Tuesday, 9 May 2017

103rd birthday of Mbonu Ojike

(Born 5 May 1914, Arundizuogu, Biafra)
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

CELEBRATED AFRICAN peoples-centred intellectual, graduate of University of Chicago, arguably the profoundest political economic thinker in the provisional restoration-of-independence government of (British occupied) east region Nigeria, home of the historic Igbo village republican democratic states that had flourished for over a millennium; minister of economic development and planning and architect of the 1947-1966 transformation of this pre-Igbo genocide political economy to Africa’s most dynamic with immense possibilities.

The Ojike Plan had envisaged a 20-year timeframe, beginning in 1954, during which the east would be transformed into an advanced multifaceted industrial and agricultural economy. Such was the impressive pace of this programme that, by 1964, ten years later, the overall economic performance of the east had not only outstripped the rest of Nigeria but was in fact Africa’s fastest growing economy. The east had the best schools and the first independent university system in the country, the best humanpower development in the country across a range of fields including, crucially, engineering, medicine, the arts, and the middle-range technical cadre. 

The region also had the most integrated infrastructural development in Nigeria and its manufacturing, distributive and extractive enterprises centred in the Enuugwu-Nkalagu-Emene conurbation to the north, Onicha (commercial capital and home to the future Oshimili stock exchange and index) to the west and Igwe Ocha-Aba-Calabar to the south were clearly the hubs of the making of this African industrial revolution of recent history. But for the Igbo genocide, launched by Britain and its Hausa-Fulani islamist north region-led Nigeria client state on 29 May 1966 and continuing as these lines are written, 51 years on, with the murder of 3.1 million Igbo or 25 per cent of the Igbo population during the first three phases of the crime (29 May 1966-12 January 1970), the east was on course to construct the “Taiwan” or the “China” or the “South Korea” or the “India” in Africa – 20 years before these post-World War II much-vaunted “economic transformational miracles” of the era emerged...

The main thrust of this plan is still valid and should be retrieved from the archives, reworked, and adapted by the ongoing Biafra freedom movement to 21st century priorities and the advantage of new technologies. This phase would appropriately be Ojike Plan II.
(Mbonu OjikeMy Africa, 1946)
(Sam Rivers Quintet, “Mellifluous cacaphony” [personnel: Rivers, tenor saxophone; Freddie Hubbard, trumpet;  Herbie Hancock, piano; Ron Carter, bass; Joe Chambers, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US, 21 May 1965])

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