1st June 1969. THE AHIARA DECLARATION (The Principles of the Biafran Revolution)
by EMEKA OJUKWU General of the People’s Army
PROUD AND COURAGEOUS BIAFRANS,
FELLOW COUNTRY MEN AND WOMEN,
I salute you. Today, as I look back over our two years as a sovereign and independent nation, I am overwhelmed with the feeling of pride and satisfaction in our performance and achievement as a people. Our indomitable will, our courage, our endurance of the severest privations, our resourcefulness and inventiveness in the face of tremendous odds and dangers, have become proverbial in a world so bereft of heroism, and have become a source of frustration to Nigeria and her foreign masters. For this and for the many miracles of our time, let us give thanks to Almighty God. I congratulate all Biafrans at home and abroad. I thank you all the part you have played and have continued to play in this struggle, for your devotion to the high ideals and principles on which this Republic was founded.
I thank you for your absolute commitment to the cause for which our youth are making daily, the supreme sacrifice, and a cause for which we all have been dispossessed, blockaded, bombarded, starved and massacred. I salute you for your tenacity of purpose and amazing steadfastness under siege.
I salute the memory of the many patriots who have laid down their lives in defence of our Fatherland. I salute the memory of all Biafrans - men, women and children - who died victims of the Nigerian crime of genocide. We shall never forget them. Please God, their sacrifice shall not be in vain. For the dead on the other side of this conflict, may their souls rest in peace. To our friends and well-wishers, to the growing band of men and women around the world who have, in spite of the vile propaganda mounted against us, identified themselves with the justice of our cause, in particular to our courageous friends, officers and staff of the Relief Agencies and humanitarian organisations, pilots who daily offer themselves in sacrifice that our people might be saved; to Governments, in particular Tanzania, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Zambia and Haiti. I give my warmest thanks and those of our entire people.
Fellow country men and women, for nearly two years we have been engaged in a war which threatens our people with total destruction. Our enemy has been unrelenting in his fury and has fought our defenceless people with a vast array of military hardware of a sophistication unknown to Africa. For two years we have withstood his assaults with nothing other than our stout hearts and bare hands. We have frustrated his diabolical intentions and have beaten his wicked mentors in their calculations and innovations. Shamelessly, our enemy has moved from deadline to deadline, seeking excuses justifying his failures to an ever credulous world. Today, I am happy and proud to report that, all the odds notwithstanding, the enemy, at great cost in lives and equipment, is nowhere near to his avowed objective.
In the Onitsha sector of the war, our gallant forces have kept the enemy confined in the town which they entered 15 months ago. Despite the fact that this sector has great strategic attraction for the vandal hordes, being a gate-way, as it is, to the now famous jungle strip of Biafra, and the scene of the bloodiest encounters of this war, it is significant that the enemy has made no gains throughout this long period.
In the Awka sector of the war, the story remains the same. The enemy is confined only to the highway between Enugu and Onitsha, not venturing north or south of that road.
In the Okigwe sector, from where the enemy made the thrust that brought him into Umuahia, the situation remains unchanged, with our troops making the entire enemy route from Okigwe to Umuahia no joy ride. In Umuahia town itself, fighting has continued in the township.
In the Ikot Ekpene, Azumini and Aba sectors of the war, the vandals, whilst maintaining their positions in Ikot Ekpene and Aba with our troops surrounding them, have continued to suffer heavy casualties in their attempt to hold firmly on to Azumini.
We now come to the Owerri/Port Harcourt sector. After the clearing of Owerri township and our rapid move towards Port Harcourt, our gallant forces are holding positions in Eleele town, in the outskirts of Igirita and forward of Omoku.
Across the Niger, the successes of our troops have been maintained despite numerous enemy counter-attacks. Our Navy has continued to support all operations along the Niger with good results. Our guerrillas have continued their magnificent work of harassing the enemy and giving him no respite on our soil. I salute them all.
In the air, the Biafran Air Force has made a most dramatic re-entry into the war, and in a brilliant series of raids has all but paralyzed the Nigerian Air Force. In four days’ operations, eleven operational planes of the enemy were put of action, three control towers in Port Harcourt, Enugu and Benin were set ablaze, the Airport building in Enugu, and the numerous gun positions were knocked out. The refinery in Port Harcourt was set on fire. And, more recently, three days ago, the Ughelli Power Station was put out of action. The brilliance of this performance, the precision of the strike, the genius of target selection, have left Nigeria in a daze and her friends bewildered. Another way of looking at this is that in four days of operation, the Biafran Air Force has destroyed more military targets than what the Nigerian Air Force has been able to do for two years.
In cost, probably twice what the Nigerian air raids have cost us in military equipment and installations. The only superiority left in the record of achievement of the Nigerian Air Force is the number of civilians and civilian targets their cowardly raids have destroyed. Proud Biafrans, I have kept my promise.
Diplomatically, our friends have increased and have remained steadfast to our cause; and despite the rantings of our detractors, indications are that their support will continue.
At home, our sufferings have continued. Scarcity and want have remained our companions. Yet, with fortitude, we seem to have overcome th once imminent danger of mass starvation and can now look forward to a period after the rains of comparative plenty. Our efforts in the Land Army programme give visible signs all over our land of imminent victory in the war against want.
Fellow countrymen and women, the signs are auspicious, the future fills us with less foreboding. I am confident. With the initiative in war now in our own hands, we have turned the last bend in our race to self-realisation and are now set on the home straight in this our struggle. We must not flag. The tape is in sight. What we need now is a final burst of speed to breast the tape and secure the victory which will ensure for us, for all time, glory and honour, peace and progress.
Fellow compatriots, today, being our Thanksgiving Day, it is most appropriate that we pause awhile to take stock, to consider our past, our successes notwithstanding; to consider our future, our aspirations and our fears. For two long years we have been locked in mortal combat with an enemy unequalled in viciousness; for two long years, defenceless and weak, we have withstood without respite the concerted assault of a determined foe. We have fought alone, we have fought with honour, we have fought in the highest traditions of christian civilization. Yet, the very custodians of this civilization and our one-time mentors, are the very self-same monsters who have vowed to devour us.
Fellow Biafrans, I have for a long time thought about this our predicament - the attitude of the civilized world to this our conflict. The more I think about it the more I am convinced that our disability is racial. The root cause of our problem lies in the fact that we are black. If all the things that have happened to us had happened to another people who are not black, if other people who are not black had reacted in the way our people have reacted these two long years, the world’s response would surely have been different.
In 1966, some 50,000 of us were slaughtered like cattle in Nigeria. In the course of this war, well over one million of us have been killed; yet the world is unimpressed and looks on in indifference. Last year, some blood-thirsty Nigerian troops for sport murdered the entire male population of a village. All the world did was to indulge in an academic argument whether the number was in hundreds or in thousands. Today, because a handful of white men collaborating with the enemy, fighting side by side with the enemy, were caught by our gallant troops, the entire world threatens to stop. For 18 white men, Europe is aroused. What have they said about our millions? 18 white men assisting the crime of genocide! What does Europe say about our murdered innocents? Have we not died enough? How many black dead make one missing white? Mathematicians, please answer me. Is it infinity?
Take another example. For two years we have been subjected to a total blockade. We all know how bitter, bloody and protracted the First and Second World Wars were. At no stage in those wars did the white belligerents carry out a total blockade of their fellow whites. In each case where a blockade was imposed, allowance was made for certain basic necessities of life in the interest of women, children and other non-combatants. Ours is the only example in recent history where a whole people have been so treated. What is it that makes our case different? Do we not have women, children and other non-combatants? Does the fact that they are black women, black children and black non-combatants make such a world of difference?
Nigeria embarked on a crime of genocide against our people by first mounting a total blockade against Biafra. To cover up their designs and deceive the black world, the white powers supporting Nigeria blame Biafrans for the continuation of the blockade and for the starvation and suffering which that entails. They uphold Nigerian proposals on relief which in any case they helped to formulate, as being “conciliatory” or “satisfactory”. Knowing that these proposals would give Nigeria further military advantage, and compromise the basic cause for which we have struggled for two years, they turn round to condemn us for rejecting them. They accepted the total blockade against us as a legitimate weapon of war because it suits them and because we are black. Had we been white the inhuman and cruel blockade would long have been lifted.
The mass deaths of our citizens resulting from starvation and indiscriminate air raids and large despoliation of towns and villages are a mere continuation of this crime. That Nigeria has received complete support from Britain should surprise no one. For Britain is a country whose history is replete with instances of genocide.
In my address to you on the occasion of the first anniversary of our independence, I touched on a number of issues relevant to our struggle and to our hope for a prosperous, just and happy society. I talked to you of the background to our struggle and on the visions and values which inspired us to found our own State.
THE MYTH ABOUT THE NEGRO
On this occasion of our second anniversary, I shall go further in the examination of the meaning and import of our revolution by discussing the wider issues involved and the character and structure of the new society we are determined and committed to build. Our enemies and their foreign sponsors have deliberately sought by false and ill-motivated propaganda to becloud the real issues which caused and still determine the course and character of our struggle. They have sought in various ways to dismiss our struggle as a tribal conflict. They have attributed it to the mad adventurism of a fictitious power-seeking clique anxious to carve out an empire to rule, dominate and exploit. But they have failed. Our cause is transparently just and no amount of propaganda can detract from it.
Our struggle has far-reaching significance. It is the latest recrudescence in our time of the age-old struggle of the black man for his full stature as man. We are the latest victims of a wicked collusion between the three traditional scourges of the black man - racism, Arab-Muslim expansionism and white economic imperialism. Playing a subsidiary role is Bolshevik Russia seeking for a place in the African sun. Our struggle is a total and vehement rejection of all those evils which blighted Nigeria, evils which were bound to lead to the disintegration of that ill-fated federation. Our struggle is not a mere resistance - that would be purely negative. It is a positive commitment to build a healthy, dynamic and progressive state, such as would be the pride of black men the world over.
For this reason, our struggle is a movement against racial prejudice, in particular against that tendency to regard the black man as culturally, morally, spiritually, intellectually, and physically inferior to the other two major races of the world - the yellow and the white races. This belief in the innate inferiority of the Negro and that his proper place in the world is that of the servant of the other races, has from early days coloured the attitude of the outside world to Negro problems. It still does today.
Not so long ago the fashion was to question the humanity of the Negro. Some white theorists attributed the creation to the Devil, others even identified the Devil as the first Negro. Later they derived the Negro from the accursed progeny of Ham. Nearer to us still in time, it became a topic for serious debate in learned circles in Europe whether the Negro was in fact a man; whether he had a soul; and if he had a soul, whether conversion to christianity could make any difference to his spiritual condition and destination. By the nineteenth century it had been reluctantly conceded that the Negro is in fact human, but a different kind of man, certainly not the same kind of man as the white. Pseudo-intellectuals went to work to prove that the Negro was a different kind of man from the white. They uncovered the abundant so-called anthropological evidence from archaelogy which “proved” to them conclusively that the Negro was no more the same kind of man as the European than a rat was a rabbit.
It is this myth about the Negro that still conditions the thinking and attitude of most white governments on all issues concerning black Africa and the black man; it explains the double standards which they apply to present-day world problems; it explains their stand on the whole question of independence and basic human rights for the black peoples of the world. These myths explain the stand of many of the world governments and organisations on our present struggle.
Our disagreement with the Nigerians arose in part from a conflict between two diametrically opposed conceptions of the end and purpose of the modern African state. It was, and still is, our firm conviction that a modern Negro African government worth the trust placed in it by the people, must build a progressive state that ensures the reign of social and economic justice, and of the rule of law. But the Nigerians, under the leadership of the Hausa-Fulani feudal aristocracy preferred anarchy and injustice.
Since in the thinking of many white powers a good, progressive and efficient government is good only for whites, our view was considered dangerous and pernicious: a point of view which explains but does not justify the blind support which these powers have given to uphold the Nigerian ideal of a corrupt, decadent and putrefying society. To them genocide is an appropriate answer to any group of black people who have the temerity to attempt to evolve their own social system.
When the Nigerians violated our basic human rights and liberties, we decided reluctantly but bravely to found our own state, to exercise our inalienable right to self-determination as our only remaining hope for survival as a people. Yet, because we are black, we are denied by the white powers the exercise of this right which they themselves have proclaimed inalienable. In our struggle we have learnt that the right of self-determination is inalienable, but only to the white man.
The right to self-determination was good for the Greeks in 1822, for the Belgians in 1830, and for the Central and Eastern Europeans and the Irish at the end of the First World War. Yet it is not good for Biafrans because we are black. When blacks claim that right, they are warned against dangers trumped up by the imperialists - “fragmentation” and “Balkanization”, as if the trouble with the Balkans is the result of the application of the principle of self-determination. Were the Balkans a healthier place before they emerged from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire? Those who sustained the Ottoman Empire considered it a European necessity, for its Eastern European provinces stood as a buffer between two ambitious and mutually antagonistic empires - the Russian and the Austrian. For the peace and repose of Europe, it therefore became a major cncern of European statesmen to preserve the integrity of that empire. But when it was discovered that Ottoman rule was not only corrupt, oppressive and unprogressive, but also stubbornly irreformable, the happiness and well-being of its white populations came to be considered paramount. So by 1918 the integrity of that ancient and sprawling empire had been sacrificed to the well-being of the Eastern Europeans. Fellow Biafrans, that was in the white world.
But what do we find here in Negro Africa? The Federation of Nigeria is today as corrupt, as unprogressive and as oppressive and irreformable as the Ottoman Empire was in Eastern Europe over a century ago. And in contrast, the Nigerian Federation in the form it was constituted by the British cannot by any stretch of imagination be considered an African necessity. Yet we are being forced to sacrifice our very existence as a people to the integrity of that ramshackle creation that has no justification either in history or in the freely expressed wishes of the people. What other reason for this can there be than the fact that we are black?
In 1966, 50,000 Biafrans - men, women and children - were massacred in cold blood in Nigeria. Since July 6, 1967, hundreds of Biafrans have been killed daily by shelling, bombing, strafing and starvation advised, organised and supervised by Anglo-Saxon Britain. None of these atrocities has raised enough stir in many European capitals. But on the few occasions when a single white man died in Africa, even where he was a convicted bandit like the notorious case in the Congo, all the diplomatic chanceries of the world have been astir.; the whole world has been shaken to its very foundations by the din of protest against the alleged atrocity and by the clamour for vengeance. This was the case when the Nigerian vandals turned their British-supplied rifles on white Red Cross workers in Okigwe. Recently this has been the case with the reported disappearance of some white oil technicians in the Republic of Benin. But when we are massacred in thousands, nobody cares, because we are black.
Fellow countrymen and women, the fact is that in spite of their open protestations to the contrary, the white peoples of the world are still far from accepting that what is good for them can also be good for blacks. The day they make this basic concession that day will the non-Anglo-Saxon nations tell Britain to her face that she is guilty of genocide against us; that day will they call a halt to this monstrous war.
Because the black man is considered inferior and servile to the white, he must accept his political, social and economic system and ideologies ready made from Europe, America or the Soviet Union. Within the confines of his nation he must accept a federation or confederation or unitary government if federation or confederation or unitary government suits the interests of his white masters; he must accept inept and unimaginative leadership because the contrary would hurt the interests of the master race; he must accept economic exploitation by alien commercial firms and companies because the whites benefit from it. Beyond the confines of his state, he must accept regional and continental organisations which provide a front for the manipulation of the imperialist powers; organisations which are therefore unable to respond to African problems in a truly African manner. For Africans to show a true independence is to ask for anathemization and total liquidation.
The Biafran struggle is, on another plane, a resistance to the Arab-Muslim expansionism which has menaced and ravaged the African continent for twelve centuries. As early as the first quarter of the seventh century, the Arabs, a people from the Near-East, evolved Islam not just as a religion but as a cover for their insatiable territorial ambitions. By the tenth century they had overrun and occupied, among other places, Egypt and North Africa. Had they stopped there, we would not today be faced with the wicked and unholy collusion we are fighting against. On the contrary, they cast their hungry and envious eyes across the Sahara on to the land of the Negroes.
Our Biafran ancestors remained immune from the Islamic contagion. From the middle years of the last century Christianity was established in our land. In this way we came to be a predominantly Christian people. We came to stand out as a non-Muslim island in a raging Islamic sea. Throughout the period of the ill-fated Nigerian experiment, the Muslims hoped to infiltrate Biafra by peaceful means and quiet propaganda, but failed. Then the late Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto tried, by political and economic blackmail and terrorism, to convert Biafrans settled in Northern Nigeria to Islam. His hope was that these Biafrans on dispersion would then carry Islam to Biafra, and by so doing give the religion political control of the area. The crises which agitated the so-called independent Nigeria from 1962 gave these aggressive proselytisers the chance to try converting us by force.
It is now evident why the fanatic Arab-Muslim states like Algeria, Egypt and the Sudan have come out openly and massively to support and aid Nigeria in her present war of genocide against us. These states see militant Arabism as a powerful instrument for attaining power in the world.
Biafra is one of the few African states untainted by Islam. Therefore, to militant Arabism, Biafra is a stumbling block to their plan for controlling the whole continent. This control is fast becoming manifest in the Organisation of African Unity. On the question of the Middle East, the Sudanese crisis, in the war between Nigeria and Biafra, militant Arabism has succeeded in imposing its point of view through blackmail and bluster. It has threatened African leaders and governments with inciting their Muslim minorities to rebellion if the governments adopted an independent line on these questions. In this way an O.A.U that has not felt itself able to discuss the genocide in the Sudan and Biafra, an O.A.U. that has again and again advertised its ineptitude as a peace-maker, has rushed into open condemnation of Israel over the Middle East dispute. Indeed in recent times, by its performance, the O.A.U. might well be an Organisation of Arab Unity.