Let me start by saying that everyone can be called “ignorant” under the right conditions. For example, I know nothing about weaving wool so if told to sit in front of a loom and ordered to get on with it and make a rug, I would not have any idea what to do. Similarly, if made to sit in the cockpit of a plane and told to fly it, I would not be able to. In both these scenarios, I would be “ignorant” of the task I was told to do. However, being a bit intelligent, I would seek advice and training from experts, then decide whether to give up the challenge, or do the required training.
Now holding that thought about what being “ignorant” means, let us examine what I call the “Biafra Phenomenon”. There are several groups most especially among the Igbo people, that attach the word “Biafra” to themselves taken from the horrific civil war of last century. The word “Biafra” was then laid to rest, but brought back to life nearly thirty years later, in 1999 and it gathered a following.
To ordinary people captured by the word “Biafra”, it symbolises freedom and an ideal country. Nevertheless, none of them have sat down to define it, or give it detail. It is simply the cry of a deep longing for freedom – and it is a VALID cry! However, it reveals their “ignorance” because those still crying “Biafra” are those who have not done their research. Those among them who did do some reading found that “Biafra” cannot bring the freedom they seek, so abandoned the word, and have gone for another word: “self-determination”, because they learned from their research what works. They moved from being ignorant, to being informed.
Those who continue being under the spell of the word “Biafra” remain ignorant but with an additional adjective, ARROGANT. They are “arrogantly ignorant”. It is quite easy to come to that conclusion by their manner of seeing this issue. For instance, Igbo is the name of a people and an ethnic nation, handed down over the centuries. In their arrogant ignorance, those captured by “Biafra” with no authority whatsoever shout loudly that Igbos are “Biafrans” and that Igbo land is “Biafra land”. In their arrogance, they somehow seem to believe that if they use social media and media to pour forth the words: “Biafra”, “Biafran” and “Biafra land”, that by magic Igbo Nation will surrender to those words? This Biafra Phenomenon needs to know certain facts that may cure the arrogant ignorance out of many of them. It is these:
1. If Igbos want to change their ethnic name to “Biafran” (or to anything else), it will be done in a PROPER way, using intelligence and democratic processes. Firstly, Igbos would have to agree that there is something wrong or bad with the word “Igbo”. When that consensus is reached, then all those with replacement names would come forward explaining why the word they propose is the best one. Igbos would then vote on it. Once a new name for Igbos has been democratically obtained, it would be officially communicated to the global community.
2. The word “Biafra” is a non-starter when it comes to obtaining self-determination. “Biafra” will NOT WORK and the reasons can be found in several United Nations or International Law documents such as the “Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States”. The word “Biafra” does not meet their four requirements. There is NO DEFINED TERRITORY for “Biafra” as it means different things to different peoples. Therefore, who make up the “permanent population”? This rules out having “government” (in an acceptable sense). That also means it cannot meet the requirement of “capacity to enter into relations with other states”.
The “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” (UNDRIP) is another document that shows that using the word “Biafra” when seeking self-determination is futile, and hopeless.
What is certain though is that the leaders of the “Biafra” groups know that they cannot bring freedom to their followers using the word “Biafra”. It is all pure deceit. They seek unmerited power and relevance, together with the money that those captured by “Biafra” can be manipulated to give them. The same goes for journalists and influencers who promote material linking “Biafra” with obtaining freedom. They too seek cheap popularity, and are not concerned to use their positions to spread facts and truth.
What leaders of the “Biafra” groups fear the most is being asked to SHOW EVIDENCE for the freedom work they claim to have done. Ask them for their Strategy and the logic behind it (to prevent them copying the material of others). Ask them for the names of the foreign government officials or United Nations diplomats they claim to have had meetings with. These conmen “Biafra” leaders will evade every request for evidence of their claims. Instead, they will talk about how “Fulani herdsmen are killing us” or how they are a “security outfit”. Essentially, they will try to hide their “Biafra” scamming by pretending to be addressing some existing problems in the community. Alarmingly the “Biafra restoration” group IPOB, in actual fact a street gang, has recently been condemned as a small terrorist group by a Professor and Executive Director of the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Baltimore. That is how dangerously far a “Biafra” scam can get to!
The real Biafra of 1967 – 70 civil war is over. It had been promising and was the vehicle used at the time. This newer Biafra Phenomenon is a rogue one, unable to bring self-determination, and that is ruining the positive feelings that old Biafra aroused. “Biafra” has now been bastardised.
It is difficult to reach the arrogantly ignorant, because often it is a waste of time – but it must still be done. The hope though,is that articles like this one would prevent more people fromjoining their ranks. Any Igbo person or group, or any indigenous persons from the Middle belt or South who is serious about self-determination should avoid the word “Biafra”, for the answer lies with the NINAS Movement that declared a Constitutional Force Majeure on 16th December 2020 to Decommission the imposed and illegitimate 1999 Constitution which hijacks the self-determination of indigenous ethnic nationalities.
Ndidi Uwechue is a British citizen with Igbo heritage from the Lower Niger Bloc. She is a retired Metropolitan (London) Police Officer, she is a signatory to the Constitutional Force Majeure, and she writes from Abuja.