Biafran commander and Secretary-General of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, world-wide, Col Joe Achuzia, has disclosed where the word ‘Biafra’ orgininated from.
The civil war hero said he was proud to be addressed as “a Biafran” as that reflected his true identity.
According to him, “You see people tend to forget the paradox about the Igbo. The word Igbo is not a tribal identity, it is linguistic identity. It is a language of a people collectively residing in the eastern region that used to be known as Southern Sudan. From the 14th, 15th, 16th century, the area was known as Southern Sudan. That is where the people known as Biafrans lived, hence the Bight of Biafra.
“There would never have been a Bight of Biafra if there were no inhabitants occupying the mainland. I’m not here pleading a cause for Biafra. No, I’m only taking you to historical antecedents.”
Asked why he joined the fight for the secession of Biafra from Nigeria between 1967 to 1970, the elder statesman said, “No, we fought for survival. Biafra never fought or did not attempt to break away from the Lugardian set up known as Nigeria. No! We, from the south east fought to prevent us from being exterminated in an effort to push us out of the federation. That we remembered out past, the thought came to our succour because when a people are under pressure of extermination, history comes to their assistance.”
“How did our forefathers survive under the pressure that we had at the time from colonial masters? How did they survive? They survived by recollecting who they were and pulled together, hence the mark on our faces. Those marks differentiate the people who are Biafrans. Each community has a peculiar mark even though nowadays, we don’t do it anymore but it is engraved in our heart.
“And that is why we resolved that we cannot fight individually as Nigeria wanted us then. We had to fight collectively as Biafrans. Biafra wasn’t coined to break up Nigeria, no”