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We Are All Biafra — By Joel Pereyi



The  federal  government, through  NBC  may  dismantle  and  confiscate  the  equipments  of  radio  Biafra, they  may  jam  its  operating  frequencies, they  may  denigrate  its  operator, Nnamdi  Kanu, they  may  pan  gimmicks – standing  tall  amongst  their  stunts is  the  expunging  of  history  from  our  secondary  school  curriculum – to  make  us  forget  the  unjust  killings  and  massacres  that  occurred  on  the  portion  of  God’s  real  estate  called  Nigeria  from  1967  through  1970, but  that  doesn’t  change  the  fact  that  Biafra  Lives  On.   We  may  not  be  tampered  by  war, but  we  see  the  evidence  of  Biafra  manifest  in  our  everyday  lives. Like  the  lullaby  of  demons  and  symphonies  of  rueful  songs  made  from  hell  screams, we  hear  Biafra  in  the  tormented  screams  resonating  across  our  perimeters.   We  see  its  ghosts  in  the  rivers  of  withered  hopes  that  flow  from  the  eyes  of  yet  another  Nigerian  family  who  just  lost  its  breadwinner  to  a  Nigerian  death – a  death  that  could  have  been  avoided  if  our  health  care  system  wasn’t  dysfunctional, if  our  roads  weren’t  death  traps, or  if  the  Nigerian  Medical  Association  detected  only  some  weeks  earlier  that  that  medical  doctor, who  runs  a  private  hospital  and  also  practices  at  the  Federal  Medical  Centre  knows  nothing  because  he  cheated  through  medical  school.   These  evidences  are  served  in  different  assortments: The  tired  smile  of  that  overworked  and  belabored  young  man  whose  minimum  wage  take-home  pay  really  can’t  take  home  or  cater  for  the  needs  of  his  young  wife, new  born  baby  and  aged  mother. The  educationally  disadvantaged  and  misnomers  of  the  North  who  now  abduct  our  daughters, maim  our  sons, displace  our  mothers  and  fathers  from  their  addresses, leave  garbed  skulls  buried  in  the  rubble  of  what  yesterday  was  home, and  litter  our  streets  with  twitched, scalded  bodies  and  tore  open  skulls.   We  may  not  be  tampered  by  war, but  Biafra   is  evident  in  the  traces  of  dissatisfaction  we  see  on  the  faces  of  the  elderly  and  the  hints  and  gazes  of  disappointments  in  the  eyes  of  youths. We  see  it  in  the  epileptic  power  that  buoy  and  smother  the  dreams  of  young, budding  entrepreneurs. Our  olfactory  organs  testifies  to  the  red  smell  of  innocent  blood, putrid  human  flesh  and  umpteen  clandestine, extrajudicial  killings – all  searing  and  abiding  scars  of  the  pogrom   Tomorrow  and  every  tomorrow  thereafter, we’ll  run  across  that  young  unemployed  graduate  who  is  high  on  sorrow, drunk  with  pain  and  now  carries  a  dark  cloud  over  his  head. He  used  to  be  a  rabid  optimist, but  this  country, the  realities  this  country  brought  to  his  platter, made  him  a  gloomy  and  moody  pessimist. We’ll  come  across  that  secondary  school  student  who  is  surly, wondering  if  he’ll  ever  amount  to  something  in  a  country  where  his  elder  brother  who  graduated  some  five  years  ago  still  can’t  find  a  job.   Whether  at  the  airport  or  in  church  or  market  or  at  the  hospital, we  must  have  had  cause  to  experience  that  familiarity  strangers  adopt  with  each  other  after  sharing  in  the  disappointment  of  public  service. Perhaps, when  NEPA, as  the  street  calls  them  or  PHED, as  the  establishment  calls  them, seized  power  or  when  the  gas  station  sold  petrol  at  ridiculously  high  rates.   We  must  have  seen  that  Nigerian, that  white  collar  employee  whose  head  is  buried  in  worry  because  his  company  is  about  to  downsize  or  right-size  or  merge  with  another  or  be  acquired. We  must  have  seen  streets  fevered  with  darkness  or  woke  to  the  intemperate  ardor  of  listening  to  hums  and  cacophonies  of  generators.   These  shared  misfortunes, these  common  woes  and  collective  struggles  for  a  better  country, makes  us  all  citizens  of  the  land  of  the  rising  sun. If  you  have  in  anyway  been  a  victim  of  shenanigans  of  national  coyness, congratulations!   You  are  an  esteemed  citizen  of  the  Republic  of  Biafra. The  layer  after  layer  of  discontent  that  has  settled  and  formed  a  mass  in  our  minds’  mind  and  leaves  us  standing  valiantly, is  the  national  passport  of  citizens  of  this  great  republic.   The  idea  may  look  idiotic  on  the  face  of  it, but  look  beyond  the  shallowness. Take  off  your  rose  colored  lenses  and  you’ll  see  that  Biafra  is  deeper  than  Col. Ojukwu, MASSOB, Radio  Biafra, Biafra  Zionists  and  other  offshoots  of  the  holocaust. Be  objective  for  just  a  split  second  and  you’ll  agree  that  Biafra  isn’t  just  a  country. It  is  a  culture, a  country, and  an  ethnic  group  we  all  belong  to. It  is  a  country  that  lively  kicks  not  just  in  all  parts  of  Nigeria, but  in  the  heart  of  hearts  of  all  those  who’ve  been  fated  to  be  Nigerians – dead  or  alive, in  part  or  full, based  in  Diaspora  or  at  home .   E  pluribus  unum; out  of  many, one. Biafra  may  not  be  the  source  of  all  our  problems, but  it  sure  is  one  of  the  severest  symptoms  of  it. Forty  five  years  after, Gowon’s  “no  victor, no  vanquish”  remains  just  a  slogan. It  has  even  been  an  enabler, a  springboard  to  integrating  those  who  escaped  Ojukwu’s  mapping  into  the  great  republic  we  all  now  share.   As  I  scribble  down  these  words, brows  crinkled  half  in  consternation, the  other  half  in  concentration, I  set  out  not  to  generate  a  worldwide  debate  or  to  incite  or  fan  the  embers  of  latent  mutual  hatred  among  ethnicities. But  to  make  it  known  that  regardless  of   background  or  origin, we  are  all  kindred  souls. We  are  kit  and  caboodle. We  are  all  Biafra. That  is  what  was, and  it  remains  what  is. Its  just  that  most  of  us  don’t  know  it  yet. Joel  Pereyi  is  an  award  winning  essayist  and  freelance  writer. He  maintains  a  bimonthly  column  for  the  Abuja-based  FCTPost. 

Read More at www.sayelbatimes.com/we-are-all-biafra-by-joel-pereyi/ © Sayelba Times
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