Stella Dimoko Korkus.com: Igbos In Canada Hold Biafra Memorial Day

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Igbos In Canada Hold Biafra Memorial Day

At exactly 10pm, the lights went off at the mega ball room of the Woodbine Hotels and Suites in Toronto, Canada. There was astounding silence and the only source of illumination in the room was from the large projector screen on the background of the nicely decorated podium.








Then quietly in procession came men and children holding lit candles and walking in a single file. As they walked in, the solemn song, Only Time, by the Irish singer Enya Paticia Brennan, enveloped the air.


As they made their way towards the podium with a wreath, pictures came on in a slideshow on the screen. They were black and white footages that showed men, women and children in different stages of pain, hunger, hurt, death and hope.


There were pictures children malnourished and in pains; there were those of mothers carrying their sick and dying babies with hope and fear in their eyes looking pleadingly at the world through the lens of the camera asking for help.


There was a picture of a man; may have been a father, brother, relation or a neighbour, carrying the burnt out corpse of a young child killed apparently in an air raid going by the plume of smoke on the picture background.


There were also pictures of gallant Biafran soldiers at different stages during the civil war in Nigeria from 1968 to 1970.


As members of the Igbo Canadian Community Association (ICCA/UMUNNA), led by their former president, Chief Chris Nsoedo, stood still, the real essence of the annual Biafra Memorial Day became clearer in the dark ballroom as the slides of pictures showed on the screen.


“Today, we gather at this Biafra Memorial Event to lay a wreath to honour the brave men and women who died while serving under the Biafra war. They Died That We May Live; In Remembrance of our Heroes past I dedicate this honour to those who rose from the ashes of genocide to build a nation n of hope. Please join me in a moment of silence in tribute to their bravery,” Nsoedo said when the lights came on.







And there was silence.


In that moment of silence people had reflections of what the Igbo people from the South East region of the present day Nigeria went through.


It was a period of death and survival; fire and bullets; hunger and famine and a total annihilation led by the Federal government of Nigeria. Men, women and children lost their lives.


Over three million were killed while the world looked away. It was genocide; it was a calculated attempt at wiping a people who had the situation brought upon them.


“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old and age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. May we never ever have to face such tragedy again and May their souls through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”


It was the 16th edition of the Biafra Memorial Day organized by the ICCA/UMUNNA, an annual remembrance done to pay honour and remember those three million people that lost their lives.


In his opening remark, the President of ICCA/UMUNNA, Chief Ugochukwu Okoro explained the reason behind the annual event was to continue telling the story of the inhuman treatment at their period and also to celebrate the survival of Ndigbi from that carnage.



“This memorial event is aimed at telling our story, owing that the Nigerian government appear to ignore the circumstances that took lives to the tune of that number. That part of history is facing so much suppression by the actors; unfortunately, the world also seems not concerned as well. Genocide is a crime against humanity,” he started, “The world has recognized and criticizes what happened to the Jews from the Holocaust and Rwandan genocides etc. We hope that someday the Genocide against the Biafrans will be given the recognition it deserves.


I believe that will bring healing to the pain the people faced and probably remove the injustices they still face in the country. Permit me to say that Genocide has continued to happen in Nigeria even after the war. The Army has at any slightest provocation massacred citizens without remorse.”



Okoro went further to state that no family in Igboland was not affected and lost someone during the war that happened 52 years ago.

“There is hardly any family from the Eastern part of the country that was not impacted by that genocide. Most parents watched their children die out of starvation due to food Aid blockade. My uncle narrated his experience after the war, how heartbroken it was to behold the tears of parents who came to welcome the soldiers, only to discover their own children didn’t make it,”he said and thanked friends of Ndigbo that always came for the remembrance.



“To our friends from different nationalities, your presence here, means support and helps in the healing, knowing you share in our pain. Ladies and Gentlemen, we celebrate and honour the lives of our loved ones lost in the genocide of 1967 and thereafter and affirm the bond of community, memory, and hope that sustains us in sorrow. We are all encouraged by the way the Biafrans came together to rebuild themselves. The Biafrans are a force to reckon with in any profession. The wave of academic excellence of our Children currently blowing around the world is an example of how endowed we are.”



The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ICCA/UMUNNA, Chief Pastor Ben Allison while delivering a paper entitled, “They Died that we May live: In remembrance of our Heroes Past, gave an insightful details of what culminated to the war and the misunderstandings that have put a label on the action that initiated the war as being Igbo inspired.


“There is poignant similarity between the horrific deaths of 3 million people in Eastern Nigeria and the 800, 000 slaughter and killings of Tutsis in Rwanda. The genocide in Rwanda was sparked by the death of the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport on 6 April 1994 by alleged Tutsi conspirators. The majority Hutu tribe retaliated by organizing a well-planned and coordinated systematic killings of Tutsis of all ages regardless of their innocence,” Allison explained.

“In Nigeria, a group of army officers, mostly of Igbo origin and a Yoruba officer led a coup that toppled the civilian government and killed some of the leaders of that government. No Igboleader in that civilian government was killed. The predictable result was that non-Igbo army officers, particularly from Northern Nigeria, outraged by the killing of their leaders responded first, by exterminating a large body of Igbo officers in a counter coup. More than 30, 000 civilian Igbo population in Northern Nigeria were massacred.”


Allison, who also doubles as the Board Chairman of the Nigeria Canadian Association (NCA), narrated several attempts made by the people of the then Eastern region to reconcile and avoid the looming war.


“The people of Eastern Nigeria remonstrated deeply and there were employment of bellicose political languages by both the leadership of Eastern Nigeria and the military government in Lagos. Several meetings to defuse and resolve the differences were unsuccessful. Threatened by military action by the government in Lagos, Eastern Nigeria declared itself a separate republic of Biafra leading to initial skirmishes and full-blown civil war.”


This, he said led to a total blockage of Biafra which eventually led to the death of millions of women and children.


Allison revealed the post-war strategy initiated by the Federal Government of Nigeria to keep the atrocities committed during the period of the war from history books.


“In Nigeria, the military class that won the war banned and suppressed information and open discussion about that war with the exception of the parts that glorified them. They even banned any formal teaching of the history of the Nigerian civil war in institutions of higher learning and discouraged meaningful discussions regarding it and the deaths of millions of people in Biafra.”


He called for an open conversation of what happened during the war to be had in Nigeria with the government involvement as one step towards healing the pain, anguish and sorrow still on the minds of generations of Ndigbo.


“One major way to stop the mindless killings taking place all over our dear country Nigeria today is to engage in honest and serious conversations regarding all the sad, painful, and shameful areas of our collective past and present. There is an urgent and immediate need for such conversations. But it must be a conversation guided by honesty, truth, justice, fairness, mutual respect for one another, equity, love and compassion. Finally, just like Agwu Okpanku, we hold these annual Biafra Memorial Events in order to give voice to the deaths of millions of our brethren that died in Biafra.”

In her speech, the President of the Nigeria Canadian Association (NCA) Mrs. Kemi Amusan called for a greater collaboration among Nigerians irrespective of ethnicity as a way forward in building trust again among Nigerians.


“I am happy that today in Canada we are leading by example and at the NCA we live as one family from one country. I believe that is what is needed in Nigeria to strengthen the unity we have as a country and people.”


Brampton City Councillor, Charmaine Williams, who represented the Mayor of Brampton, Patrick Brown, called on the Nigeria community to increase their participation in governance in Ontario and Canada.



“Even as we remember those that died, there is need for the Nigeria community to participate in issues that concerns governance. You have the opportunity to educate and get involved in your community and go for elective offices. That is one way of building a greater nation and encouraging great patriotism.”









There was a presentation of the annual scholarship to students who gained admission to higher learning and the 2019 recipient, Mr. Nkemdilim Onyemah was handed a cheque for $1000. The presentation was made by the former recipients of the award, Miss Chika Oruiwa. Nkemdilim, who got admitted into the University of Waterloo, was very appreciative of the honour bestowed on him and promised to make the Igbo community proud.


Highlight of the occasion was the bestowing of a Chieftaincy title of Onye Udo Ndigbo Toronto, Canada to the ICCA Board chairman, Chief Pastor Ben Allison and his wife. The honour which was done through an order from the ancient Igbo Kingdom of Nri, saw the recipient dressed in traditional chieftaincy title with his traditional fan bearing his title.


The ICCA women dance added colour to the event and thrilled the audience.













71 comments:

  1. Happy Biafra day to my beautiful Igbo brothers and sisters ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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    1. Thank you dear.
      Stella, may the good Lord always bless you. Thank you for this post.

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    2. Thanks πŸ™

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  2. They should come back and celebrate it here.

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    1. Enemy of progress

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    2. Is it your celebration?

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    3. Thank you anon. If the igbos here have these same mind set as the ones in diaspora, it would have been better.

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    4. Neu and Anon 12:31 and when they do, your Fulani president will kill them using the army right? By then you will open your mouth to spew thrash that they deserve it. Just a solidarity rally of women at Imo state, the police and army arrested innocent women and killed some. Nigeria isn't a sane cline and we will always beat them in this game. At the end, Biafra will come.

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  3. Today, I join millions of Biafrans all over the world, in remembrance of those who have fallen on this road of freedom and struggle of liberation. Those killed in the 1966 Pogrom and the three years of cold war brought on us. #ozoemena#(never again)

    May their souls continue to rest in the sleep of faith, in the hope that one day, Biafra shall be restored. Their death must surely not be in vain and for their request before death, we will restore Biafra, the land of the rising sun.

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    1. Stella, thanks for this post. I love you so much.

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  4. This post is so educative, now i will go and read more on the history of Biafrans.

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    1. It is not a pleasant story, but I will say read it. I have books and also watched it on vc. My dad had the documentary of the war made by the whites.

      You may not find those details now anymore, few are still on YouTube.
      God bless France and those other countries that helped. I really don't know why ipob are sticking up to Isreal now who only stood in the middle and sold arms to both parties.
      I guess they don't know or choice not to remember history.

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  5. Abeg ah no fit read again.ah ah

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  7. Happy biafra day
    May the souls of all who lost their lives in that war continue to rest in perfect peace
    #proudly igbo

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  8. Ozoemena aburo chefuo nke mere eme.

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    1. Iphie you are highly loved. You said it better.

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    2. Aboru chifuo nwannem. Chukwunna gozie umunne ayi na ili.

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    3. Yes how can we forget there is no future without the past

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  9. I felt sad while reading this, imagine 3m human beings died yet they refused to discuss it . How will my people heal?

    Chinwe Uba

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    1. Now you understand why history was obliterated from the Nigerian schools curriculum. We will tell our stories to our generation unborn no matter how the government try to hide the truth.

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    2. They teach them Government instead and glorify villians like Awolowo and Gowon and make them look like saints meanwhile they were devils. They will not teach the true history of Nigeria and why Nigeria is a shithole. Biafra would have been today a far better country than Nigeria, which is a colossal mess filled with lazy northern youth.

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  10. See tears dropping while reading this. It is well.

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  11. Thank you Umunnem na Canada, We w I'll do the same here in Australia next year.

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  12. Whenever my parents narrate how the Biafra war was eh, it bring tears to my eyes. They suffered. There was hunger, they lived in the bush for fear of being killed in their homes. My mom would tell of how she carried their last born on her back as they ran for safety in the bushes.

    They ate anything they could find; lizard o, grass o anything just to quench hunger. Women were raped. They almost forcefully recruited my dad in the army but something happened and he escaped. Sad story😒😒.

    May the souls of the departed rest in peace.

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    1. My mum and her family ran to Cameroon, my dad said his dad and the whole village had to use bees on the Nigerian army.

      The Nigerian army heard my grandfather hid men of the biafran army in our compound. They invaded our home, took my grandfather tied him to their van and drove the whole market with him on the ground. They killed my grandmother, told him to bring those men out or they will kill him. He kept saying he does not have anyone like that in his home. (But he did cos the pit he hid them in was covered years later by my dad, his brothers and we his grandkids).
      They built their camp in our village, when our villagers became upset with the happenings, they decided to invoke their gods then oyecorumo, nneoche and the god of bees.

      My dad said they couldn't withstand the bees and ghost like images then and decided to leave.

      I witnessed some of the actions of these gods as a kid before christanity came in and spoilt them all. You can't even steal without being exposed by onyecorumo, kill your brother or anyone from my place, na die you dey be that.

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    2. Ndizuogu

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  13. We all know what happened during that war. May the souls of all departed rest in peace. Let us just stop being overtly dramatic and causing divisions everywhere. What we should clamor for is inclusion, representation and quota in Nigeria.

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    1. Please allow them celebrate.
      How has their memorial divided Nigeria?

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    2. Go and tell that to the people who have held unto powers for over three decades and still counting.

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    3. Overtly dramatic you say? Nor be your fault at all. What do you know aside cartoons and games. Rubbish

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    4. You are very stupid for this comment. What is overly dramatic about Genocide? Idiot.

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  14. After watching Sometimes in April, I really felt the pain war can cause. This is why we should work together as one. May the souls of the departed keep resting in peace.

    Are those in Nigeria also celebrating it?

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  15. Its good we don't forget our history, I'm glad we are doing this. For us fix our country, we need to acknowledge our history, not try to erase it.
    I'm for it.

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  16. I won't read bcos I don't want to be moody this afternoon, but from what mil told me, war is better imagined than experienced. She experienced biafra war first hand and I could remember the pain and regret she felt when she was telling me. I pray every citizen of Nigeria will enjoy the dividend of true democracy.

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    1. No. There is no dividend of democracy. There is only dividend of Northerners. All the rich oil wells are in the South and yet it is mostly Northerners that benefit from it. Niger-Delta is a mess and the people there are suffering. Yet those lazy northern people that refuse to change are the ones benefitting from doing nothing!

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  17. I sincerely wish the federal government will declare 30th May a public holiday to remember Biafra fallen heroes, or better still called it a National mourning Day

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    1. Federal government or Northern Government? I pity you southerners. One day you will wake up to those northern killers at your doorsteps then you will know that Nigeria is for northerners and we the Igbos want our Biafra.

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  18. It is unfortunate that three million people lost their lives because of the selfishness and greed of a few. I support an open discussion of the Nigeria Civil War. In so far as it won't cause further division. Experience has shown that it is just so easy for such a discourse to turn to a tribal attack. I strongly feel that when we are ready to discuss this issue without attacking each other based on our ethnic or tribal differences then we are ready to heal and move on. Till then may the souls of the departed find eternal rest and may peace and justice be restored to Nigeria.

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    1. Can I ask you a question? Do you know about the 3R's after the war and what they meant? Should in case you don't know or forgotten, let me say it. It stands for Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation.

      Now ask yourself, did the government of Gowon and successive government implement those words? They termed it No Victor, No vanquished but how true were those words compare to what we have seen over five decades now?

      You talked about discussion and I laughed at you. You think you can tell the Nigerian government to restructure a system they structured that favours the northern elites? Freedom is never given freely dear, but taken by the oppressors.

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    2. Yada Yada.
      Read post, comment and move on.
      Your method of information people is wrong. I knew you'll be all over this post.

      Until igbos come together as one and get their acts together, Biafra will always be a dream.

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    3. Yada Yada.
      Read post, comment and move on.
      Your method of informing people is wrong. I knew you'll be all over this post.

      Until igbos come together as one and get their acts together, Biafra will always be a dream.

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    4. You are sick in the brain Niklaus for telling me how to comment on an issue. Are you that pained of my comment? You will see much of it then.

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    5. Three million people died. Quite unfortunate. However didn't Ojukwu also say Biafra was ready for war with the Nigerian government? Ngwanu war came, starvation followed, millions died and you are crying foul. Please wake up and smell the coffee! You asked for it and you got served. Now in your mind Nigeria has wronged you. You keep passing hate and bitterness from one generation to another. I am not saying you should not agitate for your Biafra but please do it with sense. That is the least you owe the three million who lost their lives. Udo!

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    6. Oga Teejay why are you laughing at me. I only supported what your kinsman said up there in the post.

      “One major way to stop the mindless killings taking place all over our dear country Nigeria today is to engage in honest and serious conversations regarding all the sad, painful, and shameful areas of our collective past and present."

      Even if there will be secession of some part of Nigeria, the best way to achieve it is through dialogue.
      To take it by force is to spill more blood. Then that would imply we haven't learnt the lesson.

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    7. Anon 16:52 just keep shut if you don't know history. The only reason Nigeria wom that war was because of the British fuckers who openly supported Nigeria out of greed for Oil and economic interests and gave them numerous aid to win the war. Meanwhile Biafra could not get such open support from world powers. Today the useless British don't want you foolish shithole Nigerians in their country and treat you all like the scum of the earth.

      Niklaus you are a fool. Continue talking trash there. Until Igbos come together so your useless Fulani president can slaughter them like cows and finally obliterate Igbos to find happiness. Keep talking shit. The only reason why Northern Nigeria has not seceded is because they are poor rats and have nothing to offer. If those people find oil in their unproductive land today, they will carry their cows and form their own country.
      Ewu!

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    8. Goat. How do you agitate for Biafra with sense. You must be an idiot. Does Nigeria look like a sensible country to you? Does your fulani President look like a sensible person? Even those northerners and fulani killers that hate progress, do they look sensible to you?
      Better be careful with your stupid talk Anon 16:52.

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    9. Anon 17:26
      'British fuckers';
      'Useless British';
      'foolish shithole Nigerians'; 'useless Fulani President';'
      'Northern Nigeria poor rats'

      So much bitterness and hate.

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    10. Anon 17:29 No vex o! Don't agitate for Biafra with sense o! Una go dey alright last last.

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    11. I repeat my statement Anon 18:08. Which sense? You are an uneducated fool. The same sense that the Palestinians are using for their liberation from Isrealites right? Yet till date they are not free. You are a big moron. If you know nothing about Politics and Power just mechie onu gi there. Anu mpama!

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    12. Anon 18:05, if you have nothing to contribute to the conversation then you should keep quiet. Everything I said is true. It is better than being ignorant and sanctimonious like you. Fuck off!

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  19. Dauntless, did you say overly dramatic? Please stop being ignorant! How are the Igbos causing disunity in Nigeria? Which ethnic group has wrecked the most havoc in this country, eh? Tell the truth o.
    IgboKwenu!!! Proudly Igbo! United we stand! We shall never forget.

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    1. At all... We will always remember.

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    2. One day one day it shall become a reality oh that day shall be glorious. Oji ihe nwata wenie aka enu aka jiee ya owetu ya.

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  20. Reading this brought tears to my eyes.
    Remember my late dad gist about how he lost all he laboured for in port harcourt during the war..all he came back with was just his machete(for safety on the road)...
    Today i celebrate you Francis (dad) and uncle lucky(remember how you always tell me that one day whethet dead or alive,that biafra must come.. R.I.P uncle,death couldn't allow you see today. With tears in my eyes,i say keep resting.. I love you both😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭..
    I LOVE YOU DADDY

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    1. For their sake and the millions of people killed, Biafra will be restored.

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  21. Way to go. Biafra will come to us soon

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  22. I am Yoruba. I was in secondary school when I read the first time about the Biafra war....Obasanjo's book- My Command. I remember asking my mum if the Ibos can ever forgive the rest of Nigeria for what was done to them and if ever they can truly forget???

    Even though I was born after the war....we are sorry....we the rest of Nigeria are sorry for what was done to the Ibos during the Biafra war. The only way to move ahead is if we ensure that there is closure for all involved and we can only achieve this if we hold a national discussion on the Biafra war....it is too deep a wound to be swept under the carpet.

    Having said this, it is important that we all learn from the war and MOVE ahead. We can be together if that is what we ALL want but if not let all go their way ….but move away PEACRFULLY, no more war please.

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    1. God bless you richly. I frown at peoples foolery and stupidity when they say Igbo don't want unity. I want to ask this minute, if Igbos don't want unity as they falsely propagated, why then are Igbos scattered all over Nigeria? Can you point a village in any Nigerian state and local government you won't see an Igbo man? They even built houses and businesses there. So tell me what do they mean when they said Igbos don't want Nigerian progress or unity at heart, yet they leave their home and developed other peoples villages and communities.

      All we ask for is a referendum, to determine our continual stay in the Nigerian state but the government termed it a call for wall. When did referendum becomes a call for war?

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    2. God bless you unknown. Truly said, is just sad how they keep rubbing it on our faces till today. Is just like killing a child's mother and asking the child years after he is grown-up, what can you do? Rather than saying sorry for the lose of your mum and the event that lead to that. Let's us make amend, mean it and stick to it.

      What do you think the actions and thought of that child will be? I thank God everyone is paying the price for the blood wasted then, even though they still don't want to admit it. Everyone is paying the price today.

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  23. All we are asking for, is a referendum to express our fundamental rights as a people. Is that too much to ask as a civilized people?

    In 1961, a plebiscite was conducted in northern Cameroon that saw some indigenes joined Nigeria, precisely in the present day Adamawa state.

    Those that canvassed for that referendum then were not labeled war mongers. It speaks of the magnitude of prevailing ignorance in Nigeria that people are in this age unaware of the fact that referendum has been used in Nigeria before to resolve a seemingly intractable issue.

    No war was fought and no ethnic group was threatened with annihilation. If those parading themselves as leaders, with their much touted academic accomplishments, are not aware of this relatively modern history, then the pervading ignorance in Nigeria, occasioned by the spectacular collapse of the education system, is more generational than earlier thought.

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  24. Touching.
    Very sad narrative.
    To all that dead, during the war and the aftermath of struggle, #we remember,we won't ever forget.

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    1. Not at all dear.... They will always live in our heart.

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  25. My father told me about this war and its a sad tale. May our fallen heroes rest in peace.

    Thank You Stella and God bless you.

    ReplyDelete

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