Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Year 53: Igbo people, 29 May 1966 – genocide, survival, remembrance, restoration-of-independence

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

TODAY, Wednesday 29 May 2019, marks the 53rd anniversary of the launch of the Igbo genocide. Beginning at mid-morning on Sunday 29 May 1966 to 12 January 1970, Britain, Nigeria’s
suzerain-state, then under the premiership of Harold Wilson, and the composite aggregation of its Nigeria client-state on the ground, 3000 miles away in southwestcentral Africa – military officers, the police, Fulani emirs, muslim clerics and intellectuals, students, civil servants, alimajiri, journalists, politicians, other public figures – planned and embarked on the Igbo genocide. 

This is the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. It is also Africa’s most expansive and devastating genocide of the 20th century and the inaugurator of contemporary Africa’s age of pestilence. A total of 3.1 million Igbo people, 25 per cent of this nation’s population at the time, were murdered during those harrowing 44 months – phases I-III of the genocide.  Not since Germany’s genocide against the Herero, Nama and Berg Damara peoples of Namibia in the early 1900s had any African nation been subjected to such indescribable barbarity and carnage as the Igbo.

YAKUBU GOWON headed the regime in Nigeria that executed the genocide and Obafemi Awolowoa lawyer, a senior advocate of the Nigerian bar, was his deputy, effectively the prime minister, the genocidist “chief theorist” for the campaign and head of the all-powerful finance ministry. Awolowo also principally initiated and programmed phase-IV of the genocide, ongoing, since 13 January 1970, aimed, strategically, to dismantle/degrade the illustrious Igbo economy in perpetuity. The Igbo economy, pre-genocide, was Africa’s most dynamic and resourceful. The genocidists have murdered tens of thousands of additional Igbo in phase-IV of the slaughter and now deploy the Fulani militia and Boko Haram terrorists (presently two of the world’s five deadliest deadliest terrorist groups) as enhanced murdering assets in their scorched earth campaigns across Biafra.

IF THE Fulani islamist/jihadist-led league of genocidist executioners on the ground in Nigeria (whose centrally actuating membership crucially includes the following pan-African nations: Yoruba, Gwari, Jukun, Jawara, Kanuri, Tiv, Edo, Nupe, Hausa, Urhobo, Bachama) which has carried out the Igbo genocide with such fiendishness these past 53 years were European (bekeeoyibooyinbo, tubaab, obroni ... ), and not African, there would have been a thundering outrage and expansive campaign against these perpetrators with hollering of “racist”, “fascist”, “exclusivist”, “supremacist”, “segregationist”, “occupationist”, “b***** c******* o********”, “imperialist”… mounted across the rest of the world, particularly from the African World – continental Africans, Africans in Europe, Africans in the Americas, Africans in Asia, Africans in Australasia.

Thus, as far as African critical opinion is concerned, despite its wide geographical spread, Africa’s state-organised mass murderers who slaughter an African people in Africa, it would appear from this devastating history of five decades, can literally get away with murder. Shocking! Unpardonable!

YET the Igbo genocide by the Fulani & co and other Africa-based state/estate’s horrendous crimes against African peoples and nations are distinct empirical determinants of those distressing lines sketched in historian Chancellor Williams’s commanding insight of Africa’s devastating history as shown here:
Now the shadows lengthened. The Europeans had also been busily building up and training strong African armies. Africans trained to hate, kill and conquer Africans. Blood of Africans was to sprinkle and further darken the pages of their history … Indeed, Africa was conquered for the Europeans by the Africans [themselves], and thereafter kept under [conquest] control by African police and African soldiers. Very little European blood was ever spilled. (Chancellor Williams, The Destruction of Black Civilization, 1995: 218)

Neither Britain nor Nigeria can destroy the Igbo determination to be free. Igbo are irrepressible. Igbo will restore Biafra’s independence. No one can stop this outcome. Biafra’s restoration-of-independence signals to the rest of the constituent peoples or nations i.e.,  pre-conquest and occupation of Africa, enveloped in the European-created “Berlin-states” of death, immiseration, desolation and hopelessness, that freedom and transformation, right there in Africa, are achievable goals – that African peoples can build, reconstruct, embark on all possibilities of working for themselves and appropriating the fruits of their labour from their land and on their own terms...

THE world must now know that Biafra flowers innumerable Biafras of rebirth not seen in Africa for 500 years, since 1492.

(Andrew Hill Sextet, “Dedication” [personnel: Hill, piano; Kenny Dorham, trumpet; Eric Dolphy, bass clarinet; Joe Henderson, tenor saxophone;  Richard Davis, bass; Tony Williams, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US, 21 March 1964]) 

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe is a specialist on the state and genocide and wars in Africa. He is the author of several books including The longest genocide  since 29 May 1966 (2019), Readings from Reading: Essays on African History, Genocide, Literature (2011), Biafra Revisited (2006), African Literature in Defence of History: An essay on Chinua Achebe (2001) and co-author, with Lakeson Okwuonicha, of Why Donald Trump is great for Africa (2018)


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