Sunday, 31 July 2016

Father of African Literature on “The story”

It is only the story ... that saves our progeny from blundering like blind beggars into the spikes of the cactus fence. The story is our escort; without it, we are blind. Does the blind man own his escort? No, neither do we the story; rather, it is the story that owns us” (Chinua AchebeAnthills of the Savannah, New York: Anchor Books, 1997, p. 114.)


Saturday, 30 July 2016

Back to the primer: How genocidist Nigeria enhances Igbo freedom drive

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

One of the obvious features any student of genocide picks up quite quickly about the perpetrator of this heinous crime is how open, less subtle, and often brazenly defiant they are with respect to their programme/policy towards a prescribed or targeted people. 

Nigeria, indeed, typifies this prototype but even more. Nigeria’s is crude, loathsome, vindictive, remorseless: read or listen to or examine the deeds of any genocidist Nigerian on this subject – from an Obafemi Awolowo to an Ibrahim Haruna or a Rilwan Akiolu or a Muhammadu Buhari, an Olusegun Obusonjo, a Yakubu Gowon... If anything, these attributes should and do alert the people so targeted – the Igbo, in this case. In effect, in its very words and deeds, the Nigeria genocidist agency aids Igbo freedom markedly despite itself.
(Wayne Shorter Octet, “Mephistopheles” [personnel: Shorter, tenor saxophone,  Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; Alan Shorter, fluegelhorn; Grachan Moncur III, trombone;  James Spaulding, alto saxophone; Herbie Hancock, piano;  Ron Carter, bass; Joe Chambers, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US, 15 October 1965])
Who resolves burden of history?
If one goes through the copious analyses and papers by the Biafran leadership on the mindset of Nigerian génocidaires during 1966-1970 (phases I-III of the genocide), it is fascinating to note how the former’s very advanced thinking at the time has impacted contemporary genocide studies and the mode of pronouncement by many in international relations, scholars and statespersons alike, on the nature of the increasingly “global emergency”, especially since 9 September 2001

Fifty years ago, to the day, the Igbo, particularly their intellectuals, clearly articulated the existential threat they faced (and still face) and responded accordingly. The Igbo today, including their intellectuals, therefore do have a historic precedent to sustain their round-the-clock scholarship on the varying spheres and facets of arguably the most long-drawn-out and savagely pursued genocide of  contemporary history.

No one else, howsoever their altruistic credentials, resolves someone’s burden of history except themself. Surely, the Igbo couldn’t think otherwise!
(Andrew Hill Septet, “Compulsion” [personnel: Hill, piano; Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; John Gilmore, tenor saxophone; Cecil McBee, bass; Joe Chambers, drums; Renaud Simmons, conga, percussion; Nadi Qamar, percussion, African drums, thumb piano; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US, 8 October 1965])

Sunday, 24 July 2016

209th birthday of Ira Aldridge

(Born 24 July 1807, New York, US)
One of the leading Shakespearean actors of the 19th century, active on the London stage and principal theatres across Europe between the mid-1820s and 1867


214th birthday of Alexandre Dumas

(Born 24 July 1802, Villiers-Cotterêts, France)
One of the preeminent luminaries of French letters, prolific across genres – novels, drama, travel books, history, journalism – with classics which include The Three MusketeersThe Count of Monte CristoTwenty Years LaterThe Last CavalierGeorges


Saturday, 23 July 2016

The empires of conquest, occupation, genocide

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

As the milestones (below) show, the European World-conqueror/conquest state in Africa, right from the outset, in the wake of the notorious November 1884-February 1885 Berlin conference, is at once an occupying and genocide state.  

The lead conqueror-powers – BelgiumGermany, Britain and France, in that chronological order, would directly or indirectly (e.g. French military brigade based and operating in Rwanda, 1994) perpetrate genocide in which millions of constituent peoples in Africa are murdered in designated countries in eastcentral, south and southwestcentral regions of the continent they occupy or quasi-occupy during the course of 138 years, 1878-2016. 

Gory “boys” of empires 

In the cases of Nigeria, Rwanda, the Sudan, and Democratic Republic of the Congo, beginning with Nigeria’s inaugural launch of the Igbo genocide on 29 May 1966 in which it murders 3.1 million Igbo or one-quarter of this nation’s population during 44 subsequent months, the African/African-Arabised-islamist “inheritors” of this conquest-genocide state (latter variant applicable especially to Nigeria and the Sudan), or the “boys” of their respective Europe-based suzerain “massas”, essentially take over as the primary-agent executors of genocide in contemporary Africa. These “boys” of empires  – the Yakubu Gowons, the Olusegun Obusonjos, the Mobutu Sese Sekos, the Obafemi Awolowos, the Mohammed Shuas, the Idi Amins, the Muhammadu Buharis, the Jean-Bédel Bokassas, the Benjamin Adekunles, the Omar al-Bashirs, the Gbadamosi Kings, the Murtala Mohammeds, the Hissène Habrés, the Ibrahim Taiwos, etc., etc, have sought zealously and ruthlessly to compete with their “massas” to keep the slaughtering thresholds of these stretches of genocide in Africa at the optimal level. So, in these past 50 years, i.e. since 29 May 1966, these gruesome “boys” of empires have murdered 15 million African peoples in genocides and other wars across Africa. These “boys” will continue to murder Africans as fiendishly as ever for the dual, shared, interests of theirs and their  “massas” until they are stopped. 

African agency

They will be stopped by none other than an African agency on the African ground. This agency must dismantle the extant “Berlin-state”, the “curse” in Africa as historian Basil Davidson has succinctly described it, precisely that terror lever that the empires employ to not only expropriate Africa’s gargantuan wealth day in, day out, but, more intrinsically, murder Africans. In the current epoch, the disciplined and focussed Biafran freedom movement articulates the urgency of this agency. As I have argued elsewhere ( ), the imperative of the Biafra mission, given the catastrophe of the agelong revolving genocides unleashed by the empires of Europe on the peoples of Africa, is to construct a civilisation where African life, human life, is fundamentally sacrosant. 

Haunting milestones

(1)  1878-1908: King Leopold II-led Belgian monarchy/state-organised genocide of constituent peoples in the Congo basin of central Africa (2,442,240 sq km landmass, 80 times the size of Belgium) – 13 million African constituent peoples murdered (see, especially, multiple research by historian and linguist Isidore Ndaywel è Nziem – particularly his Histoire générale du Congo: De l'héritage ancien à la République Démocratique [Paris: Duculot, 1998], p. 344)

(2)  1904-1907: German state-organised genocide of Herero people in Namibia – 65,000 out of 80,000 Herero murdered or 80 per cent of the total Herero population wiped out

(3)  1904-1907: German state-organised genocide of Nama people in Namibia – 10,000 Nama were murdered or 50 per cent of the Nama population destroyed

(4)  29 May 1966-12 January 1970 (phases I-III): Nigeria state-organised genocide of Igbo people, foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa, supported, centrally, by Britain (diplomatically, politically, militarily) – 3.1 million Igbo or one-quarter of this nation’s population murdered, representing highest number in genocide fatality of a constituent nation or people in Africa during these past 138 years

(5)  13 January 1970-Present Day (phase-IV)Nigeria state-organised/Boko Haram/Fulani Militia genocide of Igbo people (the duo Nigeria genocidist state allies here, actively since early 2000s) – tens of thousands of Igbo murdered (Boko Haram is presently deadliest terrorist group in the world – has murdered more people in southwestcentral Africa than those murdered by ISIS in the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere, according to the New York’s Institute for Economics & Peace study, “Global Terror Index 2015”, November 2015; Fulani Militia, or so-called Fulani herdspeople as often tagged in the media in Nigeria, is also a subject of focus in this study)

(6)  1994Rwanda state-organised genocide of Tutsi people, with a French military brigade stationed in the country during the period implicated in the perpetration of this crime – 800,000 Tutsi murdered

(7)  Since mid-1990sDemocratic Republic of the Congo/contiguous states/proxy states-facilitated/organised genocide of African constituent peoples in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – 8 million constituent African peoples murdered

(8)  2003-2oo6: The Sudan state-organised genocide of Darfuri people – 300,000 Darfuri murdered

(9)  Since 2006: The Sudan state-organised genocide of African constituent peoples in the south of the country (Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan, Blue Nile) – tens of thousands of African constituent peoples murdered
(Charles Mingus Sextet, “Passions of a man” [personnel: Mingus, piano, vocals; Jimmy Knepper, trombone; Rahssan Roland Kirk, flute, siren, tenor saxophone, manzello, strich; Booker Ervin, tenor saxophone; Doug Watkins, bass; Dannie Richmond, drums; recorded: Atlantic Studios, New York, US, 6 November 1961])

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

91st birthday of Frantz Fanon

(Born 20 July 1925, Fort-de-France, Martinique, Caribbean)
Psychiatrist, student of poet, playwright and essayist Aimé Césaire, philosopher and one of the preeminent revolutionary theorists of the 20th century whose landmark publications are: The Wreathed of the Earth (1963), A Dying Colonialism (1965),  Black Skin, White Masks (1967), Toward the African Revolution (1969)

(Charles Mingus Sextet, “Passions of a man” [personnel: Mingus, piano, vocals; Jimmy Knepper, trombone; Rahssan Roland Kirk, flute, siren, tenor saxophone, manzello, strich; Booker Ervin, tenor saxophone; Doug Watkins, bass; Dannie Richmond, drums; recorded: Atlantic Studios, New York, US, 6 November 1961])
(Charles Mingus Quintet, “Canon” [personnel: Mingus, bass; Ronald Hampton, trumpet; George Adams, tenor saxophone; Don Pullen, piano; Dannie Richmond, drums; recorded: Atlantic Studios, New York, US, 29-31 October 1973])

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

67th birthday of Thulani Davis

(Born 19 July 1949, Hampton, Virginia, US)
Award-winning playwright, novelist, journalist, poet, librettist, outstanding works include My Confederate Kinfolk (2006) on family history with immense national and wider resonance, The Souls of Black Folk (2003), a play on adaptation of WEB Du Bois’s classic of the same title, All the Renegade Ghosts Rise (poems: 1978), Playing the Changes (poems: 1985) and writes the libretti to two operas she collaborates with cousin and composer/pianist Anthony Davis: X (1986) on the life of Malcolm X and Amistad (1997) on the 1839 enslaved African maritime freedom uprising


Sunday, 17 July 2016

The imperative of Biafra

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

It is indeed striking if not extraordinary that quite a few don’t seem to recognise the underlying features that link the almost routinised murder perpetrated by the police/other agents of the state in Africa on an African people in the streets of Onicha, Igwe OchaAba, Nairobi, Oka, Uzo-Uwani, Bujumbura, Owere,  Enuugwand Asaba, for instance, with the stretch of murders of African-descent people in the United States carried out by police in innumerable cities including, especially,  New York, Tulsa, Orlando, Washington DC, OmahaBaton Rouge, Jacksonville, Dallas, Minnesota, San Francisco, ColumbusOklahoma City, Las VegasBaltimore, Chicago and  Los Angeles.


These murders, east or west of the Atlantic, are configured and executed under that same overarching ideological rubric of the expressed “diminution-of-African life” that constitutes the engaging, subjugating template of 400 years of pan-European enslavement of the African humanity in the Americas and elsewhere, beginning in the 15th century, and Europe’s consequent occupation of the African homeland itself. Europe’s “Berlin state”-aftermath of this scourge of history in contemporary Africa duly operationalises the agelong legacy. 

Thus, the significance of the late 1960s British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s notorious declaration that he, Harold Wilson, “would accept the death of half a million Biafrans if that was what it took” Britain’s client and co-genocidist Nigeria to destroy the Igbo resistance to the ongoing Igbo genocide (Roger MorrisUncertain Greatness: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy, 1977: 122) is a reminder to anyone who would wish to think otherwise (in the globe’s post-World War II era) that the raison d’être of the state that would “oversee” the lives of African peoples forthwith wouldn’t differ, significantly, from what Britain and the rest of Europe had constructed, in variegated forms, since the 1490s. The Nigerian executioners on the ground end up murdering 3.1 million Biafrans or 25 per cent of the Igbo population during 44 gruesome months (29 May 1966-12 January 1970) – far in excess of “massa” Harold Wilson’s  “half a million Biafrans”-death wish, representing 4.2 per cent of the Igbo.

Just as the murderous gangs of camp overseers in the African enslaved estates in the Americas of earlier epochs, the overseers in present day Africa matrix estate formations, often drawn from constituent African nations opposed to the restoration of African freedom from the pan-European conquest and subjugation (e.g. Hausa-Fulani in a British Nigeria), are primed by the estate to murder conscientiously liberatory and transformative Africans as instantly, overwhelmingly and savagely as they deem fit.


It is precisely as a result of this devastating tract of antecedent that the soon to be freed Igbo people from genocidist Nigeria occupation have an opportunity to begin to build a new civilisation in Biafra where African life, human life, fundamentally, is sacrosanct. This is the immediate prize of the restoration of Biafran freedom. And Biafrans share this prize with the rest of African humanity – wherever they are emplaced across the world. Surely, for African peoples, 500 years later, this salient goal of Biafra cannot be overstressed. Never again does anyone anywhere on earth devalue African life as a ritualised instrument of state power. 


Biafra is an inclusive state where women and men live as co-operators and co-creators in fundamentally transforming their society. This is a state that accepts and accords full rights to all its people. This is a state where people enjoy the rights to differ and to dream dreams and dream different sets of dreams as they choose.

Biafra is a state dedicated to furthering and nurturing the resilience of its people and to enable them advance their highest creative endeavours. This state continuously strives to remove all limitations in the paths of its people and committed to making life better and better and better.  This is a state that tasks its people to flourish.  Already, 50 years since the first dreadful murders of the genocide were committed in north Nigeria on Sunday 29 May 1966, Biafrans have written an extraordinary essay on human survival and fortitude, a beacon of the tenacity of the spirit of human overcoming of the most desperate, unimaginable, brutish forces.

Alas, this chokingly long drawn out catastrophe that is at once Britain’s Nigeria hotchpotch and the expanded timeframe of Europe’s totalising hegemony in Africa is over and truly African peoples do stand poised on the eve of a new beginning. Biafra.
(John Coltrane Quartet, “The promise” [personnel: Coltrane, soprano saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; recorded: live at Birdland, New York, US, 8 October 1963])

Saturday, 16 July 2016

154th birthday of Ida B Wells

(Born 16 July 1862, Holly Springs, Mississippi, US)
Sociologist, celebrated investigative journalist and unrelenting activist for African American freedom


55th birthday of Forest Whitaker

(Born 15 July 1961, Longview, Texas, US)
Versatile and highly accomplished television and film actor with award-winning performances which include Bird (1988) on iconoclastic alto saxophonist, bandleader and composer Charlie Parker, The Last King of Scotland (2006) on vile Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, and The Great Debaters (2007) on the historic debating society team from African American Wiley College of the 1930s


63rd birthday of Jean-Bertrand Aristide

(Born 15 July 1953, Port Salut, Haiti)
Catholic priest of Salesian Order, liberation theologian and three times African-centred president of Haiti (7 February 1991-29 September 1991, 12 October 1994-7 February 1996, 7 February 2001-29 February 2004) during which he carries out expansive general population-focused reforms and provisions in health care, education and agriculture and tackling/curbing/dismantling a range of murderous military/quasimilitary brigades employed by regimes in the past to terrorise the people

47th birthday of Beth Brown

(Born 15 July 1969, Roanoke, Virginia, US)
Cerebral astrophysicist and academic with outstanding outreach science education programmes


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

80th birthday of Albert Ayler

(Born 13 July 1936, Cleveland, Ohio, US)
Iconic tenor saxophonist and composer whose July 1964 album, Spiritual Unity (Ayler, tenor saxophone; Gary Peacock, bass; Sunny Murray, percussion) and subsequent landmark recordings celebrate the concept of rhythmic freedom that captures the saliency of the ongoing age of freedom drive in the United States and elsewhere in the world
(Albert Ayler TrioSpiritual Unity [“Ghosts: First variation”, “The wizard”, “Spirits”, “Ghosts: Second variation” {personnel: Ayler, tenor saxophone; Gary Peacock, bass; Sunny Murray, drums; recorded: Variety Arts Recording Studio, New York, US, 10 July 1964}])
(Albert Ayler QuartetVibrations  [“Ghosts: short version”, “Children”, “Holy Spirit”, “Ghosts: extended version”, “Vibrations”, “Mothers” {personnel: Ayler, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone; Don Cherry, pocket trumpet, Gary Peacock, bass; Sunny Murray, drums; recorded: Copenhagen, Denmark, 14 September 1964}])

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

78th birthday of Lee Morgan

(Born 10 July 1938, Philadelphia, US)
Very bright trumpeter and composer who records prolifically both on his bands (usually quintets and sextets) and on a stretch of others including those led by Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Jackie McLean, Wayne Shorter, Art Farmer and Andrew Hill
(Lee Morgan Sextet, “Tom cat” [personnel: Morgan, trumpet; Curtis Fuller, trombone; Jackie McLean, alto saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Art Blakey, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US, 11  August 1964])

Monday, 11 July 2016

Theresa May, British prime minister-designate

(Theresa May: “Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it”, outside parliament, London, Monday 11 July 2016: 1735 BST)

Sunday, 10 July 2016

114th birthday of Nicolás Guillén

(Born 10 July 1902, Camagüe, Cuba)
Celebrated prolific liberatory poet, essayist, journalist, freedom exponent

208th or 209th birthday of Solomon Northup

(Born 10 July 1807/1808, Minerva, Essex county, New York, US)

African American violinist, farmer and landowner, kidnapped and enslaved in 1841 whilst visiting Washington, DC, for a music performance mission, regains his freedom in 1853 and becomes an influential campaign speaker for the African American freedom movement in the US’s northeast, publishes 12 Years a Slave (1853), the classic of his experience – basis of the feature, award-winning 2013 film directed by Steve McQueen in which Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup
(Ornette Coleman Quartet, “WRU” {or Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious – Freud}
[personnel: Coleman, alto saxophone; Don Cherry, pocket trumpet; Scott LaFaro, bass; Ed Blackwell, drums; recorded: Atlantic Studios, New York, US, 31 January 1961])

39th birthday of Chiwetel Ejiofor

(Born 10 July 1977, Forest Gate, London, England)
Award-winning theatre, television and film actor whose breathtaking career has featured lead performances ranged across some of the most tortuous terrains that define humanity’s current history: Congo Basin, Igbo genocide, European World enslavement of Africans in the Americas


Saturday, 9 July 2016

Mid-2016 thoughts for the weekend… Does African life really matter?

Why are African peoples more than any other part of humanity in today’s world more likely and readily and ruthlessly murdered by the police or other armed agents of the state in innumerable towns and cities across the globe including, especially, Igwe-Ocha, TulsaOnicha, New York, Enuugwu, OrlandoAba, OmahaBaton Rouge, Uzo-Uwani, JacksonvilleAsaba, NairobiDallas, Owere, BujumburaMinnesota, San Francisco, ColumbusNkpo, Oklahoma CityUbulu-Ukwu, Las VegasBaltimore, Chicago, Umuahia, Los Angeles, Oka?
(John Coltrane Quartet, “Alabama” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone, McCoy Tyner, piano; Garrison, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; recorded: Jazz Casual [Ralph Gleason], National Educational Television, KQED Studios, San Francisco, US, 1 November 1963])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

FWD: China and the depletion of west Africa fish stocks

Tamasin Ford, “How China’s trawlers are emptying Guinea’s oceans”, BBC News, London, Friday 8 July 2016 (, accessed 9 July 2016)


Friday, 8 July 2016

114th birthday of Gwendolyn Bennett

Born 8 July 1902, Giddings, Texas, US)
Poet, graphic artist, organiser and leader of artists’ guilds, cultural magazine editor and contributor, academic, one of the leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s-1930s


Thursday, 7 July 2016

110th birthday of Helene Johnson

(Born 7 July 1906, Boston, Mass, US)
One of the outstanding poets of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s-1930s, later develops the discipline to write a poem each day for a period stretching almost five decades


86th birthday of Hank Mobley

(Born 7 July 1930, Eastman, Georgia, US)
Tenor saxophonist, composer, bandleader, with an impressive recording career beginning in the mid-1950s and spanning two decades
(Hank Mobley Quartet, “Dig dis” [personnel: Mobley, tenor saxophone; Wynton Kelly, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Art Blakey, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US, 7 February 1960])

101st birthday of Margaret Abigail Walker

(Born 7 July 1915, Birmingham, Al, US)
Poet, novelist, academic, immensely influential figure in the development of African American letters, author of the 1942 classic For My People, a volume of poetry that focuses on African American history, Jubilee (1966), a family historical novel, and an array of other published studies