Wednesday, 29 November 2017

102nd birthday of Billy Strayhorn

(Born 29 November 1915, Dayton, Ohio, US)
RENOWNED composer, pianist and arranger whose near 30 years (1938-1967) of collaborative work with composer, pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington has been the focus of expansive recordings, research and publications
(Charles Mingus Sextet, featuring Eric Dolphy, plays the Billy Strayhorn classic, “Take the ‘A’ train” [Mingus, bass; Johnny Coles, trumpet; Dolphy, bass clarinet; Clifford Jordan, tenor saxophone; Jaki Byard, piano; Dannie Richmond, drums; recorded: live, University Aula, Oslo, 12 April 1964])
(Joe Henderson Quintet plays the Billy Strayhorn classic, “Johnny come lately” [personnel: Henderson, tenor saxophone; Wynton Marsalis, trumpet; Stephen Scott, piano; Christian McBride, bass; Gregory Hutchinson, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood, Cliffs, NJ, US,  3-8 September 1991])
(John Coltrane Quintet plays the Billy Strayhorn classic, “Lush life” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; Donald Bryd, trumpet; Red Garland, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Louis Hayes, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, US, 10 January 1958)

111th birthday of the venerable Akanu Ibiam

(Born 29 November 1906, Unwana, Biafra)
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

AFFABLE physician, erudite theologian, principled statesperson, works for 30 years in the Church of Scotland/Presbyterian Church rural medical programme in central and east regions of Biafra and who, in August 1967, returns to Queen Elizabeth II of England the three insignias of knighthood (OBEKBEKCMG) conferred on him by both her and her father, King George VI,  in protest against the central role being played by Britain in the perpetration of the Igbo genocide, the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa, when it and its Hausa-Fulani/islamist-led client state Nigeria murder 3.1 million Igbo people, 25 per cent of this nation’s population, between 29 May 1966 and 12 January 1970 (phases I-III of the genocide).
Dr Ibiam’s towering position against the Igbo genocide is a challenge particularly to those clusters of the Igbo intelligentsia, especially in the diaspora, who have exercised a mortifying silence over the existential emergency that the Igbo face, currently, as the genocidists pursue phase-IV of the slaughtering … It is also a reminder of how deeply embedded British involvement in the execution of the genocide is as shown in that historic August 1967 letter of Dr Ibiam’s to Queen Elizabeth II in which he renounces the awarded 3-set knighthood from the English crown (see excerpts of letter below) and illustrated further by the calculated indifference of the Church of England to the genocide. 

Church of England

SINCE NOVEMBER 2015, during the course of the génocidaire Muhammadu Buhari regime in Nigeria (, over 2000 Igbo have been murdered in expanded scorched earth campaigns by its military/adjunct Fulani militia across Biafra. Sixty per cent of these murders have occurred in Onicha and neighbouring towns and villages, southwest Biafra, which are all located in the Onicha diocese of the Anglican communion, part of the Church of England, one of this denomination’s largest population districts in the world. Neither the Church of England nor its head, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, who has known Muhammadu Buhari personally since the former worked in the petroleum oil industry in Nigeria in the early 1980s, has condemned any of these Igbo slaughters of the past two years or offered public condolences to the aggrieved and traumatised Anglican communion congregants...

(paragraphs 14-20 of Dr Ibiam’s letter to Queen Elizabeth II of England, August 1967)


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.

It is simply staggering for a Christian country like Britain to help a Moslem country militarily to crush another Christian country like Biafra. This is just too much for me, Your Gracious Majesty, this act of unfriendliness and treachery by the British Government towards the people of Republic of Biafra who, as Eastern Nigerians, had so much regard for Britain and British people.

In the circumstance, Your Majesty, I no longer wish to wear the garb of the British Knighthood. British fair play, British justice, and the Englishman’s word of honour which Biafra loved so much and cherished have become meaningless to Biafrans in general and to me in particular. Christian Britain has shamelessly let down Christian Biafra.

I love the Republic of Biafra very dearly and pray that, by grace of God, she may remain and continue to grow and live and always act like a truly Christian country for all times.

I am, your Majesty

Yours Most Respectfully

(John Coltrane Quintet, “The believer” {composer: McCoy Tyner} [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; Donald Bryd, trumpet; Red Garland, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Louis Hayes, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, US, 10 January 1958)

Monday, 27 November 2017

75th birthday of Jimi Hendrix

(Born 27 November 1942, Seattle, US)
ARGUABLY the most creative and accomplished guitarist of all time; collaborates with fellow artist Joan Baein a historic concert at Steve Paul’s Scene, Manhattan, New York, 29 August 1968, where they both perform free in a concert of solidarity with the people of Biafra being subjected to the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa by Nigeria and its suzerain state Britain with Hendrix additionally offering a personal donation of US$500.00 to Biafra, US$3560.00 in today’s value
(Jimi Hendrix and Joan Baez in hearty conversation during intermission at the special Biafra concertNew York, 29 August 1968)
(The Jimi Hendrix Experience plays Hendrix’s exquisite blues composition, “Red house” [personnel: Hendrix, guitar; Noel Redding, bass; Mitch Mitchell, drums; recorded: live, The Northern California Folk-Rock Festival, Santa Clara, San Jose, California, US, 23-25 May 1969])
(The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Hear my train a comin” {composer: Jimi Hendrix} [personnel as above, from film Jimi Hendrix, July 1973])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Sunday, 26 November 2017

220th birthday of Sojourner Truth

(B ?1797, Rifton, NY, US; dies 26 Nov 1883, Battle Creek, Mich, US)

CELEBRATED African American freedom exponent and campaigner for gender rights and equality whose historic address at the December 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio, entitled “Ain’t I a woman?”, has been anthologised copiously ever since:

Ain’t I a woman?

by Sojourner Truth

(delivered 1851 at the Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio, United States)

WELL, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ’twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? (member of audience whispers, “intellect”) That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

OBLIGED to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.
(Sonny Rollins Trio, “The freedom suite” [personnel: Rollins, tenor saxophone; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Max Roach, drums; recorded: Riverside Records, New York, US, 7 March 1958])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Saturday, 25 November 2017

48th anniversary of John Lennon’s decision to return MBE knighthood medal to Queen Elizabeth II over Britain’s instrumental role in the perpetration of the Igbo genocide

(Medal is sent back to Buckingham Palace, London, 25 November 1969)
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

ICONIC Beetle’s John Lennon sends back the 1965 MBE knighthood medal bestowed on him by Queen Elizabeth II of England over Britain’s instrumental role in the perpetration of the Igbo genocide with its client state’s Hausa-Fulani/islamist-led Nigeria in which 3.1 million Igbo people or 25 per cent of Igbo population are murdered between 29 May 1966 and 12 January 1970 (phases I-III) in the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa – 48 years after Lennon’s towering stand, Britain is deeply embedded in this most devastating, expansive, and longest genocide of contemporary history … It chiefly arms and provides robust political and diplomatic cover internationally to its Nigeria on-the-ground génocidaires who continue the slaughtering of Igbo people unrelentingly (phase-IV) in scorched earth military operations in Biafra they have occupied since 13 January 1970
(John Lennon, “Oh my love” [composers: John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 1971])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Friday, 24 November 2017

83rd birthday of Zeal Onyia

(Born 24 November 1934, Asaba, Biafra)
MASTERLY trumpeter, composer and public intellectual whose 1958 composition, the effervescent “Egwu jazz bu egwu Igbo” (“Jazz is Igbo music”), leads him to research Igbo contribution to the development of jazz whilst studying in Germany and the United States, and receives the highest accolade of his career when none other than Satchmo himself, Louis Armstrong, visiting Lagos, Nigeria, in 1961, and listening to Onyia play at Surulere stadium, inquires in that unmistakeably popsian voice, “Who is that hip cat?
(Zeal Onyia and band play “Money trouble” and  “Lumumba” – latter composition is in memory of  Patrice Lumumba, leader of the the Congolese restoration-of-independence movement and prime minister,  who had been brutally murdered on 17 January 1961 by an amalgam of the forces of the notorious pro-Belgian Congolese putschist Mobutu Sese Seko, a brigade of Belgian special forces and operatives of other West espionage services [recording details of this performance, including, especially, full band personnel, are unknown except that it was sometime in 1961].)
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

212th birthday of Mary Seacole

(Born 23 November 1805, Kingston, Jamaica)
Nurse extraordinaire, pioneering international humanitarian care practitioner in the Caribbean/central America and during the 1854-1856 war in the Crimea, Czarist Russia, author of the classic, The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands (1857)
(John Coltrane Quartet, “Chim chim cheree” [personnel: Coltrane, soprano saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US, 17 May 1965])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Three recent sketches on Nnamdi Kanu and Biafra by Gianluca Costantini, the Italian cartoonist, social critic and academic

(Sam Rivers Sextet, “Helix” [personnel: Rivers, tenor saxophone; Donald Byrd, trumpet; James Spaulding, alto saxophone;  Cecil McBee, bass; Steve Ellington, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood, NJ, US, 17 March 1967])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

88th anniversary of ogu umu nwanyi Igbo or Igbo women-organised and led resistance against the British conquest and occupation of Igboland – organisational feat involved is precursor to some of the tactical calculations being employed with astounding success currently by the Biafra freedom movement’s restoration-of-independence mission against the genocidist Nigeria occupation

(Resistance begins 23 November 1929, Aba, Biafra)
With the initial mobilisation of 10,000 women which soon expands to 25,000 and joined by women from Ibibioland, Igbo women in Aba and its contiguous provinces, including Igwe Nga/Opobo and Umu Ubani/Bonny, embark on a 2-month historic resistance against the oppressively expansive stretch of 50 years of the British conquest, paralysing the occupation regime and its institutions in much of the east, central and southern regions of Biafra consequently; the occupation troops murder  55 members of the freedom movement during the course of the resistance
(Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe)

(Alice Coltrane Trio, “Lovely sky boat” [personnel: Coltrane, harp;  Jimmy Garrison, bass; Rashied Ali, drums; recorded: Coltrane home studio, Dix Hills, New York, US, 6 June 1968]) 

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

80th birthday of Adiele Afigbo

(Born 22 November 1937, Ihube, Biafra)
DEAN of Igbo Historical Studies whose seminal books and papers, particularly Warrant Chiefs (1972)Ropes of Sand (1981)Ikenga (1986), K.O. Dike and African historical renascence (1986), The Igbo and their Neighbours (1987), The Image of the Igbo (1991) and Groundwork of Igbo History (1992) are foundational texts and references for the study of Igbo history and civilisation and international relations
(John Coltrane Sextet, “Blue train” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone, Lee Morgan, trumpet; Curtis Fuller, trombone; Kenny Drew, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, US, 15 September 1957]) 
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The catastrophe that is genocidist Nigeria

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

THE Fulani islamist/jihadist-led genocidist Nigeria, not Europe, not the United States, not any extracontinental aggressor state, constitutes, currently, the principal retrograde agent of  genocide and underdevelopment across Africa:

1. It has murdered more Africans in Biafra, southwestcentral Africa, since 1945 than the total number of Africans murdered in Africa since 1900 by all of Europe’s conqueror-powers in Africa: Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain – including the number of Africans the Germans murdered in the genocide of the Herero, Nama and Berg Damara peoples of southwest Africa (1904-1907).

2. It now rates a not-too-distant second to Belgian King Leopold II’s notorious position as lead génocidaire of African peoples since the 19th century in the Leopold II/Belgian state’s genocide against Africans in the central regions of the Congo River basin (1878-1908).
(George Russell Sextet, “Nardis” [personnel: Russell, piano; Don Ellis, trumpet; Dave Baker, trombone; Eric Dolphy, bass clarinet; Steve Swallow, bass; Joe Hunt, drums; recorded: Riverside Records, New York, 8 May 1961])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Saturday, 18 November 2017

68th anniversary of the Enuugwu, Biafra, colliery massacre

(Miners at the Enuugwu colliery, undated)
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

ON 18 NOVEMBER 1949, 21 coal miners at the Iva Valley colliery, Enuugwu, Biafra, were shot dead by the British occupation police in response to the miners’ peaceful, popular protest for a pay increase, improvement in working and safety mine provisions, and support for the ongoing restoration-of-independence movement, begun in the 1930s and spearheaded by the Igbo, to terminate 64 years of Britain’s conquest of the constellation of states and peoples of this southwestcentral region of Africa. 

The Enuugwu massacre, in addition to the organised pogroms against Igbo people in June 1945 (Jos, northcentral Nigeria) and May 1953 (Kano, north Nigeria) by the Hausa-Fulani/islamist political leadership of north Nigeria, strategic on the ground client of the occupation, were dreadful precursors to the Igbo genocide of 29 May 1966-12 January 1970 (phases I-III) – in which Britain and Nigeria murdered 3.1 million Igbo, 25 per cent of this nation’s population, in the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa.
(Sam Rivers Trio, “Afflatus” [personnel: Rivers, tenor saxophone; Cecil McBee, bass; Steve Ellington, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood, NJ, US, 17 March 1967])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

81st birthday of Don Cherry

(Born 18 November 1936, Oklahoma City, US)
INNOVATIVE trumpeter and multibrass instrument player, key exponent of the Ornette Coleman school in the free jazz revolution of the 1950s/1960s
(John Coltrane & Don Cherry, “Focus on sanity” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; Cherry, pocket trumpet; Percy Heath, bass; Ed Blackwell, drums; recorded: Atlantic Studios, New York, US, 28 June/8 July 1960])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Friday, 17 November 2017

On this very eve of ofe nsala day – Anambra region, southwest Biafra

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

Tomorrow, Saturday 18 November 2017: Stay home … Stay home … Stay home …

1. Stay home with your loved ones and keep away from the roads and streets now taken over by the Hausa-Fulani/islamist-led genocidist Nigeria military/Fulani militia adjunct. The génocidaires have effectively deployed a battle group throughout the Anambra region to continue its murderous mission in history, begun 200 years ago when it departed its Futa Djallon homeland in northwest Africa: terror, conquests, occupations, expropriations, decadence, genocide… They, not Europe, not the United States, not any extracontinental imperialism, constitute, currently, the principal retrograde agent of underdevelopment across the stretches of northcentral Africa.

2. Stay home with your loved ones and enjoy a scrumptious ofe nsala dinner. Writing recently in The National (20 September 2017), Dave McEwan Hill discusses the “strongly democratic … meritocracy … and sturdy self relian[t] Igbo … ambitious, imaginative and hard-working …” Hill is of course reflecting on the salient features that characterise Igbo national life, shaped by over 1000 years of history of republican democracy. In fact the planned Igbo boycott of tomorrow’s fraudulent Nigeria génocidaires’ run election in Anambra is acutely demonstrable of this attribute of Igbo democratic history.

3. Stay home with your loved ones tomorrow, Saturday 18 November – be wise, as usual, just as you stayed home on 30 May 2017 with such phenomenal political consequences advancing the march of the Biafra freedom movement.

4. The restoration of the independence of Biafra is unstoppable.
(John Coltrane Quartet, “Wise one” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Elvin J ones, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood, Cliff, NJ, US, 24 April 1964])

Thursday, 16 November 2017

No revisionism on Zimbabwe, please! In the wake of the evolving coup d’état by the military in Zimbabwe in the past 48 hours, there’s already a concerted effort by some in the media in Britain to begin to construct a totally distorted narrative of the relationship between Britain and Robert Mugabe since 1980. The following essay, “Britain, Mugabe, Zimbabwe, Africa”, written in July 2008 and published as a chapter in my Readings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, Literature (2011), is reissued here, unedited, in response to these multiform revisionist efforts on the history of this key region of the African World.

(Robert Mugabe)
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

Britain, Mugabe, Zimbabwe, Africa 

(originally written in July 2008 and updated as chapter 15 in Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, Readings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, Literature, 2011: 95-100)

DESPITE THE unprecedented overdrive of its diplomatic pressure on African heads of regime during the recent African Union assembly in Egypt, Britain failed abysmally to persuade the summit to condemn Zimbabwe’s June 2008 rigged elections.[1] For the Gordon Brown administration, this failure was a disappointing anticlimax in a season of sustained publicity blitz across Britain in which the state and media found a rare common purpose and a convergence of opinion on the subject of the demonisation of Robert Mugabe. The typecasting was unmistakeably swift and assured: Mugabe became the purveyor or indeed inventor of election rigging in Africa, the grotesque human rights violator, the quintessential, fiendishly-sutured African dictator. Even provincial newspaper editors and commentators as well as their radio and television counterparts, usually concerned with more mundane local issues, became instant experts on Mugabe and Mugabeism – such was the frenzy of the times! Thanks to this bizarre British offering of “African history” of the past 50 years, the plaque of shame that lists the cabal of Africa’s notorious heads of regime and genocidist operatives of the age appear casually erased for the occasion: Muhammed, Gowon, Danjuma, al-Bashir, Idi Amin, Mengistu, Bokassa, Awolowo, Buhari, Compaoré, Aminu, Eyadéma, Haruna, Mobutu, Toure, Enaharo, Abubakar, Akinrinade, Patassé, Obasanjo, Are, Gbadamosi King, Habré, Adekunle, Ayida, Ali, Babangida, Taiwo …

The irony of the awkward bind in which Britain currently finds itself in the Zimbabwe saga is fascinating. Britain is absolutely right that Mugabe rigged those elections. But everybody knows that. The African “leaders” at the Sharm el Sheikh summit also know that. More importantly though, they also know that, like Mugabe, each and everyone of them (total of 53 heads of regime), except, possibly, the leaderships of Sénégal, Botswana, Ghana and South Africa, is presently head or beneficiary of a rigged election/no-election regime. Not even Hosni Mubarak, the host of the gathering, could distinguish between a rigged election and one designated “free”/“fair”. It is therefore not surprising that, on the eve of the conference, Mugabe dramatically capitalised on these well-known facts on bogus elections-that-“elect”-bogus leaders in Africa and dared any of his fellow summiteers to criticise his own signature of poll rigging!
“Elections” in Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe

Hardly anyone of them took up that challenge. In the end, it was left to Britain, a supposedly non-member of the AU, to lobby delegates hard in hotel suites, conference hall, committee rooms and corridors to sign up to its “Mugabe illegitimate re-election” resolution quest but without success. For African “leaders” and quite a few other observers, Britain still had to explain the rationale for its policy to pick-and-choose from Africa’s rigged-election catalogue. Whilst it recognised and fraternises with the regimes that emerged from the rigged elections in Nigeria (April 2007) and Kenya (December 2007), it demonises and wants the rest of the world to ostracise the regime that took power after the rigged poll in Zimbabwe (June 2008).

Yet no independent assessments of the three “polls” have shown that the charade in Zimbabwe was any worse than either the one in Nigeria or in Kenya. This is the case if one evaluates the comparative data available on the three countries, focusing particularly on such key indices: (a) competitive environment for all contestants and their affiliate organisations (b) genuine and free access to vital campaign resources including the ability to form independent political parties (c) raise finance (d) access to publicly-owned media outlets for party broadcasts and advertising (e) access to private media institutions (f) unhindered campaigns in time and space (g) intimidation (h) pre-“poll” levels of violence (i) “poll” day/post-“poll” day levels of violence (j) number of persons murdered (k) number of persons injured (l) homes/other properties damaged or destroyed (m) displacement of persons, and (n) overall state of “stability and security” within the country in the aftermath of the “poll”. On the very crucial subject of fatality in these “polls”, for instance, more Africans were murdered in Kenya than in Zimbabwe; more Africans were murdered in Nigeria than in Zimbabwe. Finally, it should be stressed that for the regime in Nigeria, unlike its counterparts in Kenya and indeed Zimbabwe, its April 2007 “election” was nothing short of a military campaign – aptly, albeit ominously code-named “operation do-or-die” by regime head Olusegun Obasanjo, a genocidist general in the Nigeria army during the 1966-1970 Igbo genocide. This was Obasanjo’s third election rigging in eight years.


EXCEPT Britain is perhaps much more concerned with the destiny of Africans in election-rigging Zimbabwe than those in the rest of other equally election-rigging African countries which include Nigeria and Kenya, the June 2008 rigged presidential poll in Zimbabwe does not, in itself, sufficiently explain the basis of the present British hostility to Robert Mugabe. One of the myths peddled along the stream of mutual propaganda by both sides in this crisis is to exaggerate the timeframe of the “confrontation”. Contrary to current popular perception, Mugabe has generally had a close and warm relationship with successive British governments during most of his 28 years of absolutist power. Few African “leaders” of comparable disposition have had such ties with Britain in recent history.

We mustn’t forget that the overwhelming majority of victims of Mugabe’s ruthless rule, right from the outset, have been Africans. In 1982-83, two years after he came to power following the “restoration” of Zimbabwean independence, Mugabe ordered the notorious Gukurahundi or the 5th brigade of his military forces to embark on a devastating, murderous campaign against the Ndebele people in the south of the country.[2] A total of 20000 Ndebele were slaughtered during the pogrom.[3] Mugabe essentially assumed supreme political power across Zimbabwe after these murders. The Ndebele were the core electoral constituency for the ZAPU liberation movement, which, in alliance with Mugabe’s ZANU, had won the pre-“restoration” of independence election organised and supervised by Britain.
At the time of the Ndebele massacre, the British still exercised some administrative “oversight” on Zimbabwean security and land resources, an important feature of the “restoration” of independence settlement worked out in London in 1979/early 1980. Britain was therefore fully aware of the Ndebele atrocity. The Gukurahundi campaign was comprehensively and extensively covered across the world’s media then. In 1984, barely one year after the Gukurahundi outrage, the prestigious Edinburgh University awarded Mugabe an honorary doctorate degree for “services to education in Africa”.[4] Ten years later, the Zimbabwean “leader” made an official visit to London. The British state used the grand occasion to crown its special relationship with Mugabe by appointing him the prestigious honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (Following the June 2008 revocation of this honour, there was consternation and disappointment among some in African-centred intellectual circles in Britain who were unaware that Mugabe had all along, until very recently, been a proud recipient of British knighthood!).[5]

THIS COSY relationship began souring in the late 1990s. The Blair government that took office in 1997 reneged on making the annual British financial payment to the Mugabe regime (that had been paid since 1980 – part of the London pre-“restoration” of independence settlement) to enable it engage in the perverse venture of “buying back” African lands expropriated by the British invasion of Zimbabwe during the course of the previous century. Mugabe responded by implementing a “land recovery programme”, which should have been part of the strategic goal of the liberation project back in 1980. The Mugabe “version” being executed 20 years later was clearly opportunistic, a hardly disguised stratagem for the personal survival of a dictator! The compelling lesson of the belated Mugabe-British discord couldn’t be clearer: Mugabe could murder and murder as many Africans in Zimbabwe and trample on their other human rights as he deemed fit but there was a “red line” he mustn’t cross – harm Europeans in Zimbabwe. For Britain, Mugabe’s “land recovery” exercise was just “land robbery” that harmed Europeans in Zimbabwe. He had crossed that “red line” and must be punished!  

First steps

IT IS NOT inconceivable that Britain decided to focus on the rigged Zimbabwe poll, rather than address all the others in Africa, as the start to challenging pervasive election-robbery in Africa. After all, one must start somewhere! Maybe Prime Minister Brown wants to re-launch a new “ethical foreign policy” that focuses on Africa after the disastrous collapse of the one initiated by his predecessor (Blair) in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Under the aegis of the former, paradoxically, Britain, in the August-September 2001 conference on racism in South Africa, vehemently opposed African peoples’ calls for reparations from Britain for its central role in the pan-European execution of the African holocaust and the phenomenal wealth it accrued in the process.[6] In the same period, Britain emerged as the leading arms exporter to Africa, now earning at least US$2 billion per annum. At the height of the dreadful wars in the Africa Great Lakes region in 2000, Britain sold weapons to both sides of the conflict. Charles Onyango-Obbo, the respected Ugandan journalist, recalls:
Britain is supporting both sides – it just robs them of any moral authority and a lot of people rightly do despise the British government in this affair.[7]
IT IS never too late to establish this moral position, even after 500 long years ... If indeed Brown’s intention on his Zimbabwe “confrontation” is to embark on a British policy of amends in Africa, the following steps would be profoundly rewarding:

1. Britain has to expand its current “illegitimate”-branding of the Mugabe regime to encompass the two other rigged elections that occurred in Africa since April 2007 – namely, Nigeria and Kenya. Brown will soon be hosting Umaru Yar’Adua, a key participant and chief beneficiary of the April 2007 rigged election in Nigeria, in a London summit.[8] Should Brown be hosting Yar’Adua while ostracising Mugabe? If so, Brown must clarify his position to an understandably highly sceptical world.

2. Britain would need to stop its present “convenient” reading of African recent history on the question of election rigging. Britain inaugurated election rigging in Africa during the closing days of its formal occupation of the continent. This was its policy of perpetuating its control of politics and economics in Africa even after “withdrawal”. James Robertson, the British occupation governor, rigged the 1959 pre-“restoration” of independence legislative and executive poll in Nigeria to ensure that power went to pro-British clients in the north region who strenuously opposed the liberation of the country led by Igbo people. There has been no free or fair election in Nigeria since then. Three years earlier, Robertson, then occupation governor in the Sudan, had rigged the poll there in favour of the Arab minority population who are still entrenched in power till this day 

3. Britain was central, along with the Nigeria state, in planning and executing the Igbo genocide of 1966-1970. A total of 3.1 million Igbo, a quarter of the nation’s population then, were murdered. It was the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. It was Britain’s “punishment” of the Igbo for daring to lead the struggle for the freeing of Nigeria that began in the 1940s. Twice, during that struggle, the British occupation had casually watched two organised pogroms against the Igbo in north Nigeria (1945, 1953) which were dress rehearsals for the subsequent genocide. As I argue in my Biafra Revisited, Britain must apologise to the Igbo for its involvement in this crime against humanity. It should pay reparations to the survivors and lastly, but surely not the least, support current efforts to bring individuals and institutions in Nigeria, Britain and elsewhere involved in this genocide to justice. A number of prominent Nigerians involved in the genocide are still alive and must be indicted unfailingly in international criminal courts: Danjuma, Gowon, Buhari, Babangida, Haruna, Are, Enaharo, Aminu, Gbadamosi King, Abubakar, Obasanjo, Akinrinade, Adekunle, Ayida, Ali, Taiwo …

4. A fortnight ago, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, a permanent secretary of the regime in Abuja, made an astonishing declaration to a meeting of the country’s senate committee on transport. Baba-Ahmed said that the strategic Onicha bridge, linking east and west Igboland, is “collapsing”.[9] He added, quite lackadaisically, that “there wasn’t anything” his regime could do about this unfolding grave emergency.[10] Millions of Igbo and others use this bridge annually. Successive Nigerian regimes have always regarded Britain as their “most reliable” foreign ally.[11] It is therefore incumbent on the British to advise their Nigerian friends at Abuja, the occupying power in Igboland since 1970, of their international responsibilities on this bridge. The current Yar’Adua regime in Abuja and the previous one should have no doubts whatsoever that they will individually and collectively be held responsible in the international criminal courts for any consequences brought about by the collapse of the Onicha bridge on Igbo life, Igbo property, Igbo income, Igbo opportunities, environmental degradation, etc., etc.

5. Britain is the premier arms exporter to Africa. This is what keeps Africa’s genocide state, the bane of African social existence, very much alive. In turn, this state organises mass slaughters of peoples and nations, asphyxiates opportunities for its citizens, fuels the rigging of elections ... Britain can singularly begin to change this dreadful dynamic by imposing a comprehensive arms embargo on all countries throughout Africa. Brown is not required to go to parliament to seek approval for this historic move. The measure can be taken in the next Tuesday, weekly cabinet meeting: 15 July 2008.
(Charles Mingus Sextet – with Eric Dolphy, Cornell University 1964, “Meditations” [personnel: Mingus, bass; Johnny Coles, trumpet; Dolphy, flute, bass clarinet; Clifford Jordan, tenor saxophone; Jaki Byard, piano; Dannie Richmond, drums; recorded: live, Cornell University, 18 March 1964]) 

[1]“Brown makes Zimbabwe cash promise”, BBC News, 29 June 2008, (accessed 3 July 2010). For the conference communiqué, see “African Union Summit Resolution on Zimbabwe: Adopted at the 11th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly, 1 July 2008, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt”,
[2]Lance Guma, “Gukurahundi massacres: lessons drenched in blood”,
[6]Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, African Literature in Defence of History: An essay on Chinua Achebe (Dakar and Reading: African Renaissance, 2001), pp. 71-72.
[7]Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, Biafra Revisited (Dakar and Reading: African Renaissance, 2006), p. 128.
[8]“Prime Minister Brown meets with Nigerian President YarAdua”, Joint press
conference, 10 Downing Street, London, 16 July 2008,
[11]Cf. Yar’Adua comments during that July 2008 London joint press conference with
Brown, “Prime Minister Brown meets with Nigerian President YarAdua”.