Obafemi Awolowo and Chinua Achebe’s tale of fantasy, By Femi Fani-Kayode

Femi Fani-Kayode
Femi Fani-Kayode

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 revered 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 Igbo suffered during the civil war.

This claim is not only false but is also, frankly speaking, utterly absurd. Not only is Professor Achebe indulging in perfidy, not only is he being utterly dishonest and disingenuous but he is also turning history upside down and indulging in what I would describe as ethnic chauvinism.

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 monumental 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 be a lie. It is a historical fact. Again I do not deny the fact that Awolowo publicly 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 the war ended at the time that it did. If there had been no blockade, the Second World War would have gone on for a considerably longer time. 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 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-Yoruba that lived 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 the 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 intelligentsia that are hailing his self-serving book to cast aspertions on the character, role and noble intentions of the late and revered 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 revered, 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.

  • LEMAR

    so if people talk about fantasy, fani will open mouth, with all his fantastic tales of the aviation sector and the witches and wizard. If you agree that Awolowo asserted that a blockade was in order,and dat people starved to death as a result, what, in all this fantastic paragraphs of yours make sense? Why do I also feel that you are like the numerous people who haven’t yet read d book.

    • Momodu

      Look if Chinua Achebe were a politician, I would understand. He is not a politician and we all thought Achebe was different. Now, it is not obvious that Chinua Achebe is different from any of the tribalists around. He has shown himself as an Igbo tribalist. That is all. That is fine. And there is nothing wrong in that. He explains the civil war from an Igbo tribalist position. It is true that we all used to think that Achebe is above the tribal fray. But he is not. The pain he inflicted on us former students of his literatures is that we all believed him in the past that he would rise above the fray. But he has not. And that is fine. I do not object to his being an Igbo tribalist. However, after his analysis I wonder why anybody will think he is anything more than an Igbo tribalist.

      • http://twitter.com/Demurleigh Demola Adeniran

        I saw a response above saying that Ojukwu declined the “Food Corridor” proposal because he thought it might be poisoned and I ask myself if this is true then the blame on Awo is flawed for some logical reasons; (a) Why blame a man that you think would hypothetically supply you “poisoned food” during a war for the blockade of the same food supply to you? It makes no sense to me. (b) Since the then FG intended the South-East to remain as part of the entity called Nigeria; why then would they want to exterminate the all its people; especially since there are evidences of a seemingly rapid rehabilitative program afterwards?

    • Aare Ago

      Fantasy or not, truth must be told and no matter how bitter it is. Awolowo enforced a blockage; TRUE. But before then, there was an offer of a “Food Corridor”; also TRUE. Ojukwu rejected the corridor over food poisoning suspicion; TRUE. Ojukwu also offered alternatives thru airlifting in the dead of the night; TRUE, which was also declined by the FGN over suspicion of importing arms that will strengthen Biafra against Nigeria; TRUE.

      So in any case, Ojukwu, before the blockage had invited starvation upon defenseless Nigerians (Igbo), who died in millions. Why will Ojukwu suspect that Nigeria would poison food supplies and still demand same be airlifted into the Biafra territory? Pointless. Whether or not there was a blockage, Ojukwu was going to reject food supplies, which he anyway. The resignation letter of Robert S. Goldstein unequivocally stated that.

      What difference will reading the book make if venerable Achebe, without mincing words, had stated that “Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those aspirations. However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbos at the time as the obstacles to that goal, and when the opportunity arose – the Nigeria-Biafra war – his ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams. In the Biafran case it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation — eliminating over two million people, mainly members of future generations…”?

      This is a clear statement that needs no epistle to understand. Achebe, revered as he may, committed grave blunders that should be corrected. Any apologist in this case is a tribalist!

      • nno

        You will wait till eternity

  • ezeigbo

    my friend FEMI FANI KAYODE you been tribalistic in your defending just like your forefathers participated greatly to the introduced tribal politiking in nigeria.

    • Otito

      ezeigbo, hmmmmm, I am no longer sure it is possible to have any rational conversation again on any issue Nigeria. Chinua Achebe has a right to his interpretation of the events. But if his interpretation is irrational and someone points that out, and that person happens to be Yoruba and Chinua Achebe happens to be Igbo, then the person who is Yoruba who points out such irrationality in Chinua Achebe is “tribalistic’? This is what you are saying ezeigbo? And do you want to commit yourself to this mode of thought? I think a much rational way is to engage what Fani Kayode said fact by fact , and logic by logic. This is the way I think this can be rationally engaged, and Mr Fani kayode disproved if you want to. Mr. Ezeigbo you have NOT done this. You only labelled, and that is unworthy. Chinua Achebe as respected as we all take him to be has committed serious irrationality. I am really shocked to my bones that someone like Achebe who I take to be a national icon will assault rationality with the consequence of collapsing into an ethnic cocoon. I thought Chinua Achebe was bigger than that. I had always looked for the remains of our national heroes. I thought Achebe was one. Now I have my doubts. Now I am wiser.
      I recommend that the criterion of rationality in engaging serious and sensitive issues be the touchstone of our discourse. I am wiser. I am really wiser.
      Thank you.

  • Enitan

    I think everyone is missing something here. It is about historiography. Basic historiography is history as the accumulation and interpretation of facts. Chinua Achebe has put himself on the line. So what he put on the line in the public space must be assessed. At its core, history is not about facts but about their interpretation. With respect to the facts about the history of Nigeria and the civil war, one can interpret them in two ways-from a tribal standpoint or from a pan-Nigerian standpoint. Chinua Achebe has decided to interpret the facts of Nigerian history and the civil war from the standpoint of his Igbo tribe. That makes him an Igbo historian or chronicler and not an African or even a Nigerian one. So even when fanikayode’s point is well made, he did not see that Chinua Achebe is making a tribal Igbo case. As an Igbo tribalist Chinua Achebe can do that. Why not? One’s previous respect for him may be lowered because an a-historical view will rupture the facts which every scholar often take as sacred and seriously. But that loss of respect for him while legitimate should be separated from Achebe’s right as a tribalist to defend his Igbo tribe with everything including nullifying the public esteem people used to have for him.
    Second and this is a paradox. Chinua Achebe and the Igbo intelligentsia attacked Awolowo for his role in the civil war. Awolowo’s role in the civil war was to keep Nigeria one. Nigeria is still existing as a result of the job Awolowo did to keep Nigeria one. Now the same Igbo intelligentsia and elites who attacked Awolowo’s role for keeping Nigeria one now in 2012 stake claim to want to govern Nigeria. Now do NOT get me wrong. EVERY NIGERIAN HAS A RIGHT TO WANT TO BE PRESIDENT. BEING PRESIDENT IS NOT THE BIRTH RIGHT OF AN INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP. But my point is a moral and logical one. You cannot on one hand distort facts of the civil war which kept Nigeria one, vilify the job of a human being and the human being(Awolowo) who did a job to keep Nigeria one and you want to rule the same Nigeria that has been kept as one. I am saying you cannot have it BOTH ways. There is something inherently and hopelessly illogical and immoral about trying to have it BOTH ways. If something is not good , then it is not good. In other words, if the role Awolowo played to keep Nigeria one is not good, I think the moral and logical thing for Chinua Achebe and the Igbo elites and intelligentsia to do is to keep arguing for a break up of Nigeria (there is nothing new about countries breaking up-Sudan is the most recent, and Nigeria can break too, and should break if we want) and not to want to rule Nigeria which the person they continue to vilify worked to keep together. I am saying the moral, honorable and logical thing to do is to either accept that it was right to keep Nigeria one and aspire to rule Nigeria or insist that it was wrong to keep Nigeria one and openly canvass NOT to have anything to do with it and canvass openly for its break up. Personally, I am not saying people do not have right to canvass for a break up. I am only saying “be consistent and put your argument in the public space.” Again, no one should mischievously distort and get the argument here wrong . Any Igbo like any Nigerian has a right to rule and govern Nigeria. But it is immoral and illogical to condemn the act of keeping Nigeria one and again want to rule and govern that same country. Something is just morally out of sync here with such position. The Igbo elites and intelligentsia who hail the vilification of Awolowo for his role in the civil war and who simultaneously want to profit from the outcome of an act they condemn need to rethink and refresh their argument. As presented in wanting to have it both ways, their argument is illogical and unethical. They need to refashion their argument.

    • Kay

      Good one. This is very rational.

      • nno

        You talk about Nigeria being one, yet you are afraid of residing in Bornu state. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chukwuemerie.uduchukwu Chukwuemerie Uduchukwu

    In my own opinion, Prof. Chinua Achebe is absolutely right in his new book ‘There was a country’. Obafemi Awolowo made a great mistake by defending the Blockade imposed on Biafran Territory by The Nigerian Government and offering a road corridor for food to be ferried to the Igbos. Col. Ojukwu was right by making a suggestion that food should be flown to Biafrans instead of using a road corridor. I think the late warlord was just trying to enusure the security of the Igbos because their then enemies might enter into Biafra through such corridor. Moreover Femi-Fani Kayode should try to give objective interpretation of his facts that described Prof. Achebe as a lier.

    • Imodoye

      Chukwuemerie, depending on your job , my question to you : is what are your goals on your job? On your role in a job situation what should you do after you have a specific definition of your role? If you are a teacher called John , what are you supposed to do, what are your ultimate goals as a teacher? I think it is to teach. And in doing that you take EVERY segment of the PROCESS of teaching into consideration, i.e. your job. That PROCESS includes, (i) pre-class preparation, (ii) actual classroom teaching of your students, (iii) post class review of your teaching including grading the scripts of your students, examination etc. And that PROCESS takes place EVERYDAY from DAY 1 to the last DAY of the term of about three months, and for a WHOLE year of THREE TERMS if you are still on the job. Okay. If you want to write a HISTORY of the teaching of John for the term or for the year, what SHOULD YOU DO as a historian? You can do either of two things. (i) You can become atomistic. What does being atomistic in your writing of the history of the teaching Mr. John mean? It means you may take an aspect-just pre-class and in a day! And if you are a previously popular writer, everyone will say “Oh that is so great , it was well minted in sweet words, well written by XYZ excellent writer” But kindly recall that that history of Mr. John’s teaching includes THREE ASPECTS THAT COVER THREE MONTHS OF A TERM. AND THAT YOU HAVE THREE TERMS IN A YEAR OF 12 MONTHS!!!. Our “great” writer of Mr. john took AN ASPECT IN A DAY! Is that coooool! Now Mr. Chukwuemerie, there is a SECOND way to write the history of Mr. John’s teaching. The second way is to take ALL THE THREE ASPECTS IN ALL THE THREE MONTHS OF A TERM, ALL THE THREE TERMS of 12 MONTHS IN A YEAR of Mr. John’s teaching. Regrettably, and disappointingly, Mr. Chinua Achebe DID NOT DO THIS. If you apply this to what Mr. Awolowo did with the role the nation called Nigeria gave him to perform AT THAT TIME, he was part of a NIGERIAN TEAM to (i) prepare to end the war, (ii) end the war, (iii) clean up our collective grief, sadness, negative economic consequences, tragedies, -in other words post war roles.-what in Mr. John’s analogy will mean post class activities. Mr. Achebe our renowned writer TOOK AN ASPECT. This is a DISASTER in scholarship MR. Chukwuemerie if you want to be honest with rational thinking and rise about a tribal enclave. Now you have a right NOT to rise above a tribal enclave. I am NOT saying you should. But if you SIT in your tribal enclave , then DO NOT call what your defence and explanation of Mr. Achebe’s explanation of an aspect of our life in the civil war a rational engagement of the issue.
      As a Nigerian, I do not know what to call what Mr. Achebe has done. Given his intellect, it cannot be about his intellectual skills and knowledge. As someone on this platform pointed out, if he were a practising politician, we will understand for we will say this is mere politicking. Since he has the intellectual skill to write a FULL HISTORY and he did NOT and since he is openly(at least openly) as a vocation not a politician, and since we must be able to analytically explain this intellectual disaster which he has lend himself to commit, we can only say perhaps this is an Igbo tribalist all along and we did not know. Now like someone said, he has a right to defend his Igbo tribe, but he has NO RIGHT to ASSAULT the integrity of SCHOLARSHIP and METHODOLOGY in INTELLECTUAL pursuit. Mr. Chinua Achebe HAS DONE this, i.e. conducted an ASSAULT on REASON as REASON in scholarly work. At his late age HE TORE to PIECES ALL the PUBLIC ESTEEM he has garnered by allowing his Igbo tribalism to make him fail to pay attention to the basic conditions in scholarship-something a part 1 student in a good university will not do. I have read Chinua Achebe for over twenty five years. I have taught him to my children. Now he did this? What am I going to tell my Nigerian children about who he is? Now my children are reading all these, and they will come after me to defend what I have told them about Chinua Achebe. Honestly, I am in a situation of “had I known…” hmmm the egg has broken, the wind has blown and we have seen the behind of the fowl. Had I known….

    • Guest

      Just wonder why most of u guys reason the same way. Ojukwu sacrificed his people trying to whip up sentiments about the nigerians. His belief: they would leave us alone if we make enough noise – there would be a ceasefire and we would still be able to be biafra. A war leader who does not know when to fight and when to run to live to fight another day should take all the blame. Funny enough, when it was the time for him to flee, he did not hesitate to do so. He was so poor a leader he never secured his supply lines. He allowed himself to be cut off on all sides and still failed to surrender. This does not take superpower reasoning; every adult should know this, and for anyone to see otherwise is like pretending to be asleep. You can wake someone who pretends to be asleep even if you fire a rocket in their ear. But for the surrender of Effiong, the last ibo man would have been sacrificed. Hold ojukwu responsible; let the fact be stated.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Babatunde-Adeloye/100000615492900 Babatunde Adeloye

      Just wonder why most of u guys reason the same way. Ojukwu sacrificed his people trying to whip up sentiments about the nigerians. His belief: they would leave us alone if we make enough noise – there would be a ceasefire and we would still be able to be biafra. A war leader who does not know when to fight and when to run to live to fight another day should take all the blame. Funny enough, when it was the time for him to flee, he did not hesitate to do so. He was so poor a leader he never secured his supply lines. He allowed himself to be cut off on all sides and still failed to surrender. This does not take superpower reasoning; every adult should know this, and for anyone to see otherwise is like pretending to be asleep. You can’t wake someone who pretends to be asleep even if you fire a rocket in their ear. But for the surrender of Effiong, the last ibo man would have been sacrificed. Hold ojukwu responsible; let the fact be stated.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6TL3IMDWRI6ZZAVMJHEB47LNNE Uchenna O

    Ojukwu is to be blamed and not Pa Awo …
    This is the truth that is very difficult to be accepted in Igbo land ….
    Ojukwu cornered the food that was brought to biafran civilians; and what do you expect the present administration then to do? To continue feeding their enemies for the elongation of the war? Haba my brothers; let’s be rational in our thought and quit beclouding our sanity with emotion … Pa Awolowo is not the problem here and Chinua Achebe should learn to be objective in his write-ups instead of sentimental.

    • nno

      Nemesis will soon catch up with you….wolf in sheep clothing.

  • Ibe Nkume

    Femi Fani-Kayode, I know your problem. Your father served in the govt of the First Republic which is still regarded by many (Yorubas, Igbos and Hausas alike) as very corrupt and the genesis of Nigeria’s myraid of complicated moral, leadership and economic problem. I know it always makes you unconfortable. Now to your main point in this essay point: Yes, you rightly claimed 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…” but Ojukwu rejected the offer. Now why didn’t you mention why Ojukwu rejected the offer? Or you thought that might spoil your argument? Okay, you cannot in all honesty claim that you never heard that the Biafran leadership rejected the “generous offer” because they strongly believed that the food would be poisoned! And they had sufficient reasons to believe that they could be poisened given the exessive hate and estrangement that inspired and sustained the genocidal war. You will find it difficult to deny that the war that that followed was a great opportunity for the other side to extend the Igbo extermination project that had started with the massive and senseless killing of Igbos and other Easterners in North and later in the Western cities — where civilians and officers were hunted out and slaughtered savagely – while the same “generous” Federal Government looked the other way. I can assure you Femi that if you were in Biafra at that time, you would most likely consider accepting that “generous offer” as some kind of mass suicide. If the aim of the Federal Government was just to bring the East back to the federation, why all that wantom advertisement of cruelty and mass slaughter of civilians even after the war was declared ended? Now who is engaging in revisionism? Biafrans like Achebe tasted and experienced it all, and they know what it felt like – and their account will remain more credible than some “historians” merely hearing about the bloodbath from the comfort of Lagos.

  • Enitan

    I think the problem of the average African is his/her failure to rise above ethnic sentiments. Now is war a good thing? I think it is mad man that will say yes. But our problem is why we cannot simply appeal to reason in our discourse. If the posts I see in defense of Mr. Achebe are representative of African sensibilities, then we have good warrant to say the average African WILL NEVER rise above a village, a ward. Achebe demonstrates that. Now going back to memoirs. This reminds me of the 1978 general elections in Nigeria. One of the basic common sense requirements to contest for the presidency was evidence of payment of tax. The contestants included : Mr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Mr. Shehu Shagari, Mr. Obafemi Awolowo. Mr. Nnamdi could not show evidence that he has been paying taxes. In other words he fell short of the requirement. FEDECO-the Federal Electoral Commission disclosed this to Nigerian public. The media reported it to Nigerian public. What did Zik of Africa-Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe do? He said he was being singled our because he was Igbo. I have limited this to the fact without ANY interpretation. I will NOT interprete for this is an intellectually dangerous season of interpretation and misinterpretations. Other Nigerians who witnessed this should please comment and point out if I made any Factual error or if I exclude ANYTHING in my re-collection. You should also point out any circumstance I might have excluded in this short memoir on our election in 1978. But my point is : what is wrong in asking contestants to the highest office in our country to produce evidence of basic civic responsibility to Nigeria(which they want to govern) by showing evidence that they have been paying loyal their taxes? If someone X did not do it, and it is pointed out that it is wrong, why should X say he/she is being singled out because of …..? Achebe’s so-called memoir and irrational and deliberately incomplete reference to an aspect of a process reminds me of the basic thing Zik could simply not comprehend. This shows nothing but a failure to rise above the self and that silly thing called tribe. How are the “mighty” falling!!! Because I am ….. haba!

    • nno

      sorry…stop crying….who beat you? Achebe? The problem is that i can’t beat him.

  • Enemona

    Someone should get this guy a job please. People like him should never be left idle. He talks from both side of his mouth and he has a very ffunny view of himself as brilliant and righteous. This is a mam who joined in the looting of Nigeria. While the message is good, the messenger is dubious.

  • Ibe Nkume

    Femi Fani-Kayode, you rightly claimed in your essay 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…” but
    Ojukwu rejected the offer. Now why didn’t you mention why Ojukwu
    rejected the offer? Or you thought that might spoil your argument? Okay,
    you cannot in all honesty claim that you never heard that the Biafran
    leadership rejected the “generous offer” because they strongly believed
    that the food would be poisoned! And they had sufficient reasons to
    believe that they could be poisoned given the excessive hate and
    estrangement that inspired and sustained the genocidal war. You will
    find it difficult to deny that the war that that followed was a great
    opportunity for the other side to extend the Igbo extermination project
    that had started with the massive and senseless killing of Igbos and
    other Easterners in North and later in the Western cities — where
    civilians and officers were hunted out and slaughtered savagely – while
    the same “generous” Federal Government looked the other way. I can
    assure you Femi that if you were in Biafra at that time, you would most
    likely consider accepting that “generous offer” as some kind of mass
    suicide. If the aim of the Federal Government was just to bring the East
    back to the federation, why all that wanton advertisement of cruelty
    and mass slaughter of civilians even after the war was declared ended?
    Now who is engaging in revisionism? Biafrans like Achebe tasted and
    experienced it all, and they know what it felt like – and their account
    will remain more credible than some “historians” merely hearing about
    the bloodbath from the comfort of Lagos.
    Remember, Femi Fani-Kayode
    that it is known that this is not the first time you are coming out to
    insult Achebe just to win some political capital. When Achebe rejected
    the grossly devalued “National Honour” given him by your corrupt master
    Gen Olussegun Obasanjo, you were there to insult Achebe just to please
    your master. Now, out in the cold, most people would likely believe you
    are you are seeking political rehabilitation with this recent attack. I
    wonder if this will help you
    Also, you are always defending the First Republic for
    obvious reasons, yet that regime is still regarded by many (Yorubas,
    Igbos and Hausas alike) as very corrupt and the genesis of Nigeria’s
    myriad of complicated moral, leadership and economic problem. That same
    concern, I believe inspired your recent outburst.

    • Kay

      If Ojukwu rejected the food to be sent through the road corridor because they suspected it could be poisoned, why will he have wanted the food to be flown in at night? I didn’t get that part of your argument. Before the blockade also, were there widespread cases of food poisoning and if not why the sudden suspicion?

      Femi’s point is simple, both sides did wrong in that war and it is unfair for a person of Acheb’s intellectual capacity to not be able to dispassionately discuss these past happenings. By now, we should already have put these events behind us as painful as it might have been. Our country will not move forward if we don’t heal. There is really no reason to continue to nurture these grudges. If the older ones can’t do this, we the younger ones should rise up to the occasion.

      God bless Nigeria!

      • kennotti

        are u aware that biafran soldiers were poisoned with water given them in midwest?

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Babatunde-Adeloye/100000615492900 Babatunde Adeloye

          Please substantiate.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Babatunde-Adeloye/100000615492900 Babatunde Adeloye

      I am sorry, u and the other Igbos commenting on this issue ring shallow. Poison? You make me laugh, just the way the northerners believed the polio vaccine was designed to make them infertile.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gidowu Gideon Babalola Idowu

      I think we all do well if we stay with fact. Do you, Biafran military leadership and Igbo elders want us to believe that the international community will poison the food?

    • AJ

      I dont understand you! What food poisoning suspicion are we talking here! Before the blockage, foods taken to Biafra to feed the civilians were being hijacked by the Biafran soldire to feed themslves. Let take it for granted that he was suspicion of food being poisioned… why not mandated the negotiators of the corridors which in this instance are the international communities…..or these group also hate the Igbos as to want to poisioned them?

  • EKENE NGWU

    I do not know where to start.
    1. Any one that is not Igbo should never comment on the genocide referred to as Nigerian CIvil War.
    2. Half of Yoruba people are muslims and do not understand why the igbo are afraid of Islamic Extremists who Achebe blamed extensively for the war.
    3. A hundred or hundreds of Yoruba Soldier died fighting against Biafra while protecting Ore (Yoruba territory) and 2 Million Igbo Men, women and children died, so the Igbo should understand when the Yoruba do not understand our pain.
    4. More arms were used in the war in Nigeria than in the whole of the Second world war. That is a fact that should make people stop defending any body that worked for the Federal Government of Nigeria at the Time.
    5. Achebe is not a tribalist, he is a writer who is trying to speak the truth about Nigeria’s major problem…diverse culture made dangerous by Islamic Extremism (or Northern Mob as prefered by Fani Kayode) in the North Especially. You might ask why the Yoruba muslims are not extremists; this is because the Yoruba are very enlightened and civilized and have been longer than any Nigerian tribe.
    6. If Nigeria is ONE and really should be one, then why the predictions that it might split? AWOLOWO DID THE WRONG THING
    7. Yoruba Land has little or no connection to Northern Nigeria and Yorubas WILL NEVERY understand what the Igbo WENT THROUGH, felt about the war and what we still feel.
    8. Every Igbo knows a relative or two that died as a result of the war and will feel insulted when Fani Kayode mentions the few Yoruba soldiers that were killed. My Great Grandfather does not have a grave and no trace…my fathers only brother died at the age of Six: Why Should Fani Kayode make me feel the pain more?
    9. It is not a secret that Igbos are still been marginalized in Nigeria and they still find a way to survive.
    10. Islamic Extremism still threaten peace and human life in our country especially in the Barbaric North and Fani Kayode decides to call them the Northern Mob. Why are we afraid of the truth?

    • Nasir

      I am not Igbo, I am a Nigerian. You MUST show ON THE POINT OF REASON AND RATIONALITY WHAT AWOLOWO DID WRONG? While doing this, You MUST show THE WHOLE PROCESS. This is Nigerian HISTORY. It is NOT the exclusive PRESERVE of ANY GROUP. What you NEED to SHOW is the WHOLE PROCESS of Mr. Obafemi Awolowo’s stewardship an NOT a miniscule, the way Mr. Achebe has done. Look, we ALL went to one university or the other, and we KNOW what HISTORY writing is. To say Mr. Achebe is not a tribalist when he has taken just as an aspect of a thing and enlarged it to appear to be the WHOLE PROCESS is turning HISTORY on its head. I think most Nigerians now know Mr. Achebe better. He committed a historical faux pas at his old age when we all had started celebrating him. He already lost it. Some of us who celebrated him did not know this sickening tribalism lurked in his subconscious for this long. Well that is the power of the subconscious in us humans. The subconscious will blow up in our faces independent of us at a time we never expected it. This is what has happened to Mr. Achebe. And by that tribalist reading of an important part of our lives as Nigerians, Mr. Achebe lost it.

      • Aa

        Shut up he is only saying things the way the happen. Awo was number two man and openly supported starving millions of people

        • Inyang

          By writing history about a second in an event of 366 days and making that second the event itself? Yu go school at all? haba Igbo man, this your tribalism will know no end!!!

          • nno

            It is always difficult for men to love he whom they admire. The Igbo’s are not the ones who said it, someone else did.

        • Abubakar

          Aa, no wonder people say the meaning of IBO is I BEFORE OTHERS!!! See why they will say that? That is why we all sigh hmmmmmm when yu open your mouth!

          • nno

            That is why you continue to misinterpret everything…..please stop adulterating our tribal name or do you want to lay a claim on it?

      • nno

        The problem with such scholars as you is that they keep on searching for the truth that they know but have refused to acknowledge because of ego….Mr. scholar keep the ball rolling

    • jigsaw

      What was the population of the igbos at independence? That two million will be killed in civil war

    • jigsaw

      So, it is Islamic extremism not Igbo Chauvinism that hatched the first coup leading to the pogrom in the North

    • AJ

      Can we then say these comments of yours validate Chinua Achebe’s assertion that
      “Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his
      Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those
      aspirations. However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbos at the time as the obstacles
      to that goal, and when the opportunity arose – the Nigeria-Biafra war – his
      ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams.
      In the Biafran case it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the
      numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation — eliminating over two
      million people, mainly members of future generations…”
      I dont think so….as it does not make rational sense.

  • Oluremi Olu

    One should point out that, the right of response of one’s interlocutor
    is a cardinal ethic of that World of intellectualism that Achebe inhabits. It
    therefore behove scholars, especially if they must be controversial, as they
    often are; to make their point in such time, and at such place, that it can be
    responded to. It is in the light of this
    that I wonder what point Achebe is driving at by making this weighty allegation
    against the person of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, at this point in time; forty two
    (42) years after the end of the Civil War and twenty five (25) years after
    Chief Awolowo’s death. Thus, in effect, keeping quiet for the seventeen (17)
    years during which Chief Awolowo could have responded; but, only speaking up
    twenty five (25) years after which he was incapable of responding! There is
    certainly something uncanny about this brand of intellectualism, especially
    when viewed in the light of an event after the award of the Nobel Prize in
    Literature to Professor Wole Soyinka, in 1986. Soon after the award of the
    Nobel Prize to Professor Soyinka, some of Achebe’s apologists subjected Prof
    Soyinka’s works to such uncharitable criticism ; to the extent that some concluded
    that Soyinka won the prize because his style was more of an English, than an African,
    writer.

    Unfortunately, Chief Awolowo is no longer around to answer
    to some of Achebe’s assertions, one of which is cited below; however, from his
    writings we know that he saw the lop-sidedness of the federation handed down by
    the British, rather than the Igbos, as the obstacle to the emergence of good
    leadership and the unity of Nigeria. This led him to coin, in 1946 that oft
    quoted phrase of Nigeria being a “mere geographical expression”. A phrase that his
    political enemies from the north constantly cited to haunt, and portray, him as
    a sectional leader, all through his life.

    “….It is my impression that
    Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his
    Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those
    aspirations. However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbos at the time as the obstacles
    to that goal, and when the opportunity arose – the Nigeria-Biafra war – his
    ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams.
    In the Biafran case it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the
    numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation — eliminating over two
    million people, mainly members of future generations…”

    It is quite ironic that Achebe had to come to the conclusion
    above, especially when it is known that Chief Awolowo and Professor Soyinka
    were among the last Nigerians to meet
    with Chief Ojukwu , in a last ditch attempt to avert war, before the start of
    hostilities in 1967. At their last meeting, Chief Awolowo reportedly asked
    Chief Ojukwu if there was any chance of a contact with the North, and Chief
    Ojukwu retorted that that would be on the battle field (see http://www.dawodu.com/omoigui12.htm ). For
    his efforts, Professor Soyinka was to lose his freedom, and be consigned to
    solitary confinement for the better part of the war. The anti-war efforts of these two prominent
    Yorubas was in line with the dominant views among their fellow compatriots in
    the Western Region at that time; a position which was so succinctly articulated
    by the then Governor of the Western Region, as follows:

    “I need not tell you what horror, what devastation and what extreme
    human suffering will attend the use of force. When it is all over and the smoke
    and dust have lifted, and the dead are buried, we shall find, as other people
    have found, that it has all been futile, entirely futile, in solving the
    problems we set out to solve.”

    - Colonel
    Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, Military Governor of Western region, May 4, 1967

    The principle of collective responsibility and team
    spirit demands that when one is a party to a decision; he / she should defend that
    decision, regardless of their position at the table. Therefore, it is not
    uncommon for persons who were vehemently opposed to a position in a meeting to
    come out to defend same, once it has been agreed upon collectively. Even if we
    are to agree with the contention of our Igbo compatriots that Chief Awolowo solely
    authored the blockade decision, the fact that it carried, makes it a team
    decision, for which it would have been unfair to single him out for blame.
    Hence, in authoring (?) and / or defending the blockade, Chief Awolowo, like
    his other Yoruba compatriots who have since become Igbo hate figures; merely
    found themselves in a position in which they had to carry out official duties for
    their country. Just like one Lt. – General Ihejirika is, today, in overall
    command of a much criticised – for being an allegedly punitive and
    expeditionary task force; battling the Boko Haram insurgency.
    The truth, which underlies the futility of war, is that no side comes out of it
    covered in glory. Nowhere is war fought as prescribed on the pages of the
    document on the laws and conventions of war. Unfortunately, war is one of those
    things that bring out the depravity and barbarity in man and it is therefore
    that path that is better not trodden.

    To the extent that the war efforts of those Yoruba
    personalities who have now become Igbo hate figures, namely Chief Awolowo,
    Brigadier Adekunle and General Obasanjo, may have significantly thwarted the
    realisation of the Biafran dream; one is really sympathetic to, and
    understanding of, Igbo feelings. However, the Igbos should bear in mind that
    these personalities had a job to do and they acted purely in their official
    capacities, in fulfilment of what they saw as service to their country, and not
    the Yoruba Nation. Had the situation been reversed and it was the Western
    Region that seceded against the consent of the other regions, the Yorubas would
    today, probably, be blaming Generals Ojukwu, Hilary Njoku, Joe Achuzie and Dr
    Michael Okparafor thwarting their dream of an Oodua republic. The Yorubas believe
    in the spirit of live and let live. They believe that the sky is wide enough
    for all birds to fly conveniently. Hence, they do not need to oppress or eliminate
    anyone or group to achieve their potentials. This is borne out by the fact that
    the only area outside, arguably, the East , where Igbos have thrived in safety
    and fulfilment of their potentials is Yoruba land. For example, by dint of hardwork
    and sheer determination, the Igbos exclusively own and
    control the building materials / spare parts trades in Lagos, Ibadan and Ilorin
    and no one has ever begrudged, slaughtered or bombed them for doing so .

    Finally, may I advise all those who insist on fighting
    the Civil War, forty two years after the fact, that they should do so based on
    all the facts and with their thinking hats firmly in place. This I say, because
    some posts, so far, on this article indicate that some discussants have, with
    all due respect, either not given serious thought to their posts or are simply
    suffering from a hangover of war propaganda. For example, it does not take the
    perceptiveness of a Rocket scientist to know that, had Ojukwu allow Biafra to
    be supplied relief materials via a land corridor, the supply and logistics of
    getting the relief materials to Biafra would have been handled by the
    international community who negotiated the concession, with the Federal
    Government only granting safe conduct to the relief convoys. Thus, I will recommend to them the exhaustive
    and expansive writings of Dr Nowa Omoigui on this subject (see http://www.dawodu.com/omoigui.htm)

  • Ik

    You have indeed said a lot of crap,as yu pointed out Awo is only human and one of the politicians who were so self serving and corrupt that your so called Igbo coup had to take place,this were soldiers that knew their bones,lets admit something is wrong,Awo died at a ripe age and was given a State burial: please his is life more precious than the two million Igbos he admitted killing yes he admitted it in plain English

    • Bala

      Mr. Ik, will you say this is good thinking? Will you recommend this mode of thought to your children? This is all I have to say.

  • kennotti

    please who is this fani kayode who claims mastership of history? he called 1966 coup igbo coup. i think he wants to contest election in 2015. dear yoruba brothers, i respect you for your respect for your elders. however, you pple should not be hoodwinked by satirist like kayode who is hoping to warm himself into your hearts singing popular song even if he has nothing to say.

  • andy ekugo

    if i get this right, the controversy here is that Chinua Achebe stated that Awolowos blockade policy led to the death of millions of igbos. now fani kayode is taking achebe to the cleaners for lying against awolowo ‘
    the late and much loved Leader of the Yoruba’ by stating that fact. in that same piece fani kayode stated that ‘ Not only is Professor Achebe indulging in perfidy, not only is he being utterly dishonest and disingenuous but he is also turning history upside down and indulging in what I would describe as ethnic chauvinism’. then in the next paragraph fani kayode shocked me by stating this ‘ …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 be a LIE. It is a historical fact. Again I do not deny the fact that Awolowo publicly 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.’ Ok guys lets go back to the controversial issue which i stated in the opening line. if Awolowo publicly admitted that he ordered it and denying that it actually happened would be a LIE according to fani kayode, what then is chinua Achebes sin? if chinua achebe said that awolowo was responsible for the death of millions of biafran children and women and civilians because of the blockade for me, he told the truth and anyone claiming that he is lying or distorting history esdpecially if ‘
    To deny that this actually happened would be a LIE’, is not ONLY LYING BUT ALSO DISTORTING HISTORY!!! which by the way is the trade mark of yoruba people!!!! the blood of those unjustly killed would continue to torment nigeria as a nation until the TRUTH is told. you cannot hide the truth under the carpet. it must riggle out someday.

    • Babaranti

      Sir, the blockade was to win the war, not to achieve Awo’s agenda because Awo did not start the war and the war was Ojukwu’s agenda that blew in his face. I agree, Fani Kayode’s piece is weak, there are better responses to Achebe you should read and then call your Achebe to order. Biafran soldiers hijacked the food meant for civilians and Ojukwu used the starvation as propaganda, allowing his people to suffer and die. Where would that end him? Blockade. You guys may just start another war because of this. It doesn’t matter that he’s your kinsman, face the truth, the war is over!

    • nno

      Bro, stop wasting your energy…..since these people have failed to understand that it was the same-said achebe who was so much so impartial that he could not but give his kinsman Dr. nnamdi Azikiwe a well deserved criticism in his book – The Trouble with Nigeria.

    • AJ

      What is your comment on the food corridors negotiated by the international communities but rejected by Ojukwu which led to the starvation of millions? Igbo need to be true to themselves… they are their own nemesis period.

  • ilajeeseodo

    I am going to be factual and base my response on simple questions. Chinua Achebe made the following statements: “Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his
    Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those
    aspirations. However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbos at the time as the obstacles
    to that goal, and when the opportunity arose – the Nigeria-Biafra war – his
    ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams.
    In the Biafran case it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the
    numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation — eliminating over two
    million people, mainly members of future generations…”

    1. Fact 1. I am 65 year old man. My mother inherited a Kola nut coastal trading business between Okitipupa and Lagos from her mother. In other words my grandmother travelled on waters from Okitipupa to Lagos to sell kola nuts. According to my mother, my granny would return from Lagos after weeks and months with clothes to sell in Okitipupa and adjoining coastal areas. My own mother inherited this business married my father and used these resources to train us their children-in both African and western education.

    2. I am Yoruba. My granny lived and traded between Okitipupa before Nigeria as an entity was created. In other words, my grand mother and her family had a cultural, social, economic and business lives before Nigeria. My family and I are Yorubas even when given our contemporary social experiences my siblings and I see ourselves as Nigerians and Africans -period. We just say we are culturally Yoruba only but that we are Nigerians and Africans.

    3. I have trained my children from the emotional, social, economic and cultural investments and proceeds of my parents which dated back to pre-Nigeria. Because these social, economic, cultural and business investments date to pre-Nigeria, it means they are pre-Awolowo era both in Nigeria and in Yoruba land.

    4. Now readers should place items 1-3 in my write up against Mr. Chinua Achebe’s assertions which I pasted at the beginning of my response.
    5. Let us take Chinua Achebe on. What can we deduce.? (i) Mr. Awolowo held down the Igbos so that his Yoruba people can make progress, and (ii) the Yorubas given that they are rational like all humans are, took advantage of Awolowo’s strategy of holding down the Igbos.

    6. Many commentators have talked about how Mr. Achebe took an aspect of history of 4 years and turned that aspect to the whole history. That is a theoretical challenge in real historical scholarship to Mr. Achebe, his academic assistants in Boston university, US, where he works and his social and political defenders to deal with. While that is a legitimate theoretical issue in the job of the academia that is not what I am concerned with here in this post.

    7. Rather in this post I am concerned with a basic lie undeserving of an academic in a university to give the impression to his students and a global audience that my grandmother’s business (and the extension of that in my mother and us her children) which pre-dated Nigeria and Awolowo is a product of or benefited from an alleged diabolical policy of Awolowo which was designed to hold down his own people-the Igbos-for the benefit of the Yorubas. This is what I am concerned with. This is what others have not pointed out and which is really troubling. The unsettling consequences of Mr. Achebe’s assertions may be the reason some people have said that this man should stop writing history and continue to translate Igbo proverbs to English as literature. In other words, they mean this man does not know what he is talking about whenever he ventures out of his literary enterprise.
    8. I call your attention to items 4 and 7 in my response. If my Yoruba family’s social, economic, business and cultural investments predated Nigeria and Awolowo era, how on earth can I be beneficiary of an alleged plot by Awolowo against Igbos and for Yorubas? I am putting this to Chinua Achebe’s assistants in his university-Does this make sense? Is this something about age telling on this fellow? In other words, we presume that knowledge is about truth. We know it is an assumption, but we still make that assumption. Therefore to put pen to paper and write is to make a claim about search for knowledge and truth. Scholarly, why should and how can Mr. Chinua Achebe ever suggest that Mr. Awolowo designed a policy to hold down Igbos so that Yorubas will benefit.? How is it that my Yoruba family’s commercial forays back and forth Okitipupa, Ilaje, and Lagos Coasts and which my lineage and generation inherited and developed to train our children to be highly cultured, cultivated, self respecting of their own culture, language and origin, and respectful of others and their cultures wherever they are in the world, and to be good citizens of the world wherever they are on earth be the benefit of holding down the Igbos? This assertion is a shock discerning Nigerians may not overcome from. It will set
    us back and has set us back in a very sad and shocking manner.
    I thought that we were making progress to overcome our challenges. But coming from someone people think ought to know better, this is a historical setback in our collective imagination.
    9. For some Igbo elites and intelligentsia who defend Mr. Achebe NOT to see the implications in item 8 and attempt to paper over it is even more shocking and revealing.

    10. Now I have the following questions for Mr. Achebe, his academic assistants in the university he teaches, his university, and his political and social defenders on the net.
    a. To Mr. Achebe’s university: Is Mr. Achebe’s assertions as quoted part of what he teaches American and non-American students in the university? Mr. Achebe teaches at Boston University, US.
    b. To Mr. Achebe’s university: what is the epistemological and historical worth and implications of assertions such as this? What are American and non-American students learning from these assertions from Mr. Achebe?
    c. To Mr. Achebe and his academic assistants in the university: Is this what Mr. Achebe calls knowledge and part of what he teaches?

    d. Is this what you help him to moderate and pass on to American and non-American students who must include African and Nigerian students? So you teach them that Mr. Awolowo held down the Igbos so that the Yorubas will make progress at the advantage of the Igbos.
    e. To Mr. Achebe and his academic assistants: You are supposed to be men and women of culture-So my question is: Is the development of Yoruba cultural imagination as an aspect of African, Black and world imagination and cultures a result of a policy by Awolowo which you said held down the Igbos and allowed the Yoruba inteligentsia to develop and extend this imagination? Is this what you people teach in the American classrooms? You have the moral obligation to answer these questions. You may also not. You are not compelled to answer. But we must put everything in the public square. That is the nature of knowledge-its production and dissemination.
    11. Just in case you miss out the relevance of 10a-e as result of the length of this post, I will again call your attention to Mr. Achebe’s words: “Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those aspirations. However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbos at the time as the obstacles
    to that goal, and when the opportunity arose – the Nigeria-Biafra war – his ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams. In the Biafran case it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation — eliminating over two million people, mainly members of future generations…” Subsequently from item 12 and on I will call your attention to the deductions from this assertion.

    12.a “,,,Awolowo saw the dominant Igbos at the time…”
    12b. “…obstacles…”

    12c. “…goals..”

    12d. “…when the opportunity arose…”

    12e. ‘diabolical policy to reduce number of his enemies…”

    12f. Since Awolowo is culturally Yoruba he did not act alone. So Awolowo saw Igbos as dominant. The Yorubas saw Igbos as dominant. My question is :Dominant about what? How does the life of the Igbos in the East affect my family businesses in Okitipupa and Lagos? What kind of illusion and self-delusion are these? These are too revealing historically. But more importantly did Mr. Achebe and his assistants teach this in American classrooms?

    12g. “over riding ambition for power for himself and his people..” I am a Yoruba man culturally. So whatever I have become today, whatever citizens of the world who are Nigerians of Yoruba extraction culturally have become today and whatever respect Yoruba cultures as aspects of Black and African cultures have today is a result of the ‘over riding ambition for power for Awolowo and his people” Mr. Achebe, do you teach this to students-American, non-American, Nigerian and other African students in American classrooms?

    12h. “obstacles and enemies..’ Igbos are obstacles and enemies that need to be cleared for Yorubas to rise. So my parents’ transfer of their age old business between Okitipupa and Lagos to me and my making sense of that business and extending it are irrelevant to my success and to that of my children wherever they are in the globe. What is relevant to Mr. Achebe’s historiography is that the Igbos were “obstacles” and “enemies” that were cleared for the Yorubas to rise. And the Yorubas rose as a result of this. Mr. Achebe and Mr. Achebe’s assistants: Do you teach this to Boston University students? Will this be a scholarly representation of Nigeria to Boston University students? Can you defend this theoretically and rationally in the public space outside the academic freedom the sanctity of the university classroom give you to teach and write what you like? Please kindly note that you your academic freedom to teach what you like as you deem it fit is given. No one can take that away from any scholar or dilute it. But outside the halo of the classroom, and in the public square, can you rationally defend this?

    13. These are the rationally and intellectually untenable l issues in Mr. Achebe’s historiography and literatures. Whoever reads this assertion of yours and does not live in our country Nigeria will imagine groups who are permanently at war. Mr. Achebe , is that so? Is that what you think? is that what you teach your students in Boston University? Whoever reads this assertion will likely come to the conclusion that given the images of Mr. Awolowo and the Yorubas that are painted by Mr. Achebe, even if the civil war did not occur, Mr. Awolowo or the Yorubas would have found a way to cause one and would still have found a way to eliminate his/their enemies and obstacles-the Igbos. Mr. Chinua Achebe, is this what you teach your students in the classroom of Boston University? Is this a fair and objective scholarship about Nigeria your country? It is possible that you may no longer see Nigeria as your country-so we should say country of origin. So is this a fair , objective and truthful scholarly representation of your country of origin?
    Even when the African Yoruba thought asserts that you cannot walk without your head shaking-in other words no one is imbued with perfection, we all make mistakes. This is one mistake too much. I doubt if Nigeria will recover from this. I hope so.

    • nno

      ranting of an ant……u reason like a child

      • jigsaw

        nno, sorry the calamity that befell the Igbo’s lies in their domain, sentiments taking villains as heroes, Nzogu started it by Killing the Leaders of the other extractions of Nigerian damning the consequence then making a joke and mockery of it in international press/video conference, it did not end there your people always wanting to make money out of every opportunity made a calender of the late murdered Northern premier and placed a cock on his chest which they were selling in the north then to provoke the Northerners, if you are in their position what will you have done?

        Aguiyi Ironsi who took over did not prosecute Nzeogu and co, if he had it would have doused the tension then but the law of nature took its turn and there was a reaction which also by no means acceptable to common sense too.

        Colonel Ojukwu proceeded with a secession banking on his fathers wealth and the lust for power, but failed the test of time because death should have been his ultimate aim of achieving independence for his people but rather he chose to elope when he could not achieve his aim after leading thousands of Igbo people to an uncalled for war and death a crime which the blind sentiments of the Igbo populace refuse to see or are hypocritical about, if not since he was pardoned by president Shagari and he rebirth himself into Nigerian politics the Igbo’s have never given him their block vote either by voting all their Eastern governors for his party or to even give him their vote indicating him as their hero but unfortunately he became their hero as a dead man.

        For Achebe to have given us His Last publication as a parting gift to cause hate and disaffection amongst Nigerians; it did not just tell the story that he was actually the Okwonkwo in his things fall apart my advice is that for all Igbo living try read things fall apart, watch the film as produced in the 80′s and as played by Pete Edochie, think about the personality of Okwonkwo and try to understand that he was self destructing and any man so have desire shall also come to such an end.
        I call on all our Igbo compatriots to know that we are AFRICANS and will remain so, Sardauna, Namdi, Awolowo, Tafawa left us years back, Ojukwu and Achebe have just exited they have all played their own parts and are now history, what shall be our own part? Are we going to progress or start the disintegration as wanted and predicted by the west. Nigeria has the destiny of been a power to be recon with as a unified nation rather than some small ethnic based countries that will be riddled with clannish chauvinism.

  • The Patriot

    The core question to then ask is this, what is Achebe’s real intent? I suspect it’s more than twisting history or denigrating Awo and Gowon. After all, Awo is no longer alive to say his own side or defend himself. Probably Gowon will respond to him, which I seriously doubt, given his genteel and religious mien, I guess he’d rather let the sleeping dogs lie and refuse to let the “sins of the past” hunt him again!
    That said, the question then arises again? Why now or why at all? Perhaps to signify a political intent, given the hue and cry of the South East for the exalted seat of the President of the Republic in 2015? If so, then Achebe has finally blown the chance of the Igbos for the next 100 years!
    The Igbos need to rise from their siege mindset, put the “loser mentality” behind and wake up – the war has been over for more than 40 years! Throwing a pity party will not hand them the presidential ticket. They cannot win a majority in Nigeria, as long as they still remain at war with the rest of Nigeria – they hate the North – for their massacre in the North; they hate the Yorubas and Middle Belt – for collaborating with the North during the war; they hate the Niger Delta – for taking over their property in PH; they hate the Mid West – for granting and aiding the Federal troops access into their land … etc. So, how and where do they think they will get the majority votes to put an Igbo man into the Presidency? I hope they realise the longer term political consequences when Igbo men, like Achebe, so fanatically respected by his kinsmen, who are ready to rise in blind collective defence? They leave us, the rest of Nigeria with little choice to conclude that they are only capable of seeing their narrow “Igbo Agenda” and not the bigger picture of the collective Nigerian Agenda.
    Well meaning and intentioned Igbos need to tell their likes of Achebe, to stop waking up the ghosts of the war and let the post war mantra sink in – NO VICTOR, NO VANQUISHED! Until they are able to do so, the political leadership of Nigeria will only remain elusive and a mirage for the Igbos.

    • nno

      Mr. scholar, don’t cry yet, for more is yet to come.

  • iretiidajo

    Who Killed Col Victor Banjo?

    Chinua Achebe the Igbo novelist
    and writer who now lives in the US has written a memoir. This memoir includes
    events of the unfortunate Nigerian Civil War between 1966-1970. I am a Nigerian
    of Yoruba extraction. I am concerned about the death of many Nigerians during
    the unfortunate civil war. One of the numerous deaths was that of a promising
    young family man-Col Victor Banjo. The factual information we have are as
    follows:

    1. Col
    Victor Banjo was in the Biafra Army.

    2. Col
    Victor Banjo was a Nigerian of Yoruba cultural extraction who joined forces
    with Col Odumegwu Ojukwu the leader of the Biafra Army who was fighting the
    federal forces.

    3. Col.
    Victor Banjo was sent by the Biafra Army under the command of Col Ojukwu to
    take over Lagos, the then seat of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

    4. We
    are not sure of the details of the fact. But we have the information (to be confirmed) that Col
    Victor Banjo allegedly had 7000
    ill equipped troops under him on his mission on behalf of Biafra to capture
    Lagos.

    5. We
    are yet to make confirmation. But the unconfirmed information was that Col.
    Victor Banjo honorably made a detour in Ore, in the present
    Ondo state on learning of the inferior troop under him for his mission
    to capture Lagos on behalf of Biafra.

    6. Col
    Victor Banjo returned to Col Odumegwu Ojukwu. But Col Odumegwu Ojukwu shot and
    killed Col Victor Banjo.

    7. As
    a Nigerian and as a Yoruba man of over 70 years, I make the following
    proposition.

    8. Chinua
    Achebe was involved in the Biafra crusade and he should address the death of Col
    Victor Banjo in the hands of
    Biafra soldiers.

    9. Chinua
    Achebe was a cultural ambassador
    of Biafra so he is liable as part of the Biafra structure for the death of Col
    Victor Banjo a Nigerian of Yoruba extraction.

    10. Since we
    are in the season of investigation and memoirs, and Chinua Achebe
    who is a member of Biafra is still alive, he should be invited to answer
    questions on the circumstances surrounding the death of Col Victor Banjo.

    11. I propose
    that this call to Chinua Achebe should involve a trial for the death of Col Victor Banjo who
    is a Nigerian of Yoruba extraction.

    12. Chinua
    Achebe can be found. He is alive and he lives in the US. He teaches presumably
    African Literature in Boston University, US. I am concerned because I am a Nigerian and I am Yoruba. The
    blood of Col Victor Banjo and other Yoruba sons and daughters who died in the hands of Biafra is on the head
    of Biafra operatives dead or alive. Chinua Achebe ( we do not know if he has
    renounced his Nigerian nationality and citizenship, but we are investigating)
    was and is still a Biafra operative . Therefore the blood of Col Victor Banjo
    is on the head of Chinua Achebe. And he has to be tried for murder of Col
    Victor Banjo. Boston University
    authority where Chinua Achebe works should be properly notified under the law
    for this is an open issue that concerns the law and human lives. I know Col
    Victor Banjo and I know that his
    children are still alive. Part of this legal process is that Chinua Achebe
    should be asked to produce the corpse of Col Victor Banjo for proper burial. Chinua Achebe a previous and present
    operative of Biafra should be tried for the death of Col Victor Banjo a
    Nigerian who is also Yoruba.

  • Femi

    Mr Kayode should please write about his and his father’s role in government and not putting up half baked and sentimental arguements . Why did he not talk abt the ban on imports that Igbo’s traded on ? If no one has ever told you before , you are a corrupt scion of a corrupt tree and as such your morals and love for yorubas is questionable , do you know how many yorubas that have died directly and indirectly as a result of your selfish acts in OBJ govt. You are the real yoruba hater .

  • Enemona

    The freelance activist has spoken, let’s wait till Fani-kayode gets another job.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3EAVZENSTUHHGK2GJQU5SS453U Nigerian Diary

    “Who Is Listening To Fani-Kayode?”
    By IYOBOSA UWUGIAREN
    Femi Fani-Kayode, the attack-dog-in-chief of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Monday rubbed the old wound of the aggrieved people of Odi and Zaki-Biam communities when he justified the criminal actions and war crimes committed by Obasanjo during his tenure as civilian president between 1999 and 2007. Femi in his statement had asked President Goodluck Jonathan to take some lessons from the decisive actions Obasanjo applied in Odi and Zaki-Biam following the killings of Nigerian security agents.
    He was reacting to the live broadcast of the “Presidential Media Chat” to the nation this Sunday evening, when Jonathan said that the military operation in Odi by the Nigerian armed forces in 1999, which was ordered by Obasanjo, did not solve the problem or stop the killing of soldiers, policemen and innocent civilians in the Niger Delta area by the militants. Jonathan had said that all he saw in Odi after he went there on an official visit as deputy governor were the dead bodies of old people.
    But hear the loquacious former aviation minister: “To stop and deter those attacks and killings was the objective of Obasanjo and that objective was achieved. Jonathan was therefore in error when he said that Odi did not solve the problem of killings in the Niger Delta area by the Niger Delta militants. Not only did it stop the killings but it is also an eloquent testimony of how to deal with terrorists, how to handle those that kill our security personnel with impunity and how to deter militants from killing members of our civilian population and thinking that they can get away with it.”
    Femi added: “If Obasanjo had not taken that strong action at that time, many more of our civilian population and security personnel would have been killed by the Niger Delta militants between 1999 and 2007. By doing what he did at Odi and Zaki-Biam, Obasanjo saved the lives of many and put a stop to the killings and terrorism that had taken root in the Niger Delta area previous to that time.’’
    While Femi is at liberty to justify the criminal acts of a government he played an active part in, I am very worried about what could have consistently led him into making some pronouncements that are not sensible in the estimation of right-thinking members of the society. Today, Femi would blame Obasanjo for his evils while in power and tomorrow he would be singing a different tune. My worry has nothing do with whether Femi should be taken seriously or not. No. As a matter of fact, I stopped taking him seriously the day I met him in the late Chief Sunday Awoniyi’s house in Maitama, Abuja, in 2006. He came there to beg the late Aro of Mopa to forgive him for the insult he heaped on him the day before. Chief Awoniyi’s offence was that he had the courage to question the third term agenda of his former boss. The deputy governor of Kogi State and eldest son of the late northern leader, Engr. Yomi Awoniyi, was also there. Femi, like a true son of Yorubaland, lay down on the floor and pleaded with Awoniyi that he was only carrying out his boss’ instruction. “I came here today to beg, sir; but if Baba (referring to Obasanjo) orders me tomorrow to abuse again I will still do it,” Fani-Kayode told the late respected elder statesman.
    Now why should I take such a person, who was ready to do everything to retain his job, seriously? While in power, Obasanjo depicted himself as an impartial devotee of democracy that eventually ended his irresistible ambition of third term. Obasanjo made several attempts to tailor history to suit his mortally wounded ends. As somebody once said, “Obasanjo was not only for third term, he was indeed the ultimate field marshall of its forces.” And Femi was regularly used to unleash terror on such moral dignitaries as Chief Awoniyi, Professor Chinua Achebe, Professor Wole Soyinka, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar and other patriotic Nigerians for daring to tell emperor Obasanjo that he was worldly. For a man who came from a family recorded to have helped to deepen our democracy (remember “Fani Power”), it is shocking that Femi would see Obasanjo as his role model in conflict management.
    What is Femi talking about? Maybe a little rewind of what happened in Odi would surely enable reasonable and sensible people to ponder awhile. On November 4, 1999, an armed gang killed seven Nigerian policemen (not soldiers as claimed by Femi) in Odi, Bayelsa State. The act was carried out by a group with no apparent political agenda, but took place against a rising clamour from those living in the oil-producing areas for a greater share of the oil wealth. A day after the unfortunate incident, Obasanjo wrote to the then governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, threatening to declare a state of emergency if those responsible for the murders were not found within two weeks, even though the responsibility for policing is a federal government duty. Anyway, before the deadline could expire, Obasanjo moved soldiers into Odi, a community of about 20,000 people and, by the time the soldiers were through, every single building including banks, churches, health centres and other social infrastructure was brought down, thousands of innocent souls were killed while the armed youths who brought trouble upon the town escaped.
    The world roundly condemned Obasanjo’s criminal action. For example, a respected international human rights group, the Human Rights Watch, had said that the operations indicated a disturbing willingness by the Obasanjo-led civilian government to use the same methods as the military governments of the past. The human rights group that did a thorough research on Odi destruction had accused Obasanjo of continuing “a series of federal government actions in the delta that have failed to distinguish between those allegedly responsible for criminal acts, activists making political demands for the peoples of the delta to have greater control over the natural resources found beneath their land, and civilian bystanders who are neither criminals nor activists”.
    As a senior correspondent with TheNews/Tempo covering the National Assembly then, I had accompanied then Senate president Chuba Okadigbo-led delegation to Odi after Obasanjo’s evil act. This is what he said: “The facts speak for themselves. No need for speech as there is nobody to speak with.”
    Okadigbo did not find a single soul to talk to in Odi when he along with his colleagues visited the community. A few days later, members of the House of Representatives also visited the community and it was the same shocking verdict. By the end of that week, the Senate hurried through the government’s NDDC Bill, approving it with substantial amendments in an attempt to appease the Niger Delta community. On its own, the House of Representatives passed a resolution requesting President Obasanjo to always obtain the National Assembly’s consent before deploying troops to quell any civil unrest. The then director-general of the State Security Service (SSS), Col. Kayode Are, in a private media chat with some senior journalists was also alarmed by his boss’ action.
    The like of Femi may not know: it was the provocation of Odi killings and wanton destruction that actually fuelled the armed struggle of some Niger Delta youths. It later took the wise decision of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to resolve the problem. The military action of Obasanjo and his gang never solved the crisis in the area. I am too sure Femi requires some lessons in how things work in a democracy and the best possible ways to manage conflict. No matter the gravity of any offence by some criminally-minded people, innocent souls and a whole community must not pay for their sin.
    No matter how long it would take, one day Odi and Zaki-Biam will get justice and Obasanjo will be called to answer for his war crimes. And one thing is sure: Femi would be an accomplice. The day of judgement is coming.

  • prince

    Keep quiet! The literary icons asertions on the role role Obafemi Awolowo played during the civil war are genuine.Awolowo did not act quite differently from a black man from Africa.Africans are mostly very cruel and unsympathetic especially 2 fellow Africans.Besides, an average African is a selfish being- always looking 4 ways and means of having every thing unrepentantly 2 himself!Awolowo was so much praised by his own Yoruba people becouse he really lived the usual African life-the life of shielding others and bringing what should have been mearnt 4 all 2 his people alone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chizoba.nnonyelu Phine Izzie Christian

    Before you think you are qualified to critize Chinua Achebe’s work. Let me ask; were you born before or during the civil war, Did you experience it and at what age. If not, don’t just base your critics on what you have read and learnt from history because they were all written by someone who may be baise and as naïve as you may be. Then for those of you who would oppose his write up with backing evidence of Awolow’s interview on some paper or television. You must know that our leaders are liars, therefore whatever responses Awolowo must have given then have a greater probability of not being true. Achebe’s work is based on his own view of the civil war and that has to be respected.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Babatunde-Adeloye/100000615492900 Babatunde Adeloye

      I dare say the beauty of knowledge is that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE THERE! Ever heard of an absurdity? Just because I was not there does not mean I should believe it if you tell me that the a goat gave birth to an elephant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Babatunde-Adeloye/100000615492900 Babatunde Adeloye

    … and I just saw our most revered Onwumechili saying that there were few guns and machetes were purchased to prosecute the war. How could this have been allowed? In the Youtube, there was actually a fellow sharpening a machete! Igbo elites must be held responsible for leading their kith and kin to the slaughter! So sad! And you know how easy it is to whip up sentiments under those circumstances!

  • Truthman

    Part three of the youtube tells us how the biafran soldiers were seizing weapons from nigerian soldiers, but we know from the records that a substantial part of the east was captured in no time at all. propaganda all along. within four months, biafra had been reduced to a small enclave; enugu itself captured. The propaganda of biafra was that of starving, dying, children!!!!! Can you really believe that? Please watch youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eppgEVwxCfk. The same blockade you are accusing nigeria of you were actually using as a propaganda tool to force nigeria into calling off the war! ‘… and the outside world bought it,’ according to one of the white narrators!!!! The Ibo interviewee said, ‘we tried the religious angle, …, the picture of children with kwashiokor cut across peoples beliefs. They actually got the images of kids with distended bellies across to the outside world in a bid to whip up sentiments. If the kids had been properly fed, biafra would have lost the sympathy of the world. The relief came in the form of flights at night, the kids were now well fed, and that kept the biafran hope alive. Biafra wanted fuel flown in for the civil service and the military. Biafra was able to buy guns with the money from relief missions and bring the war to a stalemate. From August 1968, French supply of small arms kept the war going on for another 15 months. The inteviewee later says, ‘Biafra had won the propaganda war …’ In short, the starving was a form of propaganda! These movies are a must for everyone to watch who intends to post a comment. Just as I thought, ‘Biafrans at this stage thought all they had to do was hang in there and then the world would come round to the aid of biafra.’ Ojukwu was saying ‘march on, victory is in sight to a band of mobilised boys brigade kids who were mimicking fighting!’ this as the federal army was closing in on whatever was left of biafra. It is now clear why ojukwu did not say anything in public of the war. He then left for a neighbouring country; he claimed then and now (according to the narrator), ‘in order to negotiate a peace.’ Effiong said, ‘… elements who have made negotiation and reconciliation impossible have removed themselves from our midst …’ LET WHOEVER WANTS TO POST ANY COMMENT, BE HE IBO OR HAUSA OR YORUBA OR EFIK, IBIBIO, OR KALABARI first see the tapes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZTpuVlKJ_Q

  • Truthman

    … and ojukwu remembers how they drank wine made from cassava! And what i saw was a needless sight of skeleton-like little kids with distended bellies … most unfortunate. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An7IZBBATTM

  • Napoleon

    Egbon Femi, the past is indeed prologue.There is no justification for blockading the borders against Biafrans even if the Allies did it against Germany.Remember the Allies used the A-bomb against Japan an ally of Germany and not against Germany herself.Why leave the head and aim for the neck?Because the Japs ain’t whitesUsing blockade in a purely domestic strife and not an international war like the World War was an overkill full-stop.

  • nno

    you don’t have any case, mister scholar……rest your mouth