The 4 Freedoms Library

It takes a nation to protect the nation

"I have seen things in Biafra this week which no man should have to see. Sights to search the heart and sicken the conscience I have seen children roasted alive, young girls torn in two by shrapnel, pregnant women eviscerated, and old men blown to fragments, I have seen these things and I have seen their cause: high-flying Russian Ilyushin jets operated by Federal Nigeria, dropping their bombs on civilian centres throughout Biafra ...
At Onitsha - the 300 strong congregation of the Apostolic Church decided to stay on while others fled and to pray for deliverance. Col. [Murtala] Mohammed's Second Division found them in the church, dragged them out, tied their hands behind their backs and executed them."
["Nightmare in Biafra," Sunday Times (London, 4/26/68, p.12), by a war correspondent]
Nigeria's a typical West African mess of a country, only bigger and meaner. It's divided up the usual way: the coastal tribes are Christianized from sucking up to the European colonists. The further inland you go, the drier, hungrier and more Islamic it gets. The Brits grabbed the Nigerian coastline from the Portuguese when they realized there was money to be made, and turned the two big coastal tribes, the Ibo and the Yoruba, into their overseers on the Nigerian plantations. That left a lot of the inland Muslim tribes, the Hausa-Fulani people of the Sahel, permanently pissed off, sharpening their knives and biding their time.
The Hausa-Faluni got their chance in 1963, when the last Brit in Nigeria hopped on a plane, yelling back to the Natives "Congratulations, chaps! You're independent!" As soon as the Brits bugged out, the tribal massacres got going. Muslims in the north hacked to death every Ibo they could find. They hated these smartasses from the coast -- and now the Redcoats weren't there to stop them from taking revenge. 30,000 Ibos were killed in a few days.

The rest of the world (except Israel) turned their backs on the Ibo, let the Nigerians starve them into submission. The USSR sold the Nigerians every plane, tank and gun they could cram into their shopping cart, and the British loaned their pilots to fly as Nigerian AF mercs, bombing Biafran civvies and blowing up convoys bringing food and meds to the Ibo villages. The famine in Biafra was the first time we saw pictures of African kids with skeleton arms and legs and big balloon bellies looking up at the camera. It was easy to get shots like that in Biafra, because the whole country was starving.
A year into the war, the Ibo had nothing left. No food, no ammo, not even fuel, which is ironic when they were sitting on the big Niger delta oilfiends.
Even the bravest troops can't fight when they're dying of starvation. So in 1969 the Nigerian Army sent 120,000 men pushing through the center of Biafra, dividing the Ibo zone in half. It was like Sherman"s march to the sea -- it broke the Biafrans' backs.
Early in 1970 Biafra surrendered. Nobody knows how many people died. The low guess is a million, the high ones maybe three millions. Almost all were Ibo civilians.

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Replies to This Discussion

During 1960, Nigeria became independent of the United Kingdom. Similar to the other new African states, the borders of the country were not drawn according to earlier territories. Hence, the northern desert region of the country contained semi-autonomous feudal Muslim states, while the southern population was predominantly Christian and animist. Furthermore, Nigeria's oil, its primary source of income, was located in the south of the country
So, was this really Muslim against Christian? I thought the Nigerian military commander was a Christian? Wasn't this about oil and fragmentation? If Biafra had seceeded with its oil, it would have put the rest of Nigeria in trouble, so they fought back. I'm just asking questions, as I haven't time to become expert on all this stuff.

If you have ever been interviewed by the press or media, you know that they will pull what you say to pieces, and one false statement can easily invalidate the lot. Every country goes crazy if you talk about fragmentation. Look at China. So this is not necessarily about Islamic Jihad. The commander at that time (now the president of Nigeria I think) was a Christian so how does that figure? This is not an academic question. If you get it wrong, you can make a fool of yourself in public.
Alan Lake said:
If you have ever been interviewed by the press or media, you know that they will pull what you say to pieces, and one false statement can easily invalidate the lot.

Ah the press, when you have the facts and a bit of knowledge, it is easy to rip them to pieces.

In July 1966 northern officers and army units staged a coup. The Muslim officers named thirty-one-year- old Lieutenant Colonel (later Major General) Yakubu "Jack" Gowon, a Christian from a small ethnic group (the Anga) in the middle belt, as a compromise candidate to head the Federal Military Government (FMG). A young and relatively obscure officer serving as army chief of staff, Gowon had not been involved in the coup, but he enjoyed wide support among northern troops who subsequently insisted that he be given a position in the ruling body.

Throughout the remainder of 1966 and into 1967, the FMG sought to convene a constituent assembly for revision of the constitution that might enable an early return to civilian rule. Nonetheless, the tempo of violence increased. In September attacks on Igbo in the north were renewed with unprecedented ferocity, stirred up by Muslim traditionalists with the connivance, Eastern Region leaders believed, of northern political leaders. The army was sharply divided along regional lines. Reports circulated that troops from the Northern Region had participated in the mayhem. The estimated number of deaths ranged as high as 30,000, although the figure was probably closer to 8,000 to 10,000. More than 1 million Igbo returned to the Eastern Region. In retaliation, some northerners were massacred in Port Harcourt and other eastern cities, and a counterexodus of non-Igbo was under way.

The Eastern Region's military governor, Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, was under pressure from Igbo officers to assert greater independence from the FMG. Indeed, the eastern military government refused to recognize Gowon's legitimacy on the ground that he was not the most senior officer in the chain of command. Some of Ojukwu's colleagues questioned whether the country could be reunited amicably after the outrages committed against the Igbo in the Northern Region. Ironically, many responsible easterners who had advocated a unitary state now called for looser ties with the other regions.

The military commanders and governors, including Ojukwu, met in Lagos to consider solutions to the regional strife. But they failed to reach a settlement, despite concessions offered by the northerners, because it proved impossible to guarantee the security of Igbo outside the Eastern Region. The military conferees reached a consensus only in the contempt they expressed for civilian politicians. Fearing for his safety, Ojukwu refused invitations to attend subsequent meetings in Lagos.

In January 1967, the military leaders and senior police officials met at Aburi, Ghana, at the invitation of the Ghanaian military government. By now the Eastern Region was threatening secession. In a last-minute effort to hold Nigeria together, the military reached an accord that provided for a loose confederation of regions. The federal civil service vigorously opposed the Aburi Agreement, however. Awolowo, regrouping his supporters, demanded the removal of all northern troops garrisoned in the Western Region and warned that if the Eastern Region left the federation, the Western Region would follow. The FMG agreed to the troop withdrawal.

In May Gowon issued a decree implementing the Aburi Agreement. Even the Northern Region leaders, who had been the first to threaten secession, now favored the formation of a multistate federation. Meanwhile, the military governor of the Midwestern Region announced that his region must be considered neutral in the event of civil war.

The Ojukwu government rejected the plan for reconciliation and made known its intention to retain all revenues collected in the Eastern Region in reparation for the cost of resettling Igbo refugees. The eastern leaders had reached the point of ruptive in their relations with Lagos and the rest of Nigeria. Despite offers made by the FMG that met many of Ojukwu's demands, the Eastern Region Consultative Assembly voted May 26 to secede from Nigeria. In Lagos Gowon proclaimed a state of emergency and unveiled plans for abolition of the regions and for redivision of the country into twelve states. This provision broke up the Northern Region, undermining the possibility of continued northern domination and offering a major concession to the Eastern Region. It was also a strategic move, which won over eastern minorities and deprived the rebellious Igbo heartland of its control over the oil fields and access to the sea. Gowon also appointed prominent civilians, including Awolowo, as commissioners in the federal and new state governments, thus broadening his political support.

On May 30, Ojukwu answered the federal decree with the proclamation of the independent Republic of Biafra, named after the Bight of Biafra. He cited as the principal cause for this action the Nigerian government's inability to protect the lives of easterners and suggested its culpability in genocide, depicting secession as a measure taken reluctantly after all efforts to safeguard the Igbo people in other regions had failed.
Alan Lake said:
Every country goes crazy if you talk about fragmentation. Look at China. So this is not necessarily about Islamic Jihad. The commander at that time (now the president of Nigeria I think) was a Christian so how does that figure? This is not an academic question. If you get it wrong, you can make a fool of yourself in public.

There was within Nigeria an ability, by the Muslim-run army, to grab the nation's wealth, to continue a policy of limitless corruption that the more advanced Christian people of the south, in the main Ibo, but also including a great many other smaller tribes, who without inshallah-fatalism to hold them back, formed the most industrious part of the population, and least willing to see the nation's oil wealth misused (though individuals such as Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu "Jack" Gowon, are willing to join the national government, which routinely tries to buy off the opposition of the southern and Christian peoples by offering them some showy post in that government).

After a series of massacres -- some 50,000 people were killed -- of southern, Christian people by northern Muslims (Ibo traders in Kano, and others whom economic activity had brought to northern cities) -- the Biafrans, predominatenly but not exclusively Ibo, declared that they would not tolerate this state of affairs, nor the pseudo-state -- a colonial contraption -- of Nigeria. Of course, Great Britain and the United States immediately turned their backs on Biafra. They did this for several reasons. One is that neither country gave a damn what actually happened within Nigeria as long as nothing was done to upset the continued flow of oil. Second, they allowed themselves to believe that "Nigeria" was more than a colonial conception that forced quite different, often hostile peoples, some more hostile than others (the Muslims made war on the Christians, and not the reverse), simply had to be held together, lest other colonial creations come flying apart -- "stability" was all that mattered. And to put a thoroughly modern face on what was, as Col. Ojukwu saw, the indifference of white colonials to black African suffering, they allowed themselves to believe that the Biafran cause was baseless, and that it was important to "hold together Nigeria as the largest black African state." Why? one may ask -- if holding it together meant allowing everything that was wrong --the corruption, the despotism, the economic stagnation, the theft of oil resources, and above all the oppression of the more advanced Christians of southern Nigeria -- to continue?

All of these massacres and this history of misrule from Abuja (Muslim-dominated, in the Muslim north), finally led to the declaration of an independent Biafra, there was no doubt about the need, as Colonel Ojukwu said, to defend the Christians (the Ibo being the dominant Christian group, but not the only one that was threatened).

Go to the websites on Biafra. Many of them make clear that, as Colonel Ojukwu said, this was a "Jihad."

Here, in fact, are some of the relevant words from the 1969 Ahiara Declaration:

"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 men - racism, Arab-muslim expansionism and white economic imperialism.
The Biafran struggle is, on another plane, a resistance to the Arab-Muslim expansionism which has menaced and ravaged the African continent for twelve centuries....

"Our Biafran ancestors remained immune from the Islamic contagion. From the middle years of the last century Christianity was established in our land. In this way we came to be a predominantly Christian people. We came to stand out as a non-Muslim island in a raging Islamic sea. Throughout the period of the ill-fated Nigerian experiment, the Muslims hoped to infiltrate Biafra by peaceful means and quiet propaganda, but failed. Then the late Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto tried, by political and economic blackmail and terrorism, to convert Biafrans settled in Northern Nigeria to Islam. His hope u as that these Biafrans of dispersion would then carry Islam to Biafra, and by so doing give the religion political control of the area. The crises which agitated the so-called independent Nigeria from 1962 gave these aggressive proselytizers the chance to try converting us by force.

"It is now evident why the fanatic Arab-Muslim states like Algeria, Egypt and the Sudan have come out openly and massively to support and aid Nigeria in her present war of genocide against us. These states see militant Arabism as a powerful instrument for attaining power in the world. Biafra is one of the few African states untainted by Islam. Therefore, to militant Arabism, Biafra is a stumbling block to their plan for controlling the whole continent. This control is fast becoming manifest in the Organization of African Unity.

"On the question of the Middle East, the Sudanese crisis, in the war between Nigeria and Biafra, militant Arabism has succeeded in imposing its point of view through blackmail and bluster. It has threatened African leaders and governments with inciting their muslim minorities to rebellion if the govern-ments adopted an independent line on these questions. In this way an O.A.U. that has not felt itself able to discuss the genocide in the Sudan and Biafra, an O A.U. that has again and again advertised its ineptitude as a peace maker, has rushed into open condemnation of Israel over the Middle East dispute Indeed, in recent times, by its performance, the O.A.U. might well be an organization an organization of Arab unity.

"From this derives our deep conviction that the Biafran revolution is not just a movement of Igbos, Ibibios, Ijaws, and Ogojas. It is a movement of true and patriotic Africans. It is African nationalism conscious of itself and fully aware of the powers with which it is contending.

For the full text of the Ahiara Declaration, which ought to be studied in courses on Africa, on colonialism, on Islam, and on the definition of statehoood, click on this link:
Alan Lake said:
So, was this really Muslim against Christian

YES this really is Muslim against Christian, it was Jihad, and is ongoing to day
OK, very good, I'm joining the dots now.

So now the strange resurgence of Islam in South Africa makes sense. I could never understand what it was doing right down there, in that formerly heavily Christian area. But, unless it is stopped, I think Islam will eventually take over all of Africa, by its usual inexorable processes of alternating indoctrination, lawfare, intimidation, crime, terrorism, and outright war.
Here is Hugh Fitzgerald, in his imitable style, on the subject:

Author Profile Page Hugh | March 8, 2010 6:38 AM | Reply

The New York Times today at least stopped the nonsensical neutral "communal violence" stuff, when it was clear that the Muslims (described as members of the Fulani people) surrounded Christian villages, and attacked sleeping Christians in the middle in the night. Note that these areas are, or have been, Christians, and the Muslims from the north -- black Africans islamized in the past by Arab slavers, and experiencing their own local Jihads in West Africa, beginning with that under Dan Fodio of Sokoto in 1804.

It may seem a history almost as ancient, to our ill-informed rulers, that forty years ago, the Christians of Nigeria, fed up with massacre after massacre of Christians by Muslims, attempted to fashion an independent state. It would certainly have been viable, for all of the oil of Nigeria lay in the south, under Christian lands (just as in the Sudan, all of the oil lies under the Christian, black African south, not the Muslim Arab north), even though most of the oil revenues were seized by Muslims, for their own purposes, and especially by corrupt civilian rulers in thrall to the Muslims who controlled the military (in this respect, with the military providing the permanent source of power, Nigeria is reminiscent of Pakistan).

For two years the Christians, the Biafrans – who were mainly, though not exclusively, members of the Ibo people, fought desperately, with almost no aid from outside. . They had diplomatic recognition, and from two countries – Ghana and Israel. The latter provided what military aid it could, though logistically it was very difficult. .The Western powers only wanted the war to be ended, and Biafra crushed, so that any disruption in oil supplies would be brief. Neither the Americans nor the British lifted a finger to help the Christians of Nigeria. Meanwhile, the Arabs openly aided in the massacre of tens of thousands of helpless Ibo villagers, with Egyptian pilots in Egyptian Migs, sent by Nasser, delightedly strafing, again and again, the people below (who had no weapons, much less anti-aircraft guns). Perhaps a million Christians were killed, perhaps more, in only two years of war. In July 1969 the leader of the Biafrans, Colonel Ojukwu, delivered his “Ahiara Declaration,” in which he summed up the reasons for the war, and the justness of the cause, and he spoke openly about the “Jihad” that the Muslims had waged on the Christians. No one in the Western world paid any attention to this; “Jihad” was a word no one knew, or cared about. All that was calculated was that, whatever those crazy people did, the country simply had to stay together and the oil keep flowing, and who cared who dominated who.

In and near Jos, in central Nigeria, the Muslims are on the murderous march again. They came in the night, and surrounded villages with sleeping Christians. Then they attacked, using guns to cause the sleeping Christians to run out of their houses, in some cases, and then they cut them down with machetes. Apparently the 500 victims were overwhelmingly women and children, and I have just heard on NPR some speculation that this was a deliberate effort to make sure that there are “no more” Christians of a new generation who will be able to populate the lands that were Christian until the Muslim marauders came down from the north. Just as in the Sudan, where the Muslim Arabs have for the past half-century been steadily pushing downward, killing the Christians and animists in the south (perhaps 2 million have died; Sudanese from the south have told me that figure is a low one, and they do not understand why in the West the “true figure” of 2.5 million is not used). And those Arabs also attacked other Muslims, but Muslims who were regarded as black Africans, and since Islam is a vehicle for Arab supremacism, Islam itself may be said to have justified, in their own, Arab view (the fact that some of these “Arabs” would not have been regarded as such in Beirut or Damascus or Riyadh or Cairo is irrelevant; they think of themselves, and see the world, and what they are therefore entitled to do, as “Arabs”) the sustained attacks, over many years, of mass murder, rape, looting, and wanton cruelty of every conceivable kind (if you are unfamiliar with the details, they can be found on-line) of black Africans by the Janjaweed, a government-sponsored and government-armed Arab “militia.”

So what will now happen if, in Nigeria, the Christians try again, try to free themselves from the Muslim yoke? What if a new Biafra is declared? In the Sudan, the American government, and the so-called “international community,” have been assured by the northern Arabs that they will allow, in a year or two (my, that’s big of them, isn’t it?) a referendum to be held in the south on independence. There is no doubt that the Muslim Arabs are doing everything they can to make sure they have infiltrated the south, and turned various tribes against each other, so as to ensure that the referendum never takes place, and so that they can hold themselves out as the guarantors of continued “peace” in the south, able to hold apart the very tribes that now, through a cunning series of deliberate provocations, the northern Arabs have been pitting against one another. Again, Western government s appear to have lost the thread of the narrative in the Sudan, as they never had it in Nigeria.

The Christians are the most indusetrious and entrepreneurial people in Nigeria. They are the ones who make what does work in Nigeria work. They take an interest in, have pride in, their own true pasts – the Ibo in Igbo-Ukwu (there are two excellent volumes in, I think, the Bollingen series on the Igbo-Ukwu). The Islamized Africans have no such interest, are indifferent to their own pre-Islamic pasts, and want only to imitate the example set by seventh-century Arabs, even taking on inauthentic Arab names; they are indifferent or, if truly fanatical in their faith, hostile to all that is non-Islamic in their own histories. Not only are the Christians of Nigeria perfectly capable of creating, and running, an independent state, far less corrupt than the one run, more or less, by the Muslim-officered mi litary, but they also could count on the oil wealth which is entirely in the south. And why should they not? Nigeria was an artificial creation, the product of the British, who simply spatchcocked together three main tribal groups –the Ibo (Christian), the Hausa (Muslim), and the Yoruba (split between Christian and Muslim groups). Why should black African Christians, and other non-Muslims, suffer – in the Sudan, or in Nigeria – because of what some people in London, in the Colonial Office, decided? Why?
Gaia said:
Why should black African Christians, and other non-Muslims, suffer – in the Sudan, or in Nigeria – because of what some people in London, in the Colonial Office, decided? Why?

When you really start looking at the the history of jihad, you will find that the western governments have been just as treacherous as the islamists

shiva said:

Gaia said:
Why should black African Christians, and other non-Muslims, suffer – in the Sudan, or in Nigeria – because of what some people in London, in the Colonial Office, decided? Why?

When you really start looking at the the history of jihad, you will find that the western governments have been just as treacherous as the islamists

Correction It was Hugh Fitzgeraldwho asked the above question.

I would also like to add another reason



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Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them. 

At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.

Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.

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These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper). 
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An additional Freedom from Religion is deducible if the law is applied equally to everyone:

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