The Nigerian Civil war formed the bases of the Nigerian historical antecedent. Even though Nigeria was a relatively young nation when this horrifying experience unveiled itself, the civil war raised questions as regards the comparability of Nigerians as a people and citizens of a country.
After a coup and a counter-coup, it was evident that Nigerians needed to talk about their existence. This reality is coupled with the killing and persecution of people from a certain ethnic group, especially the Igbos by some folks of another ethnic group.
The fact remains that Nigeria has refused to learn from the war that claimed the lives of over 3 Million people and displaced many more.
Though the war began in 1967 and came to an end in 1970, the flame of the war is still very much alive. every day we still see the injustice that instigated the war in the first place.
We cannot talk about the war without referring to the prominent actors during the civil war. On the Nigerian side, we have General Yakubu Gowon. On the other side, we have the leader of the Biafra, Chukwuemeka “Emeka” Odumegwu Ojukwu.
Going through the history of the war, we have learnt a lot from the experiences of people with were both victims and active players in the war. it will also be important to look at the experience of the leaders of the war, especially General Odumegwu Ojukwu.
General Ojukwu, an Oxford graduate, left a gratifying and safe job as a civil servant to join the army.
He initially served in Zaria and the proceeded to the Royal West African Frontier Force Training School in Teshie, Ghana. He served with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Congo.
After seeing the atrocities done to his people, the Igbo, Ojukwu initiated a secession from Nigeria. This, the Nigerian government won’t have. then the Nigerian/Biafran war broke out.
Before, during and after the war, Ojukwu wrote down his thoughts about the issues relating to the war. This was compiled in the book. “Biafra: Selected Speeches and Random Thoughts”
In this post, I will share with you quotes by this great leader about his motivation for the war and the experience.
- “For unity to be meaningful it has to be creative, not the unity of Jonah in the whale but the unity of holy matrimony. The first can only lead to defecation, the second to procreation.”
- “Biafra is a child of circumstance…His existence and survival are always a marvel, sometimes bordering on a miracle. His life is a tribute to man, his courage is his endurance, his ingenuity is his humanity.”
- “It is said that the 1966 coup that failed was strictly an Igbo coup, but then the irony of history is that it was the late General Aguiyi Ironsi, an Igbo who single-handedly dismantled the coup in Lagos, while my humble self, another Igbo-man rendered it immobile in the north.”
- “The history of the world is a chronicle of oppression.”
- “What I have become, in this struggle is the mouthpiece of my people. I go where they push and no more.”
- “Since oppression is maintained by force, it is only possible to remove that oppression by a counterforce.”
- “We do not play politics. We are not masochists; rather, we are people who choose to hunger a little to remain alive instead of feeding fat to become respectable corpses
- The illegal regime in Lagos under Gowon has accused Biafra of playing politics with her people’s misery. Our answer is simple: “We do not play politics. We are not masochists; rather, we are a people who choose to hunger a little to remain alive instead of feeding fat to become respectable corpses.”
- “One thing that frightens leaders and lead them to a number of excesses is usually fear of death. No leader should fear death. In fact, you should accept the fact that from the moment of leadership you are sacrificed to death.”
- “We are humans. We live. We fight, fight because the decision to be free is a decision taken freely and collectively, because to become involved in violent struggle for freedom is the only honor left to an oppressed people threatened with genocide because in the final analysis the only true bulwark against death is to live.”