Repeating the Mistakes that led to Biafra

by Onyemaechi Ogbunwezeh

Prejudice is seduced to oedipal incest, whenever opinions arise, that challenge the epistemic dogma of its irrationalities. Citadels of bigotry are inordinately roused to dismiss submissions contrary to its illogics, as biased allegiance to some expired heritage. But since such abominable transactions are assisted by the murder of truth, it is the duty of reason to keep truth alive at all costs. Oedipus killed his father and married his mother. Whenever prejudice kills truth, which is the father of all reality, it marries dogma, which is our primal epistemic experience, to sire generations of mutilated half-truths and unexamined falsehoods. These offspring are all genetically compromised to lead us to the fullness, and rewarding majesty of the true, the good and the beautiful.

Oedipus can plead the insanity of destiny for his incestuous choices. Every tenant of hell has excuses for the choices that built his Hades. Dante may have known this. The Divine Comedy may have been inspired by this realization. Macbeth’s treason against the ancient, sacred canons of hospitality; guaranteeing safety to the guest under one’s roof; and his cold-blooded murder of innocent sleep; in genuflection to the illusory ambitions he purchased off the Weird sisters, could be blamed on the deception of ethereal creatures; reinforced by the promptings of an ambitious wife. Brutus’ murderous felony against the bonds of friendship, in conspiratorial scheming for power; and his infliction of the unkindest cut of history on a friend of his bosom; can equally be excused. He could claim the nobility of intention, which has been the Machiavellian justification for the vilest of means. He would claim the love of Rome, as the noble motive for his murderous choice of stabbing his friend. Judas the son of Simon Iscariot can plead the immutability of a destiny hanging upon him like the Sword of Damocles, as the inspiration for the dastard betrayal of his master. In fact, given a podium and a microphone, every villain of history, would invent excuses for his perfidy. It is not surprising that every peddler of revisionist history can always claim the noblest of intentions, or the impositions of destiny, to justify the dark motives issuing from the archipelagoes of his insularity.

But be that as it may, history and civilization have all experienced the tragedies of prejudice. Over six million Jews were incinerated by the consolidated armadas of hate and prejudice. Over 15 million Africans had to be bought and sold to appease the gods of racial prejudice and commerce. To that end, reason has forever accursed the lips that are suckled on the tits of prejudice. Doomed to the isles of the intellectual dead are those, who drank from her poisoned breasts. Forever devastated are the mental landscapes of all, who drink unceasingly from her poisoned chalice. Their intellectual universe would forever be an epistemic Chernobyl, whose toxicity forever smothers every stirrings of reason. Doomed also are those, who expect the obverse from a posture that synonymizes and mirrors intellectual laziness. Ill-fated are those that patronize this posture, which gravely canonizes the habitual consultation of unexamined illogics; while recommending a dogmatic pretence to historical amnesia. Those will never learn from history. They are forever condemned to repeat it. Santayana is instructive in this case.

Ours is not a war against prejudice. One cannot successfully fight what happens to be the canvass of human perception. Prejudice in itself is not wrong or negative. It is neutral. But what is absolutely wrong is the arrogance of pejorative prejudice. This is where a particular strain of prejudice, arrogates itself the borrowed robes of absolute validity; as the only point of view that exists and should be in existence. This is what arms the painful intolerance of extremism. And this is the extremism that butchers opposition, or barbecues those it considers heretics out of existence. Ask the medieval grand inquistors, or the religious fanatics of every land and clime. Granted that pure objectivity cannot exist in a human mind;a functional one can be attained in human discourse and interaction. This is made possible by a dialectics of subjectivities. This dialogue offers a platform for the emergence of objectivity. This inheres in the nature of dialectics itself. Dialectics remains the essential arena where a thesis confronts an anti-thesis. This confrontation resolves itself in a synthesis. A synthesis is a recognition of the multi-dimensional nature of truth. And since truth though one, enjoys a perspectival existence, our exercise can only be a stand against the lures of pejorative prejudice.

For many in the conceptual born-to-rule epicentres of Nigerian power, Biafra and its lessons remain an expired memory and a nostalgic hangover of a defeated people. In the nauseous perversities of this pathological allergy to facts and conscience, which only a lewd sense of privilege that is both belligerent and militant can sire in a mind; these pretenders to Nigeria’s throne of filth, are quick to dismiss every narrative that dared expose the malodorous indignity of their undeodorized asses, as an attempt to “heat up the polity”. They dismiss every voice raised against their excesses, which they could not character-assassinate or a head they could not detach from its neck, as the enfeebled agitations of insignificant malcontents. This is only to purchase for themselves, a soothing narrative that would justify their conscious inaction to the mass of the ignorant and unwary, populating the length and breadth of Nigeria.

But as the days go by, their prude buffoonery stands to mock the timidities of their arrogant pretentions. There is ample evidence that scaffolds this conclusion. In the epicentres of Nigerian power, which is in indentured slavery to the ‘born-to-rule’ philosophies of a feudal embrace; issues of historical salience, like Biafra and its lessons are treated with a megalomanic disdain of pathological proportions. For many trapped in this medieval construction of power relations, Biafra remains a footnote to an expired memory. In this conceptual scheme, it is considered and treated like a nostalgic hangover of a defeated people, who are drunk on dreams of glory. Prejudice betrays an incomprehensible allergy to facts. It is spawned in the dungeons of unreason; from the strands of un-interrogated ignorance, which is polymorphous and perverse. In the Nigerian context, the fact that Biafra existed even for a brief period of 30 months, was enough to ignite the payloads of masturbatory irrationality in many a Nigerian mind. To this end, whenever Biafra comes up for analysis, the indignities of repressed angst and inferiority are raised in these band of rogue elements mismanaging our resources and micromanaging illusions to keep Nigerians eternally enslaved to their machiavellic whims and caprices; thereby defeating every rational chance of Nigeria and Nigerians learning any useful lessons from our history. This explains why we have been on the condemned path to repeat the mistakes of our history.

Nigeria has been in the grips of such a band of rogues ever since its birth. This is only possible because Nigeria’s courts of power were designed by default, never to be manned by intelligent leadership. It was created by colonial fiat, to forever house the conglomeration of the worst specimens of our crooks, thieves, goons, and thugs. The noblest incarnations of our proud clime, were schemed out of the equation and relegated to irrelevance, since their natures and philosophies constituted insurmountable affronts to mercenary interests. Since then, power in Nigeria has been betrothed to generations of this strange alliance of unscrupulous rapists, whose life’s ambition was not only to sire dynasties of grotesquely incompetent paladins, and social viruses of corrupt provenance; but also to render Nigeria’s development stillborn. And these mercenary mandarins

have not disappointed their masters. Over two decades after Nigeria’s independence, the indices of development have been tanking Deep South, without any hope of improvement in sight. The hopes of our youthful days have virtually dropped off the sky. We have emigrated in droves. Even our mentally unstable compatriots are clamouring to leave; in droves as well. The ship is sinking real fast. The rats are even jumping ship. The horizons of our development are no more in existence. It is grey everywhere. Instead of investing in our people, to create a knowledge based economy that has been the Launchpad for development everywhere, we are busy armouring our ignorance and making it superlatively impervious to knowledge. Instead of a serious outbreak of intellection and strong propensity for rational analysis, our masses are now the worst reservoirs of atavistic ignorance and medieval pontification of superstitious fatalisms, predicated on the narcotic deployment of religion. Karl Marx saw Nigeria when he declared religion the opium of the oppressed masses.

And the leadership?

It has not only been missing in action on all fronts where its statutory duties are in demand. It has, true to the genetic baggage of its creation, being brilliant in corruption, and grotesque incompetence. This is a vacuum bereft of any sane consideration or vision that is not predicated on personal greed. It has been on a party celebrating the worst orgies of incestuous kleptomania and bacchanalian myopia known to the history of governance. The catalogue of its indiscretions dwarfs the imperial debaucheries of the courts of ancient Rome. It has been a brutal theatre of indentured roguery, governed by ignorance. Here, pretence is policy and the ostrich posture of burying the head in the sand, is strategy. This rot inspired Achebe’s scathing observation that the trouble with Nigeria is leadership.

This explains why in many elitist quarters within Nigeria and beyond, the nonsensical view still holds that the Biafran uprising is an entombed memory that is now the exclusive reserve of ethnic romanticists. This province of wilful ignorance that is armoured, and heavily fortified against reason, has been so very impervious to the dynamics of facts and knowledge. It persists and delights in its presumptions, without realising that the contemporary persistence of those murderous injustices that made Biafra possible, have been mutating and gradually, but surely pushing Nigeria once more to the brinks of implosion. The rise of ethnic militancy across Nigeria today, circa 2012 testifies to the naiveté of this ostrich posture.

If the Nigerian leadership and elite are the only ones marooned in this dangerous mire of pretension, our tasks would have been simpler. But many pedestrian platforms of tribal insularity across Nigeria, gloriously marinate in this dysfunctional notoriety. Their ownmost luxury and favourite pastime is the cacophonous attempt to discredit any voice that calls for a revisit of Biafra and its lessons. Most of the approaches consulted, and methods employed in some of these exercises are from the prisms of dogmatic prefabrications that are conceptually lame, pejoratively untenable, and inspired by the worst forms of atavistic inclinations. This they deploy, no matter how hollow it is, to justify their dismissal of it as a nostalgic yearning for an Igbo supremacist renaissance. Some compromised narratives go further to immunize their consciences, and reinforce their ignorance, by labelling such bold opinions as the constructions of an Igbo ideologue. Some others are content in painting it with dismissive brushes of an attempt to sculpt a supremacist ideology of Igbo origin. This is mental and moral vertigo, which reason abhors, as every idea deserves its day before the tribunes of reason. Snippets of this piece that escaped into public domain before its actual publication, met some of these stereotypes, which is redolent of the armored ignorance that has forever stifled constructive debates in Nigeria.

To be continued!!!!

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