“… Ogbeosowa, we rise to influence our destiny, our history shall not be written by others, our civilisation shall be celebrated, our pains, our blood will write our story. Ogbeosowa, the living monument, the bloody memorial, shall not change its narrative. To our children, we shall hand over an inheritance, a true history of a proven Genocide.”
See Last Dance on the Niger, Gomslam Books, 2015
Over a year ago, preparatory to the Jubilee Anniversary program of the Asaba Genocide, this Column had devoted a lot of space and time, discussing the journey, the reverses, the success, since we embarked on the journey 30 years ago to awaken the world to the blight that our people faced when the Second Division of the Nigerian Army landed Asaba on October 7, 1967.
As I write to you now, the program has been hijacked and it looks like the sailors have abandoned the mission and they are trying hard to change the original narrative of the Ogbeosowa Genocide. As the ordained Prophet of the 30 year old Asaba anti-genocide campaign, it becomes our duty to inform the community of the impending consequences.
Below therefore is the Asaba War Memorial Report and it is my fulfillment that we have paid our due obligations and fulfilled our mission to our dead…. Excerpts:
October 7, 1985, the military smashed the Ogbeosowa Procession and put to flight the main organisers of that annual solemn march. Life ammunitions were fired to disperse the people and in the melee I lost some teeth groping for safety behind the then Asaba Regent, Ogbueshi nabu Onwuegbuzie. That was the end of any such memorial parades until October 7, 2010.
Some of us who were forced to relocate made a lasting undertaking. The world would in the course of time learn about the massacre. Asaba before long would build a befitting monument to immortalise our dead. The edifice would stand as a symbol of Man’s Inhumanity to Man.
The giant edifice when completed would be dedicated to the victims of the 1967 Asaba genocide. A more comprehensive preamble documenting our mission, programmes as initially presented to the visiting Royal Father at his home in Chapel Hill, NC, for his actual accent and support is hereby attached.
Significantly, when we embarked on this very risky and gargantuan project we had no budget or did we receive any grant. We depended on the good will of a number of fellow victims or their relatives until we met Prof. Erin Kimmerle, USF Professor of Anthropology. Contrary to the written acknowledgement of the pretending Authors of the Asaba latest book. This is the German American who visited and introduced University to the Asaba Community. (See photographs of her team at the Asagba’s Palace)
On the pilot’s seat we had to crash every other assignment and broke our backs to reach so many levels of contacts, deadlines and achieve some ground breaking successes. Before the Kimmerle breakthrough, I had written to over three hundred American, European and Jewish Universities to collaborate with us and we were going to make it easy for them surrendering our sources. As a result it was very pleasant to be invited to the Washington DC Institute for Scholars then to most other global institution conflict studies (Pse see Emma Okocha various Asaba posting on You Tube and other platforms. Also see Washington DC Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, You Tube October 1, 2013.)
As we write this Report, the Asaba Genocide is no longer a “whisper in the kitchen” conversation. The Genocide at last has been exposed beyond the continent. Awareness of the killings has been exceptional. The earthquake publicity professionally organised from Washington down to Europe since 2007 has been most productive and rewarding. Coming home, at every 1.00pm, last quarter, the Delta Broadcasting Station DBS, touched thousands with the story of the Asaba Genocide as the radio spent primetime running Interviews and historic discussions on the literature, history and economic impact of the war on our people. Most of those audio historic tapes and paper materials would be collected to be housed in the Archives of the monument. Universities in Ghana, Nigeria, suddenly are making Asaba Genocide enquiry the most romantic study for graduating students of Conflict Management, Political Science, History and Anthropology.
Through organised events like the IRG annual Asaba International Conference in Tampa, Florida, Lectures, Book Launches, Newspaper, Magazine, Radio and Television Interviews, we have been most successful and presently, Asaba has been registered in United Nations Genocide map of the world.
The mobilisation of our people to understand and participate in the subsequent outlined programmes, following our publicity blitz has been encouraging. For the first time the banned October 7 procession was restored. After many years of absence, the 2011 procession led by Arch Bishop, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, the Anglican Bishop of Enugu, gave hope and confidence to our people who courageously flocked the ceremonies at Ogbeosowa and at the Arcade. We recovered audio visual tapes of the ceremony from NTA for the archives.
One of the fallouts of the Tampa Conference was the visit by Chief Adeola, the leader of the Yorubas in the US. The organisation was preparing a Fund Raiser to contribute to the building of the Asaba Monument. His team paid a courtesy call at the Palace and invited the Royal Father to that year’s Asaba Tampa Event. Essentially this group has been the hardest working International NGO working to keep the story of the Asaba Genocide alive.
Other institutional Collaborators include the University of South Florida, University of Nigeria, Communities, and Clubs who in their different assignments have contributed to the Asaba memorial project. On the Genocide Oral Interview research, we recorded a ground breaking revelation. Indeed, we have been able to ascertain and at last, that it was General Murtala Muhammed who was the “Butcher of the Asaba Genocide.” Our directed Oral Interviews conducted by the travelling faculty of the USF confirm that General Muhammed was actually the Commander of that batch of the Federal Troops that executed our people at Ogbeosowa and beyond.
Those octogenarian witnesses were talking for the first time since the war. This particular lady who did not receive the blessing of her husband, told us that she was to be raped and killed. But then she spoke to the Commander and pleaded with him to save her and her son in Fufude!
When the British Professor Bird and her Italian partner Otanelli, refused to acknowledge this breakthrough, they allowed their bias to overrule the science of research.