Deeply hurt by Britain’s overwhelming support for Nigeria to crush the Republic of Biafra, Dr Ibiam renounced and returned to the British head of state the three insignias of knighthood that both she and her father, King George VI, had earlier conferred on the esteemed missionary physician for services to church and state.
Just slightly over forty-nine years ago to the day, in August 1967, the venerable Dr Akanu Ibiam, christian missionary physician, erudite theologian and statesperson who had worked for 30 years in the Church of Scotland/Presbyterian Church rural medical programmes across central and east regions of Biafra, wrote a 20-paragraph historic letter to Queen Elizabeth II of England.
In his letter, Dr Ibiam denounced, unreservedly, the central role being played by Britain in the Igbo genocide, the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa, which had then entered its second year of unremittingly ruthless slaughter. In protest to this role, Dr Ibiam renounced and returned to the British head of state the three insignias of knighthood (OBE, KBE, KCMG) that both she and her father, King George VI, had earlier conferred on the esteemed missionary physician for services to church and state.
Britain and Nigeria would ultimately murder 3.1 million Igbo people, 25 per cent of this nation’s population, by 12 January 1970 at the end of phase-III of the genocide. The genocide then moved on to phase-IV which has gone on to this day...
Testament vs that establishment consensus
As is evident in the last four main paragraphs of Dr Ibiam’s letter copied below (paragraphs 14-17 in the original), this document could easily have been written by the great humanist to Queen Elizabeth last year, 2015, after the month of March, when this same Britain, now under the political leadership of Prime Minister David Cameron, who was born 5 months after the 29 July 1966 launch of the genocide (coordinated then by No. 10 Downing Street resident Prime Minister Harold Wilson), installed Muhammadu Buhari, the notorious genocidist trooper of north/north central Biafra killing fields (July 1967-January 1970), as new head of Nigeria regime. No, Dr Ibiam could well have written this testament a few days ago! As the world duly knows, Buhari now drives this segment of phase-IV of the Igbo genocide as ruthlessly as he deems fit, murdering thousands of Igbo people in all regions of Biafra especially since October 2015, aware that, as before, he and Nigeria have the back of the British government to ensure, particularly, that Nigeria is shielded from international outrage and sanctions in its strategic goal to destroy Igbo people. Consequently, the British government is yet to condemn any of these murders or confront its own involvement in the perpetration of the entire 50-year stretch of this most gruesome and devastating genocide of contemporary history.
Quite gravely, there is a haunting half-a-century-old consensus shared by the critical clusters of the British establishment including the political “class”, academia, media, charities, human rights, even the church, to maintain a deafening silence as the British state uninterruptedly wages this Igbo genocide in alliance with its on the ground Hausa-Fulani north region islamist-led client state in Nigeria. The goal is pointedly to protect, in perpetuity, Britain’s perceived strategic and economic interests in this southwestcentral Africa region – 3500 miles away from Britain.
The fact that this Anglo-Nigeria alliance appears to challenge some of the more predictable characterisation of the salient features of contemporary international politics is indicative of how much more resilient and enduring, despite the histrionics, shared worldviews from supposedly or seemingly contradictory state systems can be indeed: in this case, appositely, to collaborate to wage a genocide on a third party, a mutually-targeted people, Igbo people, for complementary interests.
Paragraphs 14-20 of Dr Akanu’s letter to Queen Elizabeth II of England, August 1967
YOUR MAJESTY, the British officials in Nigeria are fully aware of all these. They know that we are injured and deeply grieved people and had been cruelly treated by our erstwhile fellow citizens of Federal Republic of Nigeria. The British officials not only knew the crux of the matter, but they also encouraged Northern Nigeria to carry out and execute their nefarious plan against us. They are angry with Biafra because Biafra categorically refused to remain as part of the Nigeria federation and political unit only to be trampled upon, discriminated against and hated, ruthlessly exploited and denied her rights and privileges, and slaughtered whenever it suited the whims and caprices of the favoured people of Northern Nigeria. To add insult to injury, Your Majesty’s Britannic Government, instead of being neutral in our quarrels or finding ways and means to mediate and bring peace to the two countries, has now taken it upon herself to supply military aid to Nigeria to help them defeat and subjugate Biafra.
It is simply staggering for a Christian country like Britain to help a Moslem country militarily to crush another Christian country like Biafra. This is just too much for me, Your Gracious Majesty, this act of unfriendliness and treachery by the British Government towards the people of Republic of Biafra who, as Eastern Nigerians, had so much regard for Britain and British people.
In the circumstance, Your Majesty, I no longer wish to wear the garb of the British Knighthood. British fair play, British justice, and the Englishman’s word of honour which Biafra loved so much and cherished have become meaningless to Biafrans in general and to me in particular. Christian Britain has shamelessly let down Christian Biafra.
I love the Republic of Biafra very dearly and pray that, by grace of God, she may remain and continue to grow and live and always act like a truly Christian country for all times.
I am, your Majesty
Yours Most Respectfully
* Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe’s new book, Longest genocide – since 29 May 1966 is published in December 2016.
* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!