An artist's rendition of the genocidal killings of civilians in African wars
"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.
"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
There appeared to be a fleeting
period of lunacy in which Midwesterners gladly identified
their Igbo compatriots to be shot down by Federal troops."
the former Solicitor-General of Midwestern Nigeria,
Sunday Observer, March 16, 1983
(Watch six videos at the bottom of this page.)
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
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.
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
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.
"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.
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."
The Biafran Flag
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 and Dale Emeagwali