“I lived in a refugee camp. I watched the Nigerian Army aircraft as they blitzed down the place I called home for over 20 years. I saw the lifeless body of the ones we ate from the same bowl the night before. Children with emaciated torsos scampered to safety as their parents didn’t even recall they had children.
We made our homes in the jungle, ate wild fruits, rats, snakes and any fleshy substance that took our fancy. Every day was a day to cry as we had to bury one, two, three sometimes four of us in shallow graves. The night was so dreaded, we never wanted to see the sun overshadowed by the clouds. The Nigerian Army launched series of assaults against us at night, so for us the night wasn’t meant for sleep, our eyes were wide open.
The mantra in camps across Biafra that time was: “We shall win”, this made our heart break when we woke up one morning to discover that Ojukwu had fled to Ivory Coast and his assistant Gen Phillip Effiong had signed a cowardly surrender, which they called ‘no victor, no vanquished’. My father used to own a mansion in Onitsha, yet he was given a paltry sum of 100 pounds as palliative after the war.
So my children I hope you have learnt from my story. Nigerians don’t want anything good for the Igbos, they are our enemies, hate them.”
While this might not be the case in most Igbo families across Nigeria, it might surprise you to know that the ‘hate-message’ is being propagated. This practice is not peculiar to the Igbos alone, as various stake holders in the Nigeria state have a sort of Paranoia embedded in their subconscious. You hear statements like: “You can’t trust Yorubas, they are back-stabbers”, “Igbos are only after your money, they will dupe you”, “Hausas are dirty animals, they might stab you over any slight disagreement.”
We now have preconceived distorted images of ourselves. This might not be our fault, the Britons all in the name of greed forcefully fused nations of different creeds together. You can imagine Spain, England and France becoming one nation, the commotion would be no holds barred. One would suppose that it’s been over an era now, Nigeria ought to have moved ahead. Like a baby that refuses to crawl, Nigeria still has internal scuffles amongst its tribes.
Our erudite citizens should do something, one will suppose, but some of them are even making matters worse. Chinua Achebe before his death, in his book ‘There was a country’ said: “It is my impression that Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his Yoruba people…However Awolowo saw the dominant Igbo at the time as an obstacle to that goal, and when the opportunity arose -the Nigeria-Biafra war- his ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams.” This shouldn’t be coming from one who is regarded as an elder states man. I thought Chinua Achebe before his death should have called for unity, rather he stirred a calming river.
Another scenario is the deportation of some vagrant Igbos back to their home towns last year by the Lagos State government. Some Nigerians of Igbo stalk saw this as a leeway to rain inherent vituperations on innocent Yorubas.
Back and forth the country we just must hear tribal jibes being thrown, the monarchs are even not left out. The Oba of Lagos was reported to have said that the Igbos would be thrown into the lagoon, if they refused to vote for the Ambode (The All Progressives Gubernatorial Candidate).
At this juncture I would like to draw my conclusions. There is no chosen race, there is no superior tribe. Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, let us all get off our high horses and see ourselves as one. Yes we had a terrible past, but let us forge ahead. Of all things to inherit, our children must not inherit strife.