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Ofilispeaks: Our History of Forgetting History





The first time I heard about Biafra was while reading the Steve Jobs autobiography by Walter Isaacson. The second time I heard about it was while watching the Nigerian version of the Rick Ross “Hold Me Back” video.

To put this in perspective, I lived in Nigeria for 18 continuous years, went to nursery school, primary school, secondary school and if it counts A-level college…all in Nigeria. I did Social Studies and History along the way…took numerous notes and read plenty text books. And at no time in my long Nigerian school history was I taught about the Biafran war. It did not appear in my JAMB exam, common entrance exam, JSS exam or SSCE exam or any of the many exams the average Nigerian kid is blessed forced to write. And I definitely did not see any documentary’s on TV or radio. It was as if the war never happened…

Or at least we like to act like the war never happened. It was as if we went out of our way to erase every trace of the war from our memory. It is omitted from our history and our educational curriculum.

So the only history we have has been largely oral, from the stories of people who experienced the war to others who heard stories from those that experienced the war. And for years this is how the war has been documented…orally….from generation to generation. And perhaps one day we would all wake up and find the war erased from our memories.

But it won’t disappear…because civil war did not end in 1970, it still goes on today. It is not in the same bloody manner as the first civil war, there are no guns being shot, explosion being triggered, there are no children starving or armies fighting…there is none of that. Instead the war has shifted into stealth mode…a quiet war. An ethnic type of war fought in small pockets across Nigeria, on our streets, in our schools and in our politics. It is a kind of clandestine war of ethnicity that pits one ethnic group against the other.

People want to hire their own tribe, others want to marry from their own village all because this ethnic group hates that other ethnic group and so on. Nigeria as we stand is united on paper but fragmented in reality.

Fragmented, largely,  because we have chosen not to remember face our history. But until we face the past, we will not be ready to face the future. Until we can discuss, teach and debate about the civil war in our classrooms and radio stations we will continue to wage a quiet civil war. We would try and patch it with presidential rotations (south and north) and other quasi solutions, but it would not solve anything until we tackle our issues head on.

But sadly Nigeria suffers from severe memory loss. Not because we can’t remember, but because it is easier to forget. Forgetting requires no effort. So we forget events and dates. We even forget the meaning of the words in our National Anthem, for instance…“the labors of our heroes past shall never be in vain…”

Because for years the labors of our heroes past has been in vain. Because we forgot what they died fighting for. We forget that on June 12th 1993 a certain man IBB cancelled, for no reason what so-ever, the freest and fairest presidential election in Nigerian history. And that as recent as 2011 that same man IBB…the one who for no reason cancelled the 1993 presidential election attempted to run for President. It takes a nation that forgets for that to even happen. If June 12th had been made a public day or better yet the national democracy day, I doubt that IBB would have been bold enough to even think of running.

biafranAnd while we are on the topic of forgetfulness, let’s not forget about Ken Saro Wiwa, civil rights activist who led a peaceful protest against the destruction of the Ogoni land by big oil companies, only to be tried and hanged murdered by a kangaroo court. What happened after his death? Did Ogoni land get better? Did we get a Ken Saro Wiwa holiday? Or a Ken Saro Wiwa Federal road? In fact according to the guardian UK, the Nigerian senate rejected proposals for an annual Ken Saro-Wiwa Day, rejected proposals to have a street named after him and ultimately rejected proposals to have a national monument created in his honor. It was as if his death like the war never happened.

And we need to change that. It is a travesty when our children know more about the American Civil war and World Wars than they do about the Civil War that happened in their own background. That is outrageous. Nigeria needs to start telling its history to its children. Our children like me should not have to learn about Nigeria from foreigners that live thousands of miles away. That has to change.

Now I am not saying we should talk about the war to figure out who is right or wrong, which I think is the fear of many. I believe we need to talk about the war and other ethnic issues so that we can become comfortable with ethnicity. The moment Nigerians become comfortable and can discuss freely about ethnicity with other ethnic groups, that is the moment the civil war will begin to end.

I conclude with the words of Stephen Colbert:

“There’s an old saying about those who forget history. I don’t remember it, but it’s good.”

In the same way there are many things Nigeria can learn from its history. Ironically we don’t remember them…but we swear it’s good! Let’s remember our history…

Illustration courtesy of and picture courtesy of LIFE Magazine

This entry is an excerpt from the upcoming book How Intelligence Kills: A Critical Look At Our Dangerous Addiction To Religion, Intelligence and Respect.


twitterOfili is an author who blogs about life, success and entrepreneurial excellence. Follow him on Twitter , Facebook or subscribe to his blog for more honest talk! To bring Ofili to your school or organization as a speaker simply go here. His third book is titled How Intelligence Kills Us and will be coming out in the second quarter of 2013 (he hopes). To read his other books for free on your android phone go to

Okechukwu Ofili is a trouble maker, the author of 4 books and speaks at organizations that are tired of hearing the same old stuff and want the truth. He is also the founder of and blogs daily at You can follow him on Twitter or stalk him on Instagram You can also read his funny books on konga or okadabooks


  1. ms awka

    June 12, 2013 at 10:23 am

    This is soo true! Its funny how we forget history easily and pretend what was there didn’t happen. The first I ever really read or had any “details” of the biafran war was through Chiamanda’s Half of a yellow sun.

  2. nana

    June 12, 2013 at 10:29 am


    • Bleed blue

      June 12, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      Double Truth!

      So sad that we have to learn our history either through dedicated personal research or we bump into the stories by chance. 🙁

  3. MsLanee

    June 12, 2013 at 10:32 am

    This is so true. Kind of brings tears to my eyes. I learnt about the Civil war after reading Chimamanda’s Half of a Yellow Sun; i then started asking my dad questions about his experience of the Civil War and as much as he was bitter about it, he did talk but just did not his children to relive it. My friend’s dad was two of many survivors of the Asaba Massacre but does not tell us much about it. So many things are just wrong with forgetting and we are really quick to do so.
    It is really sad.

  4. zn

    June 12, 2013 at 10:39 am

    gbam! If you are not at peace with your past? how can u face the present talkless of the future………i absolutely agree with Ofili!

  5. emike

    June 12, 2013 at 11:16 am

    My belief is Nigeria is a geographic location and not a nation which is why we forget our history:we are not together at all.which is why the Ibos remember the Biafra War, the Yorubas remember june 12, the Ogbonis remember Ken Saro Wiwa.our motto is “how e take concern me”.Our mutual distrust for ourselves have further been ingrained with manipulations of the amoral political elite.we are so focused on the “my brother, my brother’ mantra, we forget that that the only road your “brother” has built leads to his mother’s house ,there is still NO ELECTRICITY in your neighbourhood,your children go to schools with no books and the basic amenities of life are beyond your reach.we operate a structure based on “turn by turn” rather than merit thus stagnating our growth.Until our generation (forget our parents,they are a lost cause) begins to find out about our past and learn from it,nothing will change.
    Maybe we do not know our history because subconciously we believe we have no future.

    • Dera

      June 12, 2013 at 11:39 am

      I totally agree wiv u Emile. I’d love to hear your tots on something. My mom seems to think that splitting Nigeria would help the country heal from d wounds of inequality,corruption and most importantly violence. I most graciously await ur reply. Yours truly

    • emike

      June 12, 2013 at 11:52 am

      hello dera…you can reach me on [email protected]…hope to kear from you soon.

    • emike

      June 12, 2013 at 11:53 am

      hello dera…you can reach me on [email protected]…hope to hear from you soon.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      June 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      Absolutely true. Without a doubt, we can’t really claim to be any kind of united country and people around “the nation” generally attach particular signifance only to events which affect our ethnic groups. My case in point – recently, Battabox posted a video where they asked Lagosians if they were afraid of Boko Haram. 99% of the responses were “No, it’s just a problem for the North, we in Lagos ain’t really concerned about that ish”. Yes, I’ve paraphrased but you get my gist.

      For me, that survey completely describes the average Nigerian’s attitude in a nutshell.

    • Glossy

      June 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      You are so on point!

  6. Ada Nnewi

    June 12, 2013 at 11:18 am

    My dad fought in the war, so the little I know about Biafra and The Civil war I learnt from him….A nation that refuses to learnt from its past will continue to make the same mistakes….

  7. Derin

    June 12, 2013 at 11:28 am

    “There’s an old saying about those who forget history. I don’t remember it, but it’s good.” Cute!!
    Chinua Achebe’s – There Was a Country is so invaluable! If only those involved, or fortunate enough to have receive oral incantations will share more like Chimamanda does so well!

    • Derin

      June 12, 2013 at 11:32 am


    • rebellious child

      June 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      my dear believe me those who have stories dont really want to speak for the atrocities that was committed . I hail from the north mixed with southeastern 9ja, and the stories my grandmother told us of how a northerner took her only son and forced her to cut him open with his dagger, therefore killing her only son, and then turns around to rape her.. its a sad memory that no one, in their lifetime, not alone a mother would ever want to live with for the rest of their lives. But my grandmother lived and found the strength to raise 3 girls on her own after the war. Thinking about the stories of atrocities committed during war my grand parents have told us about it breaks my heart, so my dear the stories are numerous and each heartbreaking within its own right, and some too painful not to repeat, for these are the type of stories you would hear and as a child of mixed tribe, you come to hate your own shadow.

    • Derin

      June 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      So sad… but you’re right, it takes strength for them to carry through and keep living whilst maintaining their sanity. But we need truth, heck I’d take biased ones! How can we address the unknown?
      This is my limited, probably overly simplified knowledge (So glad I can hide behind my laptop!):
      There was a decision to create Biafra (not sure why) and Igbo’s were the major players.
      Yoruba’s supported this move but later betrayed Igbo’s when they were attacked by Northerners.
      I’m ashamed of how the Yoruba people in power let so many die when they could have stepped up.
      I also do not understand why the Igbo people in power let things get so out of hand.
      I guess I’m no longer oblivious to tribalism. But I see it, read it, hear it, yet to be a victim, but its crazy that there are still thoughts of us splitting up….

  8. Hephzibah

    June 12, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Brilliant! May i ask permission to copy and paste excerpts of this piece for my Masters dissertation? Rest assured i would give credit to you. *wink* Thank you!

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      June 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      lol…go ahead….but if you make money! Send me recharge card =D

    • aj

      July 13, 2013 at 6:22 am

      lazy child! you better go and study for your dissertation.

  9. Dapo

    June 12, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Let us indeed remember history. Hi ofili I totally fell in love with ur write up. Wats ur blog called. Tnx

  10. Lilly

    June 12, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Truth Talk! I remembered i watched the civil war when i was 10 but didnt understand the pain and suffering my people went thru until i watched it last year when Ojukwu died. Its not a thing to forget, infact it should be added to schools curriculum.

  11. Miss Anonymous

    June 12, 2013 at 11:36 am

    The presidential elections were not cancelled on June 12th, but on a later date.

  12. Partyrider

    June 12, 2013 at 11:40 am

    very well said.
    safe to say alot of people got to know about the civil war from reading half of the yellow sun. the sad thing is that its even hard or near impossible to get a true and unbiased documentation of the war for those that want to know exactly what happened.
    i have read different stories/accounts and till today i still dont know for SURE what triggered that war..sigh

  13. ms lala

    June 12, 2013 at 11:40 am

    OMG…OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FINALLY ..i have been yelling and crying about Nigerians and their unique ability to forget events…thanks for bring up Ogoni 9…whenever professors ask me what my name means or why its foreign and I explain am Nigerian the first thing they say is OGONI 9 or Biafran war…but ask an average nigerian youth to explain or narrate the history of those two events and all you will hear are crickets and probably cocks crowing. SAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! indeed.. this is same reason I lament and weep and proclaim that Nigerians are maybe not worth dying for in the sense of fighting for a cause or a revolution…why? because you will not be remembered ..history will forget you and leave u in a state of oblivion….only the some of the legit victims remember the history, remember the pain and agony and victim being : the Abiolas, Saro Wiwas, and many Nigerians who died for the true cause be it by assassination or just being killed just because they belonged to the wrong group who opposed the evil act being bestowed on Nigerians …I blame the parents all classes of parents .. socalled uppity class and even the every day mom and dad do you expect America international and every foregin school to teach your children another man’s history…even our local schools lack history classes,I doubt an average Nigerian youth knows how Abacha came to power let alone how IBB ruined the Naira note but then ask them who gave the Gettysburg speech and all hands will be in the air like it was a 2face concert…am so vexed !!!!!!!!!!!! I can go on and on and on but my fingers already developed blisters ……am not blaming the youths but am blaming the govt, society, even our moms, dads , siblings who are now parents ..everyone is playing the let the sleeping dog lie game.. as if history might not just repeat itself.

    again my man ofili is repping Houston lol good one

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      June 12, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      Thanks Ms.Lala…H-town repping…lol

      But I do see your point. Its so sad when I hear people scream that GEJ is the worse president Nigerian has ever had…I then I flash back to the numerous military governments and dictatorships that ruined our GDP and I smh…history history history…

  14. Truth

    June 12, 2013 at 11:40 am

    My sentiments exactly. Thanks Ofili

  15. Rukky

    June 12, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Shap guy! I totally understand what you’re talking about and surprisingly I was thinking about the same thing too the other day. Why don’t we have movies, documentaries, both fictional and educative books about our history? Why was it so easy for the Europeans to colonize us and endeavor to erase our past? It is because our history was not codified except with few exceptions like with Egypt and Timbuktu. A failure is not a chance for success if you don’t learn something vital from the experience–we are the generation burdened with the duty not to let the past repeat itself. I am not speculating another civil war or colonization–God forbid such a ridiculous tragedy repeats itself but let’s make a change, collectively, in our own big or little way. I think you raised a fine point and hopefully this motivates most people to get up and do something about it. Thanks Ofi

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      June 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      We do have books (fictional & non-fictional) about our history, I definitely read quite a lot of them growing up due to my parents having shelfloads of them. I read a lot of novels, the names of which I can’t honestly remember but written by Elechi Amadi, Flora Nwapa, Chinua A, Buchi Emecheta… goodness, these writers and many others gave me a lot of insight about how people of their era traversed arising socio-political issues (which included the african feminist identity concerns of that period) in the brand new country already heading steadily downhill, called Nigeria.

      Also, I read a lot of non-fiction particularly surrounding the Biafran war and these included (auto)biographies written by some of the major players of that event. I feel terrible because I can’t even remember some of those names that I read about when I was young and uninformed but does anyone know the name of the major, an Ibo guy with a name beginning with the letter “N” who penned his biography about what happened in the 1st coup? I definitely read his biography, remember that one but can’t even remember the others 🙁

      Tragically, I don’t believe any of the publishing houses that released some of those books continue to have them in print. And that is the real tragedy, if only someone had the foresight and purchased rights in the original manuscripts, keeping them for the generations to come.

      Does anyone know if there are volumes or archives kept in any libraries? Newsreels, court reports (including statements of witnesses) from the aftermaths of the Civil War, records of the legislative houses regarding new laws passed afterwards, etc? I may be asking for too much…. 🙁

    • Rukky

      June 12, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      I totally get your point dear, and you’re 100% right, however, I would like to do some research and find out how we lived as a people before colonization and that’s why I made mention of Egypt and Timbuktu being the few places where you find codified history pre-colonization. I mean, how crazy is it that cows are not indigenous to Africa yet they form a central part of most African festivities. I was taught that cows aren’t originally from Africa but I wasn’t told what we used in celebrating a traditional marriage or naming ceremony before that. Sad, I wanna know.
      Moreover, most of the books out there, with all due respect, focus on the colonization era, post-colonization and a few years leading to colonization (a very few books focus on this era). I just want entertaining books and movies that tell an accurate or almost accurate story of where the peoples of Nigeria come from. Call me ignorant and maybe I should do more research but how did Nigerians end up in Nigeria? Why is Igbo said to be a Benue-Congo language? Where people from Congo once in Nigeria or vice-versa??? (raises eyebrow lol) Who was ALaafin of Oyo and why should I know of him? Why was the Benin empire so revered? Is it true they had roads and a structured educational system even before the colonizers came to Benin? I mean there is a pleeethoooraaa of things that are out there and putting in a bit of love, tragedy, suspense and treachery is all one needs for a cinematic hit or bestseller. Easier said than done but I crave more. Our stories did not start when the colonizers came to take pictures and jot down the history they wanted to record—Oh no, we were a complex and intelligent people before then and still are but someone needs to tell that tale, at least for my children’s sake ooo lol *when I have them. By the grace of God. Amen.* 🙂 Thanks for the heads up, I’m definitely going to go hunting for those authors’ books, except for Pa Achebe because I’m already obsessed as it is and I swear I’ve read all of his books and have most of them–my Chinua OCD

    • Naija talk

      June 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm

      Major Kaduna Nzeogwu. My dad also had a book on him – I guess that might have been his autobiography.

  16. dimpled freak

    June 12, 2013 at 11:57 am

    woooow what an amazing article. I’m British Nigerian fully raised in the uk first time i heard about the Biafrian war was in my mid 20’s at a seminar in London who got most of his sources from the BBC as the Nigerian archives were very limited (very sad to learn your history from the British Government because the information we have in Nigeria is substandard) But since i moved to Nigeria 3yrs ago. its like its been erased from peoples hearts and memories , I ask my family for their experiences with the Biafrian War but being yoruba of course its as though they have no business discussing it cus it wasnt their war. its so sad but it seems as though the Biafrian War is something that happened to Ibos and not a whole nation! May God help us!!!

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      June 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Okay, so you’ve just answered my question regarding archived records possibly existing in our country… Very sad 🙁

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      June 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Amen o.

  17. rebellious child

    June 12, 2013 at 11:59 am

    well written ofili. As you can see we are a people that forget. These fools in government will name roads,cities, anything after their crooked friends, even people that has never been to our country or can careless before they do something about their own. Imagine till today the Alu4s have not been given a proper memorial. And also ofili lets not only blame our leaders, we also bear the blame for we also have chosen to sweep things under the carpet. we chose to ignore, perchance we might hate our friends of different tribes involved in the war. Imagine we have no well regulated national history museum, yet we call our selves the leaders in africa when we should be amongst the leaders in the world. Now one thing that helps a community and a generation advance is the undiluted giving spirit of those who have succeeded. I also say that those children of the politicians who have stolen nigeria’s wealth dont pretend you dont know what you parents have done, but the sins of the father must not be visited upon the kids, so i challenge these kids to use part of the those loots to create foundations and help the community, to give back. In all Ofili I so appreciate how you voice that we must talk about ethnicity. In the states here, racism had to be spoken about,even though it wasnt comfortable, but we spoke about it, from kindergarten to university. We must learn to teach our children to accept eachother from childhood , for doing it with the whole youth service thing when we have become adults and have formed our biases it becomes useless, for a year in a remote village or city will not change a lifetime of biases and ethnocentric ideals. So I put it to this generation to learn from our parents’ generation and try not to repeat the mistakes they made. To those who have sojourned and have acquired wealth in education to come back home and try to help your community. We must learn to stop waiting for these fools in government and try our best to start the change we want to see, through our actions.

  18. Ade

    June 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I did not know about the civil war and its implications until I was in my early 20’s. I do not understand why the civil war especially is not part of the history curriculum in primary and secondary schools.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      June 12, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Exactly my point Ade. It is like it never happened. So sad…

  19. Peaches77

    June 12, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Thank you Ofili and all who have commented. We never seek out the root cause of our diseases in Nigeria, yet we keep trying to treat it so unsuccessfully. We MUST TALK about it individually and as a nation. The war can never be forgotten especially when the issues that caused the war are still present and with us today. I agree that we must discuss and learn about our different ethnicities else we will never ever be ONE.

    • sexier

      June 12, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      Yup. The issues are still with us today, so what the war achieve exactly. What was it trying to achieve and why was it not successful. Ojukwu outlived all those people who died and suffered for no just reason. He will answer to His maker for his actions, that one I know and is my consolation.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      June 12, 2013 at 9:40 pm

      “What was it trying to achieve and why was it not successful.” If we studied the history in Nigerian school, you probably won’t ask the questions.

  20. binta

    June 12, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Ofili good talk..but the burden of sharing our history should not only be laid on the govrnment alone…in other countries films are created to depict history and shoW images so that people do not forgrt..but rather our film industry dwell on fantasies and hasnt done movies based on nigerian history and leaders..or those that helped change naija history to what it is today…whrthr positively or negatively..we need biopics of history

  21. Okechukwu Ofili

    June 12, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Binta I agree with you 100%. Pretty sure my article seems to be castigating the government only, but it is everyone. It pains me that the civil war is not part of our curriculum or even addressed in movies like you hinted. But slowly and surely we will get there. Look at what Adichie did with her book, now it is a future Hollywood movie. Baby steps. The ultimately goal is to have a Biafran museum, a June 12th National Holiday and the Port-harcourt International airport renamed to be the Ken Saro-wiwa international airport. That’s my dream!

    • Efe G

      June 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      “The ultimately goal is to have a Biafran museum, a June 12th National Holiday and the Port-harcourt International airport renamed to be the Ken Saro-wiwa international airport. That’s my dream!” Mmmm very ambitious. Very very ambitious. The good news is that all things are possible to those who believe. I support you, Ofili…

    • 5'5

      June 12, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      I read a book on the biafran war for the first time when I was 12 and this wasnt the Adichie book.
      I think the Adichie book caught on because it was written by someone we could all relate to one from a generation that is curious in its majority. Years ago when others were writing about Biafra, very few of us were grown enough to actually be interested in knowing about it. And like you rightly pointed out, our school curriculum is very lacking in terms of that part of our history. However, I do remember being taught about what led to the war in Js2 Social Studies, i guess at the end of the day, it takes one who is interested to find out more.

    • Segun

      June 18, 2013 at 2:27 am

      Ofili, I believe you rightly went after the government for deliberately silencing any attempts at understanding our history. I know a lot about US history because it was required that I take US history at college. The movie industry can only re-enact what majority of folks already know. Look at the movie Lincoln for example. It only help understand that piece of history. We appreciate Mel Gibson’s Passion of The Christ because we’ve read and heard about the man Jesus.
      Again, Ofili, I duff my hat. I’m so subscribing to your blog.

  22. Okechukwu Ofili

    June 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks Peaches! well said!

  23. Eve

    June 12, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Good job Ofili! You have given me something to think about. My mum survived the civil war, but she lost her dad and the few times she talks about it, I see the sadness in her eyes. Her mum was left to raise 3 young girls alone. According to her, the missile or whatever it was called then fell on the path where her dad was walking. I think it was traumatizing for her bc she actually saw it happen.

  24. sexier

    June 12, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    My take is this, y’all are free to disagree. History will only be relevant if it was a journey that LED SOMEWHERE, and there was something that was achieved from it despite the pain, woes, suffering and sacrifices. I loooooooove American history, because I can see where their struggles have gotten them to now, how they fought against inequality, oppression and gbo gbo e. From the American Civil war, North versus South, plus the Womens Liberation Movement, to the battle of freedom of slaves, then the racial movement, sorry if I am not wording these events well, but you get my point. These dark periods in history were done for a purpose and they LED SOMEWHERE, to something big and great that it made it all worth it. Go across the pond to Europe. The struggles against the nobility. So that the common man did not have to serve some people who got there by accident of birth. Europe was built on the backs of the labourers the common man and they refused to let only a few enjoy from the backs of many. Why do you think royalty was overthrown? Look at the history of France and Austria. Visit Vienna and see the majestic palaces and play grounds of the rich and royal calss centuries ago. You will see why it is called the Imperial city. I visited Versailles a few weeks ago and it was a beautiful experience. To see where the country was then and where it is now, you can understand their deisre to overthrow the royals. The palace of Versailles is stunning to say the least, opulence everywhere you turn. So the royals lived like that while the people were suffering. No wonder they cut off all their heads. We need that kind of history in Nigeria. Maybe it will happen in our generation, maybe not. The political class need to be given the punishment that the French nobility was given. THAT WILL BE SOMETHING WORTHWHILE TO REMEMBER. The day Aso rock will become a monument like Versailles that tourists can visit. A rememberance that it will never happen again where a few will dictate the suffering for the majority. When your history does not point at where the war was going to achieve, I am sorry it will be forgotten because the results does not justify the action. I still dont see the sense behind the civil war, Ojukwu sorry to offend anyone just reminds me of a man who loved power more than his own people. Did anyone see the movie Lincoln? If you haven’t go rent it on DVD, and you will see why Ab Lincoln is a revered man in American history. Read about George Washington too, and all the other stories that led to the declaration of independence. In war, everyone has their own agenda no doubt, but as long as that agenda doesn’t take over the common good. A lot of the history of Europe and America, involved battles that were for the common good. Do we have such leaders in our history? Be honest with yourself. Who amongst them can compare to Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, etc. In fact, if I start listing names of great men and women una go talk say i know other people’s history pass my own. Yup, I am proud of it because it makes me proud to live in a land where there is still a sense of collective community, a land that was built on the struggles that everyone enjoys today and not the vagrant selfishness that runs rampant in Nigeria and can be traced farther than 1960 sef. So, make una wallow in your history o, count me out. Nigeria’s history has not served us well, so it is not worth remembering. My opinion.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      June 12, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      “History will only be relevant if it was a journey that LED SOMEWHERE, and there was something that was achieved from it despite the pain, woes, suffering and sacrifices.”

      So when Hitler oppressed the Jews, where did it lead? What was achieved?

  25. 5'5

    June 12, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Ofili i love you.

    I have always said Nigeria’s solution (read as ‘Unity’) lies not in just talking about our history alone but also in inter-ethnic marriage. I am all for it.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      June 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      awwww…I get love from the internet. Ethnicism is dead =D

  26. Lin

    June 12, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    OMG…Ofili THANK YOU!!!
    I thank God for my dad. When I came to the states, my dad said “remember where you are from” and he typed a note for me about the biafran war. Even before he wrote it, he always tells us (his children) how the war affected all the ibos. everything they had were taken away from the northerners and how the British people supported the northerners etc. (infact he said a lot). I still have that piece he wrote on biafra. And I still go back to read it once in a while. Whenever I read it, tears starts running through my eyes and i could imagine the hell they went through. All in all, i wish that part of history will be read and studied in schools and educate our younger generation.

  27. ngozi

    June 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    I guess part of the reason for the silence is apprehension over what may result from the general awareness of the suffering of the Igbo people during the war by their younger generation who do not have the restraint actual war experience imposes. After reading Chimamanda’s book, i felt all Igbo youths should read the book and get a sense of our common history and perhaps realise that the need for onye aghala nwanne ya- that we should look out for one another, that the war should serve to bond the Igbos and give us a sense of unity. I cant find the words to express my feeling of cokpasssion for my fellow onye Igbo after reading the book.

  28. Just sayin..

    June 12, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    The problem in Africa is that we have more of an oral history. Remember back then 2003 – 2004 that TV show, African story on AIT. The message that we got growing up to learn about history was to sit at the feet of daddy or grandpa and relieve the moments of history through their voice. I grew up in Nigeria for 10 years and i can’t actively tell you that i know much about my country’s history except that we got our independence in 1960. We more or less don’t have written formal documentation of history and if we do nobody’s (the government) is making an effort to preserve memorabilia for the our upcoming generation.We need to step up and start putting things into documents, archives, libraries. God forbid that the national government fund something as useless as that!!(Sarcasm) In fact, i doubt we even have a national library in Nigeria. If we do, it is probably being kept on paper and not stored on hardrives. In essence, if we kept up with our History and the repercussions of painful events, maybe history wouldn’t repeat itself so much in Nigeria, maybe we it would be a stepping stone to stop religious and ethnic cleanings in the Nigeria particularly the North…just my 2 cents

  29. nene

    June 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    unfortunately for me i did part of high school in switzerland through university, so i never knew about nigeria and africa’s history. after i read soo much on the internet about nelson mandela, thomas sankara, steve biko, patrice lumumba and many more, i decided to move back and i try to make a difference in any way, and i hope for the best for africa. well done ofili.

  30. Aryah

    June 12, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    To be honest with you, I don’t really know what the biafran war was all about. All I know is that the ibo ppl were fighting to be independent. And I know that my mum, her siblings and parents had to sleep on their farm for a while to escape getting killed.
    What stirred the fight? I do not know.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      June 12, 2013 at 11:25 pm

      Aryah…this video by Jide Onarewaju is a must watch

  31. NNENNE

    June 13, 2013 at 3:03 am

    Which civil war are we talking about? The genocide of the late 1960’s or the killings of the 70’s,80’s,90’s, and 2000’s in the North? Which one exactly?
    The killings are still going on. We will start talking about it when we are done killing!

  32. Ces

    June 22, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    I find it strange when I hear young Nigerians say they only heard about Biafra recently. And it occurred to me the people who say this cannot be Igbo. While I am glad chimamandas book exposed this part of our history it was not a revelation to me. I grew up listening to my father talk about the war, about death and hunger. How he killed so he would not be killed. How he tried put back the intestines of his 2IC as he died in his arms. How he was shot in the leg(I’ve asked his to confess he did it himself) How at the end of the war all he had to eat during his journey back to his small village was a lizard. How he didn’t share a small pot of soup with a dying child because… His relief to find his mother and female cousins alive and unharmed(all the men away fighting). These were my bed time stories. I know I will tell my kids because the stories need to be told.

    • OfiliSpeaks


      July 8, 2013 at 7:05 am

      “And it occurred to me the people who say this cannot be Igbo” but yet you heard about it orally from your parents. I guess that parents that do not share the story with their children early have automatically un-igboed them. #stupidity

  33. nk

    July 6, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    I feel ashamed and angered at the same time that I know so little about the civil even though I am Igbo, so this is my 2 kobo. I watched a documentary recently that lasted for 5hours on the history of Nigeria, starting from when she gained independence ,and the birth of corruption that led to the coups, which in turn led to the civil war because Ojukwu couldn’t bear the slaughter of the igbos that were dying in thousands at first in the north. The slaughter of the igbos amongst others is one of the reasons ojukwu decided to break away from Nigeria and form Biafra. In the interview he gave he said, he couldn’t stand by and watch the trailers that kept sending corpse of igbos home, and also,as at then these oil producing states were under the part of Nigeria that would have been known as Biafra today, which is why Gowon fought to ensure that Biafra didn’t become a reality with the help of the British that kept supplying them arms to murder the igbos for their own gains which is evident in form of some of these oil companies in Nigeria today. Am not trying to be a tribalist here, but the yorubas were cowards as usual and stayed on the sideline even though ojukwu got abiola out of jail with the promise that Abiola would support him in fighting the the civil war, but Abiola didn’t keep his end of the deal after he got out. All said and done, I think the igbos deserve an apology not just for the intended genocide, but for ceasing their properties and giving everybody 20naira in exchange for whatever amount of biafran currency u brought forward after the war. thereby, deliberately leaving them impoverished and unable to bid for most of the oil wells, lands and properties that were being sold at that time. please forgive my writing, I am not a professional.

    • esther

      August 24, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      nene please whats the documentary i need to see it..because me i have no single idea about the biafraa war or the civil war until today..because i read offilis write up.

  34. ANNE

    July 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Sweetheart its that betrayer awolowo not abiola,i saw bruce willis’s tears of the sun(2003) which was only a tip of the iceberg compared to what happened during the biafra war.Movies,documentaries, museums,books are all very good ways to keep this painful history going.My mother told me a raw story of Biafra war,(her own experience)the betrayals,bombings,killings,rape,hunger etc,how she trekked from my town to ezi agulu-otu in aguleri,she went for afia attack not knowing if she will make it home.i cry each time she recounts the story.i pray that the Almighty GOD will heal us(the igbos).

  35. Afi

    July 31, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I enjoy this post very much. I am a Nigerian and my Dad chose to send us to Nigerian school not international school so we could “learn about who we are and not someone else” (He used those exact words). Unfortunately, it didn’t help much because the syllabus likes to forget certain things and my family had to move away to East Africa before I entered secondary school.

    There are some wounds that reopening them would be so painful to some people, the guilt of the perpatrators and the pain of the victims. My parents are not Hausa but are from Southern Kaduna state. There were not part of the fighting. But they were treated as though they are an inferior kind of Nigerian or human by both the Hausa and the Igbo in their own villages. My parents say that nothing will ever be said or written about them and the societal injustices they ever received because it’s too small an issue for too small a tribe. And I guess that’s their wound the war left on them, small as it was. I have never seen my parents treat anyone better or worse because of their tribe; they may have learned to forgive my forgetting but there is another group of people for whom the hate has just festered inside. I can understand why they wouldn’t want to remember that, but still that is no excuse. We can talk about things like the ancient civilizations of Ile Ife and Queen Amina in class, but the civil war is too much for many people because it is too recent. I hope the next generation will be able to learn about these things and will learn to love more.

    Maybe it will make us less tribal. NYSC was supposed to make us less tribal, but I don’t know if that has done us any good. I meet Nigerians here in Kenya and the first thing they ask me is what tribe I am. During one such encounter, one boy accused me and “my people” of killing his father. One other person said right to my face “Your people never contribute anything to our country, but your’e always the ones stealing money and wanting power. You don’t have oil, you don’t provide food, you don’t have brains.” Then he said jokingly, “The only thing you contribute is suya, zobo and kunu.” Every time we hear a story of embezzlement and stolen money there is always that “we can’t expect more than love for money from those Igbos” and people in Lagos speak about “the North” like it is some backward place where people do not wear clothes, speak English, or know how to turn on a computer.

    I think I realised how little I knew about my own country when the first time I heard about Ken Saro Wiwa for the first time in a class about the History of Mass Media in Africa. This was in Kenya. It was embarrassing when they mentioned Nigeria and everyone in class turned to me and I was completely blank.

    The funny thing about Nigerians is that they would vote for leaders tribally even though history has shown nothing good comes from it. I don’t think that Atiku or Obansanjo helped the people of their region in any special way when they were in power, so I honestly don’t understand what the zoning fuss is about. It’s just mental. I heard people screaming “South-South” must have it’s turn in 2011 when they were voting Goodluck and all I could think was “we still haven’t learned!!” I meet many people who think they are doing African traditions proud by saying “my identity is my tribe, not my country” and it truly saddens me because it just makes tribalism worse.

    Someone sent me this video when I explained my frustrations to them about how little I know about Nigeria. . I found this video very useful and helpful.

  36. Chinma Eke

    August 29, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Ok, I know this is late but I feel thee need to add this little tidbit;funny how most of the comments are by people who have lived or studied abroad. Ofili did you notice? Us home grown Nigerians are not interested in the present not to talk of the past. Students are at home because their lecturers are on strike, but the students do not know what the striking lecturers are demanding. Sad but true. They believe believe like a joke I’ve seen “its the usual ASUU strike festival. We’ve been taught not to care and majority of us don’t. The war isn’t over, the marginalisation isn’t over. I recently concluded my NYSC in Oyo state, between February and May Oyo state government didn’t pay corpers, when they did, Igbo corpers weren’t paid. I know this for certain because in my Local government I was in charge of collating the names of those not paid; all Igbo. The Igbo corpers that were paid had English names and last names.
    The war isn’t over, maybe when it ends, we’ll write and teach our history.

  37. Ugochi

    September 18, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    You all should see the documentary “NAIJ” and spread the
    world. Every Nigerian should see it.My parents always told me how
    bad the war was. Sad memories of how people ate rats, lizards etc.
    They were children, but did not forget. The documentary told the
    story better than they did. I also read this. Igbo novel ” isi akwu
    dara na ala”. A love story gone wrong after the war. Nigeria was
    all a business deal. Ojukwu is my hero.

  38. Philip

    December 22, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Perhaps worse than forgetting history is distorting history.

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