Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor

After The War Was Over

Down Biafran Memory Lane
with Philip Emeagwali (former Biafran child soldier)

Open Letter Prof. Philip Emeagwali on Biafra

Reflections by Philip Emeagwali

"End the Genocide," says Emeagwali

An artist's rendition of the genocidal killings of civilians in African wars

Memorable Quote

"I have seen things in Biafra this week which no man should have to see. Sights to search the heart and sicken the conscience I have seen children roasted alive, young girls torn in two by shrapnel, pregnant women eviscerated, and old men blown to fragments, I have seen these things and I have seen their cause: high-flying Russian Ilyushin jets operated by Federal Nigeria, dropping their bombs on civilian centres throughout Biafra ...

At Onitsha - the 300 strong congregation of the Apostolic Church decided to stay on while others fled and to pray for deliverance. Col. [Murtala] Mohammed's Second Division found them in the church, dragged them out, tied their hands behind their backs and executed them."

["Nightmare in Biafra," Sunday Times (London, 4/26/68, p.12), by a war correspondent]

Emeagwali's Note: I was in Onitsha a few hours before it was captured by Nigerian soldiers. All males over the age of 10 were killed including my teenage cousins John and Patrick Okwuosa.

Memorable Quote

"For record purposes, however, let me state fearlessly that I saw hundreds of unarmed civilians being shot at sight in Benin City when Federal troops arrived to liberate the city from rebel soldiers....

There appeared to be a fleeting period of lunacy in which Midwesterners gladly identified their Igbo compatriots to be shot down by Federal troops."

[Giwa Amu, the former Solicitor-General of Midwestern Nigeria, Sunday Observer, March 16, 1983

Biafran Video (Watch six videos at the bottom of this page.)

Joan Baez And Jimi Hendrix Chatting
Folk singer Joan Baez and rock singer Jimi Hendrix chat between acts at a Biafran Relief Benefit show at a place in Manhattan called Steve Paul's Scene. Both Miss Baez and Hendrix performed free of charge and Hendrix contributed $500 cash to the fund. The benefit was to raise food and money for refugees of the Biafra-Nigeria Civil War. Bettmann/CORBIS Date Photographed: August 29, 1968 Location Information: New York, New York, USA

Nigerian Boy Squats; Crowd @ Unicef Truck
Original Caption: 7/23/1969-Republic of Nigeria- While man looks upward at the moon and beyond, thinking of the nobility of his race, the age-old problems of his home planet remain unsolved. Here, a starving Nigerian child squats in the dust of a dirt road, forgotten in the excitement over the arrival of UNICEF relief supplies. Bettmann/CORBIS Date Photographed July 23, 1969 Location Information Republic Of Nigeria

Women & Children Get Food At Refugee Camp
Original Caption: 3/22/1969-Umuahia, BIAFRA- By all military odds, Biafra should have lost its war with federal Nigeria long ago. It has not lost, but in the next few months it might--vanquished by starvation. Here, women and children receive their meager rations at a refugee camp. Bettmann/CORBIS

EMEAGWALI's NOTE: While living at Saint Joseph's Primary School refugee camp at Awka-Etiti, we stood in long lines for okporoko (dried stock fish) and corn meals. Our family of nine lived on two cups of garri --- pulverized cassava root --- a day! Some days, we could not afford meat, pepper or even salt. We merely added water and palm kernels that I gathered from the forest to our gari. In April 1968, my four-year-old brother, Peter, was contracted Kwashiorkor, a disease caused by lack of protein which was suffered by half of the refugee children. His hair was turning red, and Dad being a nurse, diagnosed it as Kwashiorkor. Other symptoms of Kwashiorkor included protruded stomachs, skinny legs and arms, and peeling skins. Dad went to Caritas and begged for extra milk for Peter.

Soldiers Standing
Original Caption: Agwu, Nigeria: A federal government soldier, wearing camouflaged helmet and with ammunition belt draped about his torso, stands with other soldiers recently. Agwu, south of breakaway Biafra's capital of Enugu, is the point through which Nigerian authorities say they will open a "mercy corridor" to permit the enty of food and medecine to the stricken rebel state. 7/17/1968 Bettmann/CORBIS

Biafrans Running For Military Training
Original Caption: 8/7/1968-Biafra, Africa- This is military training Biafran style. These recruits go through the paces somewhere in Biafra. Nigerian spokesmen have been meeting with a delegation from secessionist Biafra in peace talks in Ethiopia in a bid to end Nigeria's 13-month-old civil war. Meanwhile starvation threatens many in beseiged Biafra. Bettmann/CORBIS

Ibo Tribesman Inspecting Rifle
Original Caption: An Ibo tribesman inspects a rifle during young soldiers' training at the camp at Owerri. After their initial training, the soldiers go to join the front line forces in Biafra's struggle against Nigerian federal troops. Bettmann/CORBIS

Biafran Soldier with Rifle
Original Caption: The gun the soldier is holding is described as as Communist AK-47 rifle. Sources at the US television network could offer no more information about the weapon. Bettmann/CORBIS Date Photographed: June 4, 1969 Location Information Okwala Junction, Biafra

Odumegwu Ojukwu
Starving Biafran Woman Lying On Mat
Original caption: 7/31/1968-Aba, BIAFRA- An elderly, starving Biafran woman lies on a mat in General Hospital. Hundreds of Biafrans have died as a result of critical food shortages. It is reported that BIAFRA's leader, Lieutenant Colonel Odumegwo Ojukwu, has forbidden the necessary food to reach the country through a neutral corridor for fear federal Nigerian troops will poison it. Bettmann/CORBIS Date Photographed July 31, 1968 Location Information Aba, Biafra

EMEAGWALI's PERSONAL NOTE: My father was the refugee camp nurse at Saint Joseph's Primary School, Awka-Etiti. Our camp director was an intelligent and talkative elderly man named Mr. Okadigbo (I believe he is the father of Chuba Okadigbo).

Many refugees died from Kwashiorkor and were unceremoniously buried at the camp backyard. The refugees in our camp were those that fled the Asaba massacres.

Odumegwu Ojukwu
Colonel Ojukwu, August 23, 1968 issue of TIME
August 23, 1968 was my 14th birthday. I dropped out of school and was then living at Saint Joseph's Primary School, Awka-Etiti. Like most schools in Biafra, Saint Joseph was converted into a refugee camp.

Philip Emeagwali

(Onitsha, Nigeria. Circa June 1973)

Federal Troops Watched By Biafrans
Villagers watch a group of Nigerian federal troops in a Biafran town. Biafra was a region of eastern Nigeria that seceded from 1967 to 1970. Bettmann/CORBIS

Malnourished Nigerian Child
Original Caption: 1/13/1970-BIAFRA- The 30-month-old Nigerian civil war, the end of which now seems certain, brought untold misery and deprivation to hundreds of thousands of Nigerians: men, women, children, the old and infirm. In this photo, an emaciated Nigerian child waits with others for the emergency food and medical shipments which offered a measure of hope to the people of the secessionist province. Bettmann/CORBIS

Memorable Quote

"I want to see no Red Cross, no Caritas, no World Council of Churches, no Pope, no missionary and no UN delegation.

I want to prevent even one Ibo from having even one piece to eat before their capitulation. We shoot at everything that moves and when our troops march into the centre of Ibo territory, we shoot at everything even at things that do not move... "
Benjamin Adekunle, a.k.a. "Black Scorpion," Commander, 3rd Marine Commando Division, Nigerian Army.

Mother with Starved Child
Original Caption: Nigerian mother and child with their empty food bowl. Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS Photographer: Dempster Date Photographed January 21, 1970 Location Information: Nigeria

Refugee Child W/Bowl At Food Dist. Ctr.
Original caption: 1/22/1970-Owerri, Nigeria- Holding his pan, a young refugee waits for food at a distribution center. Nigerian authorities in Port Harcourt held incommunicado 80 foreign newsmen who reported scenes of starvation, rape, and chaos in the former Biafran territory. Bettmann/CORBIS Date Photographed January 22, 1970 Location Information Owerri, Nigeria

EMEAGWALI'S PERSONAL NOTE: On about this day (1/22/70), my family and I returned to Onitsha. We had no money , no food, and no shelter. We also stood in line for free food.

Yakubu Gowon Holding Press Conference
Original caption: Nigerian Federal Leader Major General Yakubu Gowon (wearing peak cap with red band) addresses a press conference in Lagos, January 22nd. Bettmann/CORBIS Date Photographed January 22, 1970 Location Information Lagos, Nigeria

Customers Observing Yams at Onitsha Market
Original Caption: Nigeria--Fighting for Peace. The market at Onitsha is open once more and prospective customers inspect an enormous pile of yams. Bettmann/CORBIS Date Photographed: April 25, 1970 Location Information: Onitsha, Nigeria

When the war ended in January 1970, circulated Biafran currencies dirty, tattered and worthless. The Nigerian government ordered defeated Biafrans to destroy all their currencies and they gladly complied, forgetting it will become a collector's item. I kept some for "good luck."

Biafran National Flag
The Biafran Flag

Republic of Benin
The flag of the Republic of Benin - nation created by Biafra from the former midwestern Nigeria.

Although Biafran coins were produced, we continued to use Nigerian coins.

Odumegwu Ojukwu and Philip Emeagwali

(Tacoma Park, Maryland. August 10, 2001)

bianca odumegwu ojukwu philip emeagwali dale emeagwali takoma park maryland august 10 2001
Bianca Odumegwu Ojukwu, Philip Emeagwali and Dale Emeagwali

(Tacoma Park, Maryland. August 10, 2001)

Bianca Odumegwu Ojukwu and Dale Emeagwali

(Tacoma Park, Maryland. August 10, 2001)

Biafra War 2

Biafra War 3

Biafra War 4 Biafra War 5

Biafra War 6

Biafra War 7

  1. The Secession that Failed
  3. The Mercenaries
  4. Recovery After Biafra
  5. Keeping Biafra Alive
  6. Agony in Biafra
  7. The Art of Resistance
  8. Worsening Conditions
  9. THE BROTHERS'WAR Biafra and Nigeria
  10. The Little Country That Won't Give Up
  11. Biafra's Two Wars
  12. NIGERIA Faced with an Impasse
  13. Fighting in the Mist
  14. Winning Peace and Prosperity
  15. How to Build an Instant Air Force
  16. Thunder Road to Umuahia
  17. The Fall of Aba
  18. Hunger
  19. Aug. 23, 1968, TIME magazine
  22. Anybody's War
  23. Grim Anniversary
  24. Drums of Defeat
  25. More Help from the U.S.
  26. Relief, Reconciliation, Reconstruction
  27. Reprieve for Eighteen
  28. Twin Stalemates
  29. Talking Again
  30. Declaration of Independence
  31. The Unconquerable Ibos
  32. Civil War
  33. Tragedy in the Villages
  34. What Follows War
  35. An Interview with General Gowon
  36. Attack on a Village
  37. An Introduction
  38. Major Nzeogwu's Coup Speech
  39. Major Nzeogwu's Interview
  40. Azikiwe Condemns Coup
  41. Photos: Down Memory Lane
  42. Aburi Accord: Final Communique
  43. Aburi Accord: Official Record
  44. Aburi Accord: Transcript
  45. Biafran Anthem
  46. Ahiara Declaration
  47. Ojukwu Flees to Exile
  48. Ojukwu's Speech From Exile
  49. Effiong Surrenders Biafra
  50. Gowon Accepts Surrender of Biafra
  51. Gowon's Victory Message
  52. After The War Was Over
  53. Letters on Biafra
  54. Effiong Passes Away
  55. 34 Years Later 1
  56. 34 Years Later 2
  57. 34 Years Later 3
  58. 34 Years Later 4
  59. RELATED STORY: A Child Soldier's Story

Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor

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Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor