Nigeria’s Historical Amnesia: Concealing the Past on January 15th and the Lingering Shadows of Biafra

A nation that erases records and conceal history can't be progressive.
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A nation that erases records and conceal history can’t be progressive.

Nigeria decided to change her Armed Forces Remembrance Day from December 11 to January 15 to conceal history.

What was wrong with celebrating it on the eleventh day of December?

Nigeria would rather honour fallen soldiers in the WWI & WWII, than clearly mark the day as a remembrance for the nation’s first coup and an end to the Biafran genocide (sorry, war) just like they did with 29 May, to conceal the historic importance of 29 May 1966 (lunch date of the pogrom that further triggered the war)

Ifeajunna happened. Nzeogu happened. We can’t deny it, the coup happened. Igbo coup narrative happened. Aguiyi-ironsi’s assassination happened. Gowon & Ojukwu happened. We can’t deny it, the Biafran genocide happened.

Concealing it won’t erase the scar.
Lying about it won’t secure us a brighter future.

A progressive nation would take advantage of these notable events and reflect on how it affected the past, what the future of the nation holds and how not to repeat past mistakes, and seek ways to heal from, not one to run away from the past.

A progressive nation will talk about, learn and heal from it. But, na Naija we dey, a nation eternally cursed with profoundly foolish leaders obsessed with kleptomaniasis.

The Lingering Shadows of Biafra

Annually, in the history of Nigeria, January 15 means two different things:

To Nigerians, it is a day to mark the end of a civil war that started on July 16, 1967, and ended on January 15, 1970.

To Biafrans, it is a day to remember the atrocities committed against us, in that genocidal war that harvested the lives of over five million Biafrans.

It is a day to remember the ingenuity of gallant men, who against all odds, stood their ground to defend sovereignty, not just against an ailing Nigerian state, but also against Britain, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Algeria, Bulgaria and of course, the US of America, who all aided the Nigerian state.

According to Gowon, there was no victor nor vanquished. Even the devil shuddered at the creativity of such lie.

January 15 of every year leaves us with sober reflections on how Biafrans fought a war of survival.

It is a day that Biafran heroes temporarily laid down their arms, and passed on the baton (of peace—they wished) to us.

They did so with the conviction that, having resisted the Nigerian aggression for three years, the Nigerian state must have learnt enough to attend to the conditions that birthed the war.

Unfortunately, their expectations are yet to see sunrise. Instead of reconciliation, the Nigerian state embraced the provocative path, unleashing everything evil on the peace-loving people of Biafra.

A case of the victor and the vanquished. The. War. Never. Ended.

You don’t coerce people into unity.
The war might have ended on the field of war, but it rages on in the hearts of Ndị Igbo. What was agreed on, after the war, is not being implemented.

50 years later, look where we are.

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Jaachị Anyatọnwụ

Jaachị Anyatọnwụ is a poet, editor, and publisher living in the suburbs of Aba. He is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks and collections including 'Under the Sheets', 'Write Me A Poem', '30', 'Isms', 'Amina', and many others.

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