OJUKWU: A TRIBUTE
Please permit me to begin this tribute to General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu with a paragraph of quotation from William Shakespeare, who noted: 'All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.
As, first the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse's arms And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school. And then the lover, sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to hIn fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part.
The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side, His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history
- (William Shakespeare, 'As You Like it' Act II, Scene VII)
This great Shakespearean quotation best sums it for me, our great patriot, Ezegburugburu of Igbo land, lived a full life. He played his role exceedingly well and moved on in fulfillment of Shakespeare's seven stages of life. This is what life is all about. The passing of General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu marks an end of an era and the beginning of another one for the history of Igbos and the Nigerian nation at large. There is no doubt that Ojukwu was a Nigerian nationalist at first and had great passion for his country, Nigeria. When he returned from further education in England, son of a wealthy father, he had many career options available to him. He decided to join the Nigerian Army and subsequently became the Commander of the 5th Infantry Battalion of the Nigerian Army based in Kano. This speaks volumes about Ojukwu's passion for his country Nigeria.
General Odumegwu Ojukwu broke ranks with the Nigerian nation following the massacre and genocide directed against his people, the Igbos in various parts of Nigeria. At the end of the 30 months civil war in 1970, Ojukwu went into exile in Ivory Coast but was subsequently granted asylum by the government of Shehu Shagari.Many if not most Igbos, see him as a hero and a symbol of Igbo power and self reliance demonstrated in 30 months of war and total blockade by sea, air and land.Regrettably, many Igbos died during the Biafra war mostly children due to starvation, hunger and disease, but many more of us have survived thanks to vigorous defense provided by the Biafran Armed Forces, under Commander Gen Ojukwu, and yes the Igbos have survived !!! All Igbos must take pride in the fact that Odumegwu Ojukwu was a strong and inspirational leader who as a young man in his early 30′s took up this huge task to defend his people and their homeland thereby sending a powerful message that you if you attack the Igbos in your home turf, expect a fight if you encroach upon the Igbo sacred homeland.
Many of us are very thankful to Gen Odumegwu Ojukwu for saving our lives. For instance, my hometown of Abatete (lovingly referred to as Abanna) in Idemili LGA of Anambra State is about three miles to the warfronts from Abagana to Ogidi sectors, the Nigerian Army was not able to penetrate the Biafran defense lines, no Nigerian soldier set foot at Abanna until the war was over.. For all these, we are grateful to General Ojukwu and the gallant Biafran Armed Forces.
In ending this tribute to Ikemba, let me say yes, even as we mourn his passing, we must remember that it is more significant that we celebrate the life of a great man who had the love of his people at heart to take up arms to defend them regardless of all the odds. On behalf of my family, I send our condolences to Bianca and all the Ojukwu family. May Dim's soul rest in peace.
Oranika writes from Lagos.