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Showing posts from February, 2020

BIAFRA: Corporal Nwafor And Weeping Souls

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Sasa Ugwumba Kalu Nwoke. Image via Youtube

There is an uncanny twist to the civil war which seems to blind those of us who should let the world know what really happened. I am talking about people from the former eastern region who were forced by genocide to become Biafrans in 1967.
Sasa Ugwumba Kalu Nwoke was a class three student of the elite Government Secondary School, Afikpo, when the genocide began in 1966. Born into a comfortable middle-class home, his ambition was not to fight in any kind of war even if his Ohafia ancestors were warriors.

A chance trip to the Enugu train station where he saw headless bodies and human parts brought in from Northern Nigeria turned him to a man.


At school, he could neither bear the sorry sight nor console his junior, Nicholas Obasi. The boy’s father hid in a sack and watched as his pregnant wife was slaughtered in their Kano home. The foetus was not spared.

At 16 years on January 28, 1968, Sasa forced his way into the Biafra Army after several …

Wounded In Battle, Abandoned At Home: Pains Of Being A Biafran Soldier

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Gideon Njoku points at his part of the body where gun bullets went through his body. Image via International Policy Digest.

BY ARINZE CHIJIOKE

Gideon Njoku, 70 sits on a bench; his back relapsed on a wall. His broken and bandaged leg outstretched on a chair in front of him. His crutch resting beside him. Bare-chested, he is tying a rapper. His face is rumpled, signs of aging.

He is sitting in front of the part leading to his apartment, characterized by dilapidated rooftops and bordered on both sides by none functional cables, hanging on the walls. He has been living in darkness.

That is how far he can travel now after he was hit by a motorcyclist the same day he returned from the burial of a relative- at Ikeduru, his home town in Imo State- on the same spot where he was shot during the war. He had gone out to buy food when the rider rammed into him and refused to stop.

The accident of the 7th of October, 2019 more than doubled the pains from bullets he has been suffering from for the past …

THE OJUKWU INTERVIEW (3): Changing The Old Narrative

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Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Head of the republic of Biafra, flanked by his aides, attends a special parade at Ahiara, Biafra November 4, 1969, to celebrate his 36th birthday. Image: Goldsmith/Associated Press
BY BASIL CHIJI OKAFOR

In the heat of the civil war, blockaded by air, land and sea, what was left of the whole of Biafra, became something of a huge laboratory, a research institute, whose wide areas of interest encompassed the natural and social sciences, as well as commerce, manufacturing, theatre, arts and crafts, government and every other imaginable areas of human endeavour.

Biafra simply turned inwards and even began to surpass its own self, gaining in the process, truly giant strides in indigenous technology and social engineering, hitherto unheard of on the African continent. This took the world by surprise.

Even in the middle of an excruciating war, the fledgling republic still found the capacity to research into and manufacture even products like cosmetics, for future use …

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…