Breakthrough, Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe
For 43 years, African peoples have waited patiently, sometimes in understandable despair, for this laudable news report from The Hague: the issuance of an arrest warrant, by the International Criminal Court, to apprehend the head of an African regime to stand trial for “war crimes and crimes against humanity”. Thanks to the work of Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the court’s indefatigable chief prosecutor, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has the unenviable accolade as the first “head of state” in office to be so indicted. In the past six years, his regime has murdered 300,000 Darfuri (in west Sudan) and forced 2.5 million survivors into refugee camps in neighbouring Chad.
Since 29 May 1966, when the north Nigerian political, religious and military establishment ordered its own janjaweed to attack Igbo population centres across the entire stretch of north Nigeria – killing, raping, looting, wasting and heralding the first phase of the Igbo genocide, the gruesome total of 15 million Africans have been murdered by the continent’s genocide states. Such is the cataclysm of Africa’s age of pestilence that this state form, which originated from Nigeria, has snaked its way across Africa to Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Congos, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Central African Republic, the Sudan and elsewhere on the continent.
Survivors of these state-organised mass slaughters have waited anxiously for justice for their devastating ordeal and will undoubtedly view the al-Bashir arrest warrant as the beginning of this overdue process of restitution. The following haunting references to the catastrophe, ingeniously recorded by children, are a chilling reminder that African children have borne the brunt of this slaughter since the Igbo genocide of May 1966-January 1970. See: (BBC News)
Members of Africa’s “leaderships” (at whatever tiers of their regimes) who have murdered African children, women and men or are currently murdering African children, women and men or are in the process of planning to murder African children, women and men now know that they can no longer hide under the bogus rubric of “immunity from prosecution” or seek the protective diplomatic cover offered by a London or Moscow or whoever else. The world’s tribune of justice, even if belatedly, now demands and expects justice for the slain and the survivor. As a result, the time for reckoning has surely drawn much closer, than ever before, for the principal architects of this age of slaughter who are still alive and who are responsible for the murder of 3.1 million Igbo people: Danjuma, Babangida, Obasanjo, King, Useni, Gowon, Are, Ayida, Rotimi, Aminu, Haruna, Akinrinade, Buhari, King, Adekunle, Enahoro…
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe is the author of Readings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, Literature (forthcoming, 2009)