Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

 

Sunrise in Biafra

Nnamdi Ebo 2 241x300 Exodus in BiafraBOOKS . There was a Time  | By Nnamdi Ebo.

Uncle Emma lived on Zik Avenue Uwani, Enugu by a junction. Zik Avenue was a major street in the regional capital if not the longest tarred road. It stretched and wound into Ogui road (if my recollection is correct). I was on holidays in Enugu the capital of Eastern region as Ojukwu consolidated his power. My cousin Onyechi and I were upstairs in his room looking at a black and white picture of Ojukwu that their houseboy bought from the Ogbete market and chatting. Suddenly, we heard a siren blaring and footsteps of people running helter skelter and the sound of commotion outside the one storey building. There were loud shouts of “He’s coming! He’s coming!” coming from a cacophony of voices like the rabble cheering a rassling sport of hand-to-hand struggle between contestants in a noisy Roman amphitheatre.

We looked at each other confused but excited at whatever prospects lay outside that is commanding such excitement “He’s coming! He’s coming!” and Emma his junior brother burst into the room and I queried “who is coming?” the little brat had the effrontery to say to us “make una deh dia” and sped off towards the staircase. We didn’t need any more prodding as Onyechi and I stood up and followed the path to the staircase.

Power! Power!! Power!!!

By the time we got outside, the whole street was peopled both sides by crowds and the whole length of Zik Avenue as I could see was empty, almost vacant except for crowds lined up on both sides of the road. A helmeted policeman as a motorcycle rider with long boots sped past in the centre of the road as a police land rover with Road Closed attached to the front grill followed behind, both of them in a hurry, sirens blaring. Onyechi probably knew the object of the anticipated attention but he didn’t tell me as we struggled to be in front of the rabble on Zik Avenue. As I managed and got to the front I asked a boy slightly older looking than I was “what’s going on?” “You no know? Power is coming soon” “who is power?” The boy either ignored me or he didn’t hear my last question. I looked around and Onyechi was nowhere to be seen.

Ojukwu. Biaafra heroAn army motorcycle rider and series of police and army vehicles speed past sirens blaring. Other sleek cars and a truck of gun totting soldiers speed past. Nothing again on Zik Avenue and we all waited. Suddenly, the crowd to my left across the junction four blocks away erupted into concordant shouts and hailing of …POWER! POWER!! POWER!!! I looked on to the left as a convoy of cars approached and in front was a black Rolls Royce as it rolled along in the middle of Zik Avenue and as it rolled past me I saw the object of attention seated regally in the backseat – Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (photo: right). I joined the crowd in screaming  …POWER! POWER!! POWER!!!

He had good crop of hair, bushy mustache and heavy beard to match. This look later created a cult following of Ojukwu bearded imitators and look-alike in the impending Biafran enclave. Emeka Ojukwu was charismatic, larger than life, played a central role in Nigeria’s history during its darkest hour. His father Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu was Nigeria’s first millionaire. Old Sir Louis wanted young Emeka to join him in his business empire but Emeka preferred the army. As I said before, he was one of the soldiers Lt. Col. Hassan Usman Katsina called the “Bookish soldiers” and that fascinated me because having grown up in the ivory tower so to speak, I was beginning to understand what education meant.  

Uncle Goddy picked me from Zik Avenue and we motored back to Nsukka. On the way as we got to the 9th mile corner and he turned the steering to go right towards the Nsukka road, I engaged him in a conversation “uncle I saw Ojukwu” “where?” “Enugu” he took a glance at me “Where in Enugu?” “Uncle Emma’s house” he took another look at me, this time longer with a perplexed look “Ojukwu came to see papa Onyechi?” “No! Zik Avenue” I told him about the spectacle on Zik Avenue and how it intrigued me.

The pogrom was accelerated and the mutilated bodies arrived on the death express trains from the Northern region especially en route Kafanchan to Enugu railway station. Crowds rushed to the station to see dead bodies of Igbos as the train drivers and wounded survivors told heart wrenching stories of butchery, slaughter, raping and murder. A particular corpse that struck a chilling cord was that of a rigor mortised headless pregnant woman with her belly split open, human fetus spilling out. It soon became the symbol of genocide and the easterners especially the Igbos wailed and gritted their teeth to no avail.

The eastern press and media took pictures and the newly established Eastern Nigerian Television (ENTV) recorded reels of macabre films while the film censors forgot to be censorious of failings in human decency. Their audience and viewers assimilated everything with pain and equanimity. It was probably designed to elicit indignation among the populace. It worked and the experience was to later form part of the propaganda strategy of sorts. Relations with the North deteriorated and things started falling apart a la Chinua Achebe. Ojukwu once again called on easterners to return to the east.

I remember that day, May 27, 1967 when uncle Goddy came to pick me in school. I jumped into the car and tried to list things discussed in school by older students. Some students said they heard the teachers discussing many things in the staff room. I proceeded to count with my right index finger “uncle good afternoon…eh…one…some people in school said Ojukwu has seized the railway and coal eh…company…No! Railway Corporation…and eh…the Port in Port Harcourt and he seized everything of Gowon’s government in Enugu no! East…is it true?” “Yes!” he said. “The Eastern region government has taking over all Federal Statutory Corporations and eh…even the revenues collected here…in the East”. He said he heard Gowon’s announcement on Radio Nigeria complaining in a broadcast earlier in the day.

The East defied federal authority disrupting the Railway, Coal Corporation, the normal operations of the Nigerian Ports Authority in Port Harcourt and Calabar and the flight schedules of the Nigeria Airways. These acts by the junta in Enugu increasingly disrupted federal operations and the consequences of these illegal acts according to the junta in Lagos have been the increasing deterioration of the overall Nigerian economy.

We got home. Boopey was always picked and dropped earlier but Afulenu and I were always taken home together by her father. I was still smarting from the departure of my American aunty and my two cousins to the United States of America. In the evening, uncle Goddy’s friend and our neighbor Dr. Egbuonu strolled to the house. I opened the front door and he stepped in, “di anyi olia?” and my uncle responded “odi mma kedu” and they entered into discussions that always kept me enthralled. In the same speech complaining of the East’s intransigence, Gowon announced the promulgation of a decree which divided Nigeria into twelve states, six in the North, three in the East, with the Mid-West, West and Lagos retaining their sizes as individual states of the federation. It just happened that on May 27, 1967, the Nigerian Head of State created 12 states, thus relegating the four regions to the dustbin of history. 

The creation of a twelve state structure was a master stroke by Gowon. Previously, the minorities of Eastern region had been agitating for their own states and some measure of administrative autonomy. They complained of domination by the major Igbo tribe and rejected marginalization. This was especially so of the minority people of Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers (COR) areas or provinces created by the now defunct Eastern Nigerian parliamentary government. These minority areas were previously dubbed the COR states. Eastern Nigeria was now divided into Central Eastern State later changed to East Central State, Cross Rivers State and the Rivers State.

War Songs

Soon, cries of war songs resonated in the East. Statesmen – Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr. Akanu Ibiam, Dr. Michael Okpara, Sir Louis Mbanefo, Eyo Ita, Chief Dennis Osadebay, Chief N. U. Akpan etc. pleaded for calm and restraint. As former C-in-C, Azikiwe pointed to the 150 rifles in Enugu armory as the only war-machine available and alluded to a catastrophe if war plans roll to battle. Their cries were belated as the drums of war seized the moment.

Despite constant arrival of death-trains in Enugu which was reminiscent of Nazi death-trains arriving in Auschwitz and Treblinka concentration camps with Jews destined for gas chambers, diplomacy seemed the best option – or so it seemed. Aburi Accord became a watershed. It was an event that was supposed to mark a unique and important historical change of course and would have been a pedestal on which important developments depended on. That agreement that never was became a watershed of sorts in the history of Biafra to come as I got down to normalcy in UNN Nsukka campus after the departure of my people to America.

To be continued 

_________________________________________________________________________________________

There Was A Time . Book Cover 01. 202x300 Exodus in BiafraCulled from: THERE WAS A TIME | Author: Nnamdi Ebo  |  Published by africagenda Publications  
ISBN: 978-978-50804-3-8  | 1st Edition 2013
Buy the book, THERE WAS A TIME |  Click  Bookshop
Nnamdi Ebo | [email protected]  
© 2015 Nnamdi Ebo . All Rights Reserved

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

47,105 Spam Comments Blocked so far by Spam Free Wordpress

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>