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50 years after: Soyinka, Kukah regret Igbo massacre in Asaba

 

From PAUL OSUYI, Asaba

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has frowned at the practice of naming national institutions and infrastructures after leaders known to have committed grievous harm against humanity.

Prof. Soyinka bared his mind in Asaba, Delta State capital as special guest of honour at the ceremony marking the 50th Commemoration of  Asaba Massacre with theme “In Pursuit of Rebirth”.

He rallied against the situation where the perpetrators of the Asaba Massacre were rewarded; adding that one of the commanders was made governor of a state and others had streets named after them in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Soyinka opined that to glorify the perpetrators of the Asaba Massacre with streets and important public infrastructure desecrates the memory of the innocent people killed by federal troops in 1967.

“How do we talk to future generations about corruption if they find a street named after Gen. Aanni Abacha?

“Do not we think it about time that somebody took the bull by the horns and wipe out the memory of that individual, it is a small restitution.

“We do not say dig up Abacha’s remains and put in the evil forest, but do not leave lying around the provocative symbols the trauma that this nation went through.

“What does that make of the ethical foundations from which they pull them out to assist in peace keeping in areas all over the world in the enthronement of peace in the world?

“We are saying that to complete that archway of healing through which all of us must pass, the capstone is restitution,” he said.

Soyinka who along with other speakers advocated restitution to complete the healing process for the October 7, 1967 massacre, said “restoration is only possible ultimately, when it is closed by a consciousness of remorse and compensation, no matter how symbolic.”

Recounting his experience before the civil war finally broke out, Soyinka said the Asagba of Asaba, Prof. Chike Edozien hosted him in his home as mediatory efforts intensified to avert a full blown war.

“I may have come to Asaba a few times, but it is impossible for me to come to this town and among the Asaba people without an indescribable gamut of very mixed emotions, apart from the role of memory there is also the fact the history, but before my crucial passage through Asaba and the consequences, both for community and the nation and to principles to which one has attached oneself.

“Because it was here that I crossed through the bush paths, through the then Biafran enclave on behalf of the not just myself but of a group which believes passionately that the civil war was avoidable.

“Yes, shooting had started, but it was still at the skirmish level and we were frankly obsessed with the notion that anything on the scale of a civil war… without emerging in world history, anything in that nature which is avoidable could and should be avoided.

“Dr. Edozien who was  then Dean of Melaney Hall, University of Ibadan to which I returned as a fellow after my studies abroad he was my host. I slept in his house on that night and I talked with him. I remember that he was very happy that some efforts were being made to mediate.”

According to Soyinka he received information of the Asaba Massacre while in exile as he kept contact with the on goings-on in the country, adding that the incident inspired his publication The Man Died.

He urged forgiveness following atrocities committed during the civil war, while advocating that Nigerians must never forget, as the knowledge and wisdom derived from such experiences were ingredients that help shaped the moral foundations of nations.

 

 

Bishop of Catholic Diocese, Dr. Hassan Kukah described the Asaba Massacre as a black spot in the nation’s history that the world must know existed, but warned that the process of healing is a long one that Nigerians must embark upon with mutual trust and love.

Other speakers recounted their personal experiences during the period, and cautioned on the need to keep the memories for future generations.

They urged the federal government to build a memorial plaque with the names of victims in Ogbesowa Quarters in Asaba metropolis, the spot where the most heinous acts of violence were committed against the Asaba indigenes.

A book co-authored by Prof. Elizabeth Bird and Prof. Fraser Otanelli of the University of Florida, Tampa on the event and titled: ‘The Asaba Massacre: Trauma, Memory and the Nigerian Civil War’ was unveiled  at day two of the ceremony.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Ezekiel Okeke 7th October 2017 at 5:38 pm

    The question to the said sultan with the mockery that those who kill in name of God will go to hell are: Where will those who are killing for the fallen caliphate in the name of nigeria go to? Where will him sultan the leader of those killing for the fallen caliphate in the name of nigeria go to? Biafra is now a Sovereign State with interim government. The enemy who are killing for the fallen caliphate in the name of nigeria will vacate Biafran Territorial Sovereign State bleeding dead or alive- within the coming days. He sultan should also know that the education he said is key to developments, has to be implemented in the fallen caliphate, and abolish Almajiri etc., he should also know that Biafra has education as number one priority since the history, education will be free in God given Republic Of Biafra of the five south east states, to university level. On the other hand, Soyinka, Kuka etc. are not in a position to regrets Asaba massacre- they are not the culprits. The living culprits regrets nothing and are behind present massacres etc. and ready for massacres of higher magnitudes if the natives do not defend themselves against the enemy now. The only worthwhile message of urgency to all southern natives including Soyinka, is Defence against the enemy now, it is no longer about Asaba, the enemy is attacking the whole of south for the fallen caliphate in the name of nigeria. South has all it takes to crush the enemy in one night. all what is needed is coordination. As I already said, if south can feed north, south can exist, coexist in comfort with economic cooperation and assistance in which there is nothing to worry or fear, there is nothing to loose in south of Republic Of Biafra of south east, Niger Delta Republic of south south, Oduduwa Republic of south west. Asaba massacre happened because the natives did not defend themselves against the enemy, another massacre will happen if the natives do not defend themselves now. God Is With Us!!!

  2. Mazi Jude O. Obasi 7th October 2017 at 8:06 pm

    We can imagine, the Nation is gradually healing. It has been painful and limping but we’ll eventually get there. A situation of minds over matter, we should know God is telling us He shared a part of His mercies in our earthly minds. Let’s leverage that. He has forgiven us at this junctures of atonement. We have to forgive ourselves and move on.

  3. Ezekiel Okeke 7th October 2017 at 8:27 pm

    @obasi, generation of your thinking belong to the past. This is 21st century world and 21st century Igbos. There were Israelites who prefered to die in Egypt, there were also those who prefered the promised land and full trust in God. From all indication, majority Igbos of the five south east states prefered Biafra and God has given it to them. Those of you who prefered nigeria, are free to remain with nigeria. God Is With Us!!!

  4. Ezekiel Okeke 7th October 2017 at 11:13 pm

    Poor northern illiterates of the fallen caliphate are products of Almajiri and practise Almajiri, by so doing do not know civil nature and practise of humanity, they only know brutality with the nature and practise of Almajiri. No sensible human of civil nature and practise like Biafrans will exist or associate with such people in this 21st century world. God Is With Us!!!

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