#147NotJustANumber: #Garissa will Never Be Forgotten!

9 Apr

By Nwachukwu Egbunike

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A nation united in grief (Images courtesy of Boniface Mwangi)

Alas, terror seems to be taking a devious hold on Africa – from Baga to Garissa. The devious lunatics of gruesome hate are on rampage. The numbness of death has precipitated unlimited grief. Our common humanity is tested. But we shall not be cowed. We shall never submit to fear!

While we grief these deaths, yet we must humanize the dead. Their identity matters, they are no mere statistics. That’s why the naming ceremony in many parts of Africa is not mere trifle: it’s a rite. The precursor of the definitive passage, death.

Thus, after the terrorist massacre in Kenya’s Garissa University College, Kenya’s are united in grief. Bent but not broken they honour the dead with a vigil on April 7 and 8, 2015. A statement by the organizers reads:

…the tragedy of terrorist attacks that have plagued Kenya since the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, and escalated sharply between 2012 and 2014. In the second deadliest terrorist attack on Kenyan soil, 147 innocent lives were lost in the senseless attack. The victims included students of Garissa University College, police officers who responded to the alarm, soldiers who were called in to battle and a night guard who was doing his duty. This is just a year after Kenyans were left reeling from the Westgate attack that took 67 innocent lives.
Speaking before the vigil, one of the organizers Kenyan activist Boniface Mwangi said, “We have a responsibility to honor the memories of our departed brothers and sisters. The 147 were brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, the greatest dishonor we can give them is to reduce them to a mere number, they are not just a number. This vigil is about all Kenyans observing their responsibility to one another We must not allow our selves to be numbed by this attacks so that we just move on like it’s the norm. As a nation we have been through trying times and today we forge together and not even a terrorist’s bullet will break us apart.”
As a show of support, Kenyan activist Ory Okolloh also known as @kenyanpundit on Twitter, coined the hashtag #147NotJustANumber in an effort to humanize victims of terror. The hashtag has gone viral worldwide, with support coming from online social media users across the world.
Here are some pictures from the vigil [photos courtesy of Boniface Mwangi]:

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Incite Violence and Go To Jail: ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda Warns Nigerian Politicans

18 Mar

By Nwachukwu Egbunike

Fatou Bensouda (Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court)

Fatou Bensouda (Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court)

Gambian-born International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has delivered a stern warning to Nigerian politicians ahead of the 2015 General Elections.

Nigeria will hold presidential elections on March 28, 2015. The major contenders are the incumbent, Dr Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party and General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress.  Already there is a palpable fear of post election violence in Africa’s most populous nation.

In a statement released from the ICC, Mrs  Bensouda reiterated her previous message following her visit to Nigeria on February 3-5, 2015, that “Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence in the context of the upcoming elections or otherwise – including by ordering, inciting, encouraging or contributing to the commission of crimes that fall within ICC’s jurisdiction – is liable to prosecution; either by Nigerian Courts or by the ICC.”

Below is the text of Press Statement

Following my statement of the 2nd of February 2015, and my Office’s subsequent visit to Nigeria from the 3rd to the 5th of February, I reiterate my previous message.

At a time when abhorrent levels of violence already plague parts of the country, I recall that the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court'”) has jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed on the territory of Nigeria. Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence in the context of the upcoming elections or otherwise – including by ordering, inciting, encouraging or contributing to the commission of crimes that fall within ICC’s jurisdiction – is liable to prosecution; either by Nigerian Courts or by the ICC.

No one should doubt my Office’s resolve to prosecute individuals responsible for the commission of ICC crimes, whenever necessary.

Violence is not a solution. The conduct and outcome of elections in Nigeria, free from violence, will not only prevent further instability in the country, but will also send a clear message that electoral competition does not have to result in violence and crimes that shock the conscience of humanity.

 

Why I am a ‘Fenceist’ [#NigeriaDecides2015]

12 Jan

By Nwachukwu Egbunike

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Nigeria Twitter has been boiling for some months now. As the general elections in February draws nearer, campaigns are nearing a crescendo. Currently, there exists a vicious bifurcation between the supporters of the ruling party, PDP and the opposition party, APC. The lies, blackmails, accusations and counter accusations between both sides have assumed epic proportions. In view of the above, I have decided to sit firmly on the fence.

The shouting match on whose presidential candidate is better than the other is all one hears on Twitter these days. Unfortunately, this ‘my candidate better pass your candidate’ has spiraled into mudslinging that will certainly embarrass professionals Motor Park touts. Rarely are issues discussed. When they come up it is usually pursued via the argumentum ad hominem pathway. More often than not, one notices so many ‘logical fallacies’. Some folks have patented the franchise of making unsubstantiated opinions which they present as equivocal ‘facts’.

I do not begrudge those who have taken sides, firmly dug into their respective trenches as supporters of either President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) or General Muhammadu  Buhari (GMB). As a matter of fact, I respect them, for it is no mean feat to consistently stand behind a candidate on TwitterNG streets. It matters nothing if these e-supporters are hired for their services or do so purely out of ‘patriotic’ zeal.  It is their choice and I respect their freedom of association.

Nonetheless, I will not be persuaded into joining the fray, a simplistic reduction of the presidential candidates or their parties as the ‘messiah’. Nigeria is so large and complicated to be reduced to a one man or woman having the key to reset all our woes. As a matter of fact, no single person – living or dead – holds the exclusive prescription to our national malaise.

I also hope that the fanatic supporters of both candidates on TwitterNG will be civil enough to respect my decision to remain on the fence. It’s my choice and I don’t see why it is so difficult to accept ‘fencism’ as a legitimate position.

But some folks have already ascribed divine omnipotence to themselves: that ability to read minds and to question the free decision of others. For some, a ‘fenceist’ is a traitor that sits idle while Nigeria burns. The only ‘legitimate’ freedom, according to them, consists in taking a stand for or against. It must either be for or against GEJ or GMB. Odiegwu! It does not stop there; you MUST profess the credo of your support all day long on Twitter. However, I am yet to see how their vicious rants and tweet fights translate into patriotism. But that is a story for another day.

Fencism is not neutralism! I have my political bias but I will not be bullied into displaying it on Twitter. Fencism is objectivity, realizing that both candidates have their flaws and not turning a blind eye – as many do – on them. Fencism is having the courage to tweet for and against any of the candidates. Not being held under the fanatical slavery of ‘my candidate better pass your candidate’. Fencism also means that I will vote on that day but will not waste my precious time only tweeting about the elections.

In my ‘yard’ the fence is sturdy and impermeable. The space on the fence also has an infinite coefficient of expansion. You are free not to accept my fencism, no big deal but at least respect it.

Feathers Project Blog: 2014 in Review

30 Dec

The 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 33,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Mama Mia!

28 Dec

By Nwachukwu Egbunikemaryandchilds

 

Tossed into a vicious sea
These waves shred
Almost drowning

Keep mute, it’s prejudice
Speak out, it’s intolerance
Sketch, and be judgemental

Darkness descends with rage
Night blankets all
Evil smiles unhindered

Clouds condense
Rains will come
With cymbals of thunder as company

All run amok
All inflicted with infirmity
All afflicted with pestilence

Humanity is shaken
Shredded with filth
Shrouded with silk

Hold me in your arms
Have my head on your bosom
And with your mantle wrap me safe.

 

‘Mama Mia’ is part Blazing Moon, a collection of poems by Nwachukwu Egbunike to be published in 2015 by Feathers and Ink.

What I am

25 Dec

By Nwachukwu Egbunike

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Infinitely finite
Bearer of a luminous spark
Scion of the sun
Who made home for time

I’m god

Deified, mortal
Eternal, ephemeral
Transcending self, within self
Adopted, a slave
Royalty, a serf

I’m god

God became man
Men become gods
I’m god.

 

‘What I am’ is part of Blazing Moon, a collection of poems, by Nwachukwu Egbunike to be published next year by Feathers and Ink.

A Visit to the National War Museum Umuahia

19 Dec

This week I visited the National War Museum (NWM) in Umuahia. I will try in this short post to present some of my impressions about NWM.

NWM was opened to the public on January 5, 1985 by Major General Tunde Idiagbon. The sites where the museums currently stands was chosen by the Federal Government of Nigeria due to two well-preserved bunkers – the Ojukwu bunker and the Voice of Biafria (VOB) bunker. I was only privileged to visit the Voice of Biafria bunker.

VOB was used by the defunct Biafria to broadcast to the entire country from Umuahia, while it claimed to be broadcasting from Awka.

The Ojukwu bunker is currently situated at the house of Late Michael Okpara – who donated it to the Biafrian government. However, it is now a National museum under the administration of the National Museums and Monuments.

I have little to say about my impressions. I will only repeat those words of the English philosopher, Edmund Burke: “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” 

Below are some of the armory of the defunct Biafria:

Mini Refinery produced by Biafrian Engineers

Mini Refinery produced by Biafrian Engineers

 

Plaque at entrance of the Museum

Plaque at entrance of the Museum

Nigerian Army Amoured Vehicle

Nigerian Army Amoured Vehicle

Biafrian Army Amoured Vehicle - locally fabricated

Biafrian Army Amoured Vehicle – locally fabricated

Biafrian Army Amoured Vehicle - locally fabricated

Biafrian Army Amoured Vehicle – locally fabricated

Biafrian Army Amoured Vehicle - locally fabricated

Biafrian Army Amoured Vehicle – locally fabricated

 

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