Being a British born woman and by the grace of God a representative for the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), my memories/experiences of May 30th are somewhat unique. Prior to 2012 I had little knowledge of the Biafran war despite been born in the late sixties, certainly I had no idea then, that Britain in 1969 was suppling 99.2% of all the weapons used by Nigeria to massacre over 3.5 million people.
SHOCKING? Yes. I even doubt now many British people or even their MP’s today understand Britain’s creation called Nigeria and Britain’s role in ongoing slavery and genocide. Even during the Biafran war 1967 to 1970 the parliamentary members weren’t aware of the extreme amount of arms been sent to Nigeria it was at the time classified information. Even today many citizens and parliamentary members have very little knowledge of the amount of arms being supplied to foreign countries especially in Africa and the Middle East.
For me as a child our household having a television of which only then had two channels BBC1 and BBC2 our family saw the regulated news coverage of the genocide, to this day like many adults in their fifties can still remember their parents saying those poor children in Africa are starving make sure you eat all your dinner. I’m sure we had no idea then they weren’t starving because of crop failure or natural disaster but because Britain and Nigeria were purposefully penning millions of people into an area of Biafra to starve them as a war tactic even aid was blocked, shockingly even after the war the aid which was by a few right minded people reaching Biafrans at great risk was redirected to outside of Biafra to Lagos by the Nigerian General Gowon so he could clearly raise the Biafran death count despite the war being over.
BLUE PETER… we all remember these fabulous children programme on BBC1, in fact my mum was a great fan of Valerie Singleton (one of the presenters) whom she’d once met in Farnham Surrey and admired, so defiantly my family would have been switched on to Blue Peter and all their appeals. In 1968 Blue Peter held an appeal for Biafra involving schools, banks etc. and most families sent money to fund hospitals, trucks, aid etc. or recyclable goods. (We still have a pot of used stamps collection). In fact, at the time there were many British charities raising money for Biafra and of course Biafra appeal with thanks to Bob Geldof morphed into ‘Feed The World’, ‘Band Aid’ and ‘Children In Need’.
What you may NOT KNOW is the money raised by Blue Peter etc. was at the time confiscated by the British Government, they felt they couldn’t have money sent to a country they were technically at war with. This was of course covered up, I also read that even the original tapes of those Blue Peter shows have been wiped. I could just imagine the British people’s outrage if they knew how their charitable funds were being spent (or not). I only learnt this fact a year or so ago from the daughter of a senior member of foreign affairs at the time of the Biafran war and frankly I still can’t swallow it, as for my mum she must be turning in her grave she like many other Brits without fail every year of her life gave 15% of her earnings (before tax) to charities like the Biafra Appeal.
Ahead a few years in late 2012 early 2013 I met Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Mazi Uche Mefor and others who were running Radio Biafra London and campaigning for the IPOB. My first personal remembrance of the 30th May was 2013 Nnamdi Kanu held a broadcast and a prayer vigil and I heard for the first time a very moving version of Biafran National Anthem not the one I often hear sung now but a melodic sorrowful version which if I heard this moment would have me in tears. I spoke to many Biafrans about their experiences how a young boy was spared his life by a Northern Governor/Emir who spilt cows’ blood onto the land to make out to the Nigerian Army that he had killed Biafrans in his Northern Nigerian town as ordered in 1966. The stories I have heard to date are keeping my hair grey and my soul weighted.
In the following years on the 30th May with Biafrans I have held that vigil and have been a part of the IPOB’s Worldwide Remembrance which is held in every country of the world for me it is most years in Trafalgar Square London. Biafrans in Biafra land were massacred for many years for holding a remembrance day in their home land, one young girl in 2015 went with her two older brothers to a remembrance parade in Abia with her fellow brothers, they were together arrested but separated and taken away in different vehicles, the young girl was later released without charge but till today the same young girl has not found her brothers of which she has searched police stations, jails and morgues for like many Biafrans that have disappeared after arrest are most likely in an unmarked grave and a young girl now the only child left is struggling to support her ailing parents. Given the enormity of kidnappings and killings on the 30th May Biafrans in Biafra land now respect their lost ones by sitting at home that day (whilst those in diaspora still vigil together), although Biafrans encourage others to mourn with them especially those that have lost kinsmen by war or terrorism this doesn’t always deter Nigeria which refuses to recognize the day of mourning and continue to threaten and intimate Biafrans last year a young boy was dragged of his front porch and killed all for being a Biafran and remembering he lost a father, a mother, an uncle, an aunt, a cousin to a pointless war.
For me and my children we will now always remember the 30th May regardless.
Lolo Carol Chidinma Munday
For: Radio Biafra Media
Chibuike John Nebeokike
For: Radio Biafra Media