The Sun News

Asaba massacre: Soyinka, others deplore recognition of perpetrators

From Paul Osuyi, Asaba

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

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

According to Soyinka, 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. His words: “How do we talk to future generations about corruption if they find a street named after Gen. Sani Abacha?

“Do we not think it is 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 house as mediatory efforts intensified to avert a full blown war.

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

The experience he disclosed, inspired his publication: The Man Died.

While urging forgiveness, he stressed that the knowledge and wisdom derived from such experiences were ingredients that helped to shape 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, adding that Nigerians must embark on the process of healing with mutual trust and love.

Other speakers recounted their personal experiences during the period, and cautioned against keeping 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 entitled: ‘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 8th October 2017 at 7:48 am

    Igbos do not need apologies etc. Only have to Defend against the enemy now with whatever it takes. If not, another massacre of far higher magnitude is at the door step again, the same bandits involved, the same issue, 50 years after. Biafra is now a Sovereign State with interim government. The enemy will vacate Biafran Territorial Sovereign State bleeding dead or alive- within the coming days. It is up to south south of Niger Delta Republic and south west of Oduduwa Republic to wake up now. God Is With Us!!!

  2. Nwagu K V 8th October 2017 at 10:25 am

    Healing? Sorry, my revered prof, but such a word does not exist in the Nigerian lexicon. I. B. Haruna, (General NA retd) in refusing to appear in the Oputa panel set up by Obasanjo, declared he had no regret for whatever crimes, massacres or genocide he perpetrated or engineered during the Biafran war. And his is representative of the mindset of our northern brothers who saw those the murdered not as human beings but as animals, rubbish below contempt. The same mind set persists otherwise there would be no operation python dance where just a pedestrian trigger is needed to launch another massacre, another genocide. The mighty never commit crimes of genocide, they remove obstacles, sanitize by clearing human rubbish. That is the measure of their humanity.

  3. Dr. Uche Kalu 8th October 2017 at 11:36 am

    That Asaba barbaric masscre of 7th October 1967 was the climax of a progom,which the late General Murtala
    Mohammerd and the 2nd Division of the Nigerian Vandal Army under his command,started right from the land
    of the Binis.
    Gen.Murtala Mohammed did not only order his Officers and men to murder in cold unarmed Igbos,but to gang
    rape our women folks,daughters and our little school girts.
    A Roman Catholic Priest,who had rushed to Ogbesowa Quarters after the massacres of 7th October 1967, reported that many of the innocent victims were mere 6 year old boys from his nearby Catholic Primary School.
    The pogrom did continue across Niger Bridge to Onitsha and beyond.
    It was later in Abagana some 20 miles from Onitsha ,where the psychopathic mass murderer,Murtala
    Mohammed ,his Officers and men met their Waterloo, that the progom was brought to an end.
    Then,even the grasses of Biafra did rise to fight the barbaric Nigerian vandal soldiers by catching fire,
    engulfing and comsuming an echelon of Gen. Murtala Mohammed’s Regiments, stretching all the way from
    Abagana down to Enu-Onitsha.
    Lots of the Nigerian vandal soldiers who survived that Abagana inferno and tried to cross River Niger from
    Onitsha to Asaba in dinghies and pontoons,were drowned by the daughters and sons of the Nwangenes,our Igbo Deities,whose abodes are the Rivers and Streams of Igboland.
    Another barbaric Masscres of Eastern Nigerians which was conducted by Gen.Murtala Mohammed right-
    hand man,late Brig.Ibrahim Taiwo. That late Fulani/Yoruba mongrel,Ibrahim Taiwo had led a Contigent of
    the Nigerian Army to the Markurdi Bridge-head.
    In an operation that lasted over a week,every train and vehicle travelling Southwards,were searched by
    Brig. Taiwo’s Officers and men.The passagers,who were fleeing the 1966 pogroms in the North ,were relieved of their valuable possessions, all the men and boys above the age of 12 were led off to be hacked to death or shot at close range and their liveless bodies thrown into River Benue.
    Most of the young women and girls were also gang raped by Brig.Ibrahim Taiwo’s men and at his behest.
    It is indeed an immoral act and a collective insult to us Ndigbo, as well as a slur over he memories of those
    innocent victims of Asaba Massacres of 7th October 1967, that the name of the man who ordered that inhuman and heinous act of barbarism and savagery today graces our International Airport at Ikeja,Lagos.
    Also the image of that Bank Robber, Igbo-children rapist and a psychopathic mass murderer,Murtala Mohammed not only dons our currency but he is also named after many Streets and Institutions up in his native North and in the South West.
    The Judge ,Nyako Murtala ,who recently precided over Mazi Namdi Kanu case is presumed to be the
    daughter of Murtala Mohammed and also the recent appointend by President Buhari is a Ms. Taiwo,who I
    presume is the daughter of late Brig.Ibarhim Taiwo,the late butcher of Makurd Brigbe-head.
    All these insensibility and utter disregards for the feelings of Ndigbo, coupled with the current singling out of
    Ndigbo for marginalizations by President Buhari and his APC led government,go a long way to show how much the Nigerians love to hate us Ndigbo with passion.
    It is indeed very annoýing and humiliating for us Ndigbo to be citizens of a country,in which were are unwelcome, being threated with disdain and permanently relegated to the status of a 3rd class citizenry.
    No to the status quo ante bellum!
    Down with Hausa/Fulani Islamic Hegemony!!
    All Hail Biafra,the Land of the Rising SUN!!!

  4. Larry 8th October 2017 at 1:14 pm

    HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN ONE IDIOT CALLED GOV. WIKE OF RIVERS STATE GOVERNMENT WHO IMMORTALIZED FORMER HEAD OF STATE, GENERAL YAKUBU GOWON UPON THE ATROCITY THAT DEVIL COMMITTED. USELESS MAN, IT PAINS THAT WELL EDUCATED PEOPLE LIKE PROF. CAN NOT RULE NIGERIA TO PUT THINGS IN OTHER. ACUTE ILLITERATE IN GOVERNMENT EVERYWHERE

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