The current antics of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the self-proclaimed leader of the illusory Biafra Republic, brings to mind an often quoted remark by Karl Marx, who pointed out in reference to the 9th November 1799 coup d’etat by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in France: “History often repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce…”
As if to illustrate this thought-provoking adage afresh, post-colonial Nigerian history, which first produced the immense tragedy of Biafra with its horrible litany of death and widespread destruction, is now going on to provide the world with a new version of Biafra that is being preached by the colorful duo of Ralph Uwazurike (MASSOB) and Nnamdi Kanu (IPOB). In the original historical version of Biafra, the world witnessed General Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu strutting pompously across the stage of history in a crisply starched military uniform, proclaiming for all to hear that “no power in Black Africa” would ever stop Biafra from coming into being.
And now we have a fresh enactment of the Biafran tragedy, this time as farce, with Ralph Uwazurike issuing bogus ‘Aba-made’ Biafran passports to gullible youths willing to believe that an adventurer posing as a Head of State can be trusted to “actualize” the Biafran mirage, while his erstwhile employee Nnamdi Kanu has now suddenly morphed from a fire-breathing bush fighter into the self-ordained rabbi of a bizarre new Jewish religious cult. Let us hope that this new prophet can now be left in peace to lead his fellow Biafrans to much deserved freedom from the hellish confines of the oppressive Nigerian nation. Thankfully, the process will probably be swift, since Nnamdi Kanu apparently has very deep pockets, as well as unparalleled access to top political leaders in Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra and Abia States.
Interestingly enough, a three-page spread that was published in the “Sunday Sun” of December 12th 2015 (pages 48-51) threw some very interesting light on what Ralph Uwazurike has been up to with MASSOB, as well as on who the mysterious Nnamdi Kanu actually is. In the interview he gave to the “Sunday Sun”, published on p. 48 in the newspaper’s edition of December 12th 2015, Ralph Uwazurike complained bitterly that Nnamdi Kanu was originally an unemployed youth whom he hired to supervise the activities of Radio Biafra in London due to the fact that Nnamdi Kanu had legitimate residence status in the United Kingdom.
If indeed Nnamdi Kanu is who Ralph Uwazurike says he is, how did he suddenly become endowed with the tremendous level of funding that appears to have been required to rent large crowds for the unruly demonstrations all over the Eastern states, as well as in Delta and Rivers States? How was he able to fund a secret radio station within the confines of Nigeria, as well as purchase considerable quantities of sophisticated weapons in preparation for an armed uprising? Hopefully, the answer to these and many more questions may become known when and if Nnamdi Kanu and his alleged co-conspirators are eventually put on trial.
In the meantime, fellow Nigerians and Ndigbo who have a sense of humor will probably enjoy the free cinema show of Nnamdi Kanu’s efforts to spread his new Jewish faith among the faithful that he has gathered in his father’s compound, clad in white priestly robes, and brandishing a highly symbolic fan artfully decorated with Biafran colors in a bid to demonstrate the nexus between the resurrected Biafra and the mythical Jerusalem that Donald Trump is apparently getting set to proclaim as the heavenly ordained capital of the State of Israel. Turning now to the possible remedy that might help quell the ongoing agitation for the birth of a Biafran nation, there have been a number of calls in the recent past for some kind of “dialogue” with Nnamdi Kanu and his followers. This kind of advice is obviously misplaced, notwithstanding the rather bizarre utterances of Bishop Kukah, who once described Nnamdi Kanu as “the most popular politician in Nigeria today”!
If there can be no “negotiation” or “dialogue” with Nnamdi Kanu and his supporters, is there any means of diffusing the present unrest, short of engaging in a shooting war with the neo-Biafran agitators? Obviously, the best solution would be for the Federal Government to publicly announce that it is prepared to grant a Biafran homeland to all Ndigbo who wish to abandon the choice properties and flourishing business enterprises that they have acquired by dint of back-breaking labor and intense sacrifice over many decades in Lagos, Abuja, Benin, Jos, Maiduguri, etc. and return to Nnewi or wherever else they may choose to relocate to in a newly independent Biafran enclave.
Naturally, the returnees would be unable to carry buildings or other major physical assets with them, so they would be limited to whatever they might be able to fit into a few suitcases and “Ghana must go bags,” with assistance from Eze Ayodele Fayose 1, the newly crowned paramount ruler of Ihiala. Furthermore, the new Biafran nation would be a landlocked enclave with no access to oil, since no rational indigenes of Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Bayelsa and Rivers States can be expected to associate themselves with the highly illogical caper of the newly proclaimed Biafran nation, a factor that happens to have been one of the underlying causes of the collapse of the original Biafra under the leadership of the late Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. It would appear that Ralph Uwazurike, Nnamdi Kanu and the bulk of their hard-core followers are apparently too young to be aware of the deep-rooted reasons for the disastrous collapse of the original Biafra! Furthermore, once they have returned to Arochwukwu, Umuahia Ibeku, Aba-Ngwa, etc., the citizens of the newly independent “Biafra” should be required to produce passports and legitimate visas each time they wish to visit any part of whatever is left of the dismembered Nigerian nation for business or pleasure, with strict customs controls to regulate the movement of goods and foodstuffs between the new Biafra and every other part of present day Nigeria. Fair enough?
Interestingly enough, as any diligent student of Nigerian history is aware, there is no such thing as the “Igbo people,” because Igbo happens to be a language and not an ethnic group, just in the same way as Yoruba is a language, and not a tribe! It so happens that most of the diverse folks who speak the Igbo language – Ngwa, Ohaffia, Wawa, Owerri, etc. – never actually interacted with each other on a regular basis during the pre-colonial era. In fact, some of the dialects that are spoken in certain parts of Ala Igbo are virtually incomprehensible in other Igbo-speaking lands. Ironically, the often repeated complaint that Nigeria is an artificial creation of British colonialism would therefore also apply to any Biafran state that is formed out of an amalgamation of erstwhile antagonistic Igbo-speaking peoples, the more so as there are now many artificial traditional “kings” all over Ala Igbo, some of whom can be observed to be reigning under bizarre appellations like “Eze Donatus Ahamba 1 of Njikoka” or “Eze Jonathan Ndigbo 1 of Bende local community.”
Oh dear, why all these traditional “rulers” in Ala Igbo always “1”? Why no 2, 3 or 4? Could it be that nobody in their different communities knows how to count beyond 1? Or could it be that there have never been any traditional rulers in the history of Igbo-speaking peoples before the trend was initiated a few years ago, possibly to give the famous Nigerian actor Olu Jacob an opportunity of competing with the equally famous thespian Pete Edochie for the honor of winning the Nollywood absurdity prize for best traditional ruler role?
Anyway, the free cinema show of the long-awaited re-actualization of “Biafra” should be allowed to proceed unimpeded. Hopefully, at the end of the entire process, the farce would have attained such proportions that we would all be encouraged to look forward to the next episode of this vastly entertaining farce. Meanwhile, the law enforcement agencies would be well-advised to refrain from allowing themselves to be provoked into engaging in running battles with those who have declared their intention of shutting down the South-Eastern States on May 30th.
On the contrary, the new breed die-hard Biafrans should be allowed free passage into the nearest available beer parlors and pepper soup canteens in each of the South-Eastern States to celebrate the past, current or future Biafran independence to their heart’s content.
*Ola Balogun, 72 years old, is a Nigerian filmmaker and scriptwriter.