USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: THE HISTORY OF THE NIERIAN CIVIL WAR SHOULD BE TAUGHT IN OUR SCHOOLS

On my arrival in Lagos, late 1966, the support of Lagosians was definitely with the Ibos despite the fact that the bombings of the Cassino Cinema and some other places were fresh on their minds. Cassino Cinema was, of course, in Lagos which is occupied mainly by the Yorubas.
By the time Ojukwu declared that no power in black Africa could defeat Biafra, we in Lagos, were sitting ducks for Ojukwu's airplanes. His planes came in at will an threw incendiaries anywhere they wanted. They even targeted the oil depot at Marine beach in Apapa for their bombings - I was there. If they had been successful, they would have set a lot of Yoruba people on fire.

Our Nigerian military were probably equipped with dane guns since all shootings coming from Apapa base had no effect besides making a lot of noise. The planes also came in on evenings to terrorize us.

Indeed, no power in black Africa could defeat Ojukkwu's military at that point. They clearly had the upper hand in preparing for the coming war.

When the MIG's came, Lagos was able to breathe a sigh of relief. Thanks to Russia. I say to myself, if there is one thing we must continuously thank Communist Russia for, it was the psychological booster it gave us in Lagos.

Still many Ibos continued to work in Lagos. However, the patience of the Yorubas was already wearing thin. However, it was clearly evident to Lagosians that the people who performed these attrocities were not those who worked with us.

By the time the Ibos were shipping out of Lagos and all parts of Nigeria for 'safety', there were no smiles on the faces of many people in Lagos. Although there was truly some measure of animus against the behavior of the Biafrans, many in Lagos still felt that the Ibos had been handed a raw deal in the North. Thus, many companies in Lagos, including the one in which I worked held their positions, including managment positions, for them till after the war. They resumed in these positions immediately after the war and they could find their way back to Lagos.  

The attempt of the Ibos to want to 'liberate' the Yorubas ultimately turned the Yorubas completely against the Ibos. And, to me, that was Ojukwu's greatest miscalculation for which the Ibos should have removed him or even excecuted him. What gave Ojukwu the idea that we, Yorubas, needed liberation is still beyond my imagination. But the Ibo's blamed the Yorubas for refusing to get 'liberated' and not Ojukwu whose mad ambition opened up a new and unwinnable front in the battle.

But then there were thousands of Ibos who, throughout the war, did not make the journey back home, from Lagos and all parts of Yoruba land.  Admittedly there were some of these who were rough handled while tensions were very high, quite a few of these claimed they were not real Ibos but Ibos from the MidWest, or sought refuge WITH THE YORUBAS. What else could have been the alternative?

Now, concerning this historical calisthenics that Doc. Nwakanma is engaged in, I should think responding to his tirades and fake history is really not worth the time and effort. Let us tell the story from our different perspectives for the simple reason that we do not want to inflame the passions of those who do not know better. This we must do, mainly for the fact that we do not need a repeat of the war.

A few years ago, Netanyahu was attempting to convince the Germans that it was the a Paletinian  mufti who was to blame for the Holocaust, almost completely absolving Adolf Hitler of the genocide. A German historian immediately corrected him by declaring that whatever happened "does not provide us with new scapegoats."  Germany is the fourth biggest economy in the world today.

FAKINLEDE K


On Friday, March 3, 2017 at 12:23:42 PM UTC+1, Kayode J. Fakinlede wrote:

'No victor, no vanquished."

This pronuncement, to me, is the greatest blunder of our civil war. I can almost say that it is at the bottom of the continued aspiration by a segment of our society for secession.

Of course, one could not have blamed the government of young Ganeral Gowon. It was reasoned then that in declaring that neither side won or lost the war, everyone would have learned his lesson and our nation would be at peace forever more.

What we see now is a blantant misplacement of historical facts and grotesque caricatures being made of those whose intentions were noble. But more importantly, we are seeing agitations where none should have arisen and from the side that was vanqished in the war. The factual victors, having remained silent for so long, are now being painted as carnivores and murderers.  

Anyone who was an adult during the civil war will definitely not wish another one on Nigeria. Lessons have been learned and honestly, not too many of these people agitate for secession or any form of upheaval, regardless of his tribal origin. It is those who were yet unborn or too young to experience the realities of war that would think it is child's play.

But the truth is that they do not know better. They receive information, not history, from their parents. In most instances, while the intenions of the older ones may not be for agitation, a vanquished people will always tell a story of their mistreatment and their heroism in the face of all odds.

A factual history of the civil war must be taught in all our schools to all our children. This is not to put any segment of our nation down. It is reasonable because this event marks the singular greatest period when, but for providence sake, Nigeria would have disintegrated. Moreover, people badly informed of the mistreatment of their forebears are bound to react negatively to their perceived malefactors.   

This subject needs not be given a name that would be derogatory to any side. It can just be called 'The Nigerian Civil War'. Therein all our young ones will learn as a subject matter: the events that led to the war; attempts to resolve the issues so war could be averted; who were the initial aggressors; who took part militarily in the war; who were the heroes; the parts played by our own leaders either in preventing or agitating for war; the parts played by others in trying to prevent war; how the war was prosecuted; how the war was brought to an end; life after the war; attempts to rebuild; the lingering issues arising from the war; the effects of the war on our present political life; important dates in the process; etc.

There is so much to teach our children and they should be properly and factually taught. Some smart person once said that whoever forgets the past is bound to repeat it, or something of that nature.

I rest my case

Fakinlede K

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