Ogoni and Biafra’s War and Lessons not learned by Livinus Inordee
The Nigerian Civil War aka Biafra War broke out in 1967 and was said to have lasted till 1970 or there about. The war was a major shock to many Ogonis. Majority of Ogoni people had no idea of what was happening until the war was in their communities and homes. Ogoni was caught up in war they basically had nothing to do with. There were no means for the Ogoni people to defend themselves and communities. Ogoni was forced to bear the brunt of the war. Ogoni was the unreported victim of the war.
Countless atrocities were committed by both the Biafra’s and Nigerian soldiers in Ogoniland. Though, these atrocities were not heard on mega phones used by both side. For the duration of the war, Ogoni people were completely unprotected and helpless. Ogoni territory was in the frontline of the war and Ogoni was the battleground from that axis. It was reported that, both the Biafra’s and Nigerian soldiers at different time, vented frustrations on Ogoni communities, which resulted to further brutalities of the people. It was revealed that Ogoniland was engulfed by the war and Ogoni was in war for periods of time, while Igbos in mainland Igbo were still going about their lives.
We were told that as the war was waging on, Biafra’s authority instituted a draconian policy of ‘forced draft’. The force draft was mostly targeted at areas under the then Eastern Region that were not Igbos. We were told that as Biafra troops invaded Ogoni communities that, able body men and women were rounded up and taken away. We were told that those that attempted to escape and were caught, were severely tortured and killed before the rest of the people, for deterrence. We were told that majority of those taken away never return even after the war.
We were told of how Ogoni women were used as sex objects and enslaved by both the Biafra’s and Nigerian soldiers. We were told that as Biafra troops invaded Ogoni communities, Ogoni women were rounded up. The women were held up as slaves and were distributed among soldiers; where they were sexually violated. Some of the women were violated before family members. Majority of these women had gone to grave with scars from the war and wounds unhealed.
We were told that Ogoni people were overwhelmingly against been included in the map of Biafra. Notwithstanding, Ogoni was suggested as part of Biafra by Biafra’s authority. We were told that the Ogoni people used their opposition of the war to protests the harsh and traumatized treatments suffered under the Igbo led Eastern government. We were told that the Ogoni opposition to Biafra wasn’t because Ogoni people wanted to be with the Northerners or South-westerners. Rather, it was a case of choosing between two evils.
Ogoni losses as result of the civil war were ignored and remained so to this day. In communities across Ogoniland, thousands of Ogonis were kidnapped and taken away by both side. Ogonis that were killed as result of the war are not accounted for. Ogonis that die fighting on the side of the Biafra’s were counted as Igbos. These aspects of the war may not have been reported on mega phones used by both side, because of tribalism and the idea of internal colonization. However, they were real horrors suffered by our parents and grandparents as result of the war. these experiences are more than enough reasons to be concern with another Biafra as we know it. If we refuse to take appropriate actions given what is happening. It means we’ve not learned our lessons and so, we may be heading to repeating the same history.
We need to look at this Ogoni/Biafra issue this way: Such that, whether we end up taken the right actions or not. Whatever happen as result of the Biafra’s upheaval will affect Ogoniland, one way or the other. Ogoni will be affected should the issue of Biafra gets out of hands. However, not taken steps to address this issue, if not for anything but for self-defense, will be another way of saying we’re given up Ogoniland to the whims of Biafra. My understanding is, Ogoni have no issue with the Igbos going their separate way, if, they are not trying to coerce or force Ogoni to join them as they’ve done before. Though, I agree Biafra is not a force for justice. Biafra has been a subjugating force and its posture remain so and should not be ignored given its history. If we ignored the obvious, we’re doing so at our own peril, as history have shown.
As we confront this and other issues affecting Ogoni nationality, we should be mindful of the fact that Ogoni people are a vulnerable group. Ogoni continue to suffer politically and economically, even in Rivers State and the region. More Ogonis continue to live in poverty in state and region that are extremely rich. Some Ogonis have developed various problems, including psychological problems that may have distorted our views and understanding of issues affecting us as a group. As a group, we appear to have narrowed ourselves to internal wrangling. We’ve accustomed ourselves to servitude positions and are being used by others for their own good, at our detriment. We’ve been programed to see the next Ogoni person as ultimate competitors and enemy, while we offered our unrestrained loyalties to outsiders. We have become largely uninformed and are vulnerable to instruments of propaganda, as we’re witnessing in politics and the Biafra issue before us.
It is important for us to formally address this issue of Biafra and Ogoni, once and for all. One will think that one first steps will be to formally disassociate Ogoni ethnic group from Biafra project and its agendas. We should clear the air of rumors and insinuations that could be used or are being used for propaganda. Inform our communities and people of what is happening. So that, they are not used for propaganda intended, to disseminate falsehood as way of strewing confusions and divisions. Ogoni should not allow unwanted history to repeat itself.
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