By Ngozi Bolin, Founder, Shinkafa Inc.
History. Repeats. Itself.
In a major city in the United States of America, as a verbal dispute arose, an unarmed teenager was bludgeoned in the head by his local police. As news of the brutal attack spread, angry locals gathered and protested the police brutality. Some of the locals came with sticks and dirt clods. The police asked them to disperse. When they refused, the police declared the protesters an “unlawful assembly” and began firing live rounds into the crowd. The first protester to be shot dead was a black man. The law enforcement justified this killing by stating that they “feared for their lives.”
The year was 1770.
The black man was Crispus Attucks, now considered to be an American hero, the first casualty of the American Revolution, for protesting the British rule in what was later called the Boston Massacre.
Yes, you will be forgiven for thinking this was part of the long simmering racial tensions in the U.S. that reached a boiling point on May 25, 2020 with the public and brazen murder of George Floyd by the police.
Step back into a different continent – Africa and a different country, Nigeria.
In 1960, Nigeria gained its independence from a British rule that raped the country and left a lasting destructive legacy of “class tribalism” with an entrenched greed that benefited only the very few in the three main tribes of Nigeria. The fragile truce of tribal cooperation shattered with the resultant Biafran war.
You see, when the British colonial rule broke up West Africa into colonies with their French and other raiding rivals, and thus carved countries such as Nigeria like a Thanksgiving turkey, it had absolutely no regard for the tribal ties, linked histories, language, dialects, cultures, traditions, filial ties or the myriads of the royal kingdoms of Nigeria. The partition was based entirely on the economic expediency of the British empire, the French and others, enforced with their weapons of war and dehumanizing propaganda.
The Nigerian Shot-Gun Wedding: A Failed Affair
In Nigeria, the British carved Nigeria into three main tribes and stuffed everyone else into those three groups whether or not they fit in. They were, Igbo in the Southeast, Hausa and Fulani in the North; and Yoruba in the Southwest. Of these three main tribes are over two hundred and ten tribes with different customs, traditions and ways of life. The North was made up of over 28 million Hausas and Fulanis, who traced their roots to North and East Africa with Islam as their religion. The Yorubas in the Southwest, who were converted Christians and practiced Yoruba Religion, were around 9 million in number then. The Igbos (a/k/a Ibos) in the Southeast, numbered around 12 million. The Igbos were also mostly converted Christians with a healthy observance of Igbo Traditional Religion (“Traditional Religion”). Traditional Religion is the monotheist worship of the Supreme Being “Chi,” “Chineke” or “Chukwu.” The Igbos were further made up of smaller tribes with different kingdoms, chieftaincies, customs, traditions and linguistic dialects. I am Igbo.
You do not need to be a math genius to see the disastrous handwriting on the wall. Likewise, you hardly require any further deductive reasoning to see that this miserable shot-gun wedding of a country was destined for perpetual unrest.
Nigeria is truly three countries in one, viz: North, West and East. An argument can be made that is also really two in one, viz: the North and the South. As things currently stand for the marginalized Igbos and indeed the Southerners as a whole, this is a powder keg, as the North continues to insist that it dominate all aspects of the country’s finances, leadership and economy. Nigeria is now one country, for better or worse. Its anthem envisions “[O]ne nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.”
Make it so!
The North has been absolutely ruthless in refusing to share power with the Southerners and most particularly with the Igbos. Refusing to share power means endless strife. No one wants that. No one wants another civil war or secession that will have the north landlocked.
The North must do better and quickly.
The British Empire Sows Lasting World War, Strife & Chaos
The British did not care. They seemed to have been particularly gifted at turning brother against brother.
They’ve done this anywhere they’ve been. Look at the mess they made of the partition of India and Pakistan with the Kashmir conflict. Have we forgotten South Africa? The British brutal regime was at the foundation of the United States of America. Indeed, slavery, as the original sin of the United States was brought there by the British. This ugly truth of the depravity and inhumanity of the British empire has largely been airbrushed out of our history and recent consciousness and have been replaced with a carefully orchestrated media-savvy fluffy-lovely image of a saccharine-sweet-monarchy.
Look at Canada and the decimation of the indigenous peoples in Canada. Canada is still not free today. Canada is still a constititional monarchy with the Queen as its Head of State. The list goes on with East Africa, West Africa, North Africa, Egypt, and the Middle East where the British quite outdid themselves in leaving a legacy of endless bloodshed.
When the British showed up on the shores of Australia to set up their penal colony in 1770, then began the devastation by the British of the Indigenous people that had lived on that land for thousands of years. The British brought with them diseases, dispossession of lands, striping of dignity, racism, inhumanity, and endless war. The Australian Indigenous peoples’ struggles continue today.
The British have never looked at Africans as if they were dealing with people. They were not dealing with people, to their thinking. They were dealing with commodities, savages, sub-humans, human chattels or barbarians at best. They were interested in commodities that included trading enslaved humans, human labor, agricultural products and to a lesser extent oil, at that time. OPEC was formed in 1960, the same year as the Nigerian Independence. Thank goodness they were out of Nigeria by the time oil really started gushing or apartheid South Africa would have had nothing on Nigeria.
The Savage: The Untutored African
This attitude towards Africans, extended to early European writers like Emil Ludwig, A.B. Ellis, P.A. Talbot, and Leo Frobenius in their supremely retarded ignorance wrote degrading things about the “savage African,” the “dark continent,” and showed even more monumental ignorance as to the African Traditional Religions. Even those so-called Christians who were there to “educate” the savages of the “dark” continent were not as benevolent as they’d have us believe. They brought with them their white angels, white saints and white God. Until we dismantle that image of the other, we cannot be seen as equals, if one group believe themselves to be god-like the because they believe themselves to look like God, and the other demon-like. Genesis 1:26 is illustrative.
Emil Ludwig was particularly nauseating in his repulsive ignorance. He was once the acting governor of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and was reputed as saying:
“How can the untutored African conceive God?… How can this be?… Deity is a philosophical concept which savages are incapable of framing.” [E.W. Smith (ed.) African Ideas of God, Edinburgh, 1966, p. 1]
Mind you, the Igbo Traditonal Religion for example, which taps into energy healing, “Chi” as the Supreme Being, smudging, energy release, shamans, mages, warlocks and mystics, has existed since time began.
Africa housed the great empires of the world. From the Kingdom of Kush, to the Land of Punt, the Kingdom of Aksum, Mali Empire, Songhai Empire, Zulu Kingdom, and other magnificent empires of West Africa, to name a few. Nigeria was home to the great Igbo Kingdoms, Yoruba Kingdoms, Hausa and Fulani Kingdom. Papa who came from one of those Igbo kingdoms was titled not only due to his royal lineage but also his accomplishments as Nze Na Ozo. As the British came with their guns and gun powder, brute force and ignorance, they changed the course of history through violence, unprovoked assaults, inhumanity and unmitigated greed.
The majesty, nobility, elegance and the dignity of a people fell to the de-humanizing influence of slave trade that was based entirely on greed.
So, right after the Nigerian independence from the British in 1960, a power struggle predictably ensued in Nigeria between the Hausas and Fulanis on the one side and the Igbos on the other. The Igbos were outnumbered. Whichever way you look at the history, the inescapable result was that civilian Igbos living in Northern Nigeria were massacred in the North. As they sought the right to self-determination, the Biafran war inevitably broke out in 1966.
And the soul dies just a little bit, every day.
My trauma is not unique. Many Africans have differing versions of it. Do you know that up till today, as many as 14 African countries, mainly former French colonies, continue to pay a significant portion of their GDP to fatten up France as “Colonial Tax” under the Colonial Continuation Pact? France is rather unapologetic of this continuous rape of Africa. In March 2008, former French President Jacques Chirac was reputed as saying:
“Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power.”
Ponder that for a moment.
The Republic of Biafra
In 1966, I was only one.
Igbos in the Northern part of Nigeria are being slaughtered by the Northerners. Their sin was being Igbo. Igbos were associated with the failed coup of 1966. By September 1966, about 30,000 Igbos and Southerners had been massacred by Hausa and Fulani Northerners. High ranking members of my family were among them.
The Igbos rightly sought to have their own home and declared their right secede from Nigeria as the Republic of Biafra. The new country only received the recognition of five countries, viz: Gabon, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Tanzania and Zambia.
Biafrans were branded a rebel secessionist group. Statehood was denied Biafra and the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Igbos began in earnest in July 1967 when Nigeria invaded Biafra. Not every armed conflict is a war. Calling the annihilation of the Igbos a war is a morbid joke. A war assumes two sides that are somewhat matched in an armed conflict. It was a slow execution. A butchering. A genocide.
And the world “fiddled” in “helpless horror.”
No western country supported Biafra. It was economically expedient for them to support Nigeria militarily in the genocide. And so, they threw their lot with Nigeria.
Nigeria was gushing oil by this time. Light. Sweet. Crude. The west wanted the oil. They did not want to antagonize Nigeria.
Some of those nations paid lip service and offered up mercenaries for Biafran to pay for. Mercenaries! You need money to buy mercenaries, don’t you? When your country is not recognized anywhere in the word, your currency is as worthless as a soggy soiled toilet paper.
And The Vultures Danced
When the annihilation of the Biafrans started, the major powers of the world found ways to either make profit, promote their economic agenda or just look away, but not all the way. They found “justifiable” reasons to be on the side of the aggressor, Nigeria. The lone standout was Israel, albeit in a complicated scenario.
Let us review some of the more prominent countries that were involved then:
The United States officially declared neutrality, with the then US Secretary of State Dean Rusk stating that “America is not in a position to take action as Nigeria is an area under British influence”. (See Awoyokun, Damola (19 February 2013). “BIAFRA: The Untold Story of Nigeria’s civil war.” P.M. News.) Say what? What about that 1960 independence? That was a tacit acknowledgment by the American government that “independence” from Britain was not synonymous with freedom.
For the British that lit this match, the Biafran war broke out at the most inopportune moment. The Biafran war broke out just about one week before the Six Day War in the Middle East. Consequently, the British was all in on expanding their supply of cheap but high-quality oil from Nigeria. (See John J. Stremlau “The International Politics of the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970” (2015) p.65-66) So, as far as the British empire was concerned, Biafrans were on their own.
Only, that was not entirely true.
Britain actively aided Nigeria to commit genocide against the Biafrans and cautioned Nigeria not to damage its installations in the Biafran area. Most of the oil in Nigeria at this time came from the Biafran part of the country where Shell-BP had its installations. According to Chibuike Uche’s “Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War” (2008), p. 132.
“Given Shell-BP’s interest in Nigeria taking over the major oilfields still in Biafran hands, it was not surprising that they overtly supported the Nigerian military cause. A case in point was in December 1967 when the Nigerian government, frustrated by the slow pace of progress in the war, requested that Shell-BP pay its royalty of £5.5 million in advance, in order to enable it to purchase arms from Britain. Shell-BP promptly complied.”
However, it did not stop there. According to Uche at p. 130, Britain covertly supplied Nigeria with weapons and military intelligence and may have also helped it to hire mercenaries. Declassified British files show how the British government led by Harold Wilson gleefully supported the massacre of Biafrans for oil. Well, how do you like them apples!
Israel, saw Nigeria as an important business ally. Not one to anger. So, in April of 1966, Israel delivered thirty tons of mortar rounds to Nigeria. (See Levey, “Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra civil war” (2014), p. 266.) While Biafra was not of strategic interest to it, Israel did understand the plight of the oppressed Biafra. However, Israel did not want to antagonize Nigeria either. So, Israel helped both sides:
“The Israeli public, press and parliament called for assistance to Biafra, evoking their country’s deep moral obligation to help a people in distress. Israel aided Biafra, including, in a clandestine manner, the supply of weapons for which the secessionists pressed, in addition to humanitarian assistance. At the same time, Israel also sold arms to Nigeria, seeking to prevent a diplomatic rupture with the Lagos government that would have affected Israel’s position in all of black Africa.” [Abstract: Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra Civil War, 1967-1970]
Israel’s support of Biafra cost the nation an embassy in Nigeria as Nigeria hit the gasket when it found out that Israel was helping Biafra. The people were still grappling with the depths of man’s inhumanity in the holocaust. Jewish people battle antisemitism every day. Israel was also fighting for its existence and survival in the Six-Day War as the young county lay surrounded by hostile Arab nations. The Jewish State was a natural ally of Biafra and indeed of any oppressed peoples. This of course, makes the continued occupation of Palestine by Israel even more distressingly baffling.
Egypt under President Gamal Abdel Nasser dispatched pilots of the Egyptian Air Force to fight for Nigeria in August 1967 using their recently acquired MIG-17s. Egyptian pilots showed a “psychotic” tendency to indiscriminately bomb Biafran civilians. The Arab Slave trade should have been a warning to Nigeria.
Canada, ever the Switzerland was invited in by the Nigerian government to send observers to investigate allegations of genocide and war crimes. Canada obliged and sent over Major General W.A. Milroy and two other Canadian officers in 1968. They remained till 1970. It is not entirely clear what the good General and his team saw and reported, but, Kwashiorkor suffered by most children of Biafra who were decimated by the war, was rather difficult to miss. See Department of National Defense “Details/Information for Canadian Forces (CF) Operation Observer Team Nigeria”. Operations Database Details/Information. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
China was among those that offered up arms to Biafra for purchase. They made the delivery through Tanzania. (See John J. Stremlau, “The International Politics of the Nigerian Civil War,” 1967-1970 (2015) p.237).
Since, this is not a history paper, but an overview of the Biafran genocide and why the world must now act, the examples above are simply illustrative and not exhaustive.
Kwashiorkor Descends: It Was A Genocide
By 1968 Biafra was under a blockade and completely surrounded by Nigerian forces. Their intent was to starve us to death or to have us surrender.
I was three.
Food was scarce and getting even more so. The bombings were non-stop. My family was fortunate to have a bunker on our home property in the country. That was where we all retreated to. We lived in our bunker for weeks at times. When we left to come above ground, royal pythons loved to move into our bunker. Fortunately, for the Igbo, like myself, the royal python is our guardian animal. We do not harm them. They protect us. Sometimes as many as eight pythons resided in our bunker at any particular time that it was unoccupied. Papa would let them out. Thanked them as they left. We knew we would be okay.
Children were malnourished for years. Kwashiorkor took the lives of millions of Igbo children. The trauma of hunger never leaves you.
The trauma hearing bombings overhead for months and years never leave. The sound of the airplanes triggers a need to take cover.
Sounds that preceded air assaults warnings left their mark.
The cries of the dying never leave.
Seeing your friends today and gone tomorrow left its mark.
The war ended in 1970. Biafra surrendered. I was 5.
Yes, we survived.
Eddy Okwedy sang “Happy Survival.” A dirge, haunting in its beauty. Excerpts below:
Umu nnem Happy Survival
Ada nnem Happy Survival
Ogini bu ife setele ikpe nwanne na nwanne?
Obukwa Chukwu ga ekwuzi
Na anyi asigo na ozo ama emezi o
Umunnem ife melu anyi
My people, Happy Survival
First daughter, Happy Survival
What caused the fight between siblings?
Only God (Chukwu) will judge
We have vowed, never again
My people, an atrocity has befallen us
Rebuilding After the War
Nigeria is marked by periods before and after the war, for the Igbos in particular. After all, there were segments of the Nigerian population that had no comprehension of what the Igbos were going through.
It was all quite “normal” everywhere else.
I am willing to believe that all sides where fighting for their own survival during the Biafran genocide. It is a stretch, but let’s just allow for that.
That was then.
The North must now take its foot off the necks of the Igbos.
Some have asked why I chose to name my company Shinkafa? It is a name that is associated with rice in Northern Nigeria – superior nourishment. I am willing to forgive. I want to heal. Papa loved the North. He made a fortune there. He had an affinity to the Hausa. He spoke fluent Hausa and looked like an Hausa. He loved the food. The name partly honors him. Hundreds of his properties were confiscated. He never saw them again. His bank accounts were seized by Nigeria and he was given the token Twenty Pound Sterling that all Biafrans with bank account were “paid” for being Biafrans.
Papa never touched it.
He rebuilt. Bigger than before. He never bore ill will towards the North. He even hired Northerners to work for him. Many Northern dignities eulogized Papa and attended his funeral in 2016.
Papa’s first trip after the war on business, was to Norway where he had existing business relationship, and had orders that were not delivered before the war broke out. As he toured the company’s new offices in Oslo, the company’s helicopter flew overhead to bring in some more executives. As Papa heard the noise from the chopper, he took cover. His hosts understood.
We Can Change Course
The Fulanis and Hausas must do better. You cannot ask the Igbos, the oppressed to effectuate the change. The power resides with the oppressor.
Today as the world grapples with the sin of insidious ingrained racism, I find that I am still crippled by the war. As I told my husband, I did not know I was Black until I came to the United States and became racialized. Not that I was not aware of my skin color – I am and quite proud of my noble heritage. No, just the insidious, dehumanizing and unrelenting assault in the every day life just based on the color of one’s skin. It can be jarring for those not used to racism or being racialized, especially new immigrants to the United States. Yes, I am well aware and proud that I am Igbo of royal heritage, a Nigerian and an African. Yes, there are persistent disagreements, enmity and animosity amongst the tribes. That is tribalism.
Racism is very different.
It is an amorphous, vile and deep-seeded sin that some racists are not even aware that they are racists. It hits you like an arctic blast. Daily. Racism dents the soul. Racism sullies the spirit. It rips your heart out and destroys your psyche. It is ultimately de-humanizing. It goes back to the original sin of slavery. Its stench must be expunged.
In the United States, we have two disparate systems of justice, economy and housing. One was set up for the Europeans that came to the United States as “freedom-seeking” immigrants. That one comes with all the bells and whistles of our Bill of Rights, Constitution, Human rights and economic freedoms. The other, a ruthless, suppressive, subservient, de-humanizing, social strata, justice systems, oppressive sets of laws, segregation and an subjugating economy set up for the enslaved Africans that were ripped away from their kingdoms, chieftaincies, thrones, mansions, compounds, homes and families, put on slave ships and brought to the United states to build the nation as enslaved human chattels. This repressive, cruel, tyrannical, evil, economic, oppressive legal and judicial system, Jim Crow, redlining, and adversely discriminatory way of life, set up for the Blacks and the so-called “people of color” are both overt and covert. They have been deeply woven into the fabric of the United States as a nation. This is irrespective of the abolition of slavery, the emancipation of the freed slaves on June 18, 1865, securing the right to vote and the civil rights. This racism is entrenched and enforced by the government and citizens alike. Sometimes they call is “law and order.” It is a loaded code.
The oppression is inescapable.
It is deeply traumatic on a daily basis of the life of the black person. It is engrained in all aspects of life in the United States. Color-coded, it is entrenched unapologetic racism. The privileged class will not trade a day of their lives for it. Activist Jane Elliot asked.
When you come into the United States, depending on the color of your skin, you will be pegged into one of these systems. Everything in the United States revolves around skin color. If you are white – irrespective of your social class or ancestry, you were inaugurated into the “privileged” sect. For Asians who immigrate to the United States, they suffer the stains of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the internment camps from 1942 to 1945, as an example. For Asians, there has been an uptick of the overt racist attacks in the age of COVID-19 bringing back much of the history of racism against Asians in the United States. For Africans or those of the darker hue that immigrate to the United States, irrespective of your noble heritage, class or status, you were immediately drenched with the vile stench of 400 years of unabashed oppression against black people in the United States.
Sadly, those in the “privileged” class have also acquiesced to this unspoken code. Afterall, it benefits them, and they are not otherwise affected by it, unless some “riot” breaks out and interrupts their lovely utopia. They know the deal and they stay quiet. Some actually help enforce and perpetuate this atrocity. You find it in jobs, loans, housing, vigilante hunting of Blacks, businesses, medical care, schools and your very existence. Daily.
It is exhausting.
It all goes back to slavery.
Slavery – the original sin.
And when you pull yourself up, the “privileged class” feels that cannot be. Look at the Tulsa massacre of 1921 when mobs of whites attacked black residents and business by air and on the ground. The reason was that those whites could not stand to see the success of the black person. That part of the USA was the wealthiest black community in the United States. It was known then as the “Black Wall Street.” So, they in their righteous and furious envy, burned it all to the ground, and massacred families. Emboldened of course, by centuries of lynching, oppression and callous cavalier execution of black lives daily on the streets of the United States of America.
No one has made amends for Tulsa.
A few recent incidents in the United States add to this trauma: Eric Garner choked to death by the police in public over selling a cigarette. The massacre in South Carolina church after the murderer prayed with the Black congregants first and then shot them at point blank range. Unarmed Walter Scott was shot in the back as he tried to escape for a murdering police officer. John Crawford III, shopping at Walmart holding a BB gun was gunned down by a police officer. Beautiful Sandra Bland was arrested during a pretextual traffic stop. She was dead in jail – suicide, they say. Black emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor was murdered in her bed by a police – mistaken identity, they say. In August 2014, 18 year old child, Michael Brown was shot by the police in Ferguson, Missouri. Twelve bullets were fired. Philando Castilewas murdered by the police during a traffic stop. He bled to death in front of his wife and child. Precious child Tamir Rice as killed by Cleveland, Ohio police as he played with a toy gun. The list does not scratch the surface.
Then, there were the counter attacks against the police, like the tragic case of Christopher Dorner. Fired for reporting excessive police force, he mounted the ill-fated revenge on the police. There was also the notable ambush and killing of five Dallas police officers by Micah Xavier Johnson, a war veteran who snapped over the rampant police killings of black men. In 2014 Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley killed two New York City police officers in an apparent retaliation for the death of Eric Garner. In 2016 Gavin Long killed three Baton Rouge police officers following the shooting death of Alton Sterling by two white Baton Rouge police officers.
This is not sustainable.
It is exhausting.
Thus, the most lethal form of racism is “silent racism” from those of the “privileged” sect. Some of them may really care about you and even love you. They have accepted you or think you are “okay” and therefore some sort of an exception. When you step out of that cocoon, the police will harass you, store clerks will follow you around, immigration officials will search you, you will wait longer in lines, may not be served in first class seat you paid for, and your life can be snuffed out in a blink of an eye.
Who made you judge and jury? Your silence and ignorance are killing us by the millions.
Even as United States bares its soul, it nevertheless is the child. Yes, we as a people of the United States have strived and continue to strive for a more perfect union. We will get there. Of this I am certain. The United States is a magnificent experiment that can live up to its ideals of freedoms and equality for all. Our greatness will be unmatched.
The original sinner and parent, Great Britain, must no longer be left off the hook and must be brought to account. Since the 12th Century, Britain had been in the forefront of slavery and slave trade. When they ran out of their own people to enslave, they sought others and ultimately the proud African.
According to the United Kingdom’s National Archives entitled Britain And The Slave Trade:
“Portugal and Britain were the two most ‘successful’ slave-trading countries accounting for about 70% of all Africans transported to the Americas. Britain was the most dominant between 1640 and 1807 when the British slave trade was abolished. It is estimated that Britain transported 3.1 million Africans (of whom 2.7 million arrived) to the British colonies in the Caribbean, North and South America and to other countries.”
“From 1660, the British Crown passed various acts and granted charters to enable companies to settle, administer and exploit British interests on the West Coast of Africa and to supply slaves to the American colonies.”
Britain was, however, not alone. There were others like the Portuguese, the Spanish, Danes, the French, the Arabs and the Dutch empires. However, as noted above, Britain must no longer escape what it has done to my people. No one denies the ancient Osu Caste system or the Oru [slave] system in Nigeria, which produced slaves who were sometimes sold to the British and others. However, that ancient trade was different and was not enough to satisfy the vociferously vile appetite for slaves that would build the wealth for the western world and the human depravity that accompanied it. So, for over four hundred years, they raided, burned down and decimated the homes of the African with their weapons of war. They imprisoned, boxed up and transported their human chattels across the Atlantic.
They did not see humans. They did not see humanity, not even in themselves.
The rest of the western world must not be let off the hook, either. They acquiesced. They also must atone for their sins against my people.
You could have done something.
You chose not to.
Commodity and your own greed were more important to you than the lives of some little “savages.” But, we are not savages. We knew God before you invented your white God. We’ve always known that God has no form, neither male nor female, but the source of all things, including us humans. We are the cradle of civilization. We are brilliant. We are beautiful. We are Strong. We have grace. The sun shines from our eyes.
No, I will not let you forget.
There is Hope – A Call to Action
The British government must acknowledge its leading role in my personal trauma and the trauma that besets the world right now. The British government must make amends for this original sin against my people and the world. There have been apologies by some British officials. Words are no longer enough.
Like the other genocide that most do not want to acknowledge, known as the Armenian Genocide, it is imperative that the world no longer debates whether a genocide occurred in Biafra. It did. It is the Biafran Genocide.
There must be change. There will be healing.
But first, enough people of all persuasions must care to reach critical mass. Then, amends must be made. For Nigeria as a whole, there must be full and lasting reconciliation, so that we can be a stronger and truly unified One Nigeria. We must bury the ghost of the past. We must heal. There must also be reparation. Payments must be made to the Igbos of Biafra by Nigeria and Britain. Nigeria should consider setting up a reconciliation commission like was done in Rwanda. We must reconcile, so we can heal together. So that the mention of Biafra will no longer be an open wound for both the North and the South. Nigeria is blessed with so much abundance in peoples and resources. We can do better for all our peoples, if we find the will to truly reconcile all of us.
It is entirely possible that Nigeria can never be a cohesive union, that the One Nigeria is just not feasible because what divides us is stronger than what binds us. There is a loud call for the Southeast to be its own nation. There is growing rumbling for the Southwest to be its own nation. If the commission finds that reconciliation is unworkable, thus impossible because the “marriage” is irretrievably broken, then the commission must also be charged, at the outset, in addition, with setting up steps for a harmonious dissolution. War is out of the question. War only invites the vultures to dance more. The solution must be found at the negotiating table. Let us begin to negotiate the framework of that Reconciliation Commission. That is our starting point.
We as a people must then join together with the other peoples of the world, to demand answers from the original sinner, Britain. We must demand answers and reparations from Britain for ourselves and for our ancestors. We must demand that Britain, in addition, return what they stole and pillaged from us a people. They must also pay for what they have stolen from the great kingdoms of the Northern, and of the Southeastern and Southwestern Nigeria; stolen from all our lands and our peoples over the centuries.
The pillaged sacred arts of our people now occupy western museums. They are not yours to keep.
In the United States, reparations must be paid to Black Americans by the United States and Britain. To the Indigenous peoples of Australia reparations too be paid by Australia and Britain; and to the indigenous people of Canada by Canada and Britain. Binding declarations must be made, sanctioned and enshrined in legislations unequivocally accepting responsibility for these atrocities.
It all goes back to slavery.
There is hope. All over the world, people of all ethnic groups and persuasions are saying enough! Currently, in the United States, the human race is awakening. Blacks, Whites, Jews, Asians, Arabs, Native Americans, Indians, Hispanics are all saying enough! We are reaching that critical mass.
Racism is poison. It is a health crisis. It kills body and soul. Every day.
Racism must be exterminated like the plague it is. It is an affront to humanity and must be declared a world crime. Racist slurs must likewise be enshrined into laws as being equivalent to physical assault and prosecuted as such. Such laws, therefore, give the victims of such verbal racism, the right to self-defense.
Then, the healing will begin.