Every failed attempt harbours in its core the passage to success. The gateway to the greatest renaissance, has always passed through the portals of various failed attempts. Although the Biafran attempt failed, it descended into the minds and hearts of Ndiigbo to mutate into a dream, which cannot come to those who fall asleep. It was a proof that we possess the capacity to greatness. It was provenance that more could be achieved on a more peaceable ambient, going by what was achieved with paltry resources, and under the most inclement of circumstances. This is a signpost, that given ample resources and a more fecund ambient, that we will soar to the skies, that was supposed to be our playground.
Biafra was an enterprise in responsibility. It was a dash to freedom. It represents the will to survive over and above the toxic inclemency of deadly circumstances. It was the triumph of life over suicide. It was an escape to liberty. This is the ontology of the Biafran idea. Today, Africa stands between survival and extinction. The leadership stands confused as poverty, ignorance and disease eviscerates Africa. HIV/AIDS has condemned millions of Africans to death by instalment. Poverty paints a gory picture across our land. Yet, no credible aucthonous program emanates anywhere from the continent to challenge these armada of deadly factors essaying to plunder Africa unto extinction.
When the circumstance is configured to do you in, it behoves you to engineer your survival. This is because in the core of every individual or group, resides an inexplicable compulsion, to conserve existence in being. To this end, each of us owes himself the principal duty of self-preservation. Anyone who in obedience to cowardice abandons this duty has entombed his memory in eternal disdain.
In Biafra, for the umpteenth time, a nation of men decided to go down fighting than live in slavery. They decided to take their destiny into their own hands when their compatriots deemed them game for hunting. In Biafra, men nay Ndiigbo refused to die quietly. They decided to make the elements witness their struggle to survive those who desired that they yield their lives to nothingness; to assuage their tyrannical realpolitik. They refused to succumb. Ndiigbo were never cut for a sheepish march into the crematoria of contrived wickedness.
And they succeeded!
Biafra advertised the wickedness of the principalities of profit. In Biafra international vultures that finance and feed off political instabilities in resource-rich countries conglomerated, to advertise their unethical roguery, and celebrate chaos. Morally bankrupt governments, like that which Whitehall played host to, bankrolled and oiled the Nigerian genocidal effort. British arms supported a blockade and starvation policy that saw over a million women and children perishing of kwashiorkor and malnutrition. Russian arms as well as Egyptian expertise were not wanting in the battle to bludgeon Biafra to death, and pummel Ndiigbo into extinction.
It equally offered a platform for the globalization of solidarity with human want. The gory pictures which represented the apogee of human wickedness, as was inflicted on Biafra were carried in the media round the world. Many simple individuals, who saw women and children of Biafra dying in droves, thanks to kwashiorkor, poured out their solidarity in food, clothing and other necessities; which they mandated should be sent to these starving people. They practicalized their empathy. At this moment, solidarity was globalized. They shared the sorrows and pain of a people some thousands of miles away, because they believed in humanity. Solidarity for the weakest members of our race was once more globalized. It was edifying.
Biafra was the triumph of responsibility over timidity; bravery over grovelling or drooling cowardice. It was the greatest act of self assertion and actualization; to die on one’s feet, rather than live on one’s knees. Any odyssey into liberty is an exercise in auto-transcendence. We reconnect to the base of our humanity which is ontological. That was the beauty in disobeying tyranny. And this accounts for Thomas Jefferson asserting that disobedience to tyranny is obedience to God. And God is that base of humanity to whom we revert to in the core of our being, even without knowing, believing or affirming it.
Though, a child of necessity, Biafra arose to represent the unyielding drive to survive. And survived we did.
Today, there exist an army of historical revisionists encamped on the valleys bordering contemporary Nigeria-Igbo history. Armed with cant, they are hell bent on embezzling the facticity of Biafra out of existence, at least in the narrow insularities of their parochial minds. But failure has been ordained to attend their efforts. No one can battle the truth and win. Truth stands invincible for all times. Some may attempt to cover it with the debris of falsehood. But the elements are certain to uncover it, so that the true may discover its eternal vitality.
Biafra was a truth. It encapsulated a people’s refusal to yield their skins willingly to the slave masters, whose desire is to tattoo and brand them with the red-hot irons of subservience. That was the moral of the Biafran resistance, which African leaders and all Africans of goodwill should tap into and borrow from.
Many Africans being confronted with the African predicament, instead of charting ways of ameliorating the situation, choose rather to emigrate into some comfortable slavery, to other areas of the world tidied up by someone else’s intelligence. In Biafra, the people went home to see how to help their fatherland. That was allegiance to one’s heritage. Today many Africans lack allegiance to their heritage. Their fluid willingness to abandon Africa in her greatest moment of need is a betrayal that our college of ancestors would never forgive. Africa today needs all her hands to be on deck to finding solutions to the myriad problems facing her. She does not need to be abandoned.
That for one is the ultimate lesson of Biafra.
By Onyemaechi Ogbunwezeh