Bite Of Biafra

By Olugu Olugu Orji

Geography was once my best subject. I was particularly enamoured with those features that define where the land met with bodies of water. Bays, bights, capes, estuaries, gulfs and promontories.

In the heady days of the civil war, maps, like most other necessities, were a rarity. One young man who was eager to establish a reputation as a go-getter had managed to wangle his way into some place from where a dirty, dishevelled copy materialized. An enthusiastic crowd would gather while he showed them what I thought he called the ‘bite of Biafra.’ This was supposed to be a kind of authentication of the name of the nation we’d just become citizens of.

I must confess I never saw the map in question. Those transactions were happening at heights that denied visual access to little kids like me. Since I couldn’t see, I kept my ears very wide open: my impressionable mind registering every word and nuance. That was how bite of Biafra was safely stowed away until the day I’d have grown taller and older and could get hold of a map.

As a child, I found bite of Biafra a fitting arsenal for a young nation desperate to ward off the formidable foes intent on her annihilation. What better thing than give the enemies deadly bites that’ll send them shrieking back to their enclaves!

Bites were delivered alright, but the advancing legions were merely delayed. Biafra was eventually defeated and every token of her existence summarily dismantled. Maybe if it was possible, her very memory would have been completely obliterated.

It took about ten years after the end of the war for me to come to the disturbing realization that there was indeed a deliberate and determined attempt to keep the issue of Biafra away from public focus.
While the history books said very little about the war, even when they managed to do so, mention of the name Biafra was almost always conspicuously avoided. Either through ignorance or conspiracy, my teachers kept clear of the Biafra saga. Even my feeble attempts at enquiry ran up against a brick wall. It seemed even the mention of Biafra amounted to a felony.

But my greatest discomfiture was to come when I discovered the cartographic angle to this massive act of revisionism. Now that I was old enough to own an atlas, I found out that what I thought was ‘bite’ was actually ‘bight.’ I was to discover, to my chagrin, that bight of Biafra was nowhere to be found. In its place was bight of Bonny.

I was to dig out a pre-war atlas that showed the bight of Biafra. It wasn’t hard to conclude that this bizarre act of cartographic transmogrification bore the unmistakable imprimatur of the government. It was most probably at this point that I became a student of history.
For those who do not know, Biafra is not an Igbo word. It isn’t even a word in any known language. It is thought to have been coined by someone of Portuguese nationality, but even that is at best speculative. But there was a bight of Biafra just like there was and still is the Bay of Bengal, and gulf of Guinea.

There are many who still insist late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu be held responsible for millions who died in the war. It was his personal ambition, they pontificate, that led to that theatre of needless and avoidable carnage.

Even when the facts were not too clear to me, I always considered this claim preposterous. Flora Shaw, the lady that later became Fredrick Lugard’s missus coined the name, Nigeria. Observing that the River Niger traversed a substantial portion of the vast area her boyfriend had just amalgamated, she ‘married’ Niger to area and arrived at Nigeria.

If Ojukwu had envisaged Biafra as his personal fiefdom, he would have done a much better job at naming it. He would most likely have picked a name that reeked eternally of him: like what Sir Cecil Rhodes did in Rhodesia and Kemal Ataturk in Turkey. You can take away many things from Ojukwu and get away with it. But there’s at least one thing you can’t take from him: his smartness. Giving a nation a name of doubtful meaning and indeterminate origin isn’t my idea of smartness.

No, Ojukwu didn’t create the Biafra problem. It was foisted on him by those too short-sighted to see the resplendent horizon and too thick-headed to acknowledge their deficiency. Those who made light of covenants and then turned around to hypocritically champion the primacy of the rule of law. Those who were too eager to abolish healthy competition because in their concept of a woolly unity lay the perfect cover for their stifling mediocrity.

No, Ojukwu couldn’t have created such a wobbly republic. Those who panicked because of his pedigree and suffered palpitations just imagining his unspoken intentions gave him little choice. If it was his original intention, he’d have created a sounder republic with a better name.

It was bad enough that millions of lives were lost and properties of incalculable value destroyed. But to deliberately set out to doctor history by changing landmarks, represents the height of insensitivity and mischief. Those who do such things show they’d have been happier if we’d all drowned in the bight whose name we’d hurriedly chosen to bear. No wonder it was decided that £20 was just enough to ensure they remain stupefied in defeat.

I lost two big brothers in that war; in circumstances I’ll never know. Oge and Uchendu Olugu never returned and the family was never informed about how or where they expired. Very many years after the war ended, we still harboured this stubborn hope that one day, maybe, just maybe, they’ll saunter in with incredible stories of survival. But that never happened. Our fathers all lived with this forlorn hope. That’s why our brothers were never buried. And now our fathers have all died.
This is a scenario that cuts across most families in Igbo land, and the former Eastern Region. We cannot continue to silently grieve forever. We must find an appropriate occasion to bring this sordid past to a fitting conclusion.

Dim Ojukwu is finally dead and I suppose they’re very many who are happy about this development. For them, the whole Biafra saga is about to be put to a final rest. They are perfectly entitled to their enthusiasm. Those who wished he had apologized to Nigerians about his role in the war before his demise will have to go their grave with at least one unfulfilled desire. Those who exploded in ejaculations of joy that he died a Nigerian should take a moment and survey the rickety contraption Nigeria has become. Maybe they’ll come to the sobering conclusion that his being recalled at this point might turn out to be a timely act of redemption.

I watched the Senate debate Ojukwu’s death and funeral arrangements. While some suggested a state burial, others counselled against it, saying it’ll set an unsustainable precedence. I completely align with the later opinion. Nigeria shouldn’t bury Ojukwu. Those who loved him should bury him.

So come Thursday February 2, 2012, I have no doubt Ojukwu will be accorded a burial befitting of his stature and pedigree. Beyond that, I think it’ll be the best occasion for all who lost loved ones in that war to finally lay their memory to rest. There’ll be no better time than then for the Olugu family to fully embrace the fact that Oge and Uchendu will never return.

There’s yet a final matter. Ndigbo are often characterised as incapable of achieving political consensus. And maybe certain happenings in Nigeria’s recent history tend to support this unfortunate assertion. Ojukwu’s funeral presents us a golden opportunity to assert the contrary: that when occasion demands, Ndigbo can and will unite.

That fateful day, here’s what I hope will happen. Ndigbo from all walks of life, all trades and professional callings will close shop, take just one day out of life so they can do the following. 1) Take stock of how far we’ve come with £20, hard work and the grace of God; giving him thanks accordingly. 2) Reflect on how the next forty years will be for us as a people; especially in the context of Nigeria. 3) Beseech the mercies and grace of the Almighty in the arduous journey ahead.

It will be a fitting tribute to a man who went out his way to make a valid statement on behalf of the rest of us. It’ll also send a strong, unambiguous message about our unassailable position in the now and the future of Nigeria.
And here’s how I hope history will title the events of that epochal day.

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The Hausa and Yoruba dont and

The Hausa and Yoruba dont and never had a united political front. Besides democracy is not abt a few rascals producing a unified front to impose somebody on everybody.
No Igbo is mentioned in Forbes magazine because d businesses we run are d ones dat are not patronized by govt. No Yoruba or Hausa business man made their money without government help.
The Yoruba nay have the highest number of schools but each of those schools have huge Igbo student population. So we get educated in the east and elsewhere throughout the world. Besides, it is not about quantity but quality.
To be continued...


Finally my comments are not publish, thank you SR no more comment from me, maybe just reading the news

@Benjani crawl back to your shrine in Ijebu Ode

You claimed to be civilize yet you can not even spell your blog name correctly?When your age mates were reading Nigeria's past history, your dusty looking self was jumping from Tree to Tree in search for Rabbit for meal in Ijebu Ode forest. A Chameleon will always run to the winning side out of fear and show of cowardice. Frank Opigo an Ijaw man from Bayelsa State named those Territories BIAFRA and not an Igbo man. If you were intelligent you would realize that they had to come up with a central name to avoid fear of dominance by one ethnic group over the others. Where do you stand? A true federalism or Sovereign National Conference? Go tell Bode George or the Okoya Thomas families that they are wallowing in inferiority complex for choosing an English man's name as their last name and let's see if you will be alive the next day to display your mediocre. I bet your superior toes looks like OBJ hands? lol

Inferiority Complex 2

How come the Ibos cannot produce a unified political force in Nigeria like the Hausas and Yorubas.If they are the richest how come no Ibo is mentioned by Forbes Magazine as one of the richest in Africa. If Ibos are the most educated how come Yorubas have the highest number of primary schools, secondary schools, universities, private universities and other institutions of learning in Nigeria.How come Yorubas have produce more professors than the whole of other parts of Nigeria combined? When you have Inferiority Complex the only thing you can do is to brag and that is what the Ibos are good at, bunch of loud mouths.

Inferiority Complex

The only thing I can deduce from the way Ibos talk is inferiority complex. As far as they are concern everything good and the best in Nigeria is Ibo. Nothing bad is Ibo. They believe they are the richest, the smartest, the most educated, the best etc. If the Ibos are all what they claim how come they could not win a war against Nigeria? How come their schools are populated buy girls when all the boys are running over the place robbing people and peddling hard drugs. How come most prostitutes in Nigeria are Ibos. How come most 419 and drug dealers are Ibos. How come the Ibos cannot produce a unified political force in Nigeria like the Hausas and Yorubas.


@Fidel Castro:
The "smartest" Nigerians created a country for themselves and named it biafra, a colonialist name. What about all the beautiful names in Igboland, Ogojaland, Efikland and Ijawland? Your problems are inferiority complex and self-hatred. biafra is a Portugese word. Your brains is still totally colonized.
Dubai an area of UAE built the best hotel in the world and named it Burj al Arabiya. They built the tallest tower in the world and named Burj Khalifa. No Portugese or English names for the Arabs. Ya need to borrow a leaf from the Arabs.
You people are wallowing in inferiority complex, no wonder you call yourself Fidel Castro.

This is good. We have to

This is good. We have to continue telling our story as this will energize us into greater achievements to show other Nigerians how far Biafrans have come with only twenty pounds. My people were massacred in Asaba and Igbuzor and these were not even soldiers but innocent civilians simply because our galant young men distinguished themselves in battles and were branded ROB- Rupublic of Benin as we were still then under Benin in Midwest region. One day, we!ll get justice even if it's going to be a casual mention. Long live new Biafra republic.

tell them

tell him my ppl them will see it one day it only take time ok long live biafran

New Biafra: Land of Resource Control/Fiscal Federalism.

Our Stand for Now: New Biafra of different ethnic geoups bound into one country by a lose confederation. Every group must use what is under its soil to develop its area. No longer a country where oil resources are tapped from Yenagoa or Ogoniland or Ngwaland or offshore AkwaIbom or Egbema, etc. and used mostly to develop semi-desert areas, while the oil producing areas are being eaten up by oil spills and environmental degradation. We must stand up now. Divided they continue to rape us. United we overcome. They have divided us enough with lies. United we have the land of our dreams - a land of Resource control/Fiscal fecderalism. A land where merit is put first as a consideration before anyother character. They deleted Bight of Biafra in order to hide the attrocities they committed against people they "genocided" and forced back to One Nigeria.

@ Igbo Pikin aka Deri

Your hatred for this ethnic group will consume you. More than a year ago you were insinuating that the Ibos will vote for Buhari, they prove you wrong and rigged GEJ into office. What I found to be ironic is that some of the Ibos that make comments on this blog read your trash and still support GEJ after reading your hate fill comments. 80% of the comments on this blog are Ibos defending GEJ on his dummy policies. I am glad I did not support GEJ and will never support him. For your information and from the SS.

Your words are Bomb

Brother, God is even impressed with your write up. May God bless your really good. I have never seen such as this!

Another bullshit talk about

@ Anonymous go and hang yourself because Biafra is forever. It is the only african state created by its people not by colonialists - check your history. The yorubas and other Biafrans from the eastern region that decamped from it are now looking back in envy!!. Hang youselves.

@ Olugu Olugu Orji

"Those who were too eager to abolish healthy competition because in their concept of a woolly unity lay the perfect cover for their stifling mediocrity."

That sentence above dramatically captures the reason why Nigeria has remained such a laughing spectacle in the eyes of serious nations. The guilt of Mr. Obafemi Awolowo in the starvation index of Biafran children and his £20 policy will continue to dog him even in death. What they have done with that amount is indeed proof that little is much with the blessing of God.

Thanks Mr. Orji, I have also wondered about the Bight of Biafra!

Ka Olugu!

Nice one Olugu...God bless the souls of our departed loved ones!

good one

nwanne, u wrote well. After ojukwus burial, his foes will come to realise that he is indeed a god to his pple. Ojukwu is greater than any nigerian both living and dead. His burial will tell better.he had all through his life been the first to do certain things after which other find fit to do and will will continue being the first even in death. May God be with you Ikemba, till we meet to part no more. Adieu

Mother Excellency and Father

Mother Excellency and Father Excellency

Na wa for Orji Uzoh Kalu, whose mum sacrificed her body in the name of ritual to top, selective Abia State Gov't officials to have an sexual affairs with her in anticipation that Orji’s power and dominance will continue to shine like bush-fire in Sahara. It is unfortunate that this kind of sexual ritual signed in by Orji’s mother, a.k.a Mother Excellency failed to launch Orji into everlasting political relevance and power in Abia, the entire south-east, Nigerian Aso-Rock and the world in general. If really investigative journalism is any scientific apparatus, I hope to see the handiwork (articles) of the guys in relation to this issue.

Are the so-called Biafran

Are the so-called Biafran leaders and Ndigbo in general not parts of the enemies of Nigeria, who institutionalised corruption in the country. Everywhere you go, if 10 armed robbers strike or are caught, 9 will surely be Igbos. The damages, which Igbos did to Nigeria is even enough to serve as excuse of sending them to galore.

Biafra. Gowon is a War Criminal

Ndigbo should come together with the ultimate aim of actualising Biafra.Nigeria is a failed state.Recent events have revealed Ojukwu's foresight and intelligence and the stupidity of Gowon.For those who accuse Ojukwu of leading Ndigbo to an unjust war, please google and read the "Aburi Accord".It was Gowon with the support of the British Government who reneged on every aspect of this agreement and declared a genocidal war against the Ibos. War crimes of unimaginable proportions were committed by Nigerian troops.Mr Gowon should stand trial as a war criminal at the ICJ in Hague. No amount of prayers can save that buffon from ultimate justice for his crimes.

Biafra my home state2

Jack gowon is regreting his war against my people because the people he faught for are killing his own people daily and it will soon match up with the figures that died during biafra war

Biafra my home state2

Jack gowon is regreting his war against my people because the people he faught for are killing his own people daily and it will soon match up with the figures that died during biafra war

Biafra my home state

Biafra till i die.not even the sultan can command respect in nigeria like ojukwu.igbos owns nigerian economy,education etc.They once said that yorubas were the most educated,fat lie.i school in uniport,how many yorubas are there?not up to hundred,umu biafra runs the shows there.I went to unilag on november and behold it was unn filled with umu biafra and it will be the same with ui,ile ife,unilorin and uniabuja.who gives a hoot about there useless presidency?apart from lagos and abuja,which other state is as neat and well planned like enugu and owerri in nigeria?portharcout just has a name but very dirty and has the hausas faired after producing all these head of state?its result was boko haram.Nsukka my local government is better than zamfara state interms of structures.where are the yorubas after lagos state?

Wonderful Piece!

A wonderful piece,excellently delivered. Thanks

As Biafrans we do not listen

As Biafrans we do not listen or care for enemy distortions, portrayals and betrayals of us. As long as some of our people survived the genocide, we shall rebuild and move on. As of now the enemy cannot wipe us out again. There is a large population of Igbo everywhere you visit on God's earth, thank Almighty God for that. The enemy will see us prosper and they will slander us for that, but we shall rebuild and move on. The enemy will mock us saying that Igbo cannot be a president of Nigeria for so and so foolish reason. Fine, I would rather have a good Igbo man lead Biafra than lead corrupt Nigeria where they will give him a hard time. For now let us rebuild and move on until the day we shall actualize Biafra. Gowon and Obasanjo are very fraudulent to rename the Bight of Biafra to whatever. In the meantime we shall rebuild and move on. Long live Biafra. May the soul of Ikemba rest in peace.

Another bullshit talk about

Another bullshit talk about Biafra, Whatever!!!