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SACRALISING HISTORY : BIAFRA AS A RELIGION

SACRALISING HISTORY : BIAFRA AS A RELIGION

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Published by Toyin Adepoju
How the secessionist Nigerian state of Biafra and its leader Odumegwu-Ojukwu, have been made into sacred forms
How the secessionist Nigerian state of Biafra and its leader Odumegwu-Ojukwu, have been made into sacred forms

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Published by: Toyin Adepoju on Oct 05, 2012
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05/13/2014

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Sacralising HistoryBiafra as a Religion
Oluwatoyin Vincent AdepojuCompcros Comparative Cognitive Processes and Systems"Exploring Every Corner of the Cosmos in Search of Knowledge"

ToSacralise:AMethod
Tosacralisemeanstorecogniseaphenomenonassacred.Suchrecognitionisdemonstratedinparticularwaysofrelatingtothephenomenon.Howonethinksandactsinrelationtothephenomenonsuggeststhatelementisperceivedasacentrefromwhichmuch,ifnotall,oftheuniverseistobeassessed.Suchastandpointmaybesharedwithastyleofunderstandingphilosophyasdifferentfromreligion.Itbecomesreligiouswhendeterminedeffortsaremadetopresentthispointofviewasbindingonthefatesofothersregardlessoftheirviewsaboutit.Itbecomes,therefore,toagreaterorlesserdegree,acosmologicalimperative,describingthefatesofhumansaffectedbythisvisionaslinkedtotheirreadinesstoidentifywiththispointofview.Itcreatesapropheticframeworkintermsofthispointofviewwithinwhichpeoplearecategorisedastotheirultimatemoralevaluationandthetotaltrajectoryoftheirhistoricaldevelopment.Thatisadescriptionofacomprehensivemodeofsacralisationinvolvingasenseofmoralabsolutism,developingmoralvaluesunderstoodasuniversallybinding.Italsoinvolvesaconceptionofpunishmentandrewardinrelationtoone'sstanceastothismoralvision.ThebestknownexamplesofsacralisingphilosophiesinthismodearetheAbrahamicreligionsofJudaism,ChristianityandIslam.
 
Historydemonstratesmethodsofsacralisationthatarenotasthoroughgoingintheirjudgementofpeopleinrelationtothemoralstandpointontheuniversedemonstratedbytheideologyinquestion.Thephenomenonthatmotivatesthisessay,though,seemstomebeusefullydescribedintermsofthisstyleofsacralisation.
ObjectsofSacralisation
Theactofsacralisingisusuallyorganisedaroundparticularphenomenathatbelieversunderstandasembodyingmeaningthatencompassesbroadareasof,ifnotall,ofreality.Thisphenomenonmaybeastoryofaneventorsequenceofevents.Thishistoryisoftenembodiedbythememoryofthosewhoparticipatedintheseevents.Thestoryitselfisoftenenshrinedinanoralorwrittennarrativeoftheseepochaloccurrences.Thishistorysuggestsareconstitutionoftheuniverseintermsofgeneratingamoralorderbindingonallexistencefromthetimetheeventstookplace.Ihavedevelopedthisportraitofastyleofsacralisationbycomparingmyimmediatesubjectinthisessay,thememoryofBiafra,thestatethatsecededfromNigeria,leadingtotheNigerianCivilWarof1967to1970,withtheAbrahamicreligions,sincethebetterknownreligiouscontextssharesignificantsimilaritieswiththeprocessofsacralisationundertakeninthenameofBiafra.
TheSacralisationofBiafraanditsLeader,ChukwuemekaOdumegwu-Ojukwu
Eversincemyfirstencounter,inlate2011,withthevenerationofBiafraontheNigerianliterarygroup,Ederi,mostofwhosemembersatthetimewereIgbo,IhavecometorealisethatforsomeIgbos,thememoryofBiafrahasassumedthestatusofareligion.Igbosaretheethnicgroupwhocanbedescribedasbeingattheheartofthehistorical,ideologicalandgeographicalidentityofBiafraandthesufferingenduredinthenameofBiafra,leadingtotheassociationofthisnascentrepublicwiththevictimhoodoftheirethnicityinthatwar.Thisisareligion,thatlikeallreligions,interpretsrealityintermsofitsownhighlyselectivestyleofthinking,demonstratesitsowndogmas,itsrankingofbelieversandnon-believers,aswellasamoralcompassforjudginghumanity,perspectivesexpressedintermsofthemoralabsolutismand
 
propheticstancecommontomanyreligions.
TheNeedforaBookforBiafra
Sadly,theBiafrastoryseemstohavelostthechanceofadefinitivesummationofitsvisionascouldonlyhavebeenwrittenbythemanatthecentreofthemaelstromofaspiration,war,heroism,historicstruggleagainstoverwhelmingodds,monumentalsufferingandcontroversy,thatistheBiafrastory,ChukwuemekaOdumegwu-Ojukwu,theheadofstateofBiafra,whopassedawaywithoutanypublicnewsonhishoped-for-memoirsofthefoundingofBiafraandthewarthatensued.Thismassivegapplacesgreaterweightontheexpressionsofotheractors,particularlyBiafrans,ontheconflict.PhilipEfiong,Ojukwu'ssecondincommand,whoassumedtheroleofheadofstateofBiafraafterOjukwufledintoexileandwhoannouncedthesurrenderofBiafra,haswrittenhisownmemoirsbutthisdoesnotseemtolenditselftothehagiographicvisionofOjukwuthatsomeIgboshold.InmyreadingoftheircommentsonNigeriancentredonlinesocialcommunities,Idon'tseethebookmentioned,althoughextractsIhavereadfromitsuggestitisadeeplypoignantwork,bringingalivetheferventhopes,desperatestrugglesandcruelironiesofBiafra.
ChinuaAchebe's
ThereWasaCountry:APersonalHistoryofBiafra
ChinuaAchebe,formerBiafran,oneoftheworld'sgreatestwriters,whoseworksarepowerfulintheirevocationofthegloriesandtensionsofhisIgboancestryinitsreshapingwithinthevortexofcolonialNigeriaandhisinsightfulexplorationofpost-colonialNigeria,insightsthathaveearnedhimthedeservedtitleofavisionaryandprophet,hasjustpublishedabookonBiafra.Achebe'sbookwillberelatedtoinvariousways.Oneofthoseapproachesisthatofseekingconfirmationofpainfulexperiencesandthediagnosisofunforgotten,stillthrobbingwoundsfromagreatandeloquentmindwhowasatthecentreoftheaction.ThelifegivingvalueofsuchabooktomanyIgbosissuggestedbythefactthatthetremorsofthewarmaybedescribedascontinuingtoshapeattitudesofsomeIgbotobeingpartofNigeria.

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