If we think “Things Fall Apart” was explosive, we got some more surprises coming with “There Was A Country”, by OLAJIDE OLAKANPO


I worry for my Yoruba kinsmen. We are acting like the proverbial six blind men, each with his weird ideas about what the elephant should look like. We break into an impulsive cacophony of discordant voices that could make observers wonder whether we have lost our minds, our conscience and or sense of good judgment. You sense paranoid combativeness in some of the outbursts, and coyly defensiveness in others. Another Femi (this time Robinson) pops out to join in the nudists’ market square dance of shame, each dancer hardly in step with the rhythm. Certainly, Femi Robinson was listening to himself.
In as much as Odia Ofeimun -Pa Awo’s wartime personal secretary- owes us to gratitude and allegiance, it would be tragic not to decline an unwholesome return for past favors. This man saw great reasons to enlist in the in the Biafr
a military but for a sudden twist of fate. In Odia Ofeimun I see another faithless, opportunistic gold-digger, prone to reneging at the slightest flicker of signs indicating the dwindling fortunes of his benefactor. It is in his character to conduct himself that way. His Biafra stunt was only a sneak preview. One must be wary of such fair-weather praise-singers. The race must keep its distance from unscrupulous lairs and swearers like the Odia Ofeimuns. It is unbelievable that Pa Awo’s wartime personal secretary is totally clueless on the genesis of that war. He might think it is easy to get away with giving it a spin, or with making misleading claims. Odia Ofeimun is one more pathetic guy who has inadvertently “spoiled himself”, as they say.
I refuse to be discouraged from making an appeal for good counsel to prevail in order for us to stave off wrong impressions consequent on sending the wrong messages. We cannot afford to be tagged a race of hypocrites who sleep in beds with fetid evil filth tucked right under out mattresses. To get stymied in the defense of the indefensible Awo wartime gaffs would be just too damaging to our credibility.
There are pertinent questions to answer from the deepest recesses of our consciences. Firstly, did Pa Awo make those remarks on the “fairness of everything in war” and the free use of “starvation” to weaken his “enemies”? The answer is yes. Should we be honest to ourselves, Achebe’s memoir did not pioneer the public conversation on those remarks. We must recognize whom Pa Awo’s “ENEMIES” were. Second question: Was there genocide in 1966? Were Igbos selectively targeted for mass murder, to “reduce their number” according to Allison Ayida? Of Course, there was gruesome genocide. The Igbo genocide phenomenon is a factual and incontrovertible. In playing the ostrich, Femi Robinson conveniently shied away from taking a shot at answering the very pertinent question he posed. The honest answer should serve to modulate our attitude to the grave question of the Igbo genocide. Robinson had asked to know “How many unrepentant killers (have) we turned into heroes in all parts of the country?”
There are truckloads of them. Gowon, Danjuma, Ibrahim Haruna, and the likes of Jeremiah Useni with Pa Awo, Chief Enahoro, Philip Asiodu, Allison Ayida, and Odia Ofeimun acting as insidious catalysts. The rest of us who lack the courage to speak out against evil and injustice are complicit; it is a hushed expression of the chronic paranoia for genocide victims we consider alien to us. The principal actors are Chiefs, GCONs, CFRs, members of the Council of State, Oil Bloc Moguls, Boards of Trustees Chairmen, consultative Assembly Chairmen, ex-heads of state, ex-these, ex-those and ex-everything else. Some are even senators and Reps in Nigeria’s democracy style.
Last question: It is over 40 years since the civil war. Have we have we either asked for answers or considered spearheading the noble preventative campaign for ethnic massacres not to happen again, not just against the Igbos, but against any ethnic compatriots for that matter? It could have been anybody. The unfolding pogrom in Plateau State is a replay of the gory 1966 genocide. Had the architects of the Igbo genocide been held accountable, would-be murderers would be discouraged from the abominable practice.
Some may want to call for my scalp for daring to express views that may be perceived very scathing to Pa Awo’s war-time role. I’d rather stand on the side of truth, morality and justice. We don’t want resort to rag-tag frenetic defending send the wrong message. Yoruba is a civilized, compassionate race, not a callous or insensitive. Rather than expend precious energies on railing invectives at Achebe and his memoir or on a futile makeover of obvious wrongdoings, we must press the reset button and refocus on dissociating from the 1966 missteps that has rubbed off on this generation. We must keep an honorable date with history. By every standard of morality, that Pa Awo’s role was not only blatant, it was reprobate and treacherous. Pa Awo was a sagacious mind, but never was he an infallible god. Being human, he screwed up big time. To pitch camps with Gowon and his gang was the “stimulus package” the junta needed to fueled a reckless slaughter that saw over 3 million Igbo deaths within 3 short years. It is not intended for me to drag in Benjamin Adekunle’s horrendous wartime sadism. An army brigadier in command of combatant military division, prided himself in an his irresponsible “Black Scorpion” alias. The man openly vowed to shoot at “anything that moved” and ordered troops under his command to do the same. It is said that there is no honor in a soldier that kills unarmed civilians. The Igbos were the “anything that moved”. With these as background, we must exercise extreme caution when volunteering excuses for the outlandish misconduct of some of individuals amongst us. It would, indeed, be tragic should we allow ourselves to be carried away by the shrill wailing of rented sympathizers and opportunistic predators like Odia Ofeimun. If anything, we should aim to make amends on behalf of the late Sage; he needs everybody’s forgiveness. That is the right thing to do; it is the prudent and noble path that leads us to spiritual sanitization. Barking at “There was a Country” only wets public appetite for that book, making it another cash cow for the author. If we think “Things Fall Apart” was explosive, we got some more surprises coming with “There Was A Country”


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