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Biafra: Neither pro nor anti – by Sunny Chris Okenwa


I had argued robustly that whilst the Biafra dream liveth, the dreamers of our generation must not compromise the noble struggle for self-determination

As a full-blooded Igboman it is always emotionally difficult to write about one’s ethnic group or people especially when such write-up is deemed to portray them in bad light. 

Not that one is not proud of his cultural heritage or ethnic origin as some would conclude hastily but the need to tell the truth no matter whose ox is gored sometimes takes precedence over and above every other parochial or sentimental considerations. 

I was born and bred in the village in Igboland; I grew up there and did my primary education and only left for the city to further my education.

Some ten years ago I had written an article published by the Nigeriaworld.com entitled “The Problem With The Igbos“.

 Just hours after publication hell was let lose online. I was almost mugged, nay lynched intellectually by some Igbo brothers and sisters (especially those in the Diaspora) who saw castigation and/or denigration in the piece. 

They violently voiced out their displeasure or frustrations. Emails came in in torrents, in their hundreds, and rebuttals in their dozens. 

Initially I was flabbergasted, if not dumbfounded, by the vitriolic attacks I was subjected to hourly, daily!

Some among them called me all sorts of names including “efulefu” and others questioned my ‘Igboness’. 

And some others, including one ignorant fool based in Holland, were insinuating that Igbos could not have been answering or bearing Sunny and Chris as names at the same time! 

Pray, so my decision not to use Ozodinukwe as a byline in my articles had suddenly annulled my nativity of Ihiala in Anambra state? 

“Quel rigolo”as the French would say to any bastard that derails and commits “une sortie de route qui merite que de ridicule”.

Some even went to the very extreme by threatening to physically ‘eliminate’ me as if they were my Creator! 

One imbecile among them even threatened, as if he had the supernatural Christ-like powers, to hurt me spiritually by striking me with blindness  or stroke so that I could no longer write any other ‘rubbish’ about the Igbos! 

But since God has not given us the spirit of fear, the Holy Book tells us instructively, but that of love, of power and of sound mind I had maintained my position standing by my opinion and refusing to bow and tremble before the intimidatory antics cum campaign of calumny of some faceless cowardly elements. Today I am still standing by the special grace of the Omnipotent One and no force, I dare say, can take me out unless He so decreed!

The cross-fire that followed lasted for weeks as we engaged ourselves intellectually.

Whatever they threw at me I had the courage and enough presence of mind to fire back in ‘Matters Arising’ series. 

The publisher or management of ‘Nigeriaworld’ website, perhaps acting on complaints or petitions received or whatever undisclosed reason, decided to censor my last third response, Matters Arising part 3. 

The email I sent for an explanation went unanswered so I decided to quit the site for some others since no one has the monopoly of the Internet.

In an article I wrote in November of last year captioned “Biafra: The Dream And The Dreamers“, I had argued robustly that whilst the Biafran dream liveth, the dreamers of our generation must not compromise the noble struggle for self-determination on the altar of expediency or sentimentality. 

While one acknowledges the fact that the Biafran idea still lives in the hearts and minds of millions of Igbos across the world the way and manner, nay methods and tactics, to deploy towards actualising same remain another matter that matters. 

Biafra could become a myth or reality in our generation or the next but those championing the cause must be responsible in their conducts and strategies.

President Muhammadu Buhari has made it clear times without number that Biafra would never happen under his watch and command. 

That is not unexpected from a retired General in the Nigerian armed forces that fought against the same Biafra in the war of the late sixties witnessing everything in their gory circumstances. 

Some tales of horror and terror still linger as survivors of the organized pogrom remember the late Ojukwu-inspired brutal secessionist military campaign that saw millions butchered or starved to death with the economy lying prostrate and the landscape devastated.

I am not anti-Biafra because I believe a marginalised people anywhere ought to be given the chance via referendum to determine their future as it had happened elsewhere — in Bangladesh, Kosovo, South Sudan, etc. 

But my support for Biafra is limited to the aforementioned logic of freedom from state oppression and injustice. 

I cannot be party to any struggle that advocates for or employs the force of arms as the fundamental element of achieving the legitimate objective.

The Biafran war (even though one never witnessed it) was fought with hatred for the Igbos, hence the savaged brutality and state terrorism employed by the federal forces. 

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