Monday, November 26, 2012

Ojukwu's Message after losing the Biafra civil war

A year after his death, here is one of Ojukwu's greatest speech

Proud and heroic Biafrans, fellow countrymen and
women, once again I salute you.  My Government has
been reviewing the progress of this war that has now
raged for the past two and a half years with
increasing fury.  It is well that at each stage we
remind ourselves of the purposes of this war, what we
are fighting to safeguard, and why we are so
determined to continue to defend ourselves.

You have borne the brunt of the strains of this fight.
 You have suffered unmentionable privations at the
hands of an enemy that has used every conceivable
weapon, particularly the weapon of starvation, against
an innocent people whose only crime is that they
choose to live in peace and security according to
their own beliefs and away from a country that had
condemned and rejected them.

Your heroism as a people has sustained our gallant
armed forces in defending the territory of our
fatherland and in giving you that protection that we
all so ardently need and desire.  You have had your
villages and homes ravaged and plundered, your assets
destroyed, millions of your sons and daughters
murdered in cold blood, and your youth condemned to
misery by the enemy's recent movements and
indiscriminate shelling and bombing of hamlets,
villages, and refugees in their camps and on the

All this sacrifice has been in the interest and with
the sole purpose of achieving security which was the
main motive forcing our taking up arms to defend
ourselves.  We had proclaimed ourselves a Republic
independent and sovereign because we were and are
satisfied that only through it can we guarantee our
security.  Nevertheless we left the door open and
[declared] on several occasions that we welcomed any
other initiative that offer us the security we need.
Each time we have said so our enemies and detractors
have mischievously distorted our statements.  We are
entitled in the light of our recent experience to
demand to know what measures are being proposed for
our security.

The task of a leader of a people at war is to be
responsive to the plight of his people, to determine
what level of sacrifice can be accepted.   Your
patriotism has exceeded all expectations and earned
worldwide admiration for your fortitude.  Armed with
your mandate I have striven to apply the forces at our
disposal to the best of our ability against
overwhelming odds.  Throughout we have made strenuous
efforts for peace, taking initiatives of our own to
get peace talks going, made compromises in order to
get our adversaries to settle our conflict at the
conference table.  Each time a callous world has
imposed a new set of conditions.  Each condition that
we fulfil gives rise to an entirely new one.

More recently, some friends of both sides have made
some proposals for an arrangement with Nigeria that in
our view will offer to Biafrans the security to which
we aspire.  This has been referred to as certain forms
of union, confederalties, association, or commonwealth
arrangements with Nigeria.

Once more, to show our honesty, and in accord with my
own frequent affirmations that I would personally go
anywhere to secure peace and security for my people, I
am now travelling out of Biafra to explore with our
friends all these proposals further and fully and to
be at hand to settle these issues to the best of my
ability, always serving the interests of my people.
Our detractors may see this move as a sign of collapse
of our struggle, or an escape from my
If, God helping, we can by this latest show of
earnestness secure for our people the end of
destruction of your homes and property, I shall be
satisfied that this venture on which I embark with
your blessing has yielded fruit.  I know that your
prayers go with me as I go in search of peace and
that, God willing, I shall soon be back among you.
In my short absence I have arranged for the Chief of
General Staff, Maj-Gen. Phillip Effiong, to administer
the Government with the rest of the Cabinet to run the
affairs of this Republic while I go on this mission,
accompanied by my Political Adviser and my Chief

I once more pay my tribute to the Biafra Armed Forces,
and urge all ranks to maintain their positions while I
seek an early and honourable end to this struggle and
all the suffering it has brought on our people.  Proud
and courageous Biafrans, [noble] Biafrans, Biafra
shall live.  God bless you all.

(1) Pre-recorded and broadcast over Biafran radio at
6:00 a.m., 11 January 1970.

 (Text from B.B.C ME\3277\B1.)


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