Buhari’s insensitivity to massacre of Biafra activists and a dream deferred
By Jane O. Ikezi
“What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?” – Langston Hughes
Over the years, since 1967, the Biafra dream arose in different forms and each time, it was violently attacked by the Nigerian government and was forced to be deferred. Now, that dream has reemerged, rearing its nonviolence message, creative heads in multitudes, with brazen courage and an adamant refusal to be deferred.
In President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech at the 72nd General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, on the 19th of September 2017 (where he represented Nigeria), he called for the establishment of a Palestinian State, as well as, an end to the murdering of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. On the contrary, The retired former general and military dictator Buhari neither acknowledged the plight of indigenous people of Biafra, seeking sovereignty, nor did he acknowledge the mass killings of Christians and indigenous people of Biafra across Nigeria. Why then, must this dream be further deferred?
Despite losing the 1967-1970 War of Genocide and starvation against them by Nigeria, the indigenous people of Biafra moved forward to build Nigeria, promote its name around the world and kept their heads up. Losing the war did not mean losing our dignity.
Despite all our efforts and contributions to Nigeria, we have been marginalised and treated like disposable reserve, not equal citizens. “One Nigeria” remains an illusion.
Hence, I strongly implore and call on the Nigerian government led by Buhari and all Nigerians, particularly those of Igbo extraction, who do not understand the reason for the latest “agitation” for the right to self-determination for the indigenous people of Biafra, to consider the questions raised in this poem critically.
This thought-provoking poem by Langston Hughes challenges the reader or listener to “truth-telling and soul searching.”
The Nigerian government’s systemic erasure of the true and accurate history of its war against Biafrans (1966 -1970, pogrom included) from its books; and failure to recognise the lives lost, has not succeeded in eradicating the deeply rooted dream, which was deferred at the end of the Nigeria~Biafra War.
Despite many innocent lives taken, that dream was never killed, only temporarily deferred.
Some people say that those who seek a sovereign state of Biafra did not experience the war and as such, are disillusioned or naive. You do not have to experience war or be part of that history in order to understand the cost of war. For many Igbo people, the price of war was paid by each family. Many people lost loved ones. Some families talk about the war and some find it too painful to discuss.
There are no monuments or dates of remembrance for the war, or pages in Nigeria’s history books immortalising the war. However, that did not deter the dream for self-determination.
We may debate on which line of Langston Hughes’ poem aptly illustrates the status quo of Nigeria, with respect to the Biafran situation. Has that deferred dream dried up like a raisin in the sun? Has it festered like a sore? Does it stink like rotten meat? Is it syrupy sweet? Or does it sag like a heavy load?
That dream has not dried up like a raisin in the sun. That dream will not be syrupy sweet until it is actualised. That dream has been festering like a sore for years and is now beginning to stink like rotten meat, sagging like a heavy load on the government of Nigeria, which is currently experiencing the explosion of a Dream Deferred.
Jane O. Ikezi, New York based attorney, is a columnist for USAfricaonline.com