Honouring Our Heroes Past
By Chiemelie A. Umeh
On the glorious day of 30th of May 1967, the governor of the former Eastern region Lt. Col. C. O Ojukwu declared the Republic of Biafra. The Chiefs and Elders of the region had earlier met on the 27th of May at the behest of Ojukwu and Resolved that the new nation should be declared at a practicable date. In the words of the statesmen, “Having witnessed the injustices and atrocities committed against eastern Nigeria…” Such atrocities include the murder of over 30,000 innocent men, women and children by northern Nigerians, and calculated destruction of property which rendered 2,000,000 eastern Nigerians refugee in their supposed own country. The statesmen by their resolution fundamentally asserted the principle of self-determination and right to life.
It was the leader of the people, HRH, Chief Frank Opigo ( Dawai III) Amananaowei of Angiama who under the direction of the ancestors suggested that the new nation should be called Biafra – an ancient name that the people were known with before the coming of the British. With the declaration of Biafra by the people’s general, Ojukwu, like a tree that grows beside a stream whose leaves do not dry up, the mother nation sprung back to life.
The Nigerian soldiers made the first shot in Garkem – the shot that caused our gallant men and women to risk their lives in defense of their nation. These great men are the offspring of the historic Biafran women who protested courageously against the powerful Great Britain in 1929 in a fashion and style that has never been seen before. Our brave warriors stood their ground, marched in unison in defense of the land of their ancestors.
For three excruciating years, with the total blockade, under massive bombardment they held the Nigerian forces which were robustly backed by Britain, Egypt and Russia. Our brave men readily gave up their life to safeguard the homeland. Their heroic service to the nation cannot be forgotten; it’s always dear to our heart and collective memory.
On this solemn and honourable day, we remember the over 2million children starved to death to secure the unrestricted flow of oil and gas. We mourn the death of kith and kin massacred in Asaba and their women converted to war trophy by vandal army of Nigeria. They are the victims of the brutality of a people who claim we are one.
The civilized world looked the other way when the worst genocide in human history after the Holocaust was taking place in Nigeria. The world was silent but a 20 year old Columbia university student, Bruce Mayrock, made a bold and powerful statement by setting himself ablaze in front of United Nations building in New York to protest the genocide against Biafra by the Nigerian government. We honour the sacrifice and salute the courage of this gentle soul. He is and will always be a hero of Biafra.
We cannot forget the indomitable unarmed Biafrans who lost their lives in Nkpor in 2016 and at Trump rally in Igwe-ocha in 2017. We remember the twenty-eight young men who were massacred at Afara-Ukwu Ibeku in 2018. They are always in our heart. We remember them every day of our life. They pledged their honour, dignity and breath to a course they know is right and just. The actions of these great heroes made Biafra great, powerful and supreme. They sanctified the land with blood and tears. Their tremendous sacrifice has encouraged us to make ourselves worthy and to keep the flame of freedom burning.
To our veterans and survivors, we honour them on this special day. They are the face of a movement for which a generation accepted to die. We make a sacred promise to them and those who perished, that we will fight; we will struggle until there is standing tall in all her glory and majesty the sovereign state of Biafra.
The touch of liberty has been passed down to a new generation – the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, to continue the quest for the restoration of Biafra. The greatest honour we can give the over five million of our people killed in the war is to work together to restore the old nation.