Friday, 7 October 2016

Igbo genocide: Asaba, 7 October 1967

TODAY, Friday 7 October 2016, is the 49th anniversary of the mass execution of 700 Igbo male, boys and men, in Asaba (twin Oshimili River port of Biafra) by genocidist Nigeria military brigade commanded by the islamist troika Murtala Muhammed and Ibrahim Haruna and Ibrahim Taiwo. This was during phase-III of the Igbo genocide which Nigeria launched on 6 July 1967. Britain, Nigeria’s suzerain state, supported the genocide, this foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa, politically, diplomatically, militarily – right from conceptualisation and throughout execution. Britain, under the premiership of Harold Wilson, had sought to “punish” Igbo people for spearheading the political campaign, begun 30 years earlier, to terminate its 100 years conquest and occupation of the constellation of states and peoples of this region of southwestcentral Africa.

Emma Okocha’s Blood on the Niger (TriAtlantic Books, 2006), a compulsory reference in the study of the Igbo genocide, meticulously catalogues the savagery and aftermath of the Asaba massacre. Okocha, who lost most of his family during the slaughter, survived the execution as a 4-year-old.
(Emma Okocha: onye amuma ndi Igbo)

Hundreds of other Igbo boys and men were also slaughtered by the Muhammed-Haruna-Taiwo brigade in several other towns and villages in this Anioma region of Biafra, west of the Oshimili, as  Okafor Udoka has shown (Okafor Udoka, “Lest we forget the genocide of Asaba”, Skytrend News, 6 October 2014). Ifeanyi Uriah, now 62, another survivor of the Asaba execution, recalls, in an interview with Udoka, the haunting memory of 7 October 1967:
I cannot tell this story without tears in my eyes … They [genocidist brigade] ordered everyone to come out to the [Asaba] town square … They were honest with us. They told us they were going to kill us. They took us to the mounted machine guns. Then it dawned on us that it was true. I was standing with my older brother at the edge of the crowd. He was holding my hand. He had always taken care of me. We shared the same bed. He was the first to be dragged away by the soldiers. He let go of my hand and pushed me into the crowd. He was shot in the back. I could see the blood gushing from his back. He was the first victim of the massacre. Then all hell let loose. I lost count of time. To this day, I live with the smell of the blood of my brethren that night. Even the heavens wept for the victims of this holocaust. Finally the bullets stopped (Udoka: 2014).
Nigeria and Britain murdered 3.1 million Igbo people or 25 per cent of this nation’s population during the three phases of the genocide – 29 May 1966-12 January 1970, and phase-IV continues as gruesomely as ever... This genocide inaugurated Africa’s current age of pestilence. 

The world could have stopped this genocide; the world should have stopped this genocide. To understand the politics of the Igbo genocide and the politics of the “post”-Igbo genocide is to have an invaluable insight into the salient features and constitutive indices of politics across Africa in the past 50 years.
(John Coltrane Quartet, “Seraphic light” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone, Alice Coltrane, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Rashied Ali, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US, 15 February 1967])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

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