#BiafraRemembranceDay: Nigerians Share Painful Memories of War, Want May 30 declared National Mourning Day

Fifty-two years ago, Igbo people of South-East Nigeria pulled out of Nigeria, declaring an independent Republic of Biafra that led to a brutal civil war which claimed millions of lives.
Although it is over four decades since the war ended, many of the victims have yet to get over the horrible experience. 
Using Twitter hashtags like #BiafraRemembranceDay, #BiafraHeroesDay2019, #Ozoemena, many Nigerians, especially Igbo people, are taking turns on social media to lament their losses and painful memories.   Ozoemena translates literally as “Another should not happen” in Igbo.

Calls for justice have dominated the Nigerian trends on Twitter while photos of malnourished children and corpses continued to flood the timeline.
Some of those who shared bitter memories of the war demanded that May 30 be declared a national day of mourning and public holiday.

A Nigerian with the Twitter handle, @bayelsa_arise, wrote, “I lost relatives to Biafra. Uncles were tagged saboteurs and shot. They were the lucky ones. The unfortunate were sent to starve in camps in Enugu. We still remember. #BiafraRemembranceDay.”

Another Nigerian, identified simply as Ifeanyi, wrote, “If I were the president, I will declare May 30 a public holiday…three million people deserve worldwide mourning. #BiafraRemembranceDay #BiafraHeroesDay2019.”

Sharing a similar view, a Nigerian identified as Ekundayo Caeser wrote, “Today should be a public holiday all over the nation to remember the over three million lives lost during the civil war. May the souls of the dearly departed, through the mercy of God, continue to rest in peace.”

Other prominent Nigerians also took turns to share their opinions about the war.  A former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, wrote, “No one should feel good about young people who never saw the ills of war glamorizing it and wishing war on themselves and their generation. But no one should also think that denying memory ever contributes to healing. Mutual acknowledgment is always a basis for stronger foundations #Ozoemena.

“There’s a good opportunity for #Nigeria to mine memory in order to build a different, more inclusive kind of country. We stumble from one avoidable tragedy to the next, never learning anything and always repeating the same errors. So, we democratize alienation. #Ozoemena.”

A former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, says it is unfortunate Nigeria never learnt from the war and continued to repeat mistakes that trigger tragedies.

She said, “A country of leaders and people who quickly move on from every horror it suffers and never learned how to properly grieve and empathize with victims. Just look at us…. forever repeating tragedies because we have refused to learn. May our children end the horrors.

“This year’s # BiafraRemberanceDay, we not only remember and pray for all families among us who lost sons, daughters, dads, moms, siblings and relatives in the war but especially thank the @cfmemories for starting the great work of documentation. People are not statistics #Ozoemena.”
Dr Joe Abah wrote, “Today being #BiafraRemembranceDay, I join others in remembering all those who died in the war, and say “Ozoemena” (never again)!”

Media personality, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, called for a national conversation about the war. He wrote, “Today is #BiafraRemembranceDay. Hopefully, someday, we will start having open honest conversations about our history…Ozoemena.”
Another Nigerian, @CollinsUma, says his father has yet to heal from the emotional scars inflicted by the war.

He said, “Two weeks ago I was in Ohafia to see my father. He still has physical and emotional scars from the Biafra war. My father lost family and friends to that war, like millions of others. Today, we remember everyone lost in that war. We will never forget. #BiafraRemembranceDay.”

Another Nigerian with the Twitter handle, @iam_realjayson, shared stories his father told him about the war.

He wrote, “My dad was a boy during the war, he told me that he and his peers struggled to get Lizards (as a meal) for their families. It was a highly valued delicacy during the war. The very same lizard we all discountenance today. #Ozoemena #BiafraHeroesDay2019”

Ife Sinachi blamed the Federal Government for starving Igbo people of food during the war, noting that starvation led to the death of some of her relatives.

Sinachi wrote, “My dad’s stepbrother, a young child, died during the war as a result of the tactical starvation used by the Nigerian side. Today, I remember him and the millions of others who died fighting for the freedom of the Igbo.RIP. You will never be forgotten. #BiafraHeroesDay2019.”

Another Nigerian, @MizGlamfairy, recalled how her late grandmother crossed murky waters with crocodiles into Delta State while paddling the canoe alone without help because she didn’t have one naira to pay as fare.

“She was from Anambra state and gave me my beautiful name #Ozoemena,” she wrote on Twitter.”

Another Nigerian with the Twitter handle, @Chinedutoskolo, wrote, “To you, it might be statistics and numbers but it means more to us. It is parents we would never see again, brothers that will never return, sisters that we don’t know their fate. This means more.”


Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar