As a student of history, the civil war which led to the creation of a defunct country called Biafra isn’t something I haven’t studied about, from Prof Chinua Achebe’s “There was a Country” to Reuben Abati’s “Where we came from” one thing is clear, on the 15th of January 1966 an Igbo dominated officers of the military, carried out the first coup in Nigerian History, how this acts by a cadre of relatively junior Igbo officers led to the death of millions of Igbo’s and Southerners across the Country still confuses me but what I know is on this day and year in 1966, those innocent Nigerians were killed, Nigeria lost its Soul and we have been trying to get it back ever since.

At first it wasn’t an act of war, it was a reaction to the news of a coup. So this traders, civil servants, mothers, doctors, businessmen, preachers and job seekers that have probably stayed in those locations all their lives or some part of it, woke to the same news as those Northerner’s and some Westerns did, but they believed it wasn’t their business. They are not politicians neither are they part of the military so they decided to carry on with their own business not knowing that they had thought wrong. The very same forces of the security, neighbours and acquaintances made it their business in the process slaughtering millions of them. This is the story that preludes the Civil War. In effect Biafra was a response to loss of too many innocent lives, who had nothing to do with the coup, just Nigerians trying to make a Living.

But in movies, someone has to be the villain why the other the hero. In reality both of you can be hero’s and things still go terribly wrong; like the Civil War. Both parties could conveniently say they acted in the best interest of people, but that is just the branch, what made them start acting in the best interest for people in the first place that could be called the ROOT. That root is not the coup it’s the 1966 massacre of young children, women and men and in some cases pregnant women, for offences they did not give their consent on or know it was set to happen on the 15th of January 1966. And so if this TREE wants to be removed effectively, you need to look away from the branches and look at the ROOT. That is the Power of an Apology and not the sort that was given by the then President; Yakubu Gowon, over the Asaba Massacre that happen during the war.

The soul of Nigeria cannot be gotten back despite countless number of victories the Nigerian Super eagles or any other sporting affiliate, neither through countless deployment of Youth Corpers to various states that isn’t their state of origin neither can it be gotten by even making an opportune Igbo man the president.  We have tried it all for 50 years, but despite our wealth and talent we can only win a junior world sporting event, which actually tells the country basically “there is talent” The Youth Service has been made to suit the privileged, one way or the other, you never seem to serve with any of the top political kids, but they have all served and finally there have been Igbo governors and senators for more than 40 years well the east still looks like the Civil War was four years ago while some of them own shopping malls in Abuja and estates for homes in their villages.

As simple as it sounds a sincere apology has never been tried. The Nigeria of the post-civil war era, under the guidiance of chief Obafemi Awolowo decided that regardless of the amount an Igbo had in the bank before the war they were given only 20 pounds to start their lives, with that they have gone to school, gotten married, sent their kids to school and some have even built an empire for themselves legitimately why? A king is a personality not a position. They did all that because the money actually doesn’t matter, what mattered was their Lives. And part of their Lives is the Knowledge that never did Nigeria apologise for the 1966 massacre and they live with that every day.

That fear that one day through agitation from men at the top that person you once laughed with would raise a cutlass to cut you grips their hearts and soul affecting their trust, creativity and will. But little did they know that the popular eastern proverb which says “the child that doesn’t let his mother sleep would also not sleep” is also applicable here, and for 50 years Nigerians have in one way or the other been affected by the consequences of that war; it’s Soul.