Poem: Biafra My Biafra
By: Success Kanayo Uchime
Biafra, my Biafra!
The land of the rising sun
The land of great warriors
The land my fathers dreamt for
The land my fathers cried for
The land my fathers fought for
The land my fathers died for
The land that never be!
Biafra, you were overpowered!
Overpowered by great forces never imagined
You were desperate and eager to be born
For over three years you struggled for freedom
But you were aborted with great instruments!
As destructive as that of the cruel physicians
Aborted by great and awesome powers
Even before you could be born
Biafra, my fathers told me of you!
In great stories I can’t ever forget
Stories told from their bitter and sad mouths
O, how your blood flowed in the uplands!
They were very brutal, and so wicked to you
and slaughtered you like they’ll do to Christmas goats
Your blood flowed unstopped everywhere in thick forests;
wasted away in vain.
Biafra, my Biafra, hear me now as I speak!
Do you ever think you can surface again?
I’ve my doubts…
'Cos the great hands that aborted you like the physician's hands;
still knock ruthlessly at your door
Knocking in desperation to even stop you again
Don’t you think they’ll abort you again?
Anyway, I don't know, but time will tell…
Analysis of the poemIn this poem “Biafra, My Biafra,” the Nigerian missionary-journalist, Success K. Uchime, makes a reflection on the three and half year-civil-war that devastated the Nigerian people, especially the Easterners and particularly the Ibo ethnic group, who formed the bulk of the then Biafrans.
They're referred to in the opening paragraph as: “the rising sun.” This is so because the rising sun was the emblem of the Biafrans during the civil war era, which appeared on their flag. Again, the Ibo are from the eastern part of Nigeria - where the sun rises from.
The Biafrans felt marginalized and victimized by the then Nigerian Federal Government, and as such made serious and desperate attempt to secede from the entity called Nigeria. This met a sever resistance of the Government who came out in full force to stop the secession, and which the poet regarded as: “overpowered by great force never imagined.”
Prior to the commencement of hostilities in 1967, the Ibo people were massacred in the northern Nigeria – “the uplands” mentioned in the third paragraph. It was a brutal killing or genocide that saw thousands of Ibo people killed in the northern and other parts of Nigeria.This is portrayed in the lines: "and slaughtered you like they’ll do to Christmas goats." In Nigeria, especially among the Christians, Christmas is usually celebrated with the slaughtering of goats and other such animals. So, the "Christmas goat," becomes a symbol for blood shed which was experienced by the Biafran people.
Recent calls have been made by a cross-section of Ibo people for the rebirth of the Republic of Biafra, and the poet is like skeptical of this current move, more so the question: “Do you ever think you can surface again?”
The poet being a very young lad during the hostilities and from the Biafran side also, reflected on the stories his fathers told him. That’s on how his people suffered in the north, as they were gruesomely murdered, thereby aborting their dream of becoming a nation of their own.
He noted that the dreams of Biafrans “were aborted with great instruments” - that is, superior weapons of warfare used by the Federal forces to stop their secession bid. He then looks back and sees the blood of his people flowing and flowed unstopped, and he then thereby likened it to: “blood flowed in uplands,” and that the “blood flowed unstopped in thick forests.” Here in the "tick forests" the poet paints a very good image of killings/deaths that occurred in the various battle fields and other places the Ibo/other Easterners were killed.
He made an analogy with the child's abortion done by physicians and likened the then Federal Government of Nigeria as: “The great hands that aborted you like the physicians’ hands,” and observed that they are “still knock ruthlessly and “knocking in desperation to stop you again” that is stopping the call by some Ibo people for a rebirth of Biafra cause.
Brief on the author
Dr. Success K.Uchime (1958-) is a Nigerian missionary, journalist and university/seminary teacher. He, along with his entire family, currently resides in Dumaguete City, Philippines. He's the author of the short story - "Chief Garabby the Traitor," and has published so many other Christian literature.
He's at present a part-time lecturer at Presbyterian Theological College (PTC) and Negros Oriental State University, all in Dumaguete City, Philippines. To contact him, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org