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The Igbo genocide is the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. It inaugurated Africa’s current age of pestilence. The genocide has been studied most expansively. Thus, to understand the politics of the genocide and the politics of the “post”-Igbo genocide is to have an invaluable insight into the salient features and constitutive indices of politics across Africa in the past 51 years.

Quite appositely, we should begin by stating what the Igbo genocide is not. It is definitely not a “civil war” (Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, “Igbo question, Biafra mission”, Pambazuka News, 23 March 2017); neither is it “Nigeria-Biafra ‘civil war’”; nor “first ‘civil war’ in Africa”; nor “forgotten genocide”; nor “ignored genocide”; nor “hidden genocide”; nor indeed any of the other tracks of quaint, sanitising, obfuscating, occultating and misleading words and phraseologies bandied about here and there whose proponents, particularly in some sectors in academia, media, conference circuits/discussion platforms, more often than not aim to pursue a hardly disguised project of denialism of this crime against humanity.


On the contrary. The Igbo genocide is a premeditated mass slaughtering of Igbo people, as Igbo people, planned and executed by Britain, Nigeria’s suzerain state headed then by Prime Minister Harold Wilson, and Nigeria, Britain’s client state in southwestcentral Africa, a Hausa-Fulani/Islamist-led state. 

At the apogee of phase-III of the genocide in 1968-1969, Wilson reminded the world, on record, of what was the end game of this dreadful mission he chiefly directed from the comfort of his residence and office at 10 Downing Street, London, 3000 miles from Biafra. Harold Wilson informed Clyde Ferguson, the US State Department special coordinator for relief to Biafra, that he, Harold Wilson, “would accept a half million dead Biafrans if that was what it took” Nigeria to destroy the Igbo resistance to the genocide (Roger Morris, Uncertain Greatness: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy, 1977: 122).

Very much in tune with this Wilsonian logic of Igbo mass slaughter, Benjamin Adekunle, a fiendish Nigeria genocidist commander in south Biafra, told a news conference in August 1968, attended mostly by foreign journalists: “I want to prevent even one I[g]bo having even one piece to eat before their capitulation. We shoot at everything that moves, and when our forces march into the centre of I[g]bo territory, we shoot at everything, even at things that don’t move” (The Economist, London, 24 August 1968). 

Olusegun Obasanjo, an equally fiendish genocidist commander in south Biafra, specifically ordered his air force in June 1969 to shoot down any international relief-bearing aircraft flying urgently needed supplies to the encircled, besieged and bombarded Igbo. On 5 June, a week after Obasanjo’s infamous orders, Gbadamosi King of the Nigeria genocidist air force shot down a clearly marked, incoming relief-carrying International Committee of the Red Cross DC-7 plane near Eket, south Biafra, with the loss of its 3-person crew. Obasanjo’s perverse satisfaction over the aftermath of this horrendous crime is chillingly revolting as he notes clearly in his memoirs, appropriately entitled My Command:

“The effect of [this] singular achievement of the Air Force especially on 3 Marine Commando Division [the notorious unit Obasanjo, who later becomes Nigeria’s head of regime for 11 years, commanded] was profound. It raised morale of all service personnel, especially of the Air Force detachment concerned and the troops they supported in [my] 3 Marine Commando Division” (Olusegun Obasanjo, My Command, 1981: 79).

The principal language used in the prosecution of the genocide is Hausa. Appropriately, the words of the ghoulish anthem of the genocide, published and broadcast on Kaduna radio and television throughout the duration of phases I-III (May 1966-January 1970) of the crime, are in Hausa:

Mu je mu kashe nyamiri

Mu kashe maza su da yan maza su

Mu chi mata su da yan mata su

Mu kwashe kaya su

English translation

Let’s go kill the damned Igbo

Kill off their men and boys

Rape their wives and daughters

Cart off their property 

Elsewhere, Nigerian genocidist documentation on this crime is equally malevolent and brazenly vulgar. A study of the genocide-time/“post”-genocide era interviews, comments, broadcasts and writings on the campaign by key genocidist commanders, commandants and “theorists” and propagandists such as Yakubu Danjuma, Yakubu Gowon, Hassan Katsina, Ibrahim Haruna, Oluwole Rotimi, Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enaharo and Allison Ayida underscores the trend. 

Quite auspiciously, the record of those who ordered/executed the Igbo genocide makes no pretences, offers no excuses, whatsoever, about the goal of their annihilative mission – such was the maniacal insouciance and rabid Igbophobia that propelled the project. The génocidaires were not into obfuscating over any spheres associated with their studiously orchestrated goal. The génocidaires stood firmly by the dictates of their assignment. Consequently, students and scholars of this genocide must always be on the alert to challenge anyone, subsequently, who wishes to deny, in any way, this crime of genocide against Igbo people in which its very lead génocidaires, as we have shown, have been openly and distinctly expressive about their mission.

Duo-states genocidists

As the evidence overwhelmingly shows, Britain is the principal agency in the perpetration of the Igbo genocide. Nowhere else in Africa nor indeed the Southern World, during the 1950s-1970s, does any of the seemingly departing European occupying-power in a conquered country effectuate the crime of genocide of a constituent people as a means of safeguarding its strategic interests subsequently as Britain’s sordid record in Nigeria shows. This genocide continues unabated since January 1970 (phase-IV of genocide) with tens of thousands of Igbo murdered across Nigeria but especially in the north region including those massacred by the Boko Haram terrorists and their Fulani militia cousin in the past seven years. No other peoples in Africa have suffered such an extensive and gruesome genocide and incalculable impoverishment in a century as the Igbo. Britain and its client genocide-prosecuting state Nigeria will surely account for this crime against humanity as both states are fully aware, being signatories to the relevant international treaties, that there are no statutes of limitation in international law in the pursuit, apprehension, prosecution and sentencing of individuals and institutions involved in committing genocide. Genocide is a crime against humanity.

The Igbo genocide is the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. It inaugurated Africa’s current age of pestilence. The genocide has been studied most expansively subsequently. World Igbo scholars have since pushed the parameters of their studies of the genocide unto the very frontiers of the underlying crucibles on which the European-constructed anti-African peoples “Berlin-State” of contemporary Africa are grounded. Thus, to understand the politics of the Igbo genocide and the politics of the “post”-Igbo genocide is to have an invaluable insight into the salient features and constitutive indices of politics across Africa in the past 51 years. The “Berlin-State” is a bane to African peoples’ existence and progress; it’s a neo-enslavement plantation emplacement formulated by Europe, particularly Britain and France (with their fatuous names – Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Guinea-B, Guinea-C, Guinea-E, whatever!) to perpetuate European World expropriation of legendary African resources in perpetuity. African peoples must exit this state at once to survive and transform their battered inheritances. They have no choice.

Tragically, Africans elsewhere remained largely silent on the gruesome events in Nigeria and so did not foresee the grave consequences of such indifference as subsequent genocides in Rwanda, Darfur, Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan (latter three in the Sudan) and Zaïre/Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in other wars and conflicts in every geographical region of Africa during the period have demonstrated catastrophically: Liberia, Mali, Libya, Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, Algeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, southern Guinea, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Central African Republic, Nigeria (Boko Haram insurgency in north, northcentral regions). The haunting killing fields have indeed stretched, almost inexorably, from Igboland to the rest of Africa…

Treasure trove

Thankfully, for the interest of posterity, the Igbo genocide, perpetrated by the duo Anglo-Nigeria states, is one of the most documented crimes against humanity. Nothing is “hidden”/“ignored” here! Leading university and public libraries across Europe (particularly in Britain, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Denmark and Sweden) and North America have invaluable repositories of books, state papers (including, crucially, hitherto classified material now declassified as part of mandatory timeframe provisions and freedom-of-information legislations), church papers, human rights/anti-genocide/anti-war groups’ campaign papers, reports, photographs and interviews, Red Cross/other third sector papers, reports and photographs, newspaper/newsmagazine/radio/ television/video archives and sole individual depositories, some of which are classified as “anonymous contributors”. 

These data variously include extensive coverage of news and analyses of varying features of the genocide between May 1966 and January 1970 (phases I-III of genocide) as well as still photographs and reels of film footage of the devastating impact of the genocidist’s “starvation weapon” attack on Igbo children and older people, the genocidist air force’s carpet bombings of Igbo population centres (especially refugee establishments, churches, shrines, schools, hospitals, markets, homes, farmlands and playgrounds) and the haunting photographs and associated material that capture the sheer savagery of the slaughter of 100,000 Igbo in north Nigeria towns and villages and elsewhere in parts of west Nigeria (especially Lagos and suburbs, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Oyo, Benin) during phase-I of the genocide in May to October 1966. A stream of these archival references has flowed steadily onto Youtube as well as other internet outlets and much more material on the genocide will be available online in the months and years ahead.

On the whole, these documentations are a treasure trove for the conscientious scholar and researcher on the genocide. For the would-be prosecutor of the perpetrators of this crime, they couldn’t have wished anything more for that crucial resource base to embark on their historic enterprise. A total of 3.1 million Igbo, or 25 per cent the nation’s population at the time, were murdered in the genocide, the worst in Africa since the 19th century. On the morrow of 44 months of unrelenting slaughtering, Nigeria, the direct perpetrator-on-the-ground, emerges as the undisputed obligatory haematophagous monster in this southwestcentral region of Africa. Its death-march on the Igbo and Igboland was soon relayed, across Africa, as earlier indicated, resulting in the murder of additional 12 million Africans in the subsequent 40 years.

* Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe is visiting professor in the graduate programme of constitutional law at Universidade de Fortaleza, Brazil. He specialises on the state and on genocide and wars in Africa in the post-1966 epoch, beginning with the Igbo genocide, 29 May 1966-12 January 1970, the foundational and most gruesome genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa.



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