Friday, 16 August 2019

89th birthday of Christopher Okigbo – great Biafran and Africa’s most influential and celebrated poet

(Born 16 August 1930, Ojoto, Biafra)

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe  

TODAY, Friday 16 August 2019, is the 89th birthday of the great Christopher Ifekandu Okigbo.
Okigbo is Africa’s most celebrated and most influential poet. He occupied the poetry chair of the continent’s post- (European)conquest literary academy in the 1960s with Chinua Achebe the head of the novel institute and Wole Soyinka, head of drama.

Okigbo’s scholarship and influences are extensive and varied: Igbo history, mythology, art and philosophy, ancient world religious and spiritual heritage encompassing Nri, Kemet (“ancient Egypt”), Babylon, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Greece and Roman as well as the poetry of Ovid, Virgil, Dante, Milton, Yeats, Mallarmé, Eliot, Pound, Hopkins.

RIGHT from the outset, Okigbo’s perspicacious intellectual contribution in mapping out the tenets of Africa’s renaissance scholarship is his focus on both redeeming the European occupation’s assault on the spiritual embodiment of the African existence, in the wake of the conquest, and confronting a ruthless genocide state-in-the-making in Nigeria at the first half of the 1960s. Okigbo’s worldview does not tolerate any excuses for either the perpetration or perpetuation of any forms of tyranny and subjugation of peoples. Since then, Okigbo’s poetry has had a profound impact on the work of several poets of his generation as well as on the ever-expanding stretch of the continuing-Igbo genocide-generation of poets and writers in other genres.

Crucial site

FIFTY THREE years on, the state in contemporary Africa is essentially a genocide-state – exemplified, most catastrophically, by Nigeria, the Sudan and the so-called Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Okigbo’s incisive scholarship (see, especially, Christopher Okigbo, HeavensgateSilencesLimitsDistances, “Laments of the Masks”, “Laments of the Deer”, “Four Canzones” and Path of Thunder), to the poet’s eternal credit, anticipates the nature and characterisation of the multifocal crises of this development and rigorously interrogates their tragic consequences.

For Okigbo, given the operationalising backdrop of the European conquest and occupation, the spiritual is a crucial site of the African resistance and campaign for the restoration of sovereignty. This is because the eventual goal of the occupation’s assault is aimed at burrowing a cataclastic fault-line in the soul of the people to pre-empt or complicate their determined process of recovery on the morrow of the triumph of freedom.

EVIDENTLY, Okigbo responds to this emergency, in his poetry, by weaving a multilayered and panoramic landscape of often-complex fabric of overarching architecture of ideas that meditates on the variegated spiritual universe of the people.

In the 1960-1966 Nigeria historical context, particularly, Okigbo’s poetry of resistance pitches its tent squarely on behalf of those who would confront blatantly-rigged election results (1959/1960-1966) and imposed parties and leaderships (1959-1966), rigged census returns (1962, 1963), arbitrary arrests and detentions (1960-1966), rabid and rampant authoritarianism (1960-1966) and, most tragically of all, the Nigeria state & its British suzerain state-organised genocide against the Igbo people (beginning Sunday 29 May 1966). The poet himself was killed defending his beloved motherland. The dual-genocidists murdered 3.1 million Igbo people or one-quarter of the Igbo population during the 44 months of phases I-III of the genocide – 29 May 1966-12 January 1970. In phase-IV, which the genocidists launched on 13 January 1970 and continues unrelentingly to this day, they have murdered tens of thousands of additional Igbo. The latter include the 3000 Igbo murdered since November 2015 by the fiendish Muhammadu Buhari genocidist regime which was installed in power by ex-British Prime Minister David Cameron and Barack Hussein Obama, ex-US president, the first African-descent president in 233 years of the founding of the United States republic. Barack Hussein Obama’s unconscionable support for the Igbo genocide is the abominable legacy of his presidency.

In the gripping lines of Okigbo’s last poem cycle, Path of Thunder, written before the 29 May 1966 outbreak of the Igbo genocide but published posthumously, he breathtakingly presages the contours of the cataclysmic consequences of Africa’s foundational genocide of the 20th century and his own likely death during the slaughter:

AND THE HORN may now paw the air howling goodbye …

For the Eagles are now in sight:
Shadows in the horizon –

THE ROBBERS are here in black sudden steps of showers, of
caterpillar – 
THE EAGLES have come again,
The eagles rain down on us –

POLITICIANS are back in giant hidden steps of howitzers, of
detonators – 
THE EAGLES descend on us,
Bayonets and cannons – 

THE ROBBERS descend on us to strip us of our laughter, of our 
thunder – 

THE EAGLES have chosen their game …

POLITICIANS are here in this iron dance of mortars, of
generators – 
THE EAGLES are suddenly there,
New stars of iron dawn;

So let the horn paw the air howling goodbye …

O mother mother Earth, unbind me; let this be
my last testament; let this be
The ram’s hidden wish to the sword the sword’s
secret prayer to the scabbard –

BEYOND the iron path careering along the same beaten track – 

THE GLIMPSE of a dream lies smouldering in a cave,
together with the mortally wounded birds.
Earth, unbind me; let me be the prodigal; let this be
the ram’s ultimate prayer to the tether …

AN OLD STAR departs, leaves us here on the shore
Gazing heavenward for a new star approaching;
The new star appears, foreshadows its going
Before a going and coming that goes on forever…
 (Christopher OkigboLabyrinths with Path of Thunder, 2008: 71-72.)
Many a season
CHRISTOPHER IFEKANDU OKIGBO would be appalled by the devastation of Biafra, 53 years after the end of the phases I-III of the Igbo genocide, and 49 years after the launch of phase-IV of the genocide. The Fulani islamist/jihadist-led league of genocidist executioners on the ground in Nigeria and their centrally actuating constituent  pan-African nations’ accomplices – Yoruba, Gwari, Jukun, Jawara, Kanuri, Tiv, Edo, Nupe, Hausa, Urhobo, Bachama – have indeed unleashed a half of century of unmitigated savagery on Igbo people, unprecedented in African history. Co-genocidist Britain, beginning with Prime Minister Harold Wilson on 29 May 1966, couldn’t have bargained for less in constructing such a ghoulish slaughtering coalition with its steadfast Nigerian allies.
Okigbo wouldn’t rest on his laurels, though, in response to challenge and overcome what is undoubtedly a clear, conscious, beastly-scripted and targetedly-driven juggernaut to destroy the Igbo, one of the world’s very talented peoples. Okigbo, who believes in the power of words, would head for his keyboard … and more… 

HISTORY testifies that the quest for human freedom is not often an engagement pursued over just one season. For many, and the Igbo appear to be incorporated in this group, it is rather much more painfully drawn out; it could entail a cast of over several, long seasons. This trajectory, therefore, inevitably, encapsulates its vivid vicissitudes of pain, grief, opportunities, turmoil, setbacks, triumphs, turmoil, grief, opportunities, breakthrough. What is at stake here is for a more focused, more steadfast, and a more enduring understanding of the huge tasks ahead. Surely this is music in the ears of the resourceful and resilient Igbo people.

The Igbo will defeat this half a century of genocide. Unfailingly. The Igbo will rebuild their battered towns and villages and economy – which was Africa’s fastest growing powerhouse on the eve of the genocide. Unquestionably, the Igbo will restore their sovereignty. 
AS THE Okigboan œuvre demonstrates, human freedom eventually prevails most luminously. Okaa Omee.
(Sam Rivers Quintet, “Mellifluous cacophony” [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])

*****Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe’s latest books on the Igbo genocide and Biafra are The longest genocide – since 29 May 1966 (2019) and co-author, with Lakeson OkwuonichaWhy #DonaldTrump is #great for #Africa (2018)

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Friday, 9 August 2019

A year ago today! Biafran girls win world’s top technology contest held in the United States

(Save-a-Soul team from Regina Pacis Secondary School, Onicha, Biafra ... displays their coveted gold medals in San Jose, US, Thursday 9 August 2018: great Biafran ambassadors...)
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

A TEAM of five teenage girls from the Regina Pacis Secondary School Onicha, southwest Biafra, has won the gold medal in the junior division finalists of the 2018 global technovation contest held in San Jose, United States.

The students are Promise NnalueVivian OkoyeAdaeze OnuigboJessica Osita, and Nwabuaku Ossai. Their team, Save-a-Soul, came top in the competition involving 9,000 girls from across 115 countries with their developed app, FD-Detector, which tackles fake pharmaceutical products in southwestcentral region of Africa.

The Save-a-Soul team had travelled to the US with their teacher and mentor, Uchenna Onwuameagbu-Ugwu, and beaten the group of 12 teams’ finalists which included the US, China and Spain to clinch their gold. 

IGBO people can’t wait for Biafra’s restoration of independence from the Anglo-Nigeria genocidist occupation (enforced since 13 January 1970) to open up unlimited opportunities of creativity and innovation for their young people, one of Africa’s most precocious and hardworking. The opportunities are part of strategies crucially factored into the multitudinal transformative landscape that Biafra will project.  
(Sam Rivers Sextet, “Paean” [personnel: Rivers, soprano saxophone; Donald Byrd, trumpet; Julian Priester, trombone; James Spaulding, alto saxophone;  Cecil McBee, bass; Steve Ellington, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood, NJ, US, 17 March 1967])

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe’s recent books on the Igbo genocide and Biafra are The longest genocide – since 29 May 1966 (2019) and co-author, with Lakeson OkwuonichaWhy #DonaldTrump is #great for #Africa (2018)

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Igbo insist

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

BRITAIN creates a predatory estate in southwestcentral Africa it unabashedly calls Nigeria, a name it concocted cavalierly from one of the derivatives of the racist, dehumanising pan-European-crafted “n*****” epithet with edited part of word “area” added on to emphasise the conquered African peoples’ domicility. 

Igbo people

As part of its strategic calculations to effectuate its age-old obsessive drive to control the destiny of African peoples in perpetuity, following its lead-role in centuries of the deportation and enslavement of Africans in the Americas, Britain then employs an equally predatory and expansionist egregiously anti-African Fulani islamists/jihadists, whose home is the Futa Djallon highlands, 1500 miles to the northwest, to murder indigenous uncompromisingly republican Igbo people at will in this longest and most devastating genocide of contemporary history 
– with 3.1 million Igbo murdered, 29 May 1966-12 January 1970, and tens of thousands of additional Igbo murdered, 13 January 1970-present day. The latter includes the 3000 Igbo murdered since November 2015 by the regime of fiendish genocidist Muhammadu Buhari who was installed in power by David Cameron, ex-British prime minister, and Barack Hussein Obama, ex-US president, indeed first African-descent president in 233 years of the founding of the United States republic. 

BRITAIN could not have found itself in a more ecstatic bliss in March 2015 when this African-descent US president openly supported the genocide against Igbo people that it had prosecuted so unrelentingly with co-genocidist Fulani-led Nigeria for 49 years – since 29 May 1966.  Barack Hussein Obama’s unconscionable support of the Igbo genocide is the abominable legacy of his presidency. 


For the Igbo, the resistance and overcoming from co-genocidists Britain & Nigeria are undoubtedly existential. Clearly, the Igbo are the authors of their freedom which, thankfully, 53 years later, is on the cards. 

Neither Britain nor Nigeria nor, indeed, any other power can stop Igbo freedom. 

AS Britain cannot now fail to note, Biafra’s restoration-of-independence predates its own Brexit “self-determination” (Theresa May’s [ex-British prime minister] quote in letter to Donald Tusk, EU president, 29 March 2017) quest by 50 yearsThe “self-determination” (“self-determination” is an inalienable right for every people, recognised by the UN) that Britain now seeks from the European Union is the same “self-determination” that Biafra has sought from the Anglo-Nigeria Union since 29 May 1966. Unlike its experience from the European Union, Britain has unleashed a genocide on the Igbo in the past 53 years to stop the latter’s goal of “self-determination”. 

Clearly, Britain cannot continue to live a lie of some “civilised” state at a time it has spent 53 years carrying out the gruesome genocide against Igbo people, one of the world’s most democratic and resourceful peoples, steadfastly allied in this campaign with its co-executing Fulani jihadists who British anthropology would otherwise dismiss as “primitive” and “retrogressive”.

IGBO FREEDOM from this Nigeria haematophagous monster, presently in its death throes, is the great African story of the 21st century. Igbo will 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.
(John Coltrane Duo, “Jupiter (variation)” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone, bells; Rashied Ali, drums; recorded: Van Geldar Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US, 22 February 1967)

*****Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe’s recently published books on the Igbo genocide are The longest genocide – since 29 May 1966 (2019) and co-author, with Lakeson OkwuonichaWhy #DonaldTrump is #great for #Africa (2018)

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Biafran ingenuity unstoppable: Chizobam Stephany Ugboaja and Chukwuemeka Favour Alozie from Biafra are top students of the 2019 West Africa School Certificate Certificate Examination results just released

(Ndi akwukwo: Chizobam Stephany Ugboaja [left] and Chukwuemeka Favour Alozie [right] with Emeka Ihedioha [centre], administrator of Imo region, east Biafra, who has commendably awarded university scholarships to both top students)
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

DESPITE the ongoing Igbo genocide, the longest and most gruesome in contemporary history, executed on the ground in Biafra by the Nigeria military and its duo-terrorist adjuncts Fulani militia and Boko Haram (2 of the 5 deadliest terrorist organisations in the world presently), despite the occupation of Biafra by Nigeria since 13 January 1970, despite Nigeria’s state of siege imposed over all of Biafra since 13 January 1970, despite Britain’s instrumentalist coordinating role of this genocide by successive governments since Harold Wilson’s in May 1966, very hardworking Igbo students have consistently exercised a stellar performance over Nigerian students in all key categories of the education enterprise – from infant/primary to university/other tertiary.


In this 2019 West Africa School Certificate Examination, Chizobam Stephany Ugboaja (Jesuit Memorial College, Igwe Ocha, south Biafra) and Chukwuemeka Favour Alozie (Marist Brothers Juniorate, Uturu, east Biafra) came first and second, respectively, out of the total 1.6 million students examined. Ugboaja scored an “A1” or “distinction” in each of the nine subjects she entered for while Alozie scored eight “A1”s from his own nine subjects. 

IGBO youths constitute one of Africa’s best-developed multidisciplinary humanpower conglomeration of assets. Igbo people can’t wait for the restoration of the independence of Biafra to open up continents of creativity and transformation for its young people that will have tremendous impact across the African World and the rest of humanity.
(John Coltrane Quartet,  “Equinox” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophoneMcCoy Tyner, piano; Steve Davis, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; recorded: Atlantic Studios, New York, US, 26 October 1960])

*****Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe’s recently published books on the Igbo genocide are The longest genocide – since 29 May 1966 (2019) and co-author, with Lakeson OkwuonichaWhy #DonaldTrump is #great for #Africa (2018)

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe