Biafra: A People Betrayed by Kurt Vonnegut

From Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons, 1979


THERE is a “Kingdom of Biafra” on some old maps which were made by early white explorers of the west coast of Africa. Nobody is now sure what that kingdom was, what its laws and arts and tools were like. No tales survive of the kings and queens.

As for the “Republic of Biafra” we know a great deal. It was a nation with more citizens than Ireland and Norway combined. It proclaimed itself an independent republic on May 30, 1967. On January 17 of 1970, it surrendered unconditionally to Nigeria, the nation from which it had tried to secede. It had few friends in this world, and among its active enemies were Russia and Great Britain. Its enemies were pleased to call it a “tribe.”

Some tribe.34137581_1019076984940286_6538047832153128960_n

The Biafrans were mainly Christians and they spoke English melodiously, and their economy was this one: small-town free enterprise. The worthless Biafran currency was gravely honored to the end.

The tune of Biafra’s national anthem was Finlandia, by Jan Sibelius. The equatorial Biafrans admired the arctic Finns because the Finns won and kept their freedom in spite of ghastly odds.

Biafra lost its freedom, of course, and I was in the middle of it as all its fronts were collapsing. I flew in from Gabon on the night of January 3, with bags of corn, beans, and powdered milk, aboard a blacked out DC6 chartered by Caritas, the Roman Catholic relief organization. I flew out six nights later on an empty DC4 chartered by the French Red Cross. It was the last plane to leave Biafra that was not fired upon.

While in Biafra, I saw a play which expressed the spiritual condition of the Biafrans at the end. It was set in ancient times, in the home of a medicine man. The moon had not been seen for many months, and the crops had failed. There was nothing to eat anymore. A sacrifice was made to a goddess of fertility, and the sacrifice was refused. The goddess gave the reason: The people were not sufficiently unselfish and brave.

Before the drama began, the national anthem was played on an ancient marimba. It seems likely that similar marimbas were heard in the court of the Kingdom of Biafra. The black man who played the marimba was naked to the waist. He squatted on the stage. He was a composer. He also held a doctor’s degree from the London School of Economics.

Some tribe.

I went to Biafra with another novelist, my old friend Vance Bourjaily, and with Miss Miriam Reik, who would be our guide. She was head of a pro-Biafran committee that had already flown several American writers into Biafra. She would pay our way.

I met her for the first time at Kennedy Airport. We were about to take off for Paris together. It was New Year’s Day. I bought her a drink, though she protested that her committee should pay, and I learned that she had a doctor’s degree in English literature. She was also a pianist and a daughter of Theodor Reik, the famous psychoanalyst.

Her father had died three days before.

I told Miriam how sorry I was about her father, said how much I’d liked the one book of his I had read, which was Listening with the Third Ear.

He was a gentle Jew, who got out of Austria while the getting was good. Another well-known book of his was Masochism in Modern Man.

And I asked her to tell me more about her committee, whose beneficiary I was, and she confessed that she was it: It was a committee of one. She is a tall, good-looking woman, by the way, thirty-two years old. She said she founded her own committee because she grew sick of other American organizations that were helping Biafra. Those organizations teemed with people ‘who were kinky with guilt’, she said. They were trying to dump some of that guilt by being maudlinly charitable. As for herself; she said, it was the greatness of the Biafran people, not their pitifulness that turned her on.

She hoped the Biafrans would get more weapons from somebody, the very latest in killing machines. She was going into Biafra for the third time in a year. She wasn’t afraid of anything. Some committee.

I admire Miriam, though I am not grateful for the trip she gave me. It was like a free trip to Auschwitz when the ovens were still going full blast. I now feel lousy all the time.

I will follow Miriam’s example as best I can. My main aim will not be to move readers to voluptuous tears with tales about innocent black children dying like flies, about rape and looting and murder and all that. I will tell instead about an admirable nation that lived for less than three years.

De mortuis nil nisi bonum. Say nothing but good of the dead.

I asked a Biafran how long his nation had existed so far, and he replied, “Three Christmases, and a little bit more.” He wasn’t a hungry baby. He was a hungry man. He was a living skeleton, but he walked like a man.

Miriam Reik and I picked up Vance Bouijaily in Paris, and we flew down to Gabon and then into Biafra. The only way to get into Biafra was at night by air. There were only eight passenger seats at the rear of the cabin. The rest of the cabin was heaped with bags of food. The food was from America.

We flew over water, there were Russian trawlers below. They were monitoring every plane that came into Biafra. The Russians were helpful in a lot of ways: They gave the Nigerians Ilyushin bombers and MIGs and heavy artillery. And the British gave the Nigerians artillery too and advisers, and tanks and armored cars, and machine guns and mortars and all that, and endless ammunition.

America was neutral.

When we got close to the one remaining Biafran airport, which was a stretch of highway, its lights came on. It was a secret. Its lights resembled two rows of glowworms. The moment our wheels touched the runway, the runway lights went out and our plane’s headlights came on. Our plane slowed down, pulled off the runway, killed its lights, and then everything was pitch black again. There were only two white faces in the crowd around our plane. One was a Holy Ghost Father. The other was a doctor from the French Red Cross. The doctor ran a hospital for the children who were suffering from kwashiorkor, the pitiful children who had no protein.

Father.

Doctor.

As I write, Nigeria has arrested all the Holy Ghost Fathers, who stayed to the end with their people in Biafra.

The priests were mostly Irishmen. They were beloved. Whenever they built a church, they also built a school. Children and simple men and women thought all white men were priests, so they would often beam at Vance or me and say, “Hello, Father.” The Fathers are now being deported forever. Their crime: compassion in time of war. We were taken to the Frenchman’s hospital the next morning, in a chauffeur-driven Peugeot. The name of the village itself sounded like the wail of a child: AwoOmama.

I said to an educated Biafran, “Americans may not know much about Biafra, but they know about the children.”‘ We’re grateful,” he replied, “but I wish they knew more than that. They think we’re a dying nation. We aren’t. We’re an energetic, modern nation that is being born! We have doctors. We have hospitals. We have public-health programs. If we have so much sickness, it is because our enemies have designed every diplomatic and military move with one end in mind — that we starve to death.”

About kwashiorkor: It is a rare disease, caused by a lack of protein. Its cure has been easy, until the blockading of Biafra.

The worst sufferers there were the children of refugees, driven from their homes, then driven off the roads and into the bush by MIGs and armored columns. The Biafrans weren’t jungle people. They were village people—farmers and professionals and clerks and businessmen. They had no weapons to hunt with. Back in the bush, they fed their children whatever roots and fruit they were lucky enough to find. At the end, a very common diet was water and thin air. So the children came down with kwashiorkor, no longer a rare disease. The child’s hair turned red. His skin split like the skin of a ripe tomato. His rectum protruded. His arms and legs were like lollipop sticks.

Vance and Miriam and I waded through shoals of children like those at Awo-Omama. We discovered that if we let our hands dangle down among the children, a child would grasp each finger or thumb—five children to a hand. A finger from a stranger, miraculously, would allow a child to stop crying for a while.

A MIG came over, fired a few rounds, didn’t hit anything this time, though the hospital had been hit often before. Our guide guessed that the pilot was an Egyptian or an East German.

I asked a Biafran nurse what sort of supplies the hospital was most in need of.

Her answer: “Food.”

Biafra had a George Washington — for three Christmases and a little bit more. He was and is Odumegwu Ojukwu. Like George Washington, General Ojukwu was one of the most prosperous men of his place and time. He was a graduate of Sandhurst, Britain’s West Point. The three of us spent an hour with him. He shook our hands at the end. He thanked us for coming. “If we go forward, we die,” he said. “If we go backward, we die. So we go forward.” He was ten years younger than Vance and me. I found him perfectly enchanting. Many people mock him now. They think he should have died with his troops.

Maybe so.

If he had died, he would have been one more corpse in millions.

He was a calm, heavy man when we met him. He chainsmoked. Cigarettes were worth a blue million in Biafra. He wore a camouflage jacket, though he was sitting in a cool living room in a velveteen easy chair. “I should warn you,” he said, “we are in range of their artillery.” His humor was gallows humor, since everything was falling apart around his charisma and air of quiet confidence. His humor was superb. Later, when we met his second-in-command, General Philip Effiong, he, too, turned out to be a gallows humorist. Vance said this: “Effiong should be the Number two man. He’s the second funniest man in Biafra.”

Jokes.

Miriam was annoyed by my conversation at one point, and she said scornfully, “You won’t open your mouth unless you can make a joke.” It was true. Joking was my response to misery I couldn’t do anything about. The jokes of Ojukwu and Effiong had to do with the crime for which the Biafrans were being punished so hideously by so many nations. The crime: They were attempting to become a nation themselves. “They call us a dot on the map,” said General Ojukwu, “and nobody’s sure quite where.” Inside that dot were 700 lawyers, 500 physicians, 300 engineers, 8 million poets, 2 novelists of the first rank, and God only knows what else — about one-third of all the black intellectuals in Africa. Some dot. Those intellectuals had once fanned out all over Nigeria, where they had been envied and lynched and massacred. So they retreated to their homeland, to the dot. The dot has now vanished. Hey, presto.

When we met General Ojukwu, his soldiers were going into battle with thirty-five rounds of rifle ammunition. There was no more where that came from. For weeks before that, they had been living on one cup of gari a day. The recipe for gari is this: Add water to pulverized cassava root. Now the soldiers didn’t even have gari anymore. General Ojukwu described a typical Nigerian attack for us: “They pound a position with artillery for twenty-four hours, then they send forward one armored car. If anybody shoots at it, it retreats, and another twenty-four hours of bombardment begins. When the infantry moves forward, they drive a screen of refugees before them.”

We asked him what was becoming of the refugees now in Nigerian hands. He had no jokes on this subject. He said leadenly that the men, women, and children were formed into three groups, which were led away separately. “Your guess is as good as mine,” he said, “as to what happens after that,” and he paused. Then he finished the sentence: “To the men and the women and the children.” We were given private rooms and baths in what had been a teachers’ college in Owerri, the capital of Biafra. The town had been captured by the Nigerians, and then, in the one great Biafran victory of the war, recaptured by the Biafrans. We were taken to a training camp near Owerri. The soldiers had no live ammunition. In mock attacks, the riflemen shouted, “Bang!” The machine gunners shouted, “Bup-bup-bup!”And the officer who showed us around, also a graduate of Sandhurst, said, “There wouldn’t be all this fuss, you know, if it weren’t for the petroleum.” He was speaking of the vast oil field beneath our feet. We asked him who owned the oil, and I expected him to say ringingly that it was the property of the Biafran people now. But he didn’t.

“We never nationalized it,” he said. “It still belongs to British Petroleum and Shell.” He wasn’t bitter. I never met a bitter Biafran. General Ojukwu gave us a clue, I think, as to why the Biafrans were able to endure so much so long without bitterness: They all had the emotional and spiritual strength that an enormous family can give. We asked the general to tell us about his family, and he answered that it was three thousand members strong. He knew every member of it by face, by name, and by reputation. A more typical Biafran family might consist of a few hundred souls. And there were no orphanages, no old people’s homes, no public charities and, early in the war, there weren’t even schemes for taking care of refugees. The families took care of their own, perfectly naturally. The families were rooted in land. There was no Biafran so poor that he did not own a garden.

Lovely.

Families met often, men and women alike, to vote on family matters. When war came, there was no conscription. The families decided who should go. In happier times, the families voted on who should go to college to study what and where. Then everybody chipped in for clothes and transportation and tuition. The first person from the area to be sponsored by his family all the way through graduate school was a physician, who received his doctor’s degree in 1938. Thus began a mania for higher education of all kinds. This mania probably did more to doom the Biafrans than any quantity of petroleum. When Nigeria became a nation in 1960, formed from two British colonies, Biafra was part of it—-and Biafrans got the best jobs in industry and the civil service and the hospitals and the schools, because they were so well educated. They were hated for that—perfectly naturally. It was peaceful in Owerri at first. It took us a few days to catch on: Not only Owerri but all of Biafra was about to fall. Even as we arrived, government offices nearby were preparing to move. I learned something: Capitals can fall almost silently. Nobody warned us. Everybody we talked to smiled. And the smile we saw most frequently belonged to Dr. B. N. Unachukwu, the chief of protocol in the Ministry of Affairs. Think of that: Biafra was so poor in allies at the end that the chief of protocol had nothing better to do than woo two novelists and an English teacher, He made lists of appointments we had with ministers and writers and educators and so on. He sent around a car each morning, with a chauffeur and guide. And then we caught on: His smile and everybody’s smile was becoming slightly sicker with each passing day. On our fifth day in Biafra, there was no Dr. Unachukwu, no chauffeur, and no guide.

We waited and waited on our porches. Chinua Achebe, the young novelist, came by. We asked him if he had any news. He said he didn’t listen to news anymore. He didn’t smile. He seemed to be listening to something melancholy and maybe beautiful, far far away. I had a novel of his, Things Fall Apart He autographed it for me. “I would invite you to my house,” he said, “but we don’t have anything.” A truck went by, loaded with office furniture. All the trucks had names painted on their sides. The name of that one was Slow to Anger. “There must be some news,” I insisted.

“News?” he echoed. He thought. Then he said dreamily, “They have just found a mass grave outside the prison wall.” There had been a rumor, he explained, that the Nigerians had shot a lot of civilians while they’d held Owerri. Now the graves had been found. “Graves,” said Chinua Achebe. He found them uninteresting.

“What are you writing now?” said Miriam.

“Writing?” he said. It was obvious that he wasn’t writing anything, that he was simply waiting for the end. “A dirge in Ibo,” he said. Ibo was his native tongue.

An extraordinarily pretty girl named Rosemary Egonsu Ezirim came over to introduce herself. She was a zoologist. She had been working on a project that hoped to turn the streams into fish hatcheries. “The project has been suspended temporarily,” she said, “so I am writing poems.”

“All projects have been suspended temporarily,” said Chinua, “so we are all writing poems.”

Leonard Hall, of the Manchester Guardian, stopped by. He said, “You know, the closest parallel to what Biafra is going through was the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto.” He was right. The Jews of Warsaw understood that they were going to get killed, no matter what they did, so they died fighting.

The Biafrans kept telling the outside world that Nigeria wanted to kill them all, but the outside world was unimpressed.

“It’s hard to prove genocide,” said Hall. “If some Biafrans survive, then genocide hasn’t been committed. If no Biafrans survive, who will complain?”

A male refugee came up to us, rubbed his belly with one hand, begged with the other. He rolled his eyes.

“No chop,” we said. That meant, “No food.” That was what one said to beggars. Then a healthy girl offered us a quart of honey for three pounds., As I’ve already said, the economy was free enterprise to the end.

It was a lazy day.

We asked Rosemary about a round, bright-orange button she was wearing. “Daughters of Biafra,” it said. “Wake! March!” In the middle was a picture of a rifle.

Rosemary explained that Daughters of Biafra supported the troops in various ways, comforted the wounded, and practiced guerrilla warfare. “We go up into the front lines when we can,” she said. “We bring the men small presents. If they haven’t been doing well, we scold them, and they promise to do better. We tell them that they will know when things are really bad, because the women will come into the trenches to fight. Women are much stronger and braver than men.”

Maybe so.

“Chinua, what can we send you when we get back home?” said Vance.

And Chinua said, “Books.”

“Rosemary,” I said, “where do you live?”

“In a dormitory room not far from here. Would you like to see it?” she said.

So Vance and I walked over there with her, to stretch our legs. On the way, we marveled at a squash court built of cement block—built, no doubt, in colonial times. It had been turned into a Swiss cheese by armor-piercing cannon shells. There was a naked child in the doorway, and her hair was red. She seemed very sleepy, and the light hurt her eyes.

“Hello, Father,” she said.

All of Owerri seemed out for a walk on either side of the street in single file. The files moved in opposite directions and circulated about the town. There was no place in particular for most of us to go. We were simply the restless center of the dot on the map called Biafra, and the dot, was growing smaller all the time.

We strolled past a row of neat bungalows. Civil servants lived there. Each house had a car out front, a VW, an Opel, a Peugeot.

There was plenty of gasoline, because the Biafrans had built cunning refineries in the bush. There weren’t many storage batteries, though. Most private cars had to be started by pushing.

Outside one bungalow was an Opel station wagon with its back full of parcels and with a bed and a baby carriage tied on top. The man of the house was testing the knots he’d tied, while his wife stood by with the baby in her arms. They were going on a family trip to nowhere. We gave them a push.

A soldier awarded Vance and me a salute and a dazzling smile. “Comment ça pa?” he said. He supposed we were Frenchmen. He liked us for that. France had slipped a few weapons to Biafra. So had Rhodesia and South Africa, and so had Israel, I suspect.

“We will accept help from anyone,” General Ojukwu told us, “no matter what their reasons are for giving it. Wouldn’t you?”

Rosemary lived in a twelve-by-twelve dormitory room with her five younger brothers and sisters, who had come to see her over the Christmas holidays. Rosemary and her seventeen-year-old sister had the bed. The rest slept on mats on the floor, and everybody was having an awfully good time.

There was plenty to eat. There were about twenty pounds of yams piled on the windowsill. There was a quart of palm oil for frying yams. Palm oil, incidentally, was one of two commodities that had induced white men to colonize the area so long ago. The other commodity was even more valuable than palm oil. It was human slaves.

Think of that: slaves.

We asked Rosemary’s sister how long it took her to fix her hair and whether she could do it without assistance. She had about fourteen pigtails sticking straight out from her head. Not only that, but her scalp was crisscrossed by bare strips, which formed diamonds—strips around the hair in the pigtails. Her head was splendidly complicated, like a Russian Easter egg.

“Oh, no, I could never do it alone,” she said. Her relatives did it for her every morning. It took them an hour, she said.

Relatives.

She was an innocent, pretty dumpling in a metropolis for the first time. Her village hadn’t been overrun yet. Her big, cozy family hadn’t been scattered to the winds. There were peace and plenty there.

“I think we must be the luckiest people in Biafra,” she said.

Rosemary’s sister still had her baby fat.

And now, as I write, I hear from my radio that there was a lot of raping when the Nigerian army came through, that one woman who resisted was drenched with gasoline and then set on fire.

I have cried only once about Biafra. I did it three days after I got home, at two o’clock in the morning. I made grotesque little barking sounds for about a minute and a half, and that was that.

Miriam tells me that she hasn’t cried yet. She’s tough about the ways of the world.

Vance cried at least once, while we were still in Biafra. When little children took hold of his fingers and stopped crying, Vance burst into tears.

Wounded soldiers were living in Rosemary’s dormitory, too. As I left her room, I tripped on her doorsill, and a wounded soldier in the corridor said brightly, “Sorry, sah” This was a form of politeness I had never encountered outside Biafra. Whenever I did something clumsy or unlucky, a Biafran was sure to say that: “Sorry, sah!” He would be genuinely sorry. He was on my side, and against a bloody trapped universe.

Vance came into the corridor, dropped the lens cap of his camera. “Sorry, sah! said the soldier again, We asked him if life has been terrible at the front. “Yes, sah!”he said. “But you remind yourself that you are a brave Biafran soldier, sah, and you stay.”

A dinner party was given in our honor that night by Dr. Ifegwu Eke, the commissioner for education, and his wife. They had been married four days. He had a doctor’s degree from Harvard. She had a doctor’s degree from Columbia. There were five other guests. They all had doctor’ degrees. We were inside a bungalow. The draperies were drawn.

There was a Danish modern sideboard on which primitive African carvings were displayed. There was a stereo phonic phonograph as big as a boxcar. It was playing the music of Mantovani. One of the syrupy melodies, remember, was “Born Free.”

There were canapes. There was a sip of brandy to loosen our tongues. There was a buffet dinner, which included bits of meat from a small native antelope. It was dreadful in the way so many parties are dreadful: Everybody talked about everything except what was really on his mind.

The guest to my right was Dr. S. I. S. Cookey, who had taken his degree at Oxford and who was now provincial administrator for Opobo Province. He was exhausted. His eyes were red. Opobo Province had fallen to the Nigerians months ago. Others were chatting prettily, so I ransacked my mind for items that might encourage Dr. Cookey and me to bubble, too. But all I could think of were gruesome realities of the most immediate sort. It occurred to me to ask him, for instance, if there was a chance that one thing that had killed so many Biafrans was the arrogance of Biafra’s intellectuals. My mind was eager to ask him, too, if I had been a fool to be charmed by General Ojukwu. Was he yet another great leader who would never surrender, who became holier and more radiant as his people died for him?

So I turned to cement. I remained cement through the rest of the evening, and so did Dr. Cookey; Vance and Miriam and I had a drink in Miriam’s room after the party. Owerri’s diesel generator had gone off for the night, so we lit a candle.

Miriam commented on my behavior at the party.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t come to Biafra for canapes.

What did we eat in Biafra? As guests of the government, we had meat and yams and soups and fruit. It was embarrassing. Whenever we told a cadaverous beggar “No chop,” it wasn’t really true. We had plenty of chop, but it was all m our bellies. There was a knock on Miriam’s door that night. Three men came in. We were astonished. One of them was General Philip Effiong, the second funniest man in Biafra. He had a tremblingly devoted aide with him, who saluted him ten times a minute, though the general begged him not to. The third man was a suave and dapper civilian in white pants and sandals and a crimson dashiki. He was Mike Ikenze, personal press secretary to General Ojukwu.

The young general was boisterous, wry, swashbuckling, high as a kite on incredibly awful news from the fronts. Why did he come to see us? Here is my guess: He couldn’t tell his own people how bad things were, and he had somebody. We were the only foreigners around. He talked for three hours. The Nigerians had broken through everywhere. They were fanning out fast, slicing the Biafran dot into dozens of littler ones. Inside some of these littler dots, hiding in the bush, were tens of sands of Biafrans who had not eaten anything for weeks and more. What had become of the brave Biafran soldiers? They were woozy with hunger. They were palsied by shock. They had left their holes. They were wandering.

General Effiong threw up his hands. “It’s over!” he cried, and he gave a laugh that was ghoulish and broken.

He was wrong, of course. The world is about as un-shockable as a self-sealing gas tank.

We didn’t hear guns until the next afternoon. At five o’clock sharp there were four quick peals of thunder to the south. The thunder was manmade. No shells came our way.

The birds stopped talking. Five minutes went by, and they began talking again.’

The government offices were all empty. So were the bungalows. We were waiting for Dr. Unachukwu to take us to Uli Airport, the only way out. The common people had stayed to the last, buying and selling and begging— doing each other’s hair.

They, too, stopped talking when they heard the guns. We could see many of them from our porches. They did not start talking again. They gathered together their property, which they put on their heads. They walked out of Owerri wordlessly, away from the guns.

Dr. Unachukwu, our official host, did not come, and did not call. It was spooky in Owerri. We were now the only people there. We didn’t hear the guns again. Their words to the wise were sufficient.

Owerri’s diesel generator was still running. That was another thing I learned about a city falling silently: To fool the enemy for a little while, you leave the lights on.

Dr. Unachukwu came. He was frantic to be on his way, but he smiled and smiled. He was at the wheel of his own Mercedes. The back of it was crammed with boxes and suitcases. On top of the freight lay his eight year-old son.

I have written all this quickly. I find that I have betrayed my promise to speak of the greatness rather than the pitifulness of the Biafran people. I have mourned the children copiously. I have told of a woman who was drenched in gasoline.

As for national greatness: It is probably true that all nations are great and even holy at the time of death.

The Biafrans had never fought before. They fought well this time. They will never fight again.

They will never play Finlandia on an ancient marimba again.

Peace.

My neighbors ask me what they can do for Biafra at this late date, or what they should have done for Biafra at some earlier date.

I tell them this: “Nothing. It was and is an internal Nigerian matter, which you can merely deplore.”

Some wonder whether they, in order to be up to date, should hate Nigerians now.

I tell them, “no.”

 

Help to save life in Aguata,Breaking News.

EKWULOBIA BORN PASTOR,CONDEMNED TO DEATH BY HANGING CRIES OUT FROM THE PRISON.

Rev.Chibuike Ezeokeke,the self acclaimed pastor of the Holy Junction Prayer Ministry Okpo Ekwulobia who is now on the death row cell of the Enugu medium prison has cried out,asking for God’s divine intervention in his ordeal.
Pastor Ezeokeke was found guilty of murder and condemned to death by hanging by the Court 1of the Anambra State High,Ekwulobia presided over by His Lordship, Justice P.Obiora on June 21 last year for killing his cousin, Mr Emmanuel Ezeokeke.
As it is today,Pastor Chibuike is only waiting for the hangman’s appointment, having lost 90 days of appeal grace on September 2017.
The Ekwulobia UrbanNews,learnt that the pastor’s travails began on May 6,2009 when he stabbed late Emmanuel,son of his sister,Rita Okonkwor, new Ezeokeke during a fight over the family’s land.33186818_1540105809451133_5396304211862355968_n
The family’s patriarch, late Mr Ezeokeke Ezeume of Umuezenani kindred OKPO Ekwulobia had decided to remarry his first daughter, Abigail after the woman has given birth to Pastor Chibuike and his only sibling Rita during the Nigerian/Biafran war..The reason being that he,Ezeokeke Ezeume had only one male child named Louis and two females,Abigail and the sister.
Rita,who is Chibuike’s only sister equally got pregnant in his father’s house and gave birth to Emmanuel in 1980.
Since the death of Ezeokeke Ezeume,the head of the family in 1986,it has been a family of commotion,the bone of contention being the family’s property.
Pastor Chibuike had built on a land the late Emmanuel and her mother Rita who has since married to an Umuchi man,Marcel Okonkwor believed was their share of the family’s lands,but the pastor was disproving that asking his sister and his son to meet the first son of their father,Louis,whom the pastor accused of selling the very land apportioned to Emmanuel.
Before the gruesome murder of Emmanuel on May 6,2009,this issue has been a recurring decimal in the chequered history of the family’s feud.
Pastor Chibuike after stabbing Emmanuel to death,absconded with his family of six to an unknown destination resulting in the police putting a tag on him and declaring him wanted.
Nobody knew his where about until November 2010,sixteen months after killing his cousin when he was sighted in a town called Akpugoeze in Enugu state.Akpugoeze shares border with Awa town and not too far from Ufuma in Orumba North local government area of Anambra.
Someone who knew him while he was doing commercial bike business had alerted the neighborhood and told them about the pastor’s case in Ekwulobia.And that was how he was almost lynched at the scene of his capture before the arrival of detectives of the homicide division of the Aguata Divisional Police headquarters Ekwulobia.One account said that Pastor Chibuike was caught while organizing a church crusade in Akpugoeze.
Since his arrest,Pastor Chibuike’s case followed diligent prosecution in the the State High Court 1 Ekwulobia with his defence counsel, one Barrister Ike from Agba village throwing all legal punches to save him.
On June 21,2017,the presiding judge found Pastor Chibuike guilty as charged and sentenced him to death by hanging without option of fine.
PastorPastor Chibuike had 90 days grace to appeal against the judgement, starting from the date it was delivered, but he never did.
He is now from the death row inmate cell of the Enugu medium prison hoping for a divine intervention to escape from the hangman’s appointment.
Ekwulobia UrbanNews exclusively learnt that Pastor Chibuike has equally began evangelical works among his fellow condemned inmates of the prison with a view to turning a new leaf and be part of any prerogative of mercy measures anytime by the Anambra state governor, Sir Willie Obiano.Ekwulobia Urban-News

If you give your lover a Flower must read,

I prefer to give a Woman Ogirishi ,Ogilisi tree to plant in your Home than to give them Flower,How many time will i give you flower after it dies,as the love brakes away always,?
Traditional Nwokedi challenges,saying love brakes away because the flower you give love died in a week,so the love begin to die later.
Traditional Nwokedi said that If you married a Woman from Nanka ,She will come to your house with Ogilisi tree and plant it there,and If you realy love Her she must have control of your Place,,15094846_1496507433723727_5625790824715744825_n
Traditional Nwokedi said that I prefer to give you Oha Tree,Ogilisi tree,Mango Tree,Avacado Tree,Goava Tree,etc to plant in your House of in my House,so as they grows in seasons bears fruits so the love will grows in season and bears fruits,do not think that I did not love you,because I have never gives you flower,but I have another ways of thinking memory,thank you.like and share if you support.

 

Biafrans have made history,Ofe Nsala Day,in Biafra land,

18th of November is  called Ofensara Day,this is one of the great history and We have many 23621956_1734183023282931_5564337567442797316_nfotos of Ofe Nsala Historical day, Everywhere in Biafra Land is Celebration of Nsara Soup,19748923_136960540404932_3345373871796210924_nAn Igbo Man Eating Nsara Soup with Beer ,it is called Ofe Nsara Day,I wish I was there,lol23561353_1550168605067457_622410104255161290_nIn every corner on 18th of November in Biafra Land is Eating and drinking ,but it is called Nsara Day,23754851_1734184999949400_4522774454359857333_nNo Election everywhere,It is a day that IPOB are showing to the World that they Owned the Land,and they control the land not by gun,23659589_1389958617769654_902061440974690855_nbut respect truth and honesty,Aba youths turn their streets into playgrounds in honor to “No Election day” aka “Ofe Nsala day” in Anambra.23561593_1600831756646463_9221968008719421513_nWishing u all happy Ofensala… Oya join Biafrans to boycott every elections…23561691_1637037806352899_588013001470421170_nOfe Nsala girl celebrates Ofe Nsala in grand style.Ofe nsala eyego
The soup is done.23658494_361370674302930_4068896032893034716_n
Am enjoying ofe nsala sit at home with my fellow comrades here..
Nothing like election out side 23621316_1550168701734114_632654233457943070_n
Enjoyment continues all thanks to you sister for this wonderful ofe nsala.Ofe Nsala Day 18th November ‘17 is fast approaching.. 23561729_2035989913301930_2622652999142534702_nplease send in pictures videos of your Soup of the Day with hashtag #YourTown #OfeNasala 23658822_1556982187724713_4108384089867158946_n,Enjoying my ofe nsala, ,,can’t afford to miss this,,,,,,,,Thanks You Nnamdi Kanu,IPOB members eating their ofe nsala.23754719_361370600969604_7028438368867352005_n And with no care in the world about the election.Bring ur plate come ooooo our sister Rose Mary Ogechukwu Okagbue Ada di oramma si anyi ribe ofensala onye na abiarooo mere onwe ya.23561453_522278408136639_4948623802460331204_n We are winning the war.like and share ,this is great history day in Biafra land and Africa and the World,23621161_1611356198945648_1383559564393833850_nthis is amazing,everyone if at home eating Ofe Nsala.some voters decided to vote for Ofe Nsala ,23561819_1297973490308764_2749623466408847752_nthis is amazing,like and share,follow our Page,like and share,

THE EFFECTIVE USE OF THE IGBO SECOND PERSON SINGULAR PRONOUNS: /Ị/ and /Gị/ TO FORM MEANINGFUL/GRAMMATICAL CONSTRUCTIONS. WHAT YOU SHOULD LEARN NOW.

 

By

Okoro Mark Ogbonnaya (Maazị Ogbonnaya)

We are still discussing rules for writing standard Igbo. I noticed through my research that a large number of Igbo native speakers find it so difficult to place the second person singular pronouns /ị/ and /gị/ in their rightful positions in a sentence (written or spoken).14650542_1134433066625947_6762515815230841114_n

Being a native speaker of Igbo is not enough to justify one’s Igbo grammatical and communicative competence. You cannot speak English formally anyhow you wish, be you an English native speaker or non-native speaker. The same thing goes for Igbo. You cannot speak or write it anyhow you wish. The following sentences have something to tell us regarding this:

*Nye m mmiri ka m taa
* Nye m mmanya ka m rie
* Nye m nri ka m ńụọ

You will agree with me that when you make the above sentences, the grandmother in your village who didn’t attend any formal education will call you a mad man. Formal education has nothing to do with one’s language. The point I want to make. Some always say: “because Maazi is an Igbo linguist that is why he always want to shove the rules they formed in school down one’s throat”. Which rules? Just go to the village and tell an elderly person, “nye m akara ka m ńụọ”, you will be ostracised and tagged a mad man. The rules are linguistically genetic. The truth is that the aforementioned expressions are morphologically and syntactically correct but semantically and grammatically wrong. Even the speaker will spit on his face for committing such grammatical blunder. What point am I making?

You cannot speak or write Igbo anyhow you wish. It is a rule-based language. Being an Igbo is not enough.

Coming to the topic of today, /ị/ and /gị/ have the same grammatical function but their usage differs. Both are used to refer to the second person singular pronoun. But they cannot be used interchangeably. Let us see the rules:

FIRST RULE:

“Ị” cannot end a sentence in Igbo or appear in the middle of a sentence (except in some conditions) to function as second person singular pronoun. Eg:
* Nwanne ị ahụ na-abịa
* Ndị ahụ niile bụ ndị be ị

These sentences are constructively wrong.

SECOND RULE: (conditions under which “ị” comes in the middle)

“ị” appears in the middle of a sentence when an auxiliary verb comes after it. Eg:
*Mgbe ị na-abịa
*Oge ahụ ị na-agba egwu
*Ọ kwa ị ga-agba ọsọ?
“na” and “ga” that come after “ị” are all auxiliary verbs in the context.

Another condition is when a complete verb comes after “ị” eg:

*Mgbe ị nyụrụ nsị
* Oge ahụ ị tara anụ
* Ọ kwa ị kọrọ ọnụ?

THIRD RULE:

“ị” functioning as the second person singular pronoun generally appears in the initial stage of a sentence. Eg:

*ị ga-anwụ
* ị ga-ata ahụhụ
* ị na-achị ọchị ka ewu a na-ahụ n’ọkụ
* ị jọrọ njọ ka udele isi nkwọcha.

In these sentences if you initialise them with “ga”, you will notice that their underlined grammatical ingredients have been zapped. While though, some dialects of Igbo use “ị” and “gị” as regard to these cited examples, interchangeably. But this piece of research is focusing on the standard Igbo.

FOURTH RULE:

“gị” is used in the beginning, middle and the end of Igbo sentence depending on the grammatical rules it play.

Before “gị” initialise a sentence there must be a connection between the person you are addressing and another party. Eg:

*Gị na nwanne gị na-agba mbọ
*Gị na nwoke ahụ na-akọ ọnụ
* Gị na nwagbọghọ ahụ na-ayị.

No dialect of Igbo initialise these sentences with “ị”. Impossible. Rather you will get variations like: “gụ”, “ge”, “gọ” etc. If you doubt this, name the dialect.

When “gị” appears in the middle of a sentence. Eg:

*Nwanne gị ahụ bụ atụrụ
* Anụrụ m na ọ bụ gị nyụrụ nsị ahụ
* I zuzuchaa uche gị apịawa gị ụtarị.

When “gị” appears in the end of a sentence. Eg:

* O nweghị ihe m ga-eme gị
* Onye ga-anyụ gị anya bụ nwunye gị
* Ihe ga-eme gị ka ga-eme gị.

From our today’s discussion borne out of my personal rigorous research, I come up with these challenging rules of writing and speaking Igbo as regard to the second person singular pronoun. Any question? Feel free to ask. Let me pause here for now and keep thinking my thinkings. Daalụ nu!

Maazi Ogbonnaya

Mr Nwokedi about Igbo Language and what is going to happen.

Traditional Nwokedi said that it is a big challenge to me about the Igbo language.culture and tradition and history which is dying,.our younger generation are more faster than us.but we’re more wiser.those generation before us did not thinks of tomorrow.but we are their tomorrow that they did not think about.Echi.Oliver de coque played one song for them.ka ebiriwe ndu emechaa ka amara ihe aga eme echi.let them live life and think about tomorow later.after living life they will think of tomorrow.and they perished by living life,but they later say that echi di ime.tomorrow is pregnant.unfortunate that is the wisdoms that I pick.17155299_1649057908468678_5139015586490831234_n

we have to make sure that we did not disappoint the new generation of Igbos.the Christians amongst the people of Biafra please stop destroying our art work in our traditional houses.because those who destroying our cultural art work I have never seen any one who continues well after doing such .Igbo language will not die.everything is in those art facts.and Igbo people those who are interested in our works have to show concerns about what we are doing.the Igbo Culture and Traditional artifacts are history,Oral history,it can be translated in alphabets, 15995205_1581304585244011_8269588788674481555_o

Trying to understand why my Kindred name is called Umuohagui.Umu Oha Gunyere. the chosen one by the people, which in my Kindred we are not dragging anything by force.Umu children.Oha.groups.Community.majority.Gunyere.aguii.choosing ones.We are descendants of Black Smith.Umu Uzu.From what we are creating people always choose us to represent them in many things.black Smiths are same living everywhere in Igbo land because they have chosen us.Igbos used to Choose us Before to be creating signs and wonders in Biafra.but because during the slave trade time some Igbos’ thinking that they have see see what is better than the smiths and joined hands in selling the chosen one to slave.the black Smiths,but the black smiths build the world.they’re the victims of slavely during the time of Arochukwu selling slave in Bight of Biafra, 708because the slave buyers knows what they want and be able to deceive some elders.but the elders keep regrating and Igbo land is now the way it is today. because they sold their own neighbours to slave,all Igbos are not Black Smiths,and all Biafrans are not Black Smiths,13600185_1158577277516746_2131147214344207973_nWe the Black Smiths of Biafra,Igbos are still existing in Biafra Land,but Igbos do not want to tell their original stories,histories,some choose to replace it with bible,instead of the real history, still existing and we will make Igbo land as it once was.but the truth must be told and not lie.truth is life.what people are looking for is there.Chinonso.God is near .are we ready to reconcile the people?are we ready to say sorry amends some mistakes and move on.?ihe ukwu mere.mana ihe ukwu kpe azu.azu Bu Ike.Ikechukwu.Chukwubuike.Ejike,Emenike,Obumuneme,Mmadueme,Anadueme,Udoneme,Mmuoneme,Chukwuneme,Anazodo,Anazoba,Anagbaaogu.15283958_1505330922841378_3506550371727451392_n

How long will Igbo people keep brainwashing the brain of their Children with material and man made articles while their own man made and articles have been abandoned and Igbo language is dying,?Igbo people can tell good about bible history and stories but the origin is still misteries to all of them,our own history have been twisted by the same Igbo people who reads bible ,they never go same church,they are only christians but divided among each other,11202590_1761671960726101_5858885665605775263_n,,THERE IS STILL A LOT OF WORKS TO DO TO RESTORE EVERYTHING THAT Igbo people lost,Our language is dying,when I cant find any Igbo name for Tomatoes,Mango and Cashews,or do you know it?tell us,and there are a lots ,16789549_1050631985042805_7544464218427228160_nthere is needs that we need Biafra,our Elders have abandoned their children in seperates churches and they are reading bible talking bible,and their elders have been doing politics and playing game,but more important thing is that those who feel like Traditional Nwokedi ,those who feels the pain of all we lost will restore our herritages,

(IPOB) On The 50th Commemoration Of The ASABA GENOCIDE

World Press Release By Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) On The 50th Commemoration Of The ASABA GENOCIDE

Dated: October 5, 2017

The purpose of this Press Release is to extend a hand of compatriot comfort to all Biafrans and friends of Biafra everywhere in the world still in grief over the Nigerian army genocide in Asaba 50 years ago. Today, IPOB says to all Biafrans: ‘Ndonu’. And to each and every Biafran fallen in that tragic genocide, we say ‘rest well, your blood will not be in vain’. We are all joined by blood to stand for something, to stand against man’s inhumanity to man, to stand for freedom through Biafra.

Remembering Asaba would not be complete if we don’t go beyond Asaba and say more. So, we will use the opportunity of this very sad commemoration to remember all the other massacres of Biafrans that have occurred in the past and then persisted and heightened in this era.asari-dokubo-087

You will recall that in 1966, soon after the world commemorated the 21st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and made the customary solemn declaration of ‘Never, Never Again’, Nigeria defiled that season of reflection, commiseration and hope. Its military officers (assisted by civilians) planned and executed the Biafran genocide – the foundational genocide of post-European conquest of Africa. This is also Africa’s most devastating genocide of the 20th century. A total of 3.1 million Biafrans (mostly of Igbo stock) were murdered between 29th May, 1966 and 12th January, 1970.

Most Biafrans were slaughtered in their homes, offices, businesses, schools, colleges, hospitals, markets, churches, farmlands, factories, industrial enterprises, children’s playground, town halls, refugee centres, cars, lorries, and at bus stations, railway stations, airports, etc. In the end, the Biafran genocide was enforced by Nigeria’s simultaneously pursued land, aerial and naval blockade and bombardment of Biafra, Africa’s highest population density region outside the Nile Delta. In other words, even in their own heartland where they had taken refuge, they were pursued and killed in cold blood. The excuse then, as it were, was that Nigeria was prosecuting a war of ‘reunification’. On the contrary, there is quantum evidence that the war was provoked in order to accomplish the genocide that had begun in earnest across Northern Nigeria. The difference this time was to take it to the Biafran homeland where the victims had fled and taken refuge.19510485_460346864327272_8581293071145414379_n

The following excerpt from recently declassified US Embassy diplomatic dispatches of the era on the pogroms and the war is illustrative, and we Quote:

“The North was minded to use the war as a tool to reassert its dominance of national affairs. Mallam Kagu Damboa, Regional Editor of the Morning Post, told the American consul in Kaduna: “No one should kid himself that this is a fight between the East and the rest of Nigeria. It is a fight between the North and the Ibo”.

On the prelude to the Asaba Massacre, the US diplomatic dispatch continued thus:

“Ten trucks of Nigerien soldiers were seen being transported for service in the Nigerian Army from Gusau to Kaduna and over 2,000 more waiting on Niger-Nigeria border for transportation to Kaduna. 1,000 Chadian soldiers passed through Maiduguri en route Kaduna. These mercenary soldiers constituted the “Sweepers”. The captured American teachers aptly observed that there were soldiers regarded as fighting soldiers and there were other units that came behind to conduct mass exterminations. Major Alani, it was understood, was trying to get as many civilians as possible into the bush before the sweepers could arrive. There were too many civilians to be executed that Captain Paul Ogbebor and his men were asked to get rid of a group of several hundred Asaba citizens rounded up on 7 October. Not wanting to risk insubordination, he marched the contingent into the bush, told the people to run and had his men fire harmlessly into the ground. Eyewitness accounts confirmed that he performed the same life-saving deception in Ogwashi-Uku. However, other civilian contingents the sweepers rounded up were shot behind the Catholic Mission and their bodies thrown into the Niger River. This incident and many others were reported to Colonel Arthur Halligan, the US military attaché in Nigeria at that time.” Unquote.

Today, as we mourn Asaba, we salute and say ‘thank you’ to Major Alani and Captain Ogbebor. Out of that whole cesspool of killers, you two distinguished yourselves as the best exemplars of the human essence, best exemplars of the Nigeria that our forefathers imagined but which never came to pass.16938980_1231804453605712_4404648712820661981_n

Against above backdrop, we have noted the propaganda that the current Biafran struggle for self-determination is an ethnic backlash against President Buhari just because he is an Hausa-Fulani Muslim. We state unequivocally that this is false. How can this be true when the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Radio Biafra, and the phenomenon of Nnamdi Kanu, all pre-dated the election of Buhari in 2015. That the struggle seemed not very intense during the Jonathan administration was simply because Jonathan appeared sincere to have taken some bankable measures at protecting Biafran lives as well as addressing some of the injustices that were driving the neo-Biafra push-back as led by IPOB/Nnamdi Kanu. To be sure, it is the notorious Nigerian proclivity to kill Biafrans at will that constitutes the major motivation for the agitation to separate Biafra from Nigeria. So, that such killings virtually stopped during the Jonathan administration was what contributed most to the seeming but temporary lessening of the intensity of the agitation during that era. This is also true of the Yar’Adua era, even as short-lived as it was. Yet, Yar’Adua, like Buhari, was an Hausa/Fulani Muslim.15994340_1581304621910674_328723011957509856_o

Therefore, it is fallacious to say that this epic Biafran struggle as led by Nnamdi Kanu is directed personally at the election of President Buhari. If at all, it’s only because Buhari has proven to be the first post-Civil War Nigerian President that has made genocide against Biafrans a state policy. The highest point now is Buhari’s new state policy of ordering soldiers to hunt down the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, which culminated in the mid-September 2017 military invasions of Kanu’s homestead at Umuahia, where many civilian Biafrans were killed. As you are reading this, the manhunt is continues under the guise of the ‘Operation Python Dance’ Buhari foisted on the five States of the Southeast of Nigeria.

One common theme in all of these since time is that Biafran life is not sacred in Nigeria; almost nobody is ever brought to book for taking of innocent Biafran lives. Murderers of Biafrans operate with impunity and seemingly enjoy tacit support of the Nigerian government, especially of the present era. And to further justify such killings and more, Buhari has swiftly procured a highly questionable declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization, thus putting millions of IPOB members at the risk of being shot at sight.16999219_1872138129737795_6287234299584341600_n

As all can see, it has now gotten to the point where the world can no longer afford to be silent. As the renowned English philosopher Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. We live in a world plagued by real terrorism. That evil terror appears to have infiltrated the psyche of some officials in the Nigerian government and Biafrans are their primary targets. It is time for well-meaning Nigerians to speak out and for the international community to put a halt to it. This is especially urgent, as the present Nigerian government is clearly complicit in this terror. Buhari has even made deals with the Boko Haram and actually offered amnesty to its implicated members. He has proved dodgy and profoundly lenient while his kinsmen are threatening to forcibly expel Biafrans from Northern Nigeria. He saw nothing wrong in Fulani herdsmen killing Biafrans in their heartland, in their farms and their homes, yet he is obsessed with stigmatizing a universally nonviolent Biafrans as ‘terrorists’, thereby baying their blood as they could be shot at sight, even when unarmed.

As we remember Asaba, let us also remember the following massacres that have occurred recently in Northern Nigeria. They are: Kano 1980, Maiduguri 1982, Jimeta 1984, Gombe 1985, Zaria 1987, Kaduna & Kafanchan 1991, Bauchi & Katsina 1991, Kano 1991, Zangon-Kataf 1992, Funtua 1993, Kano 1994, Kaduna 2000, Kaduna 2001, Maiduguri 2001, Kaduna 2002, Beheading of Gideon Akaluka in December 1996 in Kano, Jos Christmas Eve 2010, Madalla Christmas day 2011, Mubi January 6 2012, Abia and Onitsha 2016, Afara-Ukwu, Umuahia September 2017; and still counting to what may as yet emanate from the ‘Python Dance’ that has dug-in and doing scotched-earth in Southeast. Against this backdrop, Genocide Watch has stated “that future genocidal massacres are likely, based on religious and ethnic identity. Nigeria is at stage 6 (Preparation) of Genocide Watch’s 8 stages of genocide.” Now, are we supposed to just be silent whilst the next slaughter looms?cku7mpyuoaakczd

No! We will NEVER keep silent. Instead, we will continue to agitate and seek solutions – fair solutions, permanent solutions – Biafra. Biafra means different things to different people. To much of the ruling elite, it means a plan to deny them free-will access to the vast hydrocarbon wealth of Eastern Nigeria. But to Biafrans, and as encapsulated by IPOB/Nnamdi Kanu, it simply means a right to self-determination, self-preservation; and ultimately a right to a referendum on Biafra either becoming an independent nation or not – on terms of a free plebiscite decided by the Biafrans themselves. Further, Biafra does not mean a war of attrition or hate-mongering against our compatriot Nigerians, nor will Biafra be forced on any Biafran that does not desire it.

At this juncture and despite provocations and lethal persecutions, let it be clear that IPOB still aligns itself with its famed nonviolent approach and rejects any government antics geared to drawing Biafrans to another war. If truth be told, societies progress when among competing ideas or options, they choose the most progressive of the lot. This is even more so when such societies have the benefit of hindsight which – in the case of Nigeria – lies in the Civl War and its aftermaths. To this end, IPOB, as led by Nnamdi Kanu has advisedly called for a peaceful solution that lies only in a referendum to FINALLY decide the Biafran question. We did so in all consciousness of the truism that an armed conflict will do nobody any good, not Nigeria, not Biafra.15697963_1539770959397374_6499650908023563499_n

Presently, hardly a week passes without one hearing calls for “True Federalism” or “Sovereign National Conference” or “Restructuring”. These hackneyed calls are even quite unrealistic in a country where twelve states have already adopted Sharia as State religion, which denies non-adherents of that religion certain freedoms guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution. Come to think of it, was it not a true federal arrangement (or true federalism) that Nigeria had at independence that could not survive more than six years? That era has passed and its failure as an era of ‘true federalism’ speaks for itself. Yet, all hope is not lost. That hope lies in present-day Nigeria. All that is needed is a compatriot realism that will open minds and hearts to embrace new solutions, sustainable solution, just and fair solutions. These solutions lie in a ‘Referendum On Self-Determination’ for Biafrans. Any other solution short of this would be duplicitous, futile and unsustainable.

Signed:

IPOB High Command

Directorate of State of the Indigenous People of Biafra (DOS)

Dated: October 5, 2017