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Chibok Girls Fellow Nigerians, the civil war is far from over

The real fighting might be over, but the grudges and bad blood stay waxing strong.

  • Published:
Malnourished boy at an IDP camp in Borno play

Malnourished boy at an IDP camp in Borno

(Sky News)

Nigerian fought a civil war for her sovereignty from 1967 till 1970. The grudges that led to the war and the adverse legacy still exists till this day.

We must take it back to the beginning, on that day in the middle of January.

January 1970.

Yakubu Gowon formally declared the end of the Civil War in his famous "no victor, no vanquished" speech.

former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon play

former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon

(genuis)

 

The fighting stopped. Nigerian flags were raised in the Southeast again. And as the Nigerian soldiers marched away from the battlefield, the country too quick-marched away from the reality of a war that had killed up to 2 million people.

The Early 1970s.

The Southeast was trying to rebuild, finding ways to pick up from where she left off. Israel and Nnenne both had a child together and they named him Nnamdi. Nnamdi Kanu.

Nnamdi grew up under their care and their stories. He grew up and inherited their wounds and grudges. He grew up remembering vividly a war he didn't even witness.

Nnamdi Kanu play

Nnamdi Kanu

(Elombah)

 

Here's the thing; Nnamdi is just one of millions that grew up inheriting the same wounds and grudges.

In an interesting conversation with Bukky "The Placard Woman" Shonibare about the #BringBackOurGirls advocacy, she made an interesting observation.

play Bukky Shonibare writing one of her famous placards

 

She said:

"The history of Nigeria will not be complete until we tell the story of the Chibok girls while using that as an entry point to other areas regarding girl child education and other pressing national issues."

She went on:

"If you analyse the case of the Chibok girls, it will lead you to every issue that is wrong with Nigeria. From corruption to underdevelopment, to marginalisation, to our denial. This denial also leads to other problems like division across tribal and religious lines, political lines. There are people who don't believe the girls were abducted because they are from a particular part of the country."

ALSO READ: There's a new war brewing in the Northeast, and you should care

Then she threw in the Civil War:

"We never had closure from the Civil War. Closure of a war is not when you no longer hear gun shots, it is when justice and fairness follows. Reconciliation must follow. Truth-telling must follow. Forgiveness. We can't say the Civil war has closed, and the Chibok Girls case has led me to that. I noticed that whenever I tweeted a photo of the placards, most of the attackers on Twitter are more of the people from the eastern part of the country."

She even made reference to an Academic:

"My lecturer on the Nigerian Legal System was asking me, "is it true?", "are the girls real?". Then I remembered she was Igbo. There's need for closure."

Speaking on closure, she said:

"We need to have forgiveness. We need to have reconciliation. We need people to hug themselves and say "I'm sorry". We can't wish it away."

That's not all. A new war is brewing.

Bukky, who spends most of her time doing humanitarian work, said:

"I just came back from Bama, and those children don't want to be doctors or lawyers, or bankers or all those things. They want to be soldiers because they are ready for another war. Because of vendetta. Because they can't just let go of the person that killed their fathers in front of them or that took their sisters away. The nation needs to take responsibility for facilitating that process. It can't be left to the people alone."

 

What needs to be done?

Aisha Obiagwu, a Masters student of Peace and Conflict Studies has an explanation:

"Though it's been almost 50 years since the end of the Nigerian civil war, the problems that brought about the war are still evident in today's society. We may not be in a war situation presently, but the "peace" we enjoy in the country today is far from sustainable."

She has more to say:

"One of the reasons may be due to the absence of proper reconciliation and social integration afterwards. We would like to believe that Nigeria is in its peace and development stage, but the truth is we are not even close. The effect of the war is still fresh in people's minds and without properly addressing this issue, the peace we presently "enjoy" in Nigeria can be thwarted at any time."

The truth, according to her, is that "we are still wallowing in post-conflict stabilisation and if the right measures are not taken, we might regress to a state of all round conflict".

If we want to pretend a sore doesn't exist, how long will it take before it becomes cancer? How long will it take till it eventually destroys us?

Here's an interesting story from Rwanda following the Hutu-Tutsi conflict.

After the inter-tribal war that killed up to a million people, the Government supported and started programs pushing for proper reconciliation. In some cases, people were brought face to face with the people that put them through pain and trauma. The former transgressors would then genuinely apologise. It was hard. Heck, it would be hard for anyone, but there were tears, there were hugs, and there was coming to together to make the country better for everyone. Rwanda is currently one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.

Today, when you see a Rwandan and you ask them, "Hutu or Tutsi", the answer is most likely none of the two.

They'll say "I'm Rwandan".

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