Biafra: 53 Years After


May 30th, 1967 as a response to the pogrom being carried out against Igbo people in northern Nigeria and Gowon’s refusal to abide by the Aburi accord, Lt col Emeka Ojukwu declared the republic of Biafra. Yakubu Gowon fired the first shot and Nigeria was aflame.

Some 53 years later, the spectre of that war is still hovering around, rebuffing all entreaties for pacification. I still see the relics of the ruins of that war. The vestigial remains of the embankment of my grandfather’s old house that caved in to the serial strafing of the federal troops still speaks and stands beside our country home at Nawfia to this day. Its silent eloquence as loud as ever!

My father did not tell me much about the war. He is not to blame. He was a boy of about 12 years when the war broke out. But whether you were told or not, the war itself marked two major epochs in the annals of our history. One always heard before and after the war denoting two distinct eras.

People still bore bodily scars of that war. Each time I travelled from Enugu to Onitsha some years back, I saw war vets litter the landscape of Oji town. Each of them bearing the scar of loss of one limb or the other.

Though in one burst of energy, the Igbos made quick recovery but that recovery is not whole yet. Many families are still on their ways up.

They are still climbing the rungs of the economic ladder, pausing at every point to ponder the reversals they suffered during the war which may have resulted in their present economic and social woes.

But we are not writing to curry sympathy with the hollow world but to celebrate the great sacrifices made by about two to three million Biafran lives. Their monumental sacrifices like that of Martin Luther King Jnr, Malcolm X, Steve Biko, George Floyd and other martyrs speak volumes. The voices of their blood continue to cry out to God from the ground.

Tochukwu Onwuzuligbo,