Thursday, 27 October 2016

Lest we forget: The Igbo, vanguard outreaches, Nigeria – circ. 1934-29 May 1966

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

THE IGBO WERE ONE of the very few constituent nations in what was Nigeria, prior to 29 May 1966 – launch date of the Igbo genocide carried out by Nigeria and Britain, who understood, fully, the immense liberatory possibilities ushered in by 1 October 1960 (presumed, scheduled date of termination of 100 years of the British conquest and occupation of these southwestcentral states and peoples of Africa) and the interlocking challenges of the vast reconstructionary work required for state and societal transformation in the aftermath of foreign occupation.

The Igbo had the most robust economy in the country in their east region homeland, supplied the country with its leading writers, artists and scholars, supplied the country’s top universities with its vice-chancellors (president/rector) and leading professors and scientists, supplied the country with its first indigenous university (the prestigious university at Nsukka where, at its Enuugwu medical school, the first open-heart surgery in southwestcentral Africa was successfully performed on 1 February 1974), supplied the country with its leading and most spirited African World theorists, philosophers and practitioners, supplied the country with its top diplomats, supplied the country’s leading secondary schools/high schools with its head teachers and administrators, supplied the country with its top bureaucrats, supplied the country with its leading businesspeople, supplied the country with an educated, top-rated professional officers-corps for its military and police forces, supplied the country with its leading sportspersons, essentially and effectively worked the country’s rail, postal, telegraphic, power, shipping and aviation services to quality standards not seen since in Nigeria … And they were surely aware of the vicissitudes engendered by this historic age precisely because the Igbo nation played the vanguardist role in the freeing of Nigeria from Britain, beginning from the mid-1930s.

It is precisely in response to this defining Igbo role in this very strategic region of Africa that the Anglo-Nigeria empire struck back most gruesomely with the genocide, begun on Sunday 29 May 1966.
(Alice Coltrane Quartet, “Lord, help me to be” [personnel: Coltrane, piano; Pharoah Sanders, tenor saxophone;  Jimmy Garrison, bass; Ben Riley, drums; recorded: Coltrane home studio, Dix Hills, New York, US, 29 January 1968]) 

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