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ideas have consequences

You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>The genocidal Biafran war still haunts Nigeria
Tuesday, 02 October 2012 21:35

The genocidal Biafran war still haunts Nigeria

Written by Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe Chinua Achebe http://www.guardiannews.com/

 

The persecution of the Igbos didn't end with the Biafran conflict. Until the nation faces up to this, its mediocrity will continue

 

Almost 30 years before Rwanda, before Darfur, more than 2 million people – mothers, children, babies, civilians – lost their lives as a result of the blatantly callous and unnecessary policies enacted by the leaders of the federal government of Nigeria.

 

As a writer I believe that it is fundamentally important, indeed essential to our humanity, to ask the hard questions, in order to better understand ourselves and our neighbours. Where there is justification for further investigation, justice should be served.

 

In the case of the Nigeria-Biafra war there is precious little relevant literature that helps answer these questions. Did the federal government of Nigeria engage in the genocide of its Igbo citizens – who set up the republic of Biafra in 1967 – through punitive policies, the most notorious being "starvation as a legitimate weapon of war"? Is the information blockade around the war a case of calculated historical suppression? Why has the war not been discussed, or taught to the young, more than 40 years after its end? Are we perpetually doomed to repeat the errors of the past because we are too stubborn to learn from them?

 

The Oxford English Dictionary defines genocide as "the deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group ...". The UN general assembly defined it in 1946 as "... a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups". Throughout the conflict the Biafrans consistently charged that the Nigerians had a design to exterminate the Igbo people from the face of the earth. This calculation, the Biafrans insisted, was predicated on a holy jihad proclaimed by mainly Islamic extremists in the Nigerian army and supported by the policies of economic blockade that prevented shipments of humanitarian aid, food and supplies to the needy in Biafra.

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The genocidal Biafran war still haunts Nigeria

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/02/biafran-war-nigeria-mediocrity-persecution-igbo?newsfeed=true

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 02 October 2012 21:42

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