When I was much younger, I was a staunch pro-Biafra, I was interested in everything Biafra, the Igbo History and our relationship with mostly non-Igbo speaking tribes around South-South. My Dad had a Biafran flag in his room and we believed that someday, there will be a nation called Biafra.
Biafra for us was the only hope for a part of Nigeria that has always been marginalized, a part of Nigeria that truly represents industrialisation, a part of Nigeria that has consistently put the nation on the world map with records… That is Biafra.
I remember a certain time a family friend from Edo brought her young child to spend the holiday with us, he was so fond of me and was always with me. He usually hears me say “Biafra” and one day he asked me “what is Biafra?”
“Biafra is the name of a country” I replied.
He was a very smart boy whose brain stays in a different level than his age. “Nigeria means Niger area, what is the meaning of Biafra?” He asked. I didn’t think twice to give him an answer, I have always had my own meaning of Biafra even before I read about Bight of Biafra which was renamed for political reasons.
I looked at him, smiled and responded “Biafra is coined from an Igbo word. ‘Bia’ means ‘come’ and ‘fra” stands for ‘Africa’. Biafra means Bia-Africa”
He doesn’t understand Igbo but he grabbed it since Bia is a very popular word even beyond Nigeria. “So, it means come to Africa?” He asked and I affirmed. “But why?” He asked me.
“You see…” I carried him on my laps, I was in my early teens age then “Biafra is the home of light, this is where the sun rises and the sun is a star… Biafra is the home of stars. If given opportunity, Biafra will become a place every human will desire to be.” He was excited and I continued “So, when we say Biafra, we are saying ‘come to Africa and see…'”
Our discussion didn’t stop there. I told him the little I knew about Biafra, I told him the puppet Biafran state called Republic of Benin, a state that lasted for only one day; this is right where he was born.
He got even more excited and he declared “Bia-Africa! I am a Biafran!”. His stay with us was full of memories, we kept talking about Biafra till he went back home. I haven’t seen him after then but I know this is an experience he won’t forget his entire life even if it gets faintly.
When his mother took him back to Benin, she called my Mum and asked “what happened to my Son? You can’t have a single discussion with him without the mention of Biafra and Bia-Africa….” I never knew it would get to that but someone has caught the same fire and love for a country that only exists in our minds at the moment.
The thing about Biafra is contagious. It isn’t called the land of the rising sun for nothing! Talk about sun and you talk about fire! Talk about sun and you remember it is the prominent star, beaming on earth and having full control.
While I may be at odds with how the actualization is being sort for by some people, we all can agree at one thing…. Do all you can, try and keep trying but Biafra is a force that you can’t ignore.
Hate it or love it, there is a nation called Biafra, it remains the hope of Nigeria, the Hope of Africa and maybe, the Hope of the Black people! It beckons!
At least, for now, it thrives in our hearts.
For those who laid their lives for the sake of Biafra without asking so much questions, we remember.