great African American age of human rights affirmation gathers pace, altoist on the Charles Mingus Quintet’s recording of Pithecanthropus Erectus (1956), the iconoclastic bassist’s audacious orchestration of the tortuous and contradictory human march across the ages, co-founder, in 1970, with wife Dollie, of Hartford’s (Connecticut) Artists Collective which works for the preservation of African diaspora art and culture, academic, named after the University of Hartford’s department of African American Music – Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz

(Jackie McLean and McCoy Tyner, “Passion dance” [composer: McCoy Tyner] [personnel: McLean, alto saxophone; Woody Shaw, trumpet; Tyner, piano; Cecil McBee, bass; Jack DeJohnette, drums; recorded: live, One night with Blue Note, Town Hall, New York, 22 February 1985])

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

84th birthday of Dewey Redman

(Born 17 May 1931, Fort Worth, Texas, US)
Versatile tenor saxophonist, composer and bandleader, collaborates with a number of distinguished artists (especially alto saxophonists Ornette Coleman and Prince Lasha, trumpeter Don Cherry, pianists Cecil Taylor and Keith Jarrett, guitarist Pat Metheny, bassist Charlie Haden, drummers Ed Blackwell, Paul Motian, Charles Moffett, Elvin Jones) in groundbreaking recordings (1960s-1990s), plays in the celebrated Jarrett’s American Quartet of the 1970s particularly in the ensemble’s exquisite composition, The Survivors’ Suite (1976), father of the equally brilliant and accomplished tenorist Joshua Redman

(Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell, Red and Black in Willisau [personnel: Redman, tenor saxophone, musette; Blackwell, drums; recorded: live, Willisau Jazz Festival, Switzerland, 31 August 1980])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Contemporary Africa…

(Africa: What a season… Beginning from the late March 2015 proclamation by Rilwan Akiolu, king or oba of Lagos, Nigeria, for the mass murder of Igbo people domiciled in Lagos and their bodies dumped in the Lagos lagoon [bight notorious for the dumping of murdered Igbo in the Lagos region at the beginning of the Igbo genocide in 1966], there has been an aggressively expansive surge in Nigeria made by some other personages in the country, including intellectuals, calling for the murder of the Igbo and/or “rationalising”/“denying” the Igbo genocide [29 May 1966-12 January 1970] … in a season when hundreds of other Africans who wish to emigrate to Europe drown in the Mediterranean … in a season when a number of non-South African Africans are being murdered in South Africa by their hosts … in a season when Boko Haram in north Nigeria and al-shabaab of Somalia in Kenya expand their near-decade-old killing fields … in a season when scores of Africans are murdered in Burundi by head of incumbent regime forces and generals and their subalterns engaged in yet another dreadful fire-fight to seize state power somewhere in Africa … The following essay with link below, first published in rethinkingafrica.blogspot.co.uk [21 May 2014], is reissued here as a contribution to the debate on the  post-[European]conquest state in Africa.)

Friday, 15 May 2015

Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God (1964) and the Igbo genocide (29 May 1966-12 January 1970)

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe on the predictive insights in Chinua Achebe’s classic, Arrow of God (1964)

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Thursday, 14 May 2015

FWD: Thessalonika Arzu-Embry’s giant strides


Thessalonika Arzu-Embry, 16, is about to enroll for her doctorate degree in aviation psychology after her recent success of  earning an MA in organisational leadership, focusing on strategic foresight:


Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

104th birthday of Louis Mbanefo

(Born 13 May 1911, Onicha, Igboland)
Human rights lawyer, distinguished international jurist at the International Court of Justice, The Hague, 1962-1966, Biafran chief justice and one of the leading intellectuals who defended the people during the Igbo genocide by Nigeria, foundational genocide of post-(European conquest) Africa, 29 May 1966-12 January 1970

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Sunday, 10 May 2015

81st birthday of Jayne Cortez

(Born 10 May 1934, Fort Huachuca, Arizona, US)
Distinguished prolific poet and word-performing artist, freedom activist, publisher

(1. Mother and son: Jayne Cortez Duo, “Find your own voice” [personnel: Cortez, voice; Denardo Coleman, drums; recorded: live, The Sanctuary for Independent media, Troy, New York, US, 23 October 2010])
  (2. Mother and son: Jayne Cortez Duo, “She got he got” [personnel: Cortez, voice; Coleman, drums; recordings and other details as in “1” above])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Thursday, 7 May 2015

29 May 1966


Sunday 29 May 1966 is undoubtedly the most tragic day in Igbo history. It is the launch date of the Igbo genocide carried out by Nigeria – the most gruesome, devastating and expansive genocide in 20th century Africa. Nigeria murdered 3.1 million Igbo, a quarter of this nation’s population, between 29 May 1966 and 12 January 1970.

Open season, erase“deny”, perverse

The Igbo genocide is the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. Not since Germany’s genocide against the Herero, Nama and Berg Damara peoples of Namibia in the early 1900s had any African nation been subjected to such indescribable barbarity and carnage as the Igbo during the course of those 44 gory months. The genocide continues in multiforms and features. Only recently, in the wake of the 28 March 2015 “poll” for “president” in Nigeria, some very influential and easily recognisable public figures in the country including Rilwan Akiolu, the king or oba of Lagos (west region) and even intellectuals (such is this open season of staggeringly virulent pronouncements of Igbo hate and worse...) including, especially, a United States-domiciled cardiologist, called publicly for the mass murder of the Igbo because the Igbo electorate had voted overwhelmingly against the APC “political party”. The Igbo genocide is thus the longest and most remorselessly-sustained genocide of the contemporary era. This genocide inaugurated Africa’s current age of pestilence.

Yakubu Gowon headed the regime in Nigeria that executed the genocide and Obafemi Awolowo, a lawyer, a senior advocate of the Nigerian bar, 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 (ongoing) aimed, strategically, to dismantle/degrade the Igbo economy in perpetuity. The Igbo economy, pre-genocide, was Africa’s most dynamic and resourceful.

Elsewhere, beginning in 1969, regime Awolowoists/Awolowoids were in the forefront in formulating and implementing Nigeria’s “post”-genocide decision to abolish the teaching of history in its schools as part of its “broad package” of measures to erase the history of the genocide from countrywide consciousness and thus “deny” its occurrence. Thirty years on, 1999, these same regime operatives played a key role in Nigeria’s perverse proclamation of 29th of May as the country’s (new) annual “democracy day”, a desperate, albeit belated effort to try to “neutralise” the historic import of 29 May 1966 for Igbo people if not “celebrate” the genocide itself as some of the leading genocidists of this wing of the Nigeria genocide-state such as Benjamin Adekunle, Oluwole Rotimi, Olusegun Obasanjo and Obafemi Awolowo, himself, have indeed demonstrated in their high-profile gloated commentaries and memoirs on the genocide during the slaughtering and subsequently. 

29 May 1966 was the day that Igbo people were subjected to an overwhelming violence and unremitting brutality by supposedly fellow countrymen and women. This atrocity was clinically organised, supervised and implemented by the very state, the Nigeria state, which the Igbo had played a vanguard role to liberate from the British conquest and occupation from the 1930s to October 1960. Consequently, the genocide was perpetrated with full complicity of the British government led by Harold Wilson. This state, now violently taken over by murderous anti-African sociopolitical forces in 1966, had pointedly violated its most sacred tenet of responsibility to its Igbo citizens – provision of security. Instead of providing security to these citizens, the Nigeria state murdered 3.1 million of them or a quarter of their population.

Anthem

The words in Hausa of the ghoulish anthem of the genocide, broadcast uninterruptedly on state-owned Kaduna radio and television throughout its duration and with editorial comments on the theme regularly published in both state-owned New Nigerian (daily) newspaper and weekly Gaskiya Ta fi Kwabo during the period, were unambiguously clear on the key objectives of this crime against humanity:

Mu je mu kashe nyamiri
Mu kashe maza su da yan maza su
Mu chi mata su da yan mata su
Mu kwashe kaya su
(English translation: Let’s go kill the damned Igbo/Kill off their men and boys/Rape their wives and daughters/Cart off their property)

Yet this 29th day of May 1966 is also the Igbo Day of Affirmation, Recovery and Freedom. The Igbo people resolved on this day, the day that marked the beginning of the genocide, to survive the catastrophe. This was the day the Igbo ceased to be Nigerian forever – right there on the grounds of those death camps in the sabon gari residential districts (north Nigeria) and offices and churches and schools and colleges and shops and markets and hospitals and rail stations and trains and coach stations and coaches and trucks and airports and planes and highways and village tracks and brooks and rivers and gorges and bridges and woods across Nigeria. They created the state of Biafra in its place and tasked it to provide security to the Igbo and prevent Nigeria, a genocide state, from accomplishing its dreadful mission. The heuristic symbolism defined hitherto by 1 October 1960 (date of the presumed restoration of independence for peoples in Nigeria from the British occupation) shattered in the wake of this historic Igbo declaration.

For the Igbo, the renouncement of Nigerian citizenship is the permanent Igbo indictment of a state that had risen thunderously to murder one of its constituent peoples. 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 decisively cast adrift. Consequently, Nigeria collapsed as a state with scarce prospects. Despite the four murderous years of comprehensive land, naval and aerial siege of Igboland by the genocidists, unprecedented blockade imposed on no other peoples anywhere else 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. Nigeria gburu ochu; Nigeria mere alu. Surely, Nigeria couldn’t recover from committing this heinous crime, this crime against humanity. This is its epitaph.

Freedom

Astonishingly, though, the world wonders what the Igbo are still doing in Nigeria, the burden of a strangulating occupation notwithstanding. In the past 49 years, the Igbo have written an extraordinary essay on human survival and resilience. These attributes have now been laudably demonstrated and the Igbo must now move on – to another dynamic threshold of their being. O zu gozie. No one should ever feel that they are trapped in the Nigeria quagmire. The Igbo must now actively begin to reconstruct their gravely battered homeland, transform the lives of their 50 million people, and contribute their ingenuity to working on the wider, inventive canvass of the African renaissance. To embark on these pressing tasks, the Igbo should, today, walk away from the Nigeria genocide state, this state of terror. The Igbo should go now. Go, Go, Go.

29 May is a beacon of the resilient spirit of human overcoming of the most desperate, unimaginably brutish forces. It is the new Igbo National Holiday. It is a day of meditation and remembrance in every Igbo household in Igboland and in the diaspora in Nigeria and the rest of the world for the 3.1 million murdered, gratitude and thanksgiving for those who survived, and the collective Igbo rededication to achieve the expectant goal of the restoration of Igbo sovereignty. Now is the time.

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

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

200th birthday of Martin Delany

(Born 6 May 1815, Charles Town, Virginia, US)
Influential African freedom nationalist, physician, writer
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

101st birthday of Mbonu Ojike

(Born 5 May 1914, Arundizuogu, Igboland)
Celebrated African-centred economist and public intellectual, architect of the 1947-1966 transformation of pre-Igbo genocide east region Nigeria economy to Africa’s most dynamic with immense possibilities
(Mbonu OjikeMy Africa, 1946)
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Monday, 4 May 2015

78th birthday of Ron Carter

(Born 4 May 1937, Ferndale, Michigan, US)
Bassist, cellist, composer, bandleader, academic, arguably the most recorded jazz bassist and member of Miles Davis Second Great Quintet, 1963-1968 (Davis; trumpet; Wayne Shorter, tenor saxophone; Herbie Hancock, piano; Carter, bass; Tony Williams, drums)

(Miles Davis Quintet plays Ron Carter’s composition, “RJ” [personnel: Davis, trumpet; Shorter, tenor saxophone; Hancock, piano; Carter, bass; Williams, drums; recorded: Columbia Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles, US, 20 January 1965])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Sunday, 3 May 2015

95th birthday of John Lewis

(Born 3 May 1920, La Grange, Illinois, US)
Distinguished pianist, composer, arranger and musical director of the seminal Modern Jazz Quartet (Lewis, piano; Milt Jackson, vibraphone; Percy Heath, bass; Connie Kay, drums) for over 40 years beginning in 1952
Modern Jazz Quartet, “Django” [personnel: Lewis, piano; Jackson, vibraphone; Heath, bass; Kay, drums; recorded: Music Inn, Lenox, Mass and Capitol Studios, New York, US, 22, 25 August and 21 December 1959 and 15 January 1960)
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe