It is likely that the burden of survival living in a place under Nigeria is such that you may not have heard of, or if you did, you have not paid much attention to, the formal celebration of the birthday of the slain US Civil Rights Leader, Martin Luther King Jr. In fact, when he was assassinated in 1968, Biafra was in the thick of her own survival struggle against the same murderous and oppressive Nigeria. So, today, we have come a full circle of sorts. What better to anchor our weekly news analysis on?
When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, his foes—enemies of freedom and equal rights, oppressors, which comprised of institutions, governments, forces, politicians, religions and religious leaders, and individuals alike—thought that they had won. They declared victory. Today, you and I know who won that one. All those forces which combined to kill that one man have today been discredited, and that one man’s name has come to symbolize what is just and what is right, what is moral, and what freedom is—in the entire world, if not the universe. Today, it is not the voice of wickedness that we hear; all that we hear is the voice of hope—“WE SHALL OVERCOME.” In fact, the reality today is not what was crafted by the oppressors and slave-owners: the reality is that WE HAVE OVERCOME!
We declare the same for Biafra.
Fellow Biafrans, Dr. King spoke about being tired of being oppressed. I ask you: Are you tired of being oppressed? I ask you: Do you even realize how oppressed you are—or are you like one that has known nothing other than slavery, as such, has no idea that freedom really exists?
Fellow Biafrans, you must today declare that you are tired of being oppressed by Nigeria. You must wake up to the fact that for over thirty years, you have been enslaved, oppressed, killed, marginalized, muzzled, insulted, belittled, and demoralized by Nigeria. And, having woken up, you shall realize that you are tired of being oppressed.
Dr. King referenced another great, Gandhi, who said that there is no dishonor in being a slave but there is dishonor in being a slave-owner.
I say to you today: there may not be dishonor in being the oppressed, but there is great dishonor in being an oppressor.
I say to you today: there may not be dishonor in being the oppressed, but there is no honor at all in doing nothing to seek your freedom when you are oppressed.
I say to you today: there may not be dishonor in being the oppressed, but there is no honor at all in doing nothing to take yourself out of an oppressive situation.
And I say to you: there is no dishonor in trying and failing—in fact, there is great honor therein; but there is no honor at all in not trying, again and again if necessary, and as a matter of fact, therein is great dishonor.
There is great dishonor when the oppressed do nothing to gain their freedom. There is great dishonor when the oppressed do nothing to move away from an oppressive environment, whether that evil environment be a government or an institution or powers or principalities or persons. There is great dishonor when the oppressed stop trying to get away from their oppressor whether or not they have before tried and “failed.”
What then shall we do? Fellow Biafrans, what are we going to do? Dr. King’s example is a beacon which is amply powered by the non-violence principle of Gandhi, the same force that Nelson Mandela of our own times tapped into to set South Africa free at last. The power of Non-violence has been tested and proven: Gandhi triumphing over the entire might of the British Empire; Dr. King over the might of a powerful tradition and culture of racial hatred and bigotry, and slavery in the US; Mandela over the most vicious and evil Apartheid juggernaut of South Africa.
Violence answered back with violence begets more violence. Violence faced with non-violence soon consumes itself, and self-disarms, finding no violent adversary to tangle with. But, do not assume that non-violence is passivity: or would you accuse Gandhi of passivity? Would you accuse Dr. King of passivity? Would you accuse Mandela of passivity?
Nor should you assume that the violent party will not inflict real and serious injuries, at least, initially. The non-violent will be jailed, will be struck really hard, will be killed and maimed. The property of the non-violent will be razed and destroyed, as these great men and the great women and other men that worked with them can attest to. And do not assume that the non-violent, on their part, will never be tempted or moved to strike back; but he or she must firmly remind himself or herself of which side he or she is on. In the end, we have seen to whom victory and consummation belong.
During the early part of his struggle, Dr. King realized that the first thing he must do was for him to “take the slave out of his own very self.” His first task was not against the “known” enemy: it was against his own self—or as one might say, he was his own worst enemy. Fellow Biafrans, the first enemy is us—it is within us. We must each look within ourselves and stop seeing ourselves as a defeated people. We must stop seeing ourselves as nobodies, as class-less citizens. We must understand that “oppressed” is a description, a label, and not a person. We must realize that oppression is a condition, not our spirit nor our psyche.
The first step is to recognize that we are the creation of the Creator. That is the only permanence, the only reality. Any other labels imposed on us by anybody else, any condition, any institutions, is just that—a label; and today, we resolve to never wear such a label nor answer to such a name. We are what we are because our Creator makes us so. We must be that which our Creator has made us. We shall fulfill that which our Creator has made us. Let us all thus resolve today.
Fellow Biafrans, Umu Chukwu, let us begin to think like we are Umu Chukwu, which we are. Let us begin to act like we are children of Chineke, which we are. Think: I am a child of God. Act: I am Nwa Chukwu. Speak: We are Umu Chukwu. Sing: we are what we are, that which God makes us. Walk: I am truly a child of God, because God makes it so. And do it, starting right now, and never stop.
There is honor in being what God has created you to be. God did not create any slaves. God did not create any oppressed. God created you to be free, to use your talents to enlighten the universe and, indeed to live your life to enrich creation, thus to pass on Godness to your children and their children, and to provide for them and protect them with Godness. That is honor.
Fellow Biafrans, there is no dishonor in providing for yourself and your family, but there is no honor in not knowing who that family truly is, and what “family” really means. There is no dishonor in making a living, but there is dishonor in trying to make a living over the dead body of your brothers and sisters.
There is no dishonor in aspiring to represent your people, but there is dishonor in keeping quiet in the secret chambers where the people you are supposed to be representing are being conspired against. There is no dishonor in desiring to be a leader among your own people, but there is great dishonor in allowing avarice, vice, graft, corruption, timidity, cowardice, vanity, inertia and sheer idiocy to be the dividend from leadership.
There is all honor in joining the non-violent movements for the actualization of Biafra. MASSOB is at the forefront of this current. We must support the principle and the goal of Biafra actualization using non-violent means.
Dr. King, we thank you for setting a good example, for leaving footprints that we can walk in. That you died doing what you knew was right, at the time that Biafrans were dying doing what we all know is right, is a great inspiration for us Biafrans. You did overcome, and in so doing, WE overcame. Your struggle succeeded overwhelmingly; thus we draw hope; ours will be successful too—“free at last, free at last…!” the Sovereign Independent Nation of Biafra—thank God!