Tuesday, 4 March 2014
The War Against Biafra By Abdulrazaq O Hamzat
One Sunday morning, precisely on the 25th of November 2012. I woke up around 10am in the morning and picked up my mobile phone to check the messages from my Facebook friends.
Upon opening my page to get a snippet, the first message that popped up was a link to an article published by saharareporters and shared by a friend, written by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie titled, Chinua Achebe at 82:We remember differently.
No doubt,Ngozie is one of the most promising African/Nigerian writer doing us proud across the world, and her opinion about our civil war(THE WAR AGAINST BIAFRA (1967-1970)) is indeed worth reading.Since the issue in discourse was an historic event which occurred in our dear beautiful Nigeria many years ago,and that which has attracted and became a National Debate. I believe the vox-pop cannot be described as a snag, but rather as snafu.
As I read through the somnolent, articulated and easy to read write-up not snarl, I was left with numerous questions begging for answers not provided in the article.Though, I would agree that nothing new was said in it, except the fact that Ngozie repeated what other Igbo’s had previously said. The only difference in the article wast hat, Adichie used her own words to narrate what she heard or read, either from an uncle or other Igbo people. The only reference she made about the other party to the conflict was Awolowo (the then Nigeria finance minister).
Then, I remembered what Chief Obafemi Awolowo said, that: As far as I know, the Igbo masses are friendly to me, towards me. In fact, whenever I visit Igbo land, either Anambra or Imo and there is no campaigning for elections on, the Igbo people receive me warmly and affectionately. But there are some elements in Igbo land who believe that they can maintain their popularity only by denigrating me and so, they keep on telling lies against me. - Chief Obafemi Awolowo(PUNCH October 8, 2012)
Let me assume that Ngozie, just like Achebe,was right to use the words of Awolowo alone to justify her account of the civil, but how come Adichie only consented to one side of the Awolowo’s story and that which she uses to justify her sentiments? That to me is rat bag and shows a sign of raspy.
I do not wish that this article be regarded as a reply to Adichie’s article, but instead, as my contribution to the national debate of the Nigerian Civil war experience.
I love Igbo, I love Ngozie, I respect her opinion, but dislike her one sided account of the war. Just as I love Achebe, respect his pedigree, love his narration, but dislike his sentiments.
History is not like a story or movie that has a beginning and ending, it is a life that was lived behind, that which is being lived at present and something that would be lived in the future. The history of war is even more delicate to tell, it is a history of pain, the account of destruction, narration of hardship and telling the story of sorrow, which is why it is even more delicate. The event of history, especially the account of war, cannot be narrated with emotions, attachments or feelings, if it’s done, it may raise the dead souls, reverse the time and repeat itself.
In the words of Ngozie, ‘’we can argue about how we interpret the facts of our shared history, but we cannot, surely, argue about the facts themselves.-Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie
So my question is, what are the facts themselves?
The facts are distinctively clear and visible; there was a conflict which leads to a war (THE WAR AGAINST BIAFRA).
Different scholars have defined conflict in many ways. It has been defined as the existence of non-compatibility or disagreements between two or more actors (Individuals, groups, organizations or nations) in their interaction over the issues of interests, value, beliefs, emotions, goals, space, positions and scarce resources etc.-(Noun PCR 106). Finks in his work defined conflict as any’’situation or process in which two or more social entities are linked by at least one form of antagonistic psychological relation or at least one form of antagonistic interaction. The psychological antagonisms are such things as incompatible goals, mutually exclusive interests, emotional hostility, factual or value dissensions and traditional enmities, while antagonistic interactions ‘range from the most direct, violent and unregulated struggle to the most subtle indirect and highly regulated forms of mutual interference’’. Another most important definition given by Lewi Coser which can be used to explain the event which leads to THE WAR AGAINST BIAFRA is that, Conflict is a struggle over values and claims to secure status, power and resources.A struggle in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure or eliminate the rivals.
Going by the events prior to the civil war (the first coup), it was indeed a struggle over value and claims to secure status, power and resources. A struggle in which the aim of the coup plotters are to neutralize, injure and eliminate the rivals and they did do so. The counter coup also took the same shape, a struggle over value and claims to reclaim status, power and resources. A struggle in which the aim of the counter coup plotters were to neutralize, injure and eliminate the rivals which they also deed.
Some identifiable causes of conflict, which we can describe as the cause of the Nigerian Civil War include: Communication failure, Value difference, and methodological differences, lack of cooperation and understanding, personality conflict and goal differences. Even if all the above is missing, it still could not lead to conflict that may leads to war if there is substandard performance and compliance to rules as lay down, but the none compliance to rule is the key factor. Had General Aguiyi Ironsi allowed the trail of the first coup plotters based on the military rule without trying to shield them by providing cover, the counter coup would have been averted.
The above is the exact situation of the first coup in Nigeria and the reaction which brought about THE WAR AGAINST BIAFRA
· In 1960, Nigeria started good under a democratic government, acivilian; Mr Nnamdi Azikwe (Igbo) was President of Nigeria in a government with Tafawa Balewa (Hausa) as Prime Minister.
· In January 1966 as MOSTLY agreed, An Igbo man staged the first ever coup,which I cannot refer to as tantrum in Nigeria,but forcefully ousting a democratically elected Government, and the coup was led by 5 Igbo Officers who murdered mostly important Northern leaders including Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister and non-Igbo leaders, but exempted the Igbo administrators including Nnamdi Azikwe, The president. Many have been asking the question “how convenient” Azikwe was vacationing in the Caribbean and spared along with other Igbo administrators?
· In July 1966,are we surprised at the revenge coup of July 1966 led by Hausa Fulani with the accompanying pogrom in the North It was asked?
As a Yoruba proverb have it, ‘’ Oro akoko dani,ko le dabitiadaigbeyin’’ meaning, the first assault may be less severe than the last.
· After the stage for coup plotting was activated by the Igbo’s, I can’t argue if it was patriotic or not, but I believe it was, yet, the fact remains that, the coup plotting was activated and the perceived injustice and selective murdering of mostly Northern leaders was fresh in the northerners memory. The Hausa Fulani then walked on that path of coup, to retaliate the killing of their important personalities by also murdering mostly Igbo officers in the coup against Col. Aguinyi Ironsi in July 1966.But in my opinion based on evidence, the massacre was too waspish and they went too far, inhuman and unreasonably warp with the pogroms in the North, killing innocent Igbo’s which is regrettable and condemnable,considering the fact that innocent Igbo’s massacred in the north were never part of any power struggle and it beset, making it knotty.
· Odumeju Emeka Ojukwu, having observed that the event is saturnine and raucous,secedes with Biafra. Though, the secession seems vacuity as someone described it, like the school boy if I cannot play at my own rules, then I will take my ball away.
Point of note: The Igbo’s were said to be the first, in the history of Nigeria to initiate,lead,plot a coup and topple a democratically elected government, killing mostly northern leaders. The Northern region, despite the leery feeling of being unjustly violated in Nigeria didn’t threaten to secede, though, they became ratty and instead fight back as people who perceived themselves as having equal rights and stake in the country. But the Igbo’s, who were said to have begun the coup plotting and murdering of the important personalities in the north and other part of the country when faced with similar faith and challenges, instead of standing on their feet in the country and claim their rightful position, threatened to secede blaming the northerners for injustice as they perceived.
· In the efforts to prevent secession and possible war, Aburi Accord was entered and failure to abide to the agreement by the Nigerian government eventually leads to the war. I wished the Nigerian Government had abides to the agreement.
· 1967 -70, a horrible civil war. The bulk of Igbos who left for the East mostly withdrew all their money from the Nigerian banks.
Adichie had argued that, the Biafra succession was inevitable after the failure of the Nigerian government to implement the Aburi accord which was right, but if the Igbo lead coup, which produced Col. Ironsi didn’t occur or will I say, a one sided coup, which Adichie described as an idealistic poorly planned national exercise aimed at ridding Nigeria of a corrupt government, there won’t be any retaliation from the northern forces which brought rapture,and If there was no rapture which leads to retaliation from the northern forces, there won’t be call for secession or the Aburi Accord which may put the Nigerian Government in the implementing or none implementing position– These are the facts
Adichie began her article, by narrating her encounter with professor Chinua Achebe and her love for the respected writer, his commendation of her work and so on, before she finally begin to write about his controversial memoir titled: THERE WAS A COUNTRY.
In her words ‘’ I wish THERE WAS A COUNTRY had been better edited and more rigorously detailed in its account of the war. ‘’ Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie
Why would Adichie want a Professor, one of the best-selling African author of all time and a respected scholar of close to or more than 60 years in practice to better edit his long awaited writing that was finally published?
The simple meaning I deduced from that statement was an acceptance of negative account of the narration of THE WAR AGAINST BIAFRA based on insufficient logic and evidences.
It was a surprise when Chimamanda later said:
‘’But these flaws do not make it any less seminal: an account of the most important event in Nigeria’s history by Nigeria’s most important storyteller.’’ ’ Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie
Rewriting the above statement from my understanding, it says, but these errors or mistake that is not correct in Professor Achebe’s book, or these faults in Professor Achebe’s writing do not make it any less important.
To Ngozie and other Igbo people, who may see themselves as victims without considering the victims from the other party, it may not be less seminal, but to others, who feel it was a one sided sentimental account of the reality of war, it is indeed less seminal.
Also, In supporting what Adichie earlier regarded as flaws, she said, Awolowo, as de facto ‘number two man’ on the Nigerian side, was a central architect of the blockade on Biafra. During and after the war, Awolowo publicly defended the blockade. Without the blockade, the massive starvation in Biafra would not have occurred. These are the facts Adichie said.
What she stated above was not new, it has always been the case from various Igbo narrators, but my question is, why will Awolowo adopt blockade as an act of war?.
Let me quote Awolowo himself to answer the question, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, when he narrated what he saw when he went to the war torn area said: I saw the kwashiorkor victims.
If you see a kwashiorkor victim, you’ll never like war to be waged. Terrible sight in Enugu and Port Harcourt. Then I enquired what happened to the food we were sending to the civilians. We were sending food through The Red Cross and Caritas to the civilians in Biafra, but what happen was that, the vehicle carrying the food would then be taken to the soldiers to feed them and so they were able to continue to fight. And I said that was a very dangerous policy; we didn’t intend the food for the soldiers, but who will go behind the line to stop the soldiers from ambushing the vehicles that were carrying the food? And as long as soldiers were feed, the war will continue and who’ll continue to suffer? (The Civilian masses that were already suffering and having kwashiorkor I suppose). And those who didn’t go to the place to see things as I did, you remember that all the big guns, all the soldiers in the Biafran army looked all well fed after the war, it’s only the masses of the people that suffered kwashiorkor. You won’t hear of a single lawyer, single doctor or single architect who suffered from kwashiorkor, none of their children either, so, they waylaid the foods, they ambush the vehicles taking foods to the civilians and took the food to their friends and their collaborators and their children and the masses were suffering. So I decided to stop sending the food there. In the process, the civilians would suffer, but the soldiers will suffer most and the war would end quickly.-Chief Obafemi Awolowo.(PUNCH October 8, 2012)
In my opinion, if the soldiers were not initially hijacking the food items directed to the civilian masses, there won’t be any blockade.The policy of blockade was a direct response to the action of the Biafran soldiers.-Fact
Adechie also stated that,’’ The blockade was, in her opinion, inhumane and immoral. And it was unnecessary – Nigeria would have won anyway.’’- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I agree with Ngozie that blockade as an act of war is inhumane and immoral, but in the case of THE WAR AGAINST BIAFRA as we have read from Awolowo who went to the war torn places as he said, I beg to disagree.
Blockade as an act of war, can be termed as inhuman and immoral, if it is done with the intent of inflicting pains and damage on the population of the opponent, but that cannot be said for THE WAR AGAINST BIAFRA. The policy of blockade in THE WAR AGAINST BIAFRA in my opinion was adopted out of necessity, to prevent the continuation of war and needless destruction of more lives and properties.It could be referred to as a doctrine of necessity.
She also stated that, the blockade was unnecessary and that Nigeria would have won the war anyway.But I ask, how would Nigeria have won the war without more death and more destruction? Recall that,the war had already lasted for more than 2 years at that time, and it was said that during the war, Ojukwu was recruiting under aged soldiers and taking them to the war front.With constant food supply and other materials, the war would have lasted longer and in the process, more lives and destruction would be recorded.
Ngozie also stated that, The policy of starving a civilian population into surrender does not merely go against the Geneva conventions, but in this case, a war between siblings, people who were formerly fellow country men and women now suddenly on opposite sides, it seems more chilling. All is not fair in war.
As already stated, the civilian population of Biafra were not starved to surrender, as there were evidences, that the Nigerian Government offered to supply food to the civilian population, an offer which was rejected by the Biafran Administrators. It was clear with these facts, that the case of starving the civilian population cannot arise, since offer was given and rejected by the Biafrans.
THE WAR AGAINST BIAFRA, just like every other war is a matter of life and death to the soldiers, the Nigerian forces were killed, so is the Biafran forces, and at that stage, it is not a matter of siblings as the war had raptured it. The reluctance of the Nigerian forces to crush the Biafrans forces even if it means crushing the innocent civilians was in my opinion, as a result of African brotherhood/humanity and hope that the Biafrans shall eventually reunite with Nigeria. Both forces were struggling to hold onto their position which can only be done by overcoming the other.
According to a friend’s opinion on the said subject, he said and I quote,’’ I believe in Nigeria, I love the Igbo people and I want us all to understand that WARS have deer consequences. However, a war is exactly what it is; a war. It’s one of the most horrific, dehumanizing, destabilizing and unforgettable experiences a country or people can pass through.
My point is that, anyone who makes that final decision to go to war must be ready for the consequences, for the horror, for the injustice, for the loss and for the possibility of defeat and then decide if it is worth going ahead with or not. If it is worth losing everything for or not. If you decide to go ahead in war, then don’t blame Awolowo or anyone for whatever consequences are encountered. If it wasn’t Awolowo, it would have been someone else. War is never pretty. That is why it is always the last option.‘’
Though, I acknowledge the valour of Odumeju Ojukwu, the Ikemba of Nnewi at such a crucial time, when issues became knotty and his tribal people are timorous, he made a stand on behave of the people, though, it was later argued to be vacuous. But the Ikemba, Emeka Odumeju Ojukwu was indeed, a courageous and patriotic soldier, who spoke on behave of the Igbo’s when there were no other voices, he stand when others are laying and hegave hope when all seems lost.
In my opinion, As much as the Nigerian Government was to be blamed for the starvation, the majority of the blames should actually be directed to the Biafran administrators who rejected to feed their citizens, when it was obvious that they have no other means and are lethargy. If the war was fought to the extent of choosing between the continuation of war and feeding your citizens, a thoughtful and compassionate leader, who cares for the people’s welfare would rather accept defeat and feed his people, than hold on to fighting at the detriment of the people’s welfare.
If the Biafran administrators, who primarily derived its power from the Biafran citizens, could not concede to feed its people, I do not think it is right to blame the Nigerian Government who see its offer to feed the Biafran people rejected.
I later understood where Adichie was coming from when she said, ‘’I grew up hearing, from adults, versions of Achebe’s words about Awolowo. He was the man who prevented an Igbo man from leading the Western House of Assembly in the famous ‘carpet crossing’ incident of 1952. He was the man who betrayed Igbo people when he failed on his alleged promise to follow Biafra’s lead and pull the Western region out of Nigeria. He was the man who, in the words of my uncle, “made Igbo people poor because he never liked us.” Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie
The above submission is one of the challenges, that the young Nigerians of this generation would have to overcome by heterodox, but heuristic.
How truthful or meaningful are these claims and accusations against Chief Obafemi Awolowo which had sowed the seed of discord and poisoned the mind of the Igbo people about him? And how can we verify the authenticity of the claims? A proper analysis of the above accusations may reveal some answers.
That Awolowo prevented an Igboman from leading the western House of Assembly in 1952 was in my opinion,strictly a political affair.
Pitching his tent with the Igbo man, at that time,May not give Awolowo is political dream I suppose. As a visionary man that he Awolowo was, how do we expect him to ignore his own dream and give in to the dream of others in a political contest, when there is a better option for him? Who among the Igbo’s, accusing Awolowo has ever done that?
A perfect example is according to an opinion that says, Nnamdi Azikwe could have held the powerful position of the Prime Minister nor ceremonial President if he had allied with Chief Obafemi Awolowo as his Finance Minister, but Azikwe chooses otherwise. He instead allied with Tafawa Balewa, where both of them occupied the position of the President and the Prime Minister respectively.That in my opinion was simple politics, not hatred or betrayal. No sincere Igbo man would tag Awolowo a hater of Igbo’s based on his political choice in a contest, except that they are not aware of the situation. Why was Azikwe not tagged a hater of the Yoruba’s for not pitching his tent with the Awolowo’s group, which denied the Yoruba’s a chance of holding either the post of the Prime Minister or the President in the first and second republic?(1960-1966).The accusation against Awolowo to me is a fallacy.
The same example can be used for the other accusations and if properly looked at, we would realize that they were not genuine. There are several other examples of others, who did similar things with Awo without being called names. When other leaders do the same thing as Awolowo, they were not regarded as haters or betrayers, but when Awolowo does the same as others, he gets different treatment which makes me wonder, if what Awolowo said was the truth, that, As far as I know, the Igbo masses are friendly to me, towards me. In fact, whenever I visit Igbo land, either Anambra or Imo and there is no campaigning for elections on, the Igbo people receive me warmly and affectionately. But there are some elements in Igbo land who believe that they can maintain their popularity only by denigrating me and so, they keep on telling lies against me. - Chief Obafemi Awolowo(PUNCH October 8, 2012)
Adichie also stated that ’’At the end of the war, every Igbo person who had a bank account in Nigeria was given twenty pounds, no matter how much they had in their accounts before the war. I have always thought this a livid injustice. I know a man who worked in a multinational company in 1965. He was, like Achebe, one of the many Igbo who just could not believe that their lives were in danger in Lagos and so he fled in a hurry, at the last minute, leaving thousands of pounds in his account. After the war, his account had twenty pounds. To many Igbo, this policy was uncommonly punitive, and went against the idea of ‘no victor, no vanquished.’’.Chimamada Ngozie Adichie
Awolowo before his death actually answered all the relevant questions regarding THE WAR AGAINST BIAFRA, inhis response to the above accusation, Chief Obafemi Awolowo said: We didn’t know about the Biafran note and we didn’t know on what basis they have printed them, so we refused the Biafran notes, but I laid down the principle that all those who had savings in the banks on the eve of the declaration of Biafra, will get their money back if they could satisfy us that they had the savings there, or the money there. Unfortunately, all the bank books had been burnt or discarded and many of the people didn’t had their savings book or their last statement of account, so a panel had to be set up. -Obafemi Awolowo (PUNCH October 8, 2012)
It was the agreement of the panel, setup by Awothat resolved to give every Igbo person with an account 20 pounds, even without any evidence of funds in their account. It was gathered that, most of the Igbo’s, withdrew their funds in the banks at the brink of the war and converted it to the Biafran currency. They discarded everything of Nigeria including their cheaque or cashbooks. And after the war, even if anyone had thousand pounds in his or her account which may be very rare and unlikely,there was no means to verify its authenticity, as they have all burnt their cash books. There was no means to verify those who had money in their account and those who had withdrew theirs, no means to verify how much they had in their account, since they had discarded the only means of verifying the fact. This was a time when only paper records were used for bank transactions.
As much as I cannot dismiss the claim of the person who told Adichie about his situation after the war, I could also not and I also believed so for Adichie, that the person in question could not verify the authenticity of his claim.
Though, it is painful to be in the position of the victims, but, it is also confusing to be in the position of the decision makers. The policy of 20 pounds to all those holding an account was a way to give all. It may not be the best, but I am sure, that there would be countless of people, who had no dime in their account and yet received the 20 pounds, just as we would have others who had funds in their account and could not redeem it.
Chimamanda also talked about the pre and post-civil war events, in her words’ ‘Before the war, many of Nigeria’s positions of power were occupied by Igbo people, in the military, politics, academia, business. Perhaps because the Igbo were very receptive to Western education, often at the expense of their own traditions, and had both a striving individualism and a communal ethic. This led to what, in history books, is often called a ‘fear of Igbo domination’ in the rest of Nigeria. The Igbo themselves were insensitive to this resentment, the bombast and brashness that is part of Igbo culture only exacerbated it. And so leading Igbo families entered the war as Nigeria’s privileged elite but emerged from it penniless, stripped and bitter. Adichie said.
Though truth and painful, but such stereotype should be expected, considering the fact that the Igbo people, after the war were still singing the Biafran song.Instead of resolving to live and move Nigeria forward, they at any slightest disagreement, bring up the issue of Biafra. Even till date, Igbo’s are not helping the matter, as they always talk about the return to Biafra which gives the generality of Nigerians the believe that,if power is given to the Igbo’s, it may use such power to cause disintegration in the country, something we detest and pray never happens.
Igbo’s should forget about the existence of, or possibility of resurrecting any country called Biafra. Something Professor Chinua Achebe had referred to,in his controversial memoir title as, THERE WAS A COUNTRY. But in my opinion, there was no any country, but there was a conflict which leads to a war (THE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR(1967-1970)), a war against disintegration, THE WAR AGAINST BIAFRA, a war to preserve our collective strength and a war to give Africa hope.There was no any country, but there was kwashiorkor (the civilian masses that were victims of starvation from the wrong actions of the Biafran administrators and the Nigerian government), there was mass death, pain, agony, regret,lesson and there was a history.
There was a painful memory of yesterday, the misdeed and counter misdeed of our then leaders, the struggling challenges of today that must be overcomed and the upcoming future of greatness that must be built.
The most important thing today is that, there is togetherness, unity and hope. There is AlhajiObinna and there is Reverend Musa. There was no any country, but there is Nigeria and THIS IS NIGERIA, our Nigeria, my Nigeria and your Nigeria.
Let the Igbo’s along with other Nigerians, concentrate on building and holding a stand in Nigeria, as well as cooperate and compete for positions its deserve.
Every tribe in Nigeria are competing and cooperating to acquire power, no tribe could do it alone except through cooperation, but the case cannot be said for the Igbo people at the moment. The Igbo’s are always scared to stand for what they truly deserve politically, they mostly go for what king SaheedOsupa refers to as (DimaIru), meaning, holding the none competitive tale instead of standing up to the competitive head which is the ultimate best.
Adichie alsodiscussed marginalization, that, ‘’Today, ‘marginalization’ is a popular word in Igboland. Many Igbo feel marginalized in Nigeria, a feeling based partly on experience and partly on the psychology of a defeated people. ‘’
But in my opinion, no tribe or region in Nigeria is not feeling marginalized. From the Hausa, Fulani’s in the north, to the Yoruba’s in the West, theIgbo’s in the East,Ijaw in the South and all others. The word,marginalization is popular in every part of Nigeria, but I agree that the Igbo’s are more marginalized due to my earlier resolved. Changing the situation cannot be achieved by feeling pity for oneself, but by standing up and truly standing for what you deserve, not by claiming to be victims seeking pity, but by standing up to the challenges and intelligently proffering a way forward for achieving the goals of interest.
I agree, that the status of Igbo’s should change politically and in term of positions of power, I have even opined that the Igbo’s should be supported to the highest position in the country, but nothing is gained on a platter of gold, the divisiveness within the Igbo tribe itself is not helping, it has never and would never help.
I can’t but agree with Ngozie that indeed, we remember differently.
While the Igbo’s remember the heartless massacre of their tribal people in the north in July 1966, the starvation of the Biafran innocent mass civilians during THE WAR AGAINST BIAFRA, the 20 pounds balance in their account, irrespective of their savings, the murder of mostly Igbo officers in the July, 1966 coup and the loss of properties and political power.
The remaining Nigerians on the other hand, remembered the death of the Nigerian Prime Minister, Sir Tafawa Balewa, who was murdered in what can be referred to as a strange coup, something that had never been experienced in Nigeria, that was suddenly introduced by Major Nzeogwu and mostly termed to be an Igbo coup due its mode of execution, led by 5 Igbo officers. Other Nigerians remember the premier of the western and northern region, Chief SamuelAkintola and Sir Ahmadu Bello and Ahmadu Bello’s wife, who were also murdered, throwing the country into shamble and of balance, and Nigerians also remember the mostly northern personalities murdered in the coup. They also remembered Nnamdi Azikwe, The Nigerian Igbo president, who was spared in the coup along with other Igbo administrators. Indeed, we remember differently.
They also remembered that, the retaliation coup was a failure of General Aguiyi Ironsi to bring the coup plotters for trial as requested by the military rule, but instead, rallied the military in their favour. What more can I say than truly, we remember differently.
In conclusion, the fault in Adichie’sarticleis her sophistry assumption,that she was and is part of the conflicting parties. Even though she later try to claim neutrality to justify her earlier stance, but it was very obvious, that she was speaking the already spoken voice, without bringing in her sincere and neutral view.
I would like to advise Ngozie,like a friend said,to study history, rather than talk sentiments over issues that are a fact. Check out the facts; look at the historical timeline and not spinned stories sold by people.
Or at least, present both parties position and intelligently analyse it to arrive at a neutral position based on two conflicting opinions.
I would repeat the words of others that said, Igbos had long been integrated into the Nigerian family, but to get to the Presidency requires collaboration with other ethnic groups, something the Igbo’s are not doing at present. This finger pointing and accusations of a single man rather than apportion blames equally to those who participated in killings on both the Fed and Biafran sides would soothe old wounds.
It is sad to see that some of the truth Chimamanda tried to show usis hidden in some of the truth she refused to share…Again, Ngozi, you have chosen the path of selective truth in your article. I just wish your article is neutral; however, it has only spoken the truth you want us to see.
Quoting the word of wisdom by a friend, however, the human race has been known to rise up from the ashes of worse tragedies, even those brought by the great forces of Mother Nature against which we are most times defenceless. So, whilst we remember Biafra as a significant part of our history and respect the memory of all the lost ones across the affected tribes, the success or failure of the Igbo’s as a tribe cannot be tied to THE WAR AGAINST BIAFRA. Truly, we all remember differently, but it is by discussing and sharing those memories sincerely that we can find a common ground that can help us move forward. Yes we have inherited painful memories; we all have our own truths.
My proposition, Since Yakubu Gowon is still alive and Achebe is also a part of the war, I would only keep silent and learn, when the two are narrating the war experience. They were both part and parcel of the war, though, Gowon had a direct involvement as the leader of Nigeria, Achebe on the other hand was a victim of the war or I would refer to him as a viewer in the war.
The experience of Gowon during the war is different from Achebe, one is part of the fighting and the other was watching the fight from a distant.
I would have preferred a live debate between Yakubu Gowon and Ojukwu or Awolowo and Ojukwu. That would have helped the young generationhave a first-hand information from two fighter’s, implementing their own policies. And another debate between a viewer from the Biafran side like Achebe and that from the Nigerian side. Though, the debate of the viewer would contain less information of the war, since they were only watching without knowing much about the internal discussion of the participants.
Even now, Yakubu Gowon and Achebe or other Igbo leaders may step forward and engage each other sincerely in an open discussion about the war, with the intention of educating the youths of this generation about the true account of the civil war, the error committed, mistakes made and lessons to be learned. These would help overcome the silent suspicion.
Finally,Let me say that,All my above submission may be wrong and incorrect, since I am only giving my opinion based on the information from others, which may not be entirely correct, but based on the available information from both sides; the above is a sincere submission devoid of any sentiment or interest.
In resolving the numerous conflicts in Nigeria, according to (Noun PCR106) conflict resolution styles uses real life, emotionally charged scenarios to demonstrate and discuss five different approaches to handling conflict:
· Accommodate (I lose, you win)-you put aside your needs and desires and give in to the other person’s demands.
· Avoid (I lose, you lose)-you avoid, postpone or prevent a conflict and neither party wins because the conflicts remain unresolved
· Compromise (we both win, we both lose)-you resolve the conflict quickly and efficiently by seeking a fair and equitable split between your respective positions.
· Compete (I win, you lose)-you seek to win your position at the expense of the other party.
· Collaborate (I WIN, YOU WIN)-you cooperate with the other party to find solution with a mutually satisfying outcome. This last one is the best to resolve any conflict.
The account from Awolowo, Ojukwu, Gowon, Achebe and others may not be entirely correct, but the truth lies within. We may not be entirely truthful at all times due to our nature as human (imperfect), but Awolowo, Ojukwu, Gowon, Ironsi, Azikwe etc have all contributed their quota, and we should respect them and put aside all the differences. Let us move ahead and lead Nigeria to the promise land.
Amb.Abdulrazaq O Hamzat