The market was a beehive of activities. It was not unusual. Life was always a hurry. I was in no hurry myself; as usual I was alone in my shell, detached from the swarm of activities, I was no buyer or seller. I was only a passer-by.
The rusted tank which had seen numerous seasons of rainfall, sunshine and harmattan stood in my path. I carefully walked past, not to get any stain on my dress, but a new bill posted on it caught my eye, so I took some steps backwards to have another look.
It was a poster calling out for remembrance of the killed agitators in the Operation Python Dance the past year: September 15—No movement. On it were palm-sized photos of dead and wounded agitators. On the first picture, the bodies of the agitators were deeply stuck in mud, some still alive, others dead, lost in oblivion. The picture was taken from such an angle that the trousers of the soldiers’ camouflage and the armoured vehicle, parked few metres away was caught on camera. Another photograph showed a woman raising up her hand in solidarity, and an adjoining one showed the woman, now dead, squashed into a police van.
WHERE IS NNAMDI KANU? the caption read.
Somewhere in the jungle, I thought.
A roadside mechanic came to stand by me, he read the caption and muttered, “Bloody Nigerians.”
He grabbed my shoulder with his oil-stained fingers and I winced as the stain left his thick fingers to perch on my dress. “Nne, ị bụ onye Biafra?” he asked.
“No,” I said and walked away without another word.
Jay was the closest friend I had when I was running my JUPEB programme; we thought alike, spoke alike, had almost the same look to life. It was a case of standing at the same place and looking at the same thing yet it never went beyond the elbow of platonic.
Jay and I, we agreed on everything except Biafra. He was caught up with his fervour for this new Biafra that he could drive home his points with his fists when words would not flow fast enough.
I was not insensitive to cries of freedom, I was not an unsympathetic cruel mistress, I only thought the Kanu’s Biafra saga was a counterfeit.
This new Biafra to me was a manipulated and designed scheme for the easily confused minds of the ignorant. Maybe, I am wrong, but that’s what I think: ignorance, sheer ignorance.
Young men full of life, blood, energy and good health gave their lives and promising futures, mingling their blood with dust and mud for the cause, leaving the torch for others to take up. Why? What did they see that I’m blind to. Will they come back to take up the Biafra cause if they had a second chance to live?
Israel and her woes have my sympathy. My eyes still itch with unshed tears when I read of the six million Jews and the brutal death they met. My heart was always moved with sympathy for the Nordic clans who were regarded biologically inferior and were to be stamped out from the face of the earth by a German psychopath.
Why couldn’t I feel the same for the acclaimed Jews in Nigeria? Even the astonishing story of the student who set himself ablaze with the words, “Rescue the 30 million Jews…” didn’t draw the zeal out of me. I thought he could have done something more profitable than adding to the number of dead men. Or maybe he wanted out of the world and the cause of Biafra seemed the most noble option.
Why can’t I see it beyond a personality clash between the messiah and the imposter?
I love Biafra, the 1967 Biafra. Why is it difficult to love this Biafra? Maybe it’s because I believe in the known one than this unknown paradise. Maybe because I am the blind and ignorant one. Maybe I’m a fake Jew. Maybe it’s because I’m Igbo, the hated tribe, not Igbrew.