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THE OJUKWU INTERVIEW (2): The Many Shades Of Ahiara Declaration

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Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and his War Generals with M.I. Okpara 3rd from left.

BY BASIL CHIJI OKAFOR

The famous Ahiara Declaration drew quite some flak from not a few quarters, in Biafra. Depending on the angle of the various spectra, from which each war-weary Biafran viewed the document (and on who exactly did the critique) the Ahiara Declaration was as controversial, as it was mystifying.

All kinds of rumours flew around, all over the place and a number of people even speculated that this document, deeply rooted in socialistic principles, as they erroneously thought, was going to be part of Biafra’s undoing, in the end. How? The rumour peddlers had it that Ojukwu would brook no kind of sharing formula for Biafra’s oil and so the Ahiara Declaration bore out the suspicion of the Western powers and their allies, as regards what they had always suspected.

But then, as an Igbo saying goes, is it not when one has actually shot down a hawk and has its meat ready that one decides whether wome…

Nigerian Catholics Reflect On 50th Anniversary Of Biafran War

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A woman prays prior to a Mass for Catholics of Nigerian descent July 21, 2019, at St. Thomas the Apostle Chapel in West Hempstead, New York. Image: Gregory A. Shemitz/CNS


Editor's note: Fifty years ago, the Biafran War officially came to an end with the signing of the surrender documents by Gen. Philip Effiong, the administrator of Biafra, after Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu went into exile in 1970. However, there are still unresolved issues surrounding the war: growing agitation for separation, no cenotaph erected or wreaths laid at the tomb of those who fought and died in the war. NCR's freelance correspondent, Patrick Egwu spoke to some Catholics on the anniversary.

BY PATRICK EGWU

LAGOS, NIGERIA (NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER) — On July 6, 1967, war broke out between a Muslim Hausa dominated government of Nigeria and Biafra — an area mostly dominated by Christian Igbos living in the country's south geopolitical zones. Nigeria had won independence from British colonial rul…

THE OJUKWU INTERVIEW: Pawns In The Mighty Hands Of Fate (1)

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Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Image via The Peoples Eye courtesy of Basil Chiji Okafor.

BY BASIL CHIJI OKAFOR

Back in Biafra, General Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu wore an image not different than that of a god. His reputation always preceded him and at some point, during the war, it looked as if Biafrans could not even breathe, without the man – everything, good or bad, but mostly good – was ascribed to him and he totally personified the struggle.

The war propaganda on the Nigerian side didn’t seem to help matters, either. Rather than diminish him, they lionised the man and so, on both sides of the conflict, he was a larger-than-life persona. For me, as a young boy-soldier, (just like everyone else) that was also the image I had of the “People’s General” and the closest I ever came to seeing him, live, was during one of those his flash stopovers in different parts of Biafra, this time, at our Divisional Headquarters in Irete, Owerri.

When the rumour of his being around spread like wild bushfire, …

Documentary Marking 50 Years Since Nigeria-Biafra War Launches In London

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BY CHRIS LINES

Dr Louisa Egbunike’s documentary weaves together an engaging narrative of reflections from authors touched by one of the most devastating conflicts of the 1960s, one that still casts its shadow on Nigerians around the world

On Saturday 25th January 2020, a sold-out Curzon Bloomsbury cinema played host to the launch of In The Shadow of Biafra, a documentary reflecting on 50 years since the end of the Nigeria-Biafra War.

Produced by Dr Louisa Egbunike from City, University of London’s Department of English, and directed by filmmaker and University of Sussex PhD student Nathan Richards, the film juxtaposes a variety of reflections by creative writers – both those who lived through the war, and those who have been touched by its impact on their families both before and since they were born.

The film engages with topics such as how the war is remembered, the inheritance of trauma and the role of writers during the war.

The film includes interviews with writers including Chimamand…

THE POGROM: Some Communities Practiced Cannibalism During The Civil War

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Dr. Andee Iheme

BY ARMSTRONG BAKAM

Dr Andee Iheme, 65, is the Director of Information, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi. Iheme, who was conscripted into the Biafran Army at the age of 14, tells ARMSTRONG BAKAM about his experiences and how Nigeria failed to derive positives from the Nigerian Civil War, 50 years after it ended

You fought in the civil war at 14, how did it happen?
In 1968, the Biafran Army needed more soldiers because several fronts had been opened. If you recall, the first shot was fired in Cross River State, so Nsukka area was the main front but later Port Harcourt opened up and there was a need for more soldiers. So conscriptions started on the Biafran side and it was not a matter of age but of size because it got to a situation when once those conscripting people into the army came around the area where we were refugees, everyone ran away.

It was such that if you were caught, sometimes, you were taken straight to the front. You were taught how to shoot in the…

BIAFRA: A Civil War And A Civil Union

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BY EZE IHENETU

After Nigeria won its independence from Britain in 1960, it was divided into three separate territories, consisting of three-hundred ethnic groups. It was a hasty and disorganized arrangement that almost failed.

The northern part of the country was dominated by the Hausa and Fulani people, practitioners of a strict brand of Islam and a monarchal government; the southwest was composed mostly of the Yoruba people, who were also a monarchal government, albeit less despotic; and the southeast portion of the fledging independent country was dominated by the Igbo people, proponents of a political system that was similar to a western democracy. Igbo lands were apportioned between six-hundred sovereign villages. Every Igbo citizen was allowed to participate in the government of their village, and gain political and economic status through acquisition instead of inheritance.

There was severe friction between these three territories. The British government saw the discord as an oppo…

Buried For 50 years: Britain’s Shameful Role In The Biafran War

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Desperately starved children in a refugee camp near Aba in 1968. Image: AFP

BY FREDERICK FORSYTH


It is a good thing to be proud of one’s country, and I am – most of the time. But it would be impossible to scan the centuries of Britain’s history without coming across a few incidents that evoke not pride but shame. Among those I would list are the creation by British officialdom in South Africa of the concentration camp, to persecute the families of Boers. Add to that the Amritsar massacre of 1919 and the Hola camps set up and run during the struggle against Mau Mau.

But there is one truly disgusting policy practised by our officialdom during the lifetime of anyone over 50, and one word will suffice: Biafra.

This referred to the civil war in Nigeria that ended 50 years ago this month. It stemmed from the decision of the people of the eastern region of that already riot-racked country to strike for independence as the Republic of Biafra. As I learned when I got there as a BBC correspondent, …