To you oh innocent souls who were slaughtered at the height of Nigeria’s genocide against Biafrans I dedicate this piece. I may not know your names, seen your faces or felt your presence but I have heard and read about your tears, your agonies, your sorrows as you were hounded down, butchered and decimated by the enemies of our freedom and humanity. I mourn you today of every year and I miss the good and blessings you would have brought to our land. Sleep on our dear innocent lamb. We celebrate you too.
I have been reading many updates on Biafra memorial, many praises of our heroes past, many brave names and gallant soldiers. In all the updates my spirit kept asking me, “how about them?” As I struggled to understand who are “them” certain songs started coming to my tongue. So the songs told me who they are. Let me sing one of the songs as I remember them.
“Kwam bele bele o hit lee o,
Kwam bele bele,
Ada anyi gara ahia attack
Anaghi alo o
Kwam bele…”(these were women who were killed in the markets during the war).
I used to hear this song as a kid after the war and at the time I didn’t understand it. It was usually sang by the young maidens in those years. As time went by given the stories I understand fully today.
This song was about the gallantry of our mothers, daughters and sisters who defied raining bombs, the scacato sounds of the guns and went in search of food in any available market to sustain the lives of their families. They always leave very early and come back late at night. So as the war raged and intensified these innocent women became targets of constant bombardments. Civilian markets were targeted and bombed mercilessly. These women died in search of food to feed our families.
Today as we celebrate the memorial of the Nigerian genocide against Biafrans I remember this particular group whose deaths were never recorded, whose numbers were never known and whose names were only remembered by their immediate families. May the tears they shed as they die, may the pain they endured be visited on those that brought this fate on them and their families.
Today and this day every year, I will remember your gallantry oh daughters of Biafra. You completed our battalion as our domestic soldiers. The men were brave in fighting with the guns and machines in the bush as you proved your bravery in fighting off hunger and starvation at home. We the survivors salute you and we will always do.
Today and this day every year I remember you oh daughters of Biafra who died resisting violation from the uncircumcised baboons of northern soldiers. Our courage to fight on today is watered by your tears and blood.
We salute you oh mothers of new Biafra who died by the roadside while giving birth to some of us living today(please if you are one of those children who lost their mothers at birth during the war say special prayers for them). To all the mothers who died during pregnancy during the war due to lack of medication, shocks from abandonments we salute you.
We also remember in a special way our aged mothers then who volunteered to hid our sisters from the devouring eyes of the Nigerian soldiers. Be glad wherever you are, your actions saved the mothers of today. Your efforts were never in vain.
We salute you the real virtuous housewives during the war. You were dodged in providing food for your family even during the full implementation of the policy of hunger and starvation. Even without salt you made soup. Even without fish and meat, you provided for your family. Your generosities kept hope alive, established the will to survive. We pay you our homage today.
To you oh innocent lamb, our sucklings, innocent children whose mothers died while feeding them, be assured we shared in your painful loss. To those kids who were hit by bullets as they were running to find shelter and protection, we remember you. To those kids who got lost in the melee of the war, we acclaim you.
Today of this day every year as we celebrate the known heroes, may we never forget the innocent lamb that was sacrificed, the unknown and uncelebrated.
Sleep on in peace beloved daughters and children of Biafra. The rays of the rising sun of Biafra will one day grace and smile at your graves wherever you are.
Written by Mazi Onyema Uche