Today 50 years ago the drum of war was heard in Afor-Umuohiagu market.
On the 7th day of February 1969, the quiet and peaceful community of Umuohiagu and its environs were provocative, transformed into a graveyard of uncontrollable mourning and groaning by inhuman civil war activities meted against unarmed civilians (mostly women and children). The ungodly day witnessed a fully-packed afor-umuohiagu market desecrated and raped like a whore whose legs were tied to immobile stakes. The entire terrain of the central market turned into a river of human blood. As the eggs of death were hauled on Afor-Umuohiagu market, the reek of death pillaged and ruined the 3,400 capacity business centre.
Five decades after this awful and infamous gibbet, nothing has been said or done to heal the traumatic memory. Therefore, it is important to draw attention to such inhuman proclivity for dissipation and turpitude.
"In defiance of hunger and probable death, the people of Umuohiagu and its surrounding communities gathered in the market to engage in their various trades on the market day.
On that fateful day, though fear hung in the air as it always had in the face of devastating war, there was no inkling that death was close by, encamped around Afor-Umuohiagu market, waiting to snuff breath from unsuspecting lives.
At about 12:30 on the windy bright afternoon, with a deafening sound that came as swift as lightning, Afor-Umuohiagu market reverberated, at the height if business activities.
In their bid to flee from the claws of death, they stumbled over one another, making an escape from the market even more difficult. The bombs devastated the village and left deep craters here and there.
When the raid was over there was huge wailing.
As the news of the massacre spread around towns and villages people rushed in to look for their dead or wounded relatives. Members of over 250 families whose relatives were killed competed with vultures in the search for bodies."(source: BLOOD AT NOON).
In keeping to giving the innocent victims a place in history, and in honour of the wounded survivors of the 50 year old unhealed sorrow, I, concerned citizen of the affected community, rise in solidarity to mark the 50th anniversary with the theme: "Afor-Umuohiagu Bombing: 50th Memorial, Conciliation and Healing", in order to restore peace in the land.
I intend to preach the desired message about the foolishness of war and priceless gift of peace. Based on this resolve, I plan to tell and retell our own history as I call to mind such defining moment that shifted the paradigm of peace and oneness in Umuohiagu community.
The aim of the anniversary includes immortalization of the victims and lasting healing for survivors.
The immortalization: Attract government involvement in establishing and equipping a functional health care centre for the wounded community.
War under any guess of it is senseless but peace is priceless.
Nnaemeka Nwankwo Okere
Wrote in from Umuohiagu
Nnaemeka Nwankwo Okere hails from Umuohiagu in Ngor-Okpala LGA of IMO state.
He studied English and Comparative Literature at the University of Uyo.
He is an expert in Communication and Election Observation Mission.