Thursday, 15 October 2015

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

Let it never be forgotten that, five 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     Flora Nwapa     Louis Mbanefo     Chinua Achebe     Christopher Okigbo     Michael Echeruo     Ifeagwu Eke     SJ Cookey     Sam Mbakwe     Janet Mokelu   Obiora Udechukwu   Zeal Onyia  Uche Chukwumerije     Kalu Ezera     Philip Efiong    Kamene Okonjo   Ignatius Kogbara     Alvan Ikoku     Celestine Okwu           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   Eme Awa           Chuba Okadigbo           Okechukwu Ikejiani       Uzo Egonu      Winifred Anuku     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, prinicipally Britain, during those dreadful 44 months of unrelenting slaughtering and immiseration. 

As these murders in this foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa worsened in 1968, Harold Wilson, British prime minister, not some loony tyrant in some backwater state of the world but a duly elected politician from one of the leading liberal democratic states of the world, was adamant that he, Harold Wilson, “would accept a half million dead Biafrans if that was what it took” Nigeria to destroy the Igbo resistance to the genocide (Roger Morris, Uncertain Greatness: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy, 1977: 122). Such is the grotesquely expressed diminution of African life made by a supposedly leading politician of the world of the 1960s – barely 20 years after the deplorable perpetration of the Jewish genocide in Europe by Nazi Germany when 6 million Jews were murdered.

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 45 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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