Ahiara Declaration: Synopsis of the Ideology of Biafranism
AHIARA DECLARATION (Click on link to access full text of the Ahiara Declaration)
With our backs against the wall after having withstood repeated waves of deadly onslaughts from combined arsenal of weaponry, diplomatic cover and financial support from outside forces led by the UK Government of Great Britain, Russia, Egypt etc, the Biafran resistance reached deep within to reflect upon, articulate, document and thus immortalize the essence of our survival struggle. Though the remaining free Biafran territory was militarily overrun only six months later, the Ahiara Declaration marked the beginning of a new phase of the Biafrans’ determination to prevail in life-and-death struggle that shall know no end till victory. As long as Ahiara Declaration lives, Biafra lives too. The recrudescence of Biafra agitation should, therefore, not be a surprise to anyone. Timing is the only unknown component. But then President Buhari’s ascendancy to power helped to ignite the new flame of Biafranism whose fire has been smoldering since June 1, 1969.
The Ahiara Declaration was modeled on Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere’s 1967 Arusha Declaration and pieced together by Biafra’s National Guidance Committee, a think-tank body that included renowned author, Prof. Chinua Achebe. The declaration criticized corruption in both Nigeria and Biafra, as well as imperialism on the part of outside countries, and encouraged patriotism among the Biafrans.
Some experts see the declaration as a shift to a more politically radical phase in Biafra’s 30-month struggle during the Civil War. The document lambasted Britain, and in particular, the “Anglo-Saxon branch of [the white] race”, for having repeatedly “sinned against the world” in the form of numerous genocides, including that of the Biafran people:
“For two years, we have been subjected to a total blockade. We all know how bitter, bloody and protracted the First and Second World Wars were. At no stage in those wars did the white belligerents carry out a total blockade of their fellow whites. In each case where a blockade was imposed, allowance was made for certain basic necessities of life in the interest of women, children and other non-combatants. Ours is the only example in recent history where a whole people have been so treated. What is it that makes our case different? Do we not have women, children and other non-combatants? Does the fact that they are black women, black children and black non-combatants make such a world of difference?”
Ahiara Declaration exhorts the Biafran people to persist in their efforts, assuring them of the moral value of their sacrifices. It emphasizes the difference between the Biafran revolution and other revolutions, in that the world seems to be unified against their cause. Economic and political interests, as well as racist indifference to the suffering of black-skinned noncombatants, are the especial challenges of the Biafran movement during the Civil War as it continues to be today. The “Nigerianism” against which Biafrans were struggling was merely a system of opportunism and exploitation as still obtains till date, albeit, with a different twist to it:
“Our struggle has far-reaching significance. It is the latest recrudescence in our time of the age-old struggle of the black man for his full stature as man. We are the latest victims of a wicked collusion between the three traditional scourges of the black man – racism, Arab-Muslim expansionism and white economic imperialism. Playing a subsidiary role is Bolshevik Russia seeking for a place in the African sun. Our struggle is a total and vehement rejection of all those evils which blighted Nigeria, evils which were bound to lead to the disintegration of that ill-fated federation. Our struggle is not a mere resistance – that would be purely negative. It is a positive commitment to build a healthy, dynamic and progressive state, such as would be the pride of black men the world over…
…Since in the thinking of many white powers, a good, progressive and efficient government is good only for whites, our view was considered dangerous and pernicious: a point of view which explains but does not justify the blind support which these powers have given to uphold the Nigerian ideal of a corrupt, decadent and putrefying society. To them genocide is an appropriate answer to any group of black people who have the temerity to attempt to evolve their own social system.
When the Nigerians violated our basic human rights and liberties, we decided reluctantly but bravely to found our own state, to exercise our inalienable right to self-determination as our only remaining hope for survival as a people. Yet, because we are black, we are denied by the white powers the exercise of this right which they themselves have proclaimed inalienable. In our struggle, we have learnt that the right of self-determination is inalienable, but only to the white man.”
The lengthy document closes by rehashing the fact that the fight for a people’s survival is a just and noble cause before God and man. The gang-up against Biafrans, despite the brazen violations of our people’s human rights to civilized existence by rulers of Nigeria, can only be explained by the fact that we are Black Africans. But Biafra’s mission and the ultimate fate of free, self-determined and self-reliant Black man, whether resident on African continent or elsewhere in the Diaspora, must be seen as one and the same thing.
This historic document concluded thus:
“Today, I am glad that our problems are less than they were a year ago; that arms alone can no longer destroy us; that our victory, the fulfillment of our dreams, is very much in sight. We have forced a stalemate on the enemy and this is likely to continue, with any advances likely to be on our side. If we fail, which God forbid, it can only be because of certain inner weakness in our being. It is in order to avoid these pitfalls that I have today proclaimed before you the Principles of the Biafran Revolution.
We in Biafra are convinced that the Black man can never come into his own until he is able to build modern states based on indigenous African ideologies, to enjoy true independence, to be able to make his mark in the arts and sciences and to engage in meaningful dialogue with the white man on a basis of equality. When he achieves this, he will have brought a new dimension into international affairs. Biafra will not betray the Black man.
No matter the odds, we will fight with all our might until Black men everywhere can point with pride to this Republic, standing dignified and defiant, an example of African nationalism triumphant over its many and age-old enemies. We believe that God, humanity and history are on our side, and that the Biafran Revolution is indestructible and eternal.”
In the above immortal words, the archetypal Biafran and founding Head of Sate of the Republic of Biafra, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, put a formal seal on synopsis of the principles of Biafranism, an ideology that underscores the will of modern Black man to live free and prosper in his own ancestral lands as the Creator had designed it from the very beginning.