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June 14, 2024

Biafra Memorial: Reactions, by Donu Kogbara

Biafra Memorial: Reactions, by Donu Kogbara

Last week, I told you about my visits to the impressive Genocide and Holocaust memorials in Kigali (Rwanda) and Jerusalem, Israel.

Then I asked why our government has not established any museum or exhibition to commemorate victims of the Biafran civil war.

I’d like to share a couple of contrasting reactions I received from Vanguard readers, the first from a gentleman who requested anonymity:

Dear Madam,

I’m a big fan of your column. However, as someone who lost several relatives (I’m from Asaba) during the war, I paid more than the usual attention to your last two write-ups.

With regard to the above subject, I believe the Nigerian state in its present form will never support a Biafra memorial. Reason: those who were victors in the war and subsequently hijacked the state, will be concerned that anything of that sort could lead to questions being asked about the blatant lies and propaganda which they used to justify the unholy roles that they played before, during and after the bloody war.

Their intention was never to make Nigeria a fair and just society. Little wonder people keep talking about how little growth and development the country has recorded since 1970 compared to before the war.

Well, my Asaba people do their bit to ensure that the massacre of our grandfathers, fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins, on October 7 1967, is never forgotten.    

Best regards,

John (not his real name)

This letter is from Chief OTKD Amachree:- 

To answer your question, a Biafra Memorial would glamorise rebellion…The victims are better allowed to sulk in peace.

In Nigeria promising lives were cut short, brothers rose against brothers, communities were sacked, innocent people were sacrificed and properties lost. At the end only the goons were seen receiving the spoils of war with the proclamation “no victor, no vanquished”.

But is it true? Who wants these bitter and unforgettable pains and experiences to be ringing in the ears either annually or periodically?

THE YORUBA ANTHEM

This week, a video that has gone viral online was brought to my attention. It features Sanwo Olu, the governor of Lagos State and a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, surrounded by all of his Yoruba colleagues (including two who belong to the Peoples Democratic Party) as he announces the adoption of a song titled “Ise wa fun ile wa” as the official “South-West anthem going forward.” 

The rationale provided on the video is that the “beloved song reflects the region’s commitment to unity and cultural pride…and will now be a symbol of the region’s shared values and heritage, inspiring a sense of community and solidarity among the Yoruba people.”

I know a few Yorubas who disapprove of this move, on the grounds that it is an unnecessary distraction and potentially divisive. But none have expressed strong objections; and I am assuming that most Yorubas don’t have a problem with the idea of a South-West anthem.  

Many non-Yorubas however are very annoyed and describing it as downright offensive and a blatant bid by the South-West Governors Forum to tribalistically and arrogantly capitalise on the political primacy their ethnic group has gained via Tinubu’s presidency.

  I see it differently.

Firstly, two of the Yoruba Governors (Adeleke of Osun State and Makinde of Oyo State) have Igbo and Ijaw wives.

Secondly, at the height of last year’s toxic election battle when Yoruba irredentists were spewing out hate speech against Igbos in Lagos (because they felt threatened by Peter Obi’s popularity and wanted to block Rhodes Vivour, the half-Igbo PDP gubernatorial candidate), I never once heard Sanwo Olu or Abiodun (the Ogun State governor) say anything nasty about non-Yorubas.

Long story short, I have no reason to regard these men as diehard Oduduwa bigots who wish the rest of us ill.

Thirdly, “Ise wa fun ile wa”  is the old Western region’s anthem…and there was, I’m told, a time when every region had its own anthem.

One Yoruba public affairs analyst even sardonically expressed the view that “the revival of  Ise wa fun ile wa is  based on nostalgia; and they need to sell nostalgia because they’ve got nothing else to sell.”

Long story short, Nigerian Unity has always been fragile, so we might as well accept that regional interests will almost always overshadow national interests for the foreseeable future.

Long story short: Even if Sanwo Olu et al launched this initiative for nefarious reasons, they have every right to launch it and there is nothing critics can do about their determination to regularly chant a catchy little ditty about their shared ancestry and beliefs; and my advice to aggrieved Nigerians from other geopolitical zones is this:

REVIVE OR CREATE YOUR OWN REGIONAL OR STATE ANTHEM AND STOP BELLYACHING!

DONU’S WORLD

I have a new YouTube channel. It’s called DONU’S WORLD.

https://youtube.com/@donukogbara?si=bBm_IPdFZ_wUyKYq

Check it out every Friday to watch me talking about my life and issues that interest me. And please “like”, subscribe and share!

Today, I talk about the youthful experiences I had with fortune tellers in London…and the reason why I stopped visiting them.

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