BIAFRA: The Anatomy Of A Journey Without Map – By Churchill Okonkwo

In a treacherous Nigerian political terrain, embarking on a journey without a map is akin to a ram going to a head-fight without a skull. Even with a map, you still need to know the contours and other geophysical attributes of your domain in order to navigate the challenges you will encounter in the course of the journey. Ndigbo have a saying that, if a child is not well prepared and mature enough to seek what killed his father, what killed his father may kill him, too.

Some of the consequences of embarking on a journey without a map are that your trails will be lined with thorns rather than roses; your vision will be blurred rather than clear, all of which could make your journey endless. In the case of IPOB, the interesting outcome of attempting to navigate the complex Nigerian political terrain without a map was getting stuck, only to be rescued by your uncles you once characterized as “saboteurs”. The first lesson for IPOB: a newborn child does not throw his father up and a boisterous show does not imply knowledge.

Talking about noise, it is an irony that Nnamdi Kanu, who is meant to be Odimegwu Ojukwu reincarnate, landed in the tummy of FKK, who in an attempt to belittle Ndigbo once claimed to have slept with Ojukwu’s wife. What a journey, what an embarrassment. I hope that by now, my IPOB brothers would have admitted that they were heading in the wrong direction after watching the IPOB leader run into the arms of the Yoruba tribe they characterized as “betrayers”. Second lesson: during a famine, you will be forced to eat what you earlier said you disliked.

So, what should you do when you realize that you are facing the wrong direction in the course of a journey? Keep wallowing in the wilderness? Turnaround?  Ask for direction?  I guess the Chinese proverb “to know the road ahead, you need to ask those who are coming back”, is a good start. Where will IPOB find those that are coming back? In history books, oral and written.

The Pan-Africanist writer and historian, Prof. John Henrik Clarke, wrote that even though history is not everything, it is a starting point. He referred to history as a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. This history, he stated, is a compass we should use to find ourselves on the map of human geography.

Using a compass to navigate your way to a destination is not a dumb luck. It is paying attention to a wonderful tool of science. If the brains behind IPOP had paid attention to the history of Biafran Civil War or the history of the last two independent countries in Africa, Eretria, and South Sudan, they would have realized the folly in a headless ram initiating a head-fight. As such, they should have started by drawing a map, even if it is a sketch.

Without a clear map, one will certainly not know where he or she is. To think that an Independent State of Biafra is in the best interest of Ndigbo in Nigeria is still puzzling to me. To imagine that an independent country could be realized by going to an International Court of no consequence even to countries that obey laws was an illusion. It is also laughable and an act of lazy analysis to compare the EU or Scottish referendum to the realization of Biafra. Without any political backing, therefore, it is a big joke to be calling for a referendum on social media.

Here is a fact: no matter how long one travels in the wrong direction, getting to the right destination will remain elusive. The navigation to any destination should truly begin in the hearts of the voyager. This is the most important map of all. Where is the heart of Ndigbo? If we generate a heat map of Ndigbo, what will be the spread of our data matrix on the map of Nigeria?

If those behind this journey without map had measured the footprint of Ndigbo in Nigeria, they would have realized that the fastest way to get to the top of the mountain is to climb down. Because more than 60% of the heat map of the heartbeat of Ndigbo in Nigeria are outside the domain of the enclave of Igbo states, any map of our domain should be boundless.

IPOB should make a heat map of Ndigbo in Nigeria and distribute it to all their followers and sympathizers. The intent is for them to stare at the spatial distribution of the heartbeat of our brothers and sisters anytime they get that strange feeling of destroying the “zoo”. By so doing, they will realize that destruction of the “zoo” is like committing suicide.

The struggle to ensure an equitable Nigeria, essential to the vibrancy of Ndigbo should not be about changing the map of Nigeria. Rather, what is needed is mapping a change of the way we assert ourselves in our domains irrespective of whether it is in Lagos or Kano. My duty is to bring Ndigbo out of this lethargy of always seeing themselves as poor victims that are being trampled by every other tribe in Nigeria. Not everyone is trampling on us. We are champs.

This botched journey should be a lesson that an old woman that provokes a fight but is not pushed to the ground, will provoke again. It is hoped that the voyagers have discovered that Biafra is not and should never be all about them. From here, it is hoped that they will learn to be who they are meant to be in the first place – ordinary mortals with no superior powers. When a black ant bites the buttocks, it learns common sense.

Before IPOB, there was MOSSOB. Like Uwazurike, like Nnamdi Kanu? Time will tell. After this distraction from what the focus of Ndigbo should be in Nigeria, there is currently a pause, a space. In that space lies our freedom to choose how to respond. How should Ndigbo respond? Push for restructuring of Nigeria state? Look inwards and develop the Igbo States? Or Both?

I am happy to hear that Ohaneze will attempt to “convince” Nnamdi Kanu of the need to push for a restructuring of Nigeria rather than acting like a turtle that geared up beside a river that swallowed an elephant as if it will fly over it. To succeed, however, Ohaneze should let the experience from IPOB’s journey without map shape their approach in agitating for restructuring.

As the call for restructuring garner momentum, Ohaneze, just like IPOB, should know that some renegades in the zoo that made the most out of the captivity of Nnamdi Kanu, will be key players. They should know that it will take the cooperation of the dissatisfied ethnic nationalities and different interest groups in Nigeria to make headway with restructuring. As such, Ohaneze should be careful in their actions, not to destroy the bridges that will be crucial in crossing the shark infested rivers of a restructuring. A word is enough for the wise.

In the final analysis, the need to have a map before embarking on any checkered political journey in Nigeria, including restructuring is very crucial. The concept of ebule ji isi eje ogu (A ram goes to fight with its head), without a strategy, even with courage, is outdated and folly.


You can email Churchill at or follow him on Twitter @churchillnnobi.

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In the beginning...Let there be Light