Biafran Heroes and Heroines Remembrance as observed on the 30th May of every year, is an annual event set aside to remember and honor the countless Biafrans that lost their lives during the Genocidal war of 1967-1970 against Biafra. It is also observed in remembrance of others murdered for the same Biafra course since 1970 till date. This day is not only significant for the people of Biafra, but also for the world to recognize the atrocities that occurred during the very war and beyond.
The Biafran genocidal War was a result of the political, economic, and cultural differences that existed between the Northern, western Nigeria and the Eastern Region that is predominantly Igbo. The then government of the Old Eastern Region, led by Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu declared its independence from Nigeria and formed the Republic of Biafra on May 30 1967, to which the Yakubu Gowon headed Nigeria government responded with military action, leading to a brutal three-year civil war that claimed millions of lives, mostly civilians.
The war was marked by significant human rights violation, including the use of starvation as a weapon of war. Nigeria government imposed a blockade on the Eastern Region, preventing food, medical supplies, and other essential goods from entering the region. This led to a severe humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people dying from starvation and preventable diseases. The international community largely ignored the suffering of the Biafran people, and allowed the atrocities to continue till date.
After the three years of brutal warfare, the Biafran forces were defeated because of the international aids that Nigeria had to their advantage, and the Republic of Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria.
However, the end of the war did not bring an end to the suffering of the Biafran people, nor was the cause of the war redressed. Nigeria government implemented policies that discriminated against the Igbo people who were viewed as the instigators of the war. Igbo people are denied access to government positions, education, and other opportunities, all with the intention to sustain a cycle of poverty and marginalization.
The 30th May Biafran Heroes and Heroines Remembrance Day is observed since 2014, as actuated by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra(IPOB). This annual observance hugely plays the role of 'a reminder of the atrocities committed during the war and the ongoing struggle for recognition and justice', because "we will never forget!“ It is a day we compel the world to reflect on the devastating impact of war on civilians and the importance of human rights. It is also a day to remember the resilience and strength of the Biafran people who endured unimaginable suffering and losses.
This day is observed through various activities, including; prayer sessions, candlelight vigils, and speeches by community leaders and activists. It is an opportunity for the Igbo people to come together to honor their fallen heroes and to recommit to the fight for justice and equality. It is also a day for the world to listen to the voices of the Biafran people and to stand in solidarity with them in their quest for recognition and justice.
Biafrans Remembrance Day is a day of mourning, reflection, and renewed commitment to the cause of justice and equality for the Igbo people. It serves as a reminder of the atrocities committed during the Nigerian Civil War and the ongoing struggle of the Igbo people for recognition and justice. The world must continually be reminded of the suffering of the Biafran people, and made to support their quest for justice and equality.
"We shall emerge triumphant from this ordeal,
And through the crucible unscathed we’ll pass;
When we are poised the wounds of battle to heal,
We shall remember those who died in mass;
Then shall our trumpets peal the glorious song
Of victory we scored o’er might and wrong."
Written by Obulose Chidiebere
Edited by Ogah C S Maduabuchi
For Family Writers Press International