Obafemi Awolowo and Chinua Achebe's Tale of Fantasy.

I am a historian and I have always believed that if we want to talk history we must be dispassionate, objective and factual. We must take the emotion out of it and we must always tell the truth. The worst thing that anyone can do is to try to re-write history and indulge in historical revisionism. This is especially so when the person is a reverred figure and a literary icon. Sadly it is in the light of such historical revisionism that I view Professor Chinua Achebe's assertion (which is reflected in his latest and highly celebrated book titled ''There Was A Country'') that Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the late and much loved Leader of the Yoruba, was responsible for the genocide that the igbos suffered during the civil war. This claim is not only false but it is also, frankly speaking, utterly absurd. Not only is Professor Achebe indulging in perfidy, not only is he being utterly dishonest and disengenious but he is also turning history upside down and indulging in what I would describe as ethnic chauvinism.
alt

I am one of those that has always had tremendous sympathy for the igbo cause during the civil war. I am also an admirer of Colonel Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu who stood up for his people when it mattered the most and when they were being slaughtered by rampaging mobs in the northern part of our country. At least 100,000 igbos were killed in those northern pogroms which took place before the civil war and which indeed led directly to it. This was not only an outrage but it was also a tragedy of monuemental proportions.Yet we must not allow our emotion or our sympathy for the suffering of the igbo at the hands of northern mobs before the war started to becloud our sense of reasoning as regards what actually happened during the prosecution of the war itself. It is important to set the record straight and not to be selective in our application and recollection of the facts when considering what actually led to the starvation of hundreds of thousands of igbo women, children and civilians during that war. And, unlike others, I do not deny the fact that hundreds of thousands were starved to death as a consequence of the blockade that was imposed on Biafra by the Nigerian Federal Government. To deny that this actually happened would a lie. It is a historical fact. Again I do not deny the fact that Awolowo publically defended the blockade and indeed told the world that it was perfectly legitimate for any government to impose such a blockade on the territory of their enemies in times of war. Awolowo said it, this is a matter of historical record and he was qouted in a number of British newspapers as having said so at the time. Yet he spoke nothing but the truth. And whether anyone likes to hear it or not he was absolutely right in what he said. Let me give you an example. During the Second World War a blockade was imposed on Germany, Japan and Italy by the Allied Forces and this was very effective. It weakened the Axis powers considerably and this was one of the reasons why the war ended at the time that it did. If there had been no blockade the Second World War would have gone on for considerably longer. In the case of the Nigerian civil war though the story did not stop at the fact that a blockade was imposed by the Federal Government which led to the suffering, starvation, pain, death and hardship of the civilian igbo population or that Awolowo defended it. That is only half the story.

There was a lot more to it and the fact that Achebe and most of our igbo brothers and sisters always conveniently forget to mention the other half of the story is something that causes some of us from outside igboland considerable concern and never ceases to amaze us. The bitter truth is that if anyone is to be blamed for the hundreds of thousands of igbos that died from starvation during the civil war it was not Chief Awolowo or even General Yakubu Gowon but rather it was Colonel Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu himself. I say this because it is a matter of public record and a historical fact that the Federal Government of Nigeria made a very generous offer to Ojukwu and the Biafrans to open a road corridor for food to be ferried to the igbos and to lessen the suffering of their civilian population. This was as a consequence of a deal that was brokered by the international community who were concerned about the suffering of the igbo civilian population and the death and hardship that the blockade was causing to them. Unfortunately Ojukwu turned this down flatly and instead insisted that the food should be flown into Biafra by air in the dead of the night. This was unacceptable to the Federal Government because it meant that the Biafrans could, and indeed would, have used such night flights to smuggle badly needed arms and ammunition into their country for usage by their soldiers. That was where the problem came from and that was the issue. Quite apart from that Ojukwu found it expedient and convenient to allow his people to starve to death and to broadcast it on television screens all over the world in order to attract sympathy for the igbo cause and for propaganda purposes. And this worked beautifully for him.


Ambassador Ralph Uweche, who was the Special Envoy to France for the Biafran Government during the civil war and who is the leader of Ohaeneze, the leading igbo political and socio-cultural organisation today, attested to this in his excellent book titled ''Reflections On The Nigerian Civil War''. That book was factual and honest and I would urge people like Achebe to go and read it well. The self-serving role of Ojukwu and many of the Biafran intelligensia and elites and their insensitivity to the suffering of their own people during the course of the war was well enunciated in that book. The fact of the matter is that the starvation and suffering of hundreds of thousands of igbo men, women and children during the civil war was seen and used as a convenient tool of propaganda by Ojukwu and that is precisely why he rejected the offer of a food corridor by the Nigerian Government. When those that belong to the post civil war generation of the igbo are wondering who was responsible for the genocide and mass starvation of their forefathers during the war they must firstly look within themselves and point their fingers at their own past leaders and certainly not Awolowo or Gowon. The person that was solely responsible for that suffering, for that starvation and for those slow and painful deaths was none other than Colonel Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the leader of Biafra, himself.


I have written many good things about Ojukwu on many occassions in the past and I stand by every word that I have ever said or written about him. In my view he was a man of courage and immense fortitude, he stood against the mass murder of his people in the north and he brought them home and created a safe haven for them in the east. For him, and indeed the whole of Biafra, the war was an attempt to exercise their legitimate right of self-determination and leave Nigeria due to the atrocities that they had been subjected to in the north. I cannot blame him or his people for that and frankly I have always admired his stand. However he was not infallible and he also made some terrible mistakes, just as all great leaders do from time to time. The fact that he rejected the Nigerian Federal Government's offer of a food corridor was one of those terrible mistakes and this cost him and his people dearly. Professor Chinua Achebe surely ought to have reflected that in his book as well. When it comes to the Nigerian civil war there were no villains or angels. During that brutal conflict no less than two million Nigerians and Biafrans died and the yoruba who, unlike others, did not ever discriminate or attack any non-yorubas that lived in their in their territory before the civil war or carry out any coups or attempted coups, suffered at every point as well. For example prominent yoruba sons and daughters were killed on the night of the first igbo coup of January 1966 and again in the northern ''revenge'' coup of July 1966. Many of our people were also killed in the north before the outbreak of the civil war and again in the mid-west and the east during the course and prosecution of the war itself. It was indeed the predominantly yoruba Third Marine Commando, under the command of General Benjamin Adekunle (the ''Black Scorpion") and later General Olusegun Obasanjo, that not only liberated the mid-west and drove the Biafrans out of there but they also marched into igboland itself, occupied it, defeated the Biafran Army in battle, captured all their major towns and forced the igbo to surrender. Third Marine Commando was made up of yoruba soldiers and I can say without any fear of contradiction that we the yoruba therefore paid a terrible and heavy price as well during the war because many of our boys were killed on the war front by the Biafrans.

The sacrifice of these proud sons of the south-west that died in battle to keep Nigeria one must not be belittled, mocked or ignored. Clearly it was not only the igbo that suffered during the civil war. Neither does it auger well for the unity of our nation for Achebe and the igbo intelligensia that are hailing his self-serving book to caste aspertions on the character, role and noble intentions of the late and reverred Leader of the Yoruba, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, during the civil war. The man may have made one or two mistakes in the past like every other great leader and of course there was a deep and bitter political division in yorubaland itself just before the civil war started and throughout the early '60's. Yet by no stretch of the imagination can Awolowo be described as an igbo-hating genocidal maniac and he most certainly did not delight in the starvation of millions of igbo men, women and children as Achebe has tried to suggest. My advice to this respected author is that he should leave Chief Awolowo alone and allow him to continue to rest in peace. This subtle attempt to denigrate the yoruba and their past leaders, to place a question mark on their noble and selfless role in the war and to belittle their efforts and sacrifice to keep Nigeria together as one will always be vigorously resisted by those of us that have the good fortune of still being alive and who are aware of the facts. We will not remain silent and allow anyone, no matter how respected or reverred, to re-write history. Simply put by writing this book and making some of these baseless and nonsensical assertions, Achebe was simply indulging in the greatest mendacity of Nigerian modern history and his crude distortion of the facts has no basis in reality or rationality. We must not mistake fiction and story telling for historical fact. The two are completely different. The truth is that Professor Chinua Achebe owes the Awolowo family and the yoruba people a big apology for his tale of pure fantasy.



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Re: Obafemi Awolowo and Chinua Achebe's Tale of Fantasy.
Anioma777 posted on 10-07-2012, 14:46:41 PM
@Ewuro

Otunba so you are still alive. Just like I disagree with you on many aspects involving the civil war and Igbo/Yoruba issues I also agree with you on some topics even if there are not many. So whilst I do not agree with FFk today that Chinua Achebe should apologize I might agree with him on another topic. I am not blinded by my ethnic identity!!!!
Re: Obafemi Awolowo and Chinua Achebe's Tale of Fantasy.
Valteena posted on 10-07-2012, 14:49:54 PM
QUOTE:
Oh Lord !
Not another divisive civil war thread !

The first \"God anointed\" leader of the imminent new Nigeria (a Ibo person likely a woman) has her work cut out for her already !!!


The civil war is a major occurrence that impacted our nation's existence. It continues to provoke passion and influence how we relate with each other and that is what we are seeing here with the incessant threads discussing it. I personally think it can not be discussed enough and find them very educative and informative.
Re: Obafemi Awolowo and Chinua Achebe's Tale of Fantasy.
First-lady posted on 10-07-2012, 15:03:00 PM
Igbos say that a man who went to market to buy a dog but instead got a monkey still ended up with an animal that stoops

I like the way ndi Anambra would put it

Onye jelu afia ka o gote Nikita,golu enwe we nata,ife ntukwu ka no kwa na bie
FFK,your animal still stoops
Congratulobias

QUOTE:

The sacrifice of these proud sons of the south-west that died in battle to keep Nigeria one*must not be belittled, mocked or ignored.


Sorry,they all died in vain.
History has proven us right
Had they known that war would do them no good and that their kinsmen today would be agitating for autonomy,,they would not have fought it,truth be told.
The killer scorpion himself summarized it
It ought to be a recital by every Yoruba man or woman


QUOTE:

''Personally, now and for some time I feel so ashamed to have killed people to sustain the unity of Nigeria. I feel so sad to have shed blood for the unity of Nigeria”. He goes on to say, â€Å\"While some of us were dying in the battle field for the restoration of Nigeria as one country, some people have their eagle eyes on one particular subject â€\" oil, the live wire of the economy, the new fulcrum or pendulum of power. While we fought for one country, some people have been reaping where they did not sow. They have been reaping from bogus population figures fashioned to suit their selfish purposes''
. Benjamin Adekunle

Ka Chineke mezie okwu
Re: Obafemi Awolowo and Chinua Achebe's Tale of Fantasy.
First-lady posted on 10-07-2012, 15:15:58 PM
From a 1997 article

QUOTE:
Akinrinade was one of the gallant commanders of the Federal troops against the Biafrans. He was the General Officer Commanding of Nigeria's first division in Kaduna in February 1976 when Lt. Col. Buka Dimka staged an unsuccessful coup in which the Head of State Murtala Mohammed was assassinated. General Akinrinade defied the coup-makers and remained loyal to the Head of State. His example defeated the coup.

But today this gallant soldier is in exile, a fugitive from the country he served
. A leader of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), he is wanted for treason by Gen. Abacha.

The commander of the third marine commandos under whom Akinrinade fought during the civil war was Gen. Benjamin Adekunle, popularly known as the Black Scorpion. He too is full of regrets.
In a memoir he confessed that the Federal troops did not fight the Igbos for the ideal of \"One Nigeria\". They fought for the oil wells. Their instructions were to capture the oil fields and preserve the economic life of Nigeria. They did not care a fig about the Igbos. Gen. Adekule has since been retired, disillusioned about the nation he fought for.

In 1994 Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Ogoni activist, attended a symposium organised by the Igbos in Enugu. There Ken literally apologised to the Igbos for defecting to the Federal side and fighting against them
. In November 1995, Ken was executed.

Last September the man who recommended the relocation of the Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja, Justice Akinola Aguda, expressed his own regret. \"Those of us who are still alive will continue to take the blame for recommending the relocation of the Federal Capital from Lagos to virgin land which we thought would be a blessing but has now turned to be the tragedy of Abuja...The whole concept of our unity and nationhood has been completely assassinated and buried.\"

Aguda had recommended Abuja as territory that would belong to all Nigerians. Now it is completely northernised. The sparse population that was resettled elsewhere has sneaked back. There are now northern native chiefs, grand Khadis and all. The South has been cheated again.

Chief Anthony Enahoro, another NADECO chieftain is in exile in Canada. He was a member of the Gowon regime that fought against the Igbos. Today he is wanted by Abacha for treason. Many of those who were in alliance with the Northerners, fighting for the \"One Nigeria\" ideal, are today either dead, in prison or in exile. Those who remain are full of regret, even if not all can say so openly. They now realise that the Igbos were not the common enemy but the northern establishment which used them.


http://nigeriaworld.com/feature/article/jason1.html

Let the truth prevail in the midst of falsehood
Re: Obafemi Awolowo and Chinua Achebe's Tale of Fantasy.
Unregistre posted on 10-07-2012, 15:19:48 PM
At one instance they are thumping their chests for fighting and winning a war to keep Nigeria one; at another instance they are deporting people across state lines; what a country.
Re: Obafemi Awolowo and Chinua Achebe
Prof penkelemess posted on 10-07-2012, 15:31:40 PM
Awo and Chinua:

two great Nigerians !!!

the debate will continue,

but WHEN will

Fake-Kayode finally have the

decency to shut up ???

Look at 'im pikshurs !!!

Prof disgusted
Re: Obafemi Awolowo and Chinua Achebe
Benjani posted on 10-07-2012, 16:06:15 PM
@Valteena:

[The civil war is a major occurrence that impacted our nation's existence. It continues to provoke passion and influence how we relate with each other and that is what we are seeing here with the incessant threads discussing it. I personally think it can not be discussed enough and find them very educative and informative.]

Let it be discussed but not with calumny. Stop mis-educating the masses. Ill blows the wind that does nobody good.
Re: Obafemi Awolowo and Chinua Achebe
Prof penkelemess posted on 10-07-2012, 16:57:47 PM
Okay,

NVS stopped Dr Reuben of Comedy-of Errors from being a 'columnist':

THANKS!

Okay: I was responsible for that ...

but when will NVS, moderator of BIG.K
stop that Fake-Kayode from parading his falsehoodU(s) and his inflated ego ???

Does NVS know NO shame ???

NVS does NOT !!!

'Like father ... like son' ...

Abeg: PLEASE,

use the eraser !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Must ask Chika to write about that ,,,

Stella is no more whereas the

fish-boy and Mr. Fake are still around

Chika must get her priorities right ...

PS:

oh, that poor 'Kuta farmer is also still around ...
Re: Obafemi Awolowo and Chinua Achebe
Nezie posted on 10-07-2012, 17:08:58 PM
"At least 100,000 igbos were killed in those northern pogroms which took place before the civil war and which indeed led directly to it" ..... femi fani kayode.

And those who escaped the killings ran to join their kit and kin in an enclave proclaimed republic to protect them. Yet yours and yours joined the killers forces to continue to kill them in larger numbers.

What were you looking for?

SorryI could not just continue to read the rest of your trash.
Obafemi Awolowo and Chinua Achebe's Tale of Fantasy.
Femi Fani-Kayode posted on 10-07-2012, 17:34:58 PM


I am a historian and I have always believed that if we want to talk history we must be dispassionate, objective and factual. We must take the emotion out of it and we must always tell the truth. The worst thing that anyone can do is to try to re-write history and indulge in historical revisionism. This is especially so when the person is a reverred figure and a literary icon. Sadly it is in the light of such historical revisionism that I view Professor Chinua Achebe's assertion (which is reflected in his latest and highly celebrated book titled ''There Was A Country'') that Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the late and much loved Leader of the Yoruba, was responsible for the genocide that the igbos suffered during the civil war. This claim is not only false but it is also, frankly speaking, utterly absurd. Not only is Professor Achebe indulging in perfidy, not only is he being utterly dishonest and disengenious but he is also turning history upside down and indulging in what I would describe as ethnic chauvinism.

alt



I am one of those that has always had tremendous sympathy for the igbo cause during the civil war. I am also an admirer of Colonel Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu who stood up for his people when it mattered the most and when they were being slaughtered by rampaging mobs in the northern part of our country. At least 100,000 igbos were killed in those northern pogroms which took place before the civil war and which indeed led directly to it. This was not only an outrage but it was also a tragedy of monuemental proportions.Yet we must not allow our emotion or our sympathy for the suffering of the igbo at the hands of northern mobs before the war started to becloud our sense of reasoning as regards what actually happened during the prosecution of the war itself. It is important to set the record straight and not to be selective in our application and recollection of the facts when considering what actually led to the starvation of hundreds of thousands of igbo women, children and civilians during that war. And, unlike others, I do not deny the fact that hundreds of thousands were starved to death as a consequence of the blockade that was imposed on Biafra by the Nigerian Federal Government. To deny that this actually happened would a lie. It is a historical fact. Again I do not deny the fact that Awolowo publically defended the blockade and indeed told the world that it was perfectly legitimate for any government to impose such a blockade on the territory of their enemies in times of war. Awolowo said it, this is a matter of historical record and he was qouted in a number of British newspapers as having said so at the time. Yet he spoke nothing but the truth. And whether anyone likes to hear it or not he was absolutely right in what he said. Let me give you an example. During the Second World War a blockade was imposed on Germany, Japan and Italy by the Allied Forces and this was very effective. It weakened the Axis powers considerably and this was one of the reasons why the war ended at the time that it did. If there had been no blockade the Second World War would have gone on for considerably longer. In the case of the Nigerian civil war though the story did not stop at the fact that a blockade was imposed by the Federal Government which led to the suffering, starvation, pain, death and hardship of the civilian igbo population or that Awolowo defended it. That is only half the story.



There was a lot more to it and the fact that Achebe and most of our igbo brothers and sisters always conveniently forget to mention the other half of the story is something that causes some of us from outside igboland considerable concern and never ceases to amaze us. The bitter truth is that if anyone is to be blamed for the hundreds of thousands of igbos that died from starvation during the civil war it was not Chief Awolowo or even General Yakubu Gowon but rather it was Colonel Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu himself. I say this because it is a matter of public record and a historical fact that the Federal Government of Nigeria made a very generous offer to Ojukwu and the Biafrans to open a road corridor for food to be ferried to the igbos and to lessen the suffering of their civilian population. This was as a consequence of a deal that was brokered by the international community who were concerned about the suffering of the igbo civilian population and the death and hardship that the blockade was causing to them. Unfortunately Ojukwu turned this down flatly and instead insisted that the food should be flown into Biafra by air in the dead of the night. This was unacceptable to the Federal Government because it meant that the Biafrans could, and indeed would, have used such night flights to smuggle badly needed arms and ammunition into their country for usage by their soldiers. That was where the problem came from and that was the issue. Quite apart from that Ojukwu found it expedient and convenient to allow his people to starve to death and to broadcast it on television screens all over the world in order to attract sympathy for the igbo cause and for propaganda purposes. And this worked beautifully for him.





Ambassador Ralph Uweche, who was the Special Envoy to France for the Biafran Government during the civil war and who is the leader of Ohaeneze, the leading igbo political and socio-cultural organisation today, attested to this in his excellent book titled ''Reflections On The Nigerian Civil War''. That book was factual and honest and I would urge people like Achebe to go and read it well. The self-serving role of Ojukwu and many of the Biafran intelligensia and elites and their insensitivity to the suffering of their own people during the course of the war was well enunciated in that book. The fact of the matter is that the starvation and suffering of hundreds of thousands of igbo men, women and children during the civil war was seen and used as a convenient tool of propaganda by Ojukwu and that is precisely why he rejected the offer of a food corridor by the Nigerian Government. When those that belong to the post civil war generation of the igbo are wondering who was responsible for the genocide and mass starvation of their forefathers during the war they must firstly look within themselves and point their fingers at their own past leaders and certainly not Awolowo or Gowon. The person that was solely responsible for that suffering, for that starvation and for those slow and painful deaths was none other than Colonel Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the leader of Biafra, himself.





I have written many good things about Ojukwu on many occassions in the past and I stand by every word that I have ever said or written about him. In my view he was a man of courage and immense fortitude, he stood against the mass murder of his people in the north and he brought them home and created a safe haven for them in the east. For him, and indeed the whole of Biafra, the war was an attempt to exercise their legitimate right of self-determination and leave Nigeria due to the atrocities that they had been subjected to in the north. I cannot blame him or his people for that and frankly I have always admired his stand. However he was not infallible and he also made some terrible mistakes, just as all great leaders do from time to time. The fact that he rejected the Nigerian Federal Government's offer of a food corridor was one of those terrible mistakes and this cost him and his people dearly. Professor Chinua Achebe surely ought to have reflected that in his book as well. When it comes to the Nigerian civil war there were no villains or angels. During that brutal conflict no less than two million Nigerians and Biafrans died and the yoruba who, unlike others, did not ever discriminate or attack any non-yorubas that lived in their in their territory before the civil war or carry out any coups or attempted coups, suffered at every point as well. For example prominent yoruba sons and daughters were killed on the night of the first igbo coup of January 1966 and again in the northern ''revenge'' coup of July 1966. Many of our people were also killed in the north before the outbreak of the civil war and again in the mid-west and the east during the course and prosecution of the war itself. It was indeed the predominantly yoruba Third Marine Commando, under the command of General Benjamin Adekunle (the ''Black Scorpion") and later General Olusegun Obasanjo, that not only liberated the mid-west and drove the Biafrans out of there but they also marched into igboland itself, occupied it, defeated the Biafran Army in battle, captured all their major towns and forced the igbo to surrender. Third Marine Commando was made up of yoruba soldiers and I can say without any fear of contradiction that we the yoruba therefore paid a terrible and heavy price as well during the war because many of our boys were killed on the war front by the Biafrans.



The sacrifice of these proud sons of the south-west that died in battle to keep Nigeria one must not be belittled, mocked or ignored. Clearly it was not only the igbo that suffered during the civil war. Neither does it auger well for the unity of our nation for Achebe and the igbo intelligensia that are hailing his self-serving book to caste aspertions on the character, role and noble intentions of the late and reverred Leader of the Yoruba, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, during the civil war. The man may have made one or two mistakes in the past like every other great leader and of course there was a deep and bitter political division in yorubaland itself just before the civil war started and throughout the early '60's. Yet by no stretch of the imagination can Awolowo be described as an igbo-hating genocidal maniac and he most certainly did not delight in the starvation of millions of igbo men, women and children as Achebe has tried to suggest. My advice to this respected author is that he should leave Chief Awolowo alone and allow him to continue to rest in peace. This subtle attempt to denigrate the yoruba and their past leaders, to place a question mark on their noble and selfless role in the war and to belittle their efforts and sacrifice to keep Nigeria together as one will always be vigorously resisted by those of us that have the good fortune of still being alive and who are aware of the facts. We will not remain silent and allow anyone, no matter how respected or reverred, to re-write history. Simply put by writing this book and making some of these baseless and nonsensical assertions, Achebe was simply indulging in the greatest mendacity of Nigerian modern history and his crude distortion of the facts has no basis in reality or rationality. We must not mistake fiction and story telling for historical fact. The two are completely different. The truth is that Professor Chinua Achebe owes the Awolowo family and the yoruba people a big apology for his tale of pure fantasy.



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