An IPOB chieftain, Mr. ALOYSIUS SOMTOCHUKWU NWAFOR has lashed out at actor Kenneth Okonkwo (Andyin Kenneth Nnebue’s epic Igbo language movie ‘Living in Bondage’) over Okonkwo’s claim in an African Independent Television (AIT) interview that ‘Biafra died with Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’, saying the lead actor in ‘Living in Bondage’ spoke out of ‘total ignorance’.
In an ‘open letter’ to Okonkwo, Nwafor described the actor-turned lawyer as a man “suffering from identity crisis”. He, then, went on to educate Okonkwo about the origin of Biafra and how it came to be associated with Ndigbo, stressing that Okonkwo’s claim that Biafra is not an Igbo word and, therefore, cannot be appropriated as a name that should be dear to Ndigbo is, to say the least, fallacious.
A full text of the letter (reproduced below) reads:
Dear Kenneth Okonkwo,
Out of my busy schedules, I squeezed out time to pen down this letter to you, in response to your questionable and pathetic opinion on the noble and genuine quest for Biafran restoration. I demand your untamed attention as you read through the lines of this letter.
My attention has been drawn to the recent interview that you granted to African Independent Television (AIT), where you maliciously opined that “There is nothing called Biafra In Igbo land; Biafra is not an Igbo word, Biafra died with Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.”When I came across your statement, I remembered a famous Marcus Garvey quote, namely, that “a man without the knowledge of his past history is like a tree without a taproot.” For a man of your calibre to utter such a frivolous and fallacious statement makes you a perfect example for the above quote.
I am beginning to see in you the tragic effect of the removal of History as a subject from Nigerian school curriculum. I must say that you are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually suffering fromhistory deficiency. “There is nothing called Biafra in Igboland” is not just a fallacy but the most ridiculous statement one could ever have uttered. In fact, that is the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard in my life.
The evergreen adage of our ancestors has it that what a child does not know is bigger and greater than him. They also said that a child can be thought what he does not know by his elders. It is on this note that I’ve deemed it necessary as a student of history to lecture you and other “Efulefus” on the name “Biafra.”
History has it and it is also on record that the indigenous people of Biafra existed as a nation on the ancient map of Africa from 1492 –1843 before Nigeria came into existence in 1914. This map is presently in James Ford Bell library, University of Minnesota in USA. Thus, the Biafrans are entitled to self-determination by virtue of articles 19-24, Cap 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990, which guarantees the rights of indigenous peoples of the land self-determination.
The ancient map of Africa by the Portuguese featured only three kingdoms in the present location known as Nigeria. These are: the kingdom of Zamfara in the North, the kingdom of Benin in the West and the kingdom of Biafra in the East. Emeka Emekesiri, in his book ‘WHAT THE IBOS WANT’ published in 2012 posited: “The ancient map of Africa is documentary evidence that Biafrans are the indigenous people of Africa,which raises very serious issues in both national and international law.”
Looking at the maps, Portuguese travellers used the word Biafra to describe the entire region of the lower Niger River and Eastwards up to the Cameroon Mountains and down to the eastern coastal tribes, which include part of Cameroon and Gabon.
Britain also had diplomatic dealings with Biafra before the creation of Nigeria. John Beecroft was the British consul of the Bight of Biafra with its headquarters in Fernado Po now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea, from 30th June 1849-10th June 1854.
Germane to the trend of this submission, the Biafra declared by Ojukwu on 30th May, 1967, was not a new country but a sincere and patriotic attempt to restore the ancient Biafran nation that existed before the creation of Nigeria by the British colonialists.
The late ChubaOkadigbo was fond of saying that you can retire a man out of the military but you can’t retire the military out of a man.’’ Thatindisputably affirms the reason IPOB is standing undefeatablein the pursuit of Biafra’s freedom.
On May 30th, 1967, when the late then Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu declared the sovereign state of Biafra, other Nigerian ethnic groups backed out and fought against what they disparagingly referred to as Igbo domination. They said that they fought because they thought the East was so ambitious. Events of the past decade have proved this school of thought to be a fallacy. Current events of unabated bloodshed by the Hausa/Fulani in Southern Kaduna, Plateau, Nassarawa, Benue and Taraba is a great lesson for them to think twice on ever participating to carry out systematic genocide against their Eastern Region brothers.
As a result of the Civil War and with the unrestrained support of Britain, USSR,USA, the Arab nation, some Muslims-dominated countries and hired mercenaries from Africa and beyond, Biafra lost its sovereignty not its indigenous identity.
In the light of the above historical background, I urge you not to criticize what you have not read or what you have zero knowledge of. For, as Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States would say, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove every reasonable doubt that you are a fool!”
Fall back to history and know who you are and your true identityand stop making a mess of yourself, man. I even heard that you are lawyer, but I am beginning to question if you are, indeed, one. With this display of sheer ignorance by you, one might even be tempted to ask if you saw the four walls of a university. Because men of your caliber are, in point of fact, supposed to think and reason properly before talking. I insist that you sounded more like an average confused person that talks before he thinks. I urge you not to always come on air to publicly disgrace yourself and even more so, your profession.
Without any doubts in my mind whatsoever, I am stating that Biafra is the utmost heart desire of the people of the old Eastern Region of Nigeria as well asthe Idomas of Benue, Igalas of Kogi and the Igbankes of Edo States.
Biafra’s freedom is a song on the lip of every Tom Dick and Harry in today’s Igbo land. The quest for Biafra’s restoration championed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) under the leadership of MaziNnamdiKanu is much more than a quest forthe creation of the State of Biafra; it is a quest to restore Africa’s honourand dignity. A free Biafra entails a new and reformed Africa.
I am making it abundantly clear to you, Sir, that the technological breakthrough in Africa will come from Biafra. Yes, Biafra will change Africa from being the “Dark Continent of theworld” as it is being referred to by the Western world, to a leading light of the world. The absolute truth remains that Biafra is the best thing that will happen to us as a people, and to the entire black race in the world.
You declared that “Biafra died with Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.” That is the highest form of hypocrisy and the peak of treacherous self-denial. One might even ask if you are actually a Nigerian, because out of the ingenuity of IPOB, the name Biafra is trending and being discussed in every language known to man. It is an understatement to say that IPOB has saturated the message of Biafra in Nigeria, the international community and beyond.
I am not in anyway or form showering praises on IPOB, but one must acknowledge that through IPOB, the name Biafra has spread like a wild fire ravaging Nigeria and has risen to the horizon. That Nigeria is in shambles today is as the result of the indefatigable activities of IPOB (which exposed the evil machinations of the Buhari-led Fulani government not only against Ndigbo but also against the rest of Nigeria).
So I wonder how a living soul especially you, Mr. Kenneth Okonkwo will open your mouth to say that “Biafra died with Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.” Biafra can never die; it is an ideology that can never be killed or forever undermined. I am ashamed that at your level of intellectual exposure, you still commit this sort of unforgivable identity blunder. That is another glaring evidence that the Nigerian education system is lower than trash.
I know you are actually seeking attention and publicity; now you have gotten a deserved one. Next time you should not toy with IPOB, or do so at your peril.
IPOB is being run by renowned intellectuals and best brains in Africa. You cannot toy with IPOB and go scot-free. This should send a strong message to anyone dreaming of toying with IPOB, for you must be mentally saturated to face IPOB or get ready to be suffocated and swallowed by the truth.
I pray this letter gets to you.
For Family Writers Press.