(Venerable: Dr Akanu Ibiam)
Forty-nine years ago to the day, in August 1967, the venerable Dr Akanu Ibiam, Christian missionary physician, erudite theologian and statesperson who had worked for 30 years in the Church of Scotland/Presbyterian Church rural medical programmes across central and east regions of Biafra, wrote a 20-paragraph historic letter to Queen Elizabeth II of England.
In his letter, Dr Ibiam denounced, unreservedly, the central role being played by Britain in the Igbo genocide, the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa, which had then entered its second year of unremittingly ruthless slaughter. In protest to this role, Dr Ibiam renounced and returned to the British head of state the three insignias of knighthood (OBE, KBE, KCMG) that both she and her father, King George VI, had earlier conferred on the esteemed missionary physician for services to church and state.
As is evident in the last four main paragraphs of Dr Ibiam’s letter published below (paragraphs 14-17 in the original), this document could easily have been written by the great humanist to Queen Elizabeth last year, 2015, after the month of March, when this same Britain, now under the political leadership of Prime Minister David Cameron, who was born 5 months after the 29 July 1966 launch of the genocide (coordinated then by No. 10 Downing Street resident Prime Minister Harold Wilson), installed Muhammadu Buhari, the notorious genocidist trooper of north/north central Biafra killing fields (July 1967-January 1970), as new head of Nigeria regime. No, Dr Ibiam could well have written this testament a few days ago! As the world duly knows, Buhari now drives this segment of phase-IV of the Igbo genocide as ruthlessly as he deems fit, murdering thousands of Igbo people in all regions of Biafra especially since October 2015, aware that, as before, he and Nigeria have the back of the British government to ensure, particularly, that Nigeria is shielded from international outrage and sanctions in its strategic goal to destroy Igbo people. Consequently, the British government is yet to condemn any of these murders nor confront its own involvement in the perpetration of the entire 50-year stretch of this most gruesome and devastating genocide of contemporary history.
Quite gravely, there is a haunting half-a-century-old consensus shared by the critical clusters of the British establishment including the political “class”, academia, media, charities, human rights, even the church, to maintain a deafening silence as the British state uninterruptedly wages this Igbo genocide in alliance with its on the ground Hausa-Fulani north region islamist-led client state in Nigeria. The goal is pointedly to protect, in perpetuity, Britain’s perceived strategic and economic interests in this southwestcentral Africa region – 3500 miles away from Britain. The fact that this alliance appears to challenge some of the more predictable characterisation of the salient features of contemporary international politics is indicative of how much more resilient and enduring shared worldviews (for instance, in this case, to collaborate to wage a genocide on a third party, a mutually-targeted people, for complementary interests) from supposedly or seemingly contradictory state systems can be.
YOUR MAJESTY, the British officials in Nigeria are fully aware of all these. They know that we are injured and deeply grieved people and had been cruelly treated by our erstwhile fellow citizens of Federal Republic of Nigeria. The British officials not only knew the crux of the matter, but they also encouraged Northern Nigeria to carry out and execute their nefarious plan against us. They are angry with Biafra because Biafra categorically refused to remain as part of the Nigeria federation and political unit only to be trampled upon, discriminated against and hated, ruthlessly exploited and denied her rights and privileges, and slaughtered whenever it suited the whims and caprices of the favoured people of Northern Nigeria. To add insult to injury, Your Majesty’s Britannic Government, instead of being neutral in our quarrels or finding ways and means to mediate and bring peace to the two countries, has now taken it upon herself to supply military aid to Nigeria to help them defeat and subjugate Biafra.
(John Coltrane Quartet, “Wise one” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood, Cliff, NJ, US, 24 April 1964)