USAfricaonline.com Flashback: Haiti’s Igbo ancestry and recognition of Biafra in 1969.
The March 22, 1969 statement by DR. FRANCOIS ‘Papa Doc’ DUVALIER (April 14, 1907 – April 21, 1971), PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF HAITI (from 1957 to 1971), ON THE RECOGNITION OF THE REPUBLIC OF BIAFRA AS A SOVEREIGN STATE.
Special to Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks, USAfricaonline.com, USAfricaNewsWire, CLASSmagazine, The Black Business Journal, IgbosforHaiti.com, and the IgboEvents e-group
I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter under date of December 10, 1968, which has been handed over to me personally by the members of the prestigious Biafran Delegation, Dr. Okechukwu Ikejiani and Mr. Chukwuma Azikiwe, in the course of a special audience held in the National Palace on February 20th 1969.
It is with a feeling of great pain that I concerned myself with this important document and analysed the various stages of the tragic condition prevailing in Nigeria ever since 1966. Both the Haitian people and myself have greatly appreciated the basic reasons which prompted you in delegating an extraordinary mission to thePresident for Life of the first independent Negro Republic in the world, that Republic which for over a century and a half incarnated alone Negro dignity and pride while at the same time proving the capability of our race to self government.
I have watched with heart sorrows the distressing events which – only in the course of May to October 1966 – culminated in the massacres of some 30,000 persons originating from the East of Nigeria and which plunged over 3 million into despair, physical and moral woes.. The serious consequences brought about by the arbitrary division of Nigeria into twelve states have not escaped my notice either. My attention has been especially held by the commendable efforts achieved by the African Unity Organisation and numerous Heads of State and politicians of the Black Continent with an eye to reaching a solution to the crisis in Nigeria. But the clash of weapons goes on clanging, the number of victims increasing, and the destruction of the country being ruthlessly pursued.
On July 29th, 1968, I answered in the following way the appeal of Dr. Douglas, President of the Council on Afro-Jamaican Affairs, Kingston, Jamaica:
“I did receive your cable under date of July 18 by which the Council of Afro-Jamaican Affairs request my support and relief for thousands of Biafrans, victims of the unfortunate civil war between Biafra and the Federal Government of Nigeria. I will be happy to join my efforts to those of numerous international agencies concerning themselves already with this serious problem, and have asked of the qualified services of my government to study it with a view to decisions to be taken under the dual criterion of the human aspect of the question and of the principle of non-intervention in the affairs of other peoples which is one of the foundations of my foreign policy.”
On August 19th 1968, granting to African questions the prominent place to which they are entitled in my foreign policy, I addressed, through the Permanent Mission of Haiti to the U.N.O., the following telegram to the U.N.Secretary General, U Thant:
“Reference your cable August 19th 1968 instant, I think it is my duty to remind you that the Haitian Government cannot fail to express in all occasion its solidarity with the Biafrans whose ancestors played a capital role in the glorious epic of 1804. Numerous African countries have already recognised the Government of Biafra and some Western countries, moved by the heroism of her sons will support the right of the Biafran people to self-determination. Such are, regarding this question, the guidelines of my thoughts which I request of you to take into account during the debates.”
A left-over of colonialism which worked relentlessly at destroying the structures of Negro-African civilisations and demarcating boundaries with her own interests as the sole criterion, Federal Nigeria has never since her independence shown the distinctive mark of a united nation. It has been impossible for her to silence tribal rivalries – to achieve the mixture of ethnic and cultures likely to secure national unity.
A comparative analysis with the territorial extension and the population of many countries having a seat in U.N.O. underscores the importance of Biafra, which extends over 29,400 square miles and groups more than 14 million inhabitants. Culture, geography and inter-group unions have woven all along history close links between the four great ethnic entities forming the Biafran population, viz. Igbos, Ijaws, Efiks and Ogojas. Thanks to the resources of her sub-soil and the desperately hard work of her sons, Biafra has been for long since a powerful economic entity an object of the most diverse covetous desires.
The vocation of the first independent Negro Republic in the world to secure everywhere the defence of the prestige and dignity of our race, its conditions of an extra-continental state added to the fact that it does not seek any personal advantage, put Haiti in a privileged position to cause the voice of right, wisdom and equity to he heard. My long experience of office – for twelve years I have been presiding over the destinies of the Republic – taught me that it is labouring under a delusion when dealing with situations taking on such a tragic cast to rely on international organisations and still less on some foreign powers that take unfair advantage of our divisions and harbour no sincere wish of a return to peace in Nigeria.
My political philosophy and the struggle which I am firmly carrying on in Haiti, in the basin of the Antilles and on the large international stage against Marxism-Leninism cause me to consider with apprehension the ever-increasing influence of communism in Nigeria. The planes, weapons and experts of Soviet Russia are playing a paramount role in the conflict. In fact, that great European power is eager to transform Nigeria into a satellite country and make sure of an operational base in the very heart of Africa, a new stage of its dream of world domination- a dream that dates back to Peter the Great and Catherine II.
The profound and generalised resentment of Nigeria against Biafra together with the will of domination of some nations jeopardise the future of Biafrans and threaten to destroy the glorious Igbo tribes, descendants of those men who contributed to the founding of the Haitian homeland.
From the point of view of international law as such, and account being taken of such norms as are generally agreed upon, I am of the opinion that Biafra fulfils the essential conditions to constitute a nation, namely: a material element, the territory and more especially, a human element: the population. The said human element is united by race, religion, language, history, a set of laws. It is, furthermore, consolidated by the moral unity and the common will of Biafrans to group themselves under one banner. This general resolve adding to the community of origin and interest: The nation Biafra does exist, and, therefore, it is for her a scared duty to organise herself as a free and sovereign state.
The Recognition which the Government of the Republic of Haiti solemnly gives to the Republic of Biafra is based upon the cardinal principal of its foreign policy, namely the indefeasible right of peoples and governments to decide freely of their destiny. This recognition of the Republic of Biafra as a free and sovereign state is in keeping in line with my doctrine of government to participate in the defence of oppressed states and peoples. Besides humanitarian reasons: this doctrine aims at a return of a just and lasting peace between Nigeria and Biafra. A peace which could be enriched by an economic federation likely to assure the well-being of the populations.
I think it is my duty to express the fervent wish that this disinterested act bearing the imprint of wisdom accomplished by the first independent Negro Republic in the world, summit of the black world, be a symbol, an example, a source of inspiration for the governments and peoples of Africa. It constitutes the contribution of our unique experience as a Negro nation to the resumption of a brotherly dialogue between Nigeria and the Republic of Biafra.
I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to your Excellency the assurances of my highest and distinguished consideration.
Signed: Dr. Francois Duvalier, President, Republic of Haiti
USAfrica Publisher Chido Nwangwu likens Haiti 2010 earthquake to “visitation of armageddon”
News release via USAfricaNewsWire, Jan 16, 2010:
“Where’s the Pan-Africanist support needed through Haiti’s dark days?”, asks USAfrica’s Chido Nwangwu
Special to USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com
As the efforts by the greater world community continue to tackle the crises following the hundreds of thousands of deaths and destruction from the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, a call has been made for more persons of African descent and governments to intervene boldly.
In making this case, the Founder & Publisher of Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks and the first African-owned, U.S-based professional newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com, ChidoNwangwu, “appeals to all persons, especially African civic groups, governments, non-governmental organizations and businesses to contribute their financial support to offer some existential light through these dark days of Haiti.”
Dr. Nwangwu who served as an adviser on Africa issues/business community to the Mayor of Houston, Texas, notes “especially persons of African heritage and descent must rise to this historic and tragic challenge. We are required to provide relief to our kinfolks in Haiti, and play valuable roles…. USAfrica is supporting and will continue to mobilize and raise more awareness across our communities and readership around the world by highlighting these tragic events and the quests for relief and reconstruction at the world’s
oldest democratic republic of persons of African descent, Haiti.”
Nwangwu, recipient of public policy and journalism awards, points out that: “The Igbo and Haitians share some common ancestral origins, as particularly and clearly articulated by Haiti’s first President Dr. Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier in his 1969 declarative and lucid statement supporting the sovereign state of Biafra (mainly Igbos, out of Nigeria) published on USAfricaonline.com.”
USAfrica (and USAfricaonline.com, characterized by The New
York Times as the largest and arguably the most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedia networks) established May 1992,
Offering a philosophical reflection on the scope of the problems, he says: “Merely viewing the images/video of distress and decimation of life and environment, Haiti’s shattering earthquake of January 12, 2010 and its aftershock seem like a filmic creation of a fictional, gharish visitation and enactment of armageddon! But it is so sadly, painfully real. The litany of death and despoliation. The dust and carnage and blood! More dust and destruction and more deaths, and more blood….We have to rise to this human tragedy, humanitarian task and pan-African challenge.”
Chido Nwangwu, former member of the editorial board of the Daily Times of Nigeria (1989-1990), is the Founder & Publisher of first African-owned, U.S-based professional newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; The Black Business Journal, CLASSmagazine, PhotoWorks.TV, AchebeBooks.com, USAfrica.TV and several blogs. He served on Houston former Mayor Lee Brown’s international business advisory board (Africa), appears as an analyst on CNN, VOA, SABC, NBCNews, CBSNews, ABCNews FOXNews affiliates and honored by the Washington-D.C.-based National Immigration Forum for utilizing multimedia to fight authoritarianism and foster freedom of expression; served on the board of the oldest civil rights organization in the U.S., the NAACP (Houston); publicity committee of the Holocaust Museum, Houston; recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in May 2009.
wireless: 832-45-CHIDO (24436). office: 713-270-5500
USAfricaonline.com news feature: The Mutallabs of Nigeria: terror-bound son Farouk and business mogul father Umar. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica. http://usafricaonline.com/mutallabs-chido-usafrica/