Biafra ; a case of collective memory

There was a country written by Chinua Achebe on the Nigerian-Biafra war – a civil war fought from 1967 – 1970 in Nigeria. It’s on record over a million people from the East of the country were killed. While I didn’t witness the war but I’ve relatives who did and I have read some books too.  In the personal memoir written by Raph Uwechue who served as Biafra’s envoy to Paris until 1968  (Uwechue, 2004) as quoted by Achebe in his book wrote

In Biafra two wars were fought simultaneously. The first was for the survival of the Ibos as a race. The second was for the survival of Ojukwu’s leadership. Ojukwu’s error, which proved fatal for millions of Ibos was that he put the latter first.

At the time of this writing tens of thousands of youths in the South East of Nigeria are protesting for the release of Nnamdi Kanu – who before his arrest by the Nigerian government was clamouring for the nation of Biafra. I’m currently enrolled for a course on Religion and Conflict. It’s been an amazing five weeks of lectures filled with loads and loads of information. We are currently on the role of religion in peace building process. Bosnia is a case study for this week and we are looking at collective memory – Bosnia was under former Yugoslavia before the war that caused the break up.

I think it’s time for the Ibos to go down memory lane; are they about to tow the same path the former leader of Biafra took? Is one man’s error (Nnamdi Kanu) going to cause the lives of millions again or is he the messiah the Ibos have been expecting to take them to the Promised Land. For those agitating and chanting ‘No Biafra, No Peace’ do you really understand what you are saying? War has never really been the answer besides, the absence of war isn’t necessarily the presence of positive peace. Some might succeed at fighting a war like in the case of Biafra, probably become a nation and still experience structural violence – policies and structures established that causes unequal advantage creating a class divide, group privileges over other.

The Ibos have the right to self-determination, but the question remains are they prepared to govern themselves. The aim of the protest is to embark on a million march and from what I’m observing they are gradually achieving it. I’m not sure they have ever succeeded at such unity in the past elections for key positions like the Presidency. This goes to show some underlying truth – they do believe in the project Biafra. The scars of the war are still there, most of them protesting may never have witnessed it but the stories have been passed on by their forebears.

This brings up an important area for the new administration. There’s a need to foster unity among the already severed tribes in the nation. This is not the time to favour a particular set of people on the basis of loyalty. Nigeria has gone through many violent conflicts and many people had prophesied the Balkanisation of Nigeria. Somehow she finds a way of bouncing back on her feet even if she has to be supported to walk.

The issue of Biafra shouldn’t be swept under the carpet; the Nigerian government shouldn’t rest if it is successful at quelling the ongoing protest.  It will only be temporary if meaningful dialogues are not held. At the same time the Ibos should look inwards and ask themselves if they’ve made good use of the opportunities handed to them in the past. It’s written if you are not faithful in little, who will give you something bigger. Posterity will judge us all for the various parts we play.

Just realised I had not read the book on Yugoslavia and I’ve had it for a while. Two books published by the same publishers, written for two different countries by different authors, while one no longer exists the other is trying to exist. Irony of life


Reference Titles

Uwechue, R., 2004, Reflections on the Nigerian civil war: Facing the future, Trafford on Demand Pub.

Wandering eyes

It’s amazing how God speaks to us, you can never truly predict the way God operates even His Word says as high as the heaven is from the earth so is His ways far from ours. Genesis 30 has an interesting story; Jacob in a bid to receive his wages from Laban his father-in-law after serving him for 14 years in the form of sheep, agreed that the speckled, spotted and brown sheep will be his once they give birth. Jacob got rods from Almond and Chestnut trees and peeled the white stripes in them; he placed these rods in a strategic place that enabled the sheep to look at them while they drank water and at the same time they mated too. These sheep brought forth speckled, spotted and brown offspring.

Even animals acknowledge the power in focusing; we are living in times where it is difficult to concentrate on one thing. It has become a criterion in some companies to have the ability to multitask while this may be a good quality but at the same time if it is not balanced it could result in doing everything but not doing it with excellence. At some point poisonous snakes were in the camp of the Israelites because they complained to Moses in the wilderness and even murmured against God. They knew they were wrong and asked Moses to pray to God on their behalf. God’s instruction in Numbers 21 : 1 – 9 wasn’t what everyone expected, He didn’t command  the serpents to go away, rather He asked Moses to make a fiery serpent, and place it on a pole and anyone who’s bitten, when he LOOKS at it shall live. Think about this for a moment, why will God give such an instruction? God needs all of our attention, not some but all; remember Lot’s wife who looked back and turned to salt or even Peter who looked down and started to drown.

When we keep our eyes fixed on Him, we let Him know we trust Him totally; our eyes are not wandering all over the place for help rather it’s all on Him. The question isn’t if we will face setbacks in life, neither is it if we’ll ride a storm free life rather the question is can we keep our eyes focused on what God is saying to us. It’s about instruction, it’s about listening, and it’s about reflection. God wants to know if He can trust us with His message of reconciling the world back to Him, do we have ears that can listen when He talks or are we swamped with so much work, even Church works, that we can’t hear Him. Have we relied so much on what ‘The Pastor said’ without having any Word from the Lord as a result of our lack of communion with Him? Don’t get me wrong, it is good to work, it’s humbling to even serve in Church and it’s amazing to have a Spiritual Authority in form of a Pastor but there’s more. God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son but on the way when God had found Abraham to be obedient told him not to sacrifice his son, just imagine if Abraham was filled with so many thoughts or was too busy laying out the wood that he didn’t hear God.

Everywhere is noisy, the world is going chaotic with all sorts of stories, if you choose to stay away from the news on your TV, it’ll come looking for you through your email or the internet. How can we stay sane and focused in this kind of world? All these noise can contribute to us looking everywhere but God for help and He’s reminding us of the need to go back to our place of fellowship. A place where we can commune with God alone, where we don’t need instruments, a great choir or even an amazing hallelujah sermon to cajole or make us hear God, am I saying they are not essential? No but it’s only the sheep that can hear and truly understand when the shepherd calls out. We need the voice of God like we’ve never needed before and until we can truly hear Him, our eyes will be tossed all over the place, and we can be found doing so much work without productivity.

Loads of Love