Not Another Commentary on “There Was A Country”

As part of my research for a biography that I am currently writing I had to read up on Biafra and the Nigerian civil war. By coincidence Chinua Achebe’s personal memoir  about the war “There Was A Country” released recently  (which I am yet to read) has been polarizing opinion among Nigerian commentators and pundits. The arguments have as usual been mostly emotional and tribalistic.

While Chinua Achebe asserts there was a ‘genocide’ and that it was spear headed by Obafemi Awolowo, Awolowo’s defenders argue otherwise. There is also a lot of rancor about whether the ‘true’ history of the civil war is being taught to our younger generations.

I have refrained from commenting.  My experience has been that discussing the civil war is like discussing religion or politics, unacceptable as polite dinner conversation. No one seems rational about it.  Tempers flare and friends destroy friendships.

There was an attempt by @CitizensPlatformNg to moderate a discussion on twitter that largely failed do more than stir the hornets’ nest. Nothing conclusive or progressive came of it, it seemed only to further expose peoples entrenched and fixed opinions.

Considering the sentiments expressed by the various parties it was a bit of a surprise to see the wealth of information available about the war on the internet alone. Especially considering that the debaters were mostly online activists. Google ‘Biafra’ and almost 2 million results come up, many of them commentaries and reports written during the war.

Like this one by Maxwell Cohen who argued vehemently in 1968 that there was a genocide and it was being ignored by the global powers for self serving reasons.  And this memorandum from the American Jewish Congress also of 1968 that pretty much said the same thing and names a number of other western liberals that believed that the starvation policy was a form of genocide.

George T. Orick, a business man who left Lagos just before the war started  said in his speech to the  First International Conference on Biafra in New York, on December 7, 1968 that;

“After the January 1966 military coup in which the Sarduana of Sokoto, who was the spiritual leader of the Moslems in Nigeria as well as the central leader of the Northern Region and in fact, if not in theory, of Nigeria, was killed, the folk wisdom of many of the tribes then (I call it folk wisdom because it was never official government policy, but it was a motivation expressed by the largest tribe in Nigeria) was that one million Ibos must die to avenge the killing of the Sarduana. I heard this many, many times. Nigerians will deny it, of course, but it was-said often.”

During an interview the subject of the biography I’m writing, and who was a child during the war expressed experiences and sentiments very similar to those expressed by Okey Ndibe in this 2007 feature on the website “Nigerian Village Square” titled “My Biafran Eyes”.

Having worked with victims of violence against women for over 15 years the most important lesson we learn and share is to always validate a victim’s account of their abuse.  As such I find the criticism levelled against Achebe for his  personal account of an atrocious war grossly unfair and quite frankly  akin to a public lynching  or like asking a rape victim ‘what were you wearing’.

And that’s all that I have to say about it right now.

One love and One Nigeria.

Fascinating to learn the region of south east Nigeria and most of Cameroon were known as Biafra or Biafara by the Portuguese. Makes you wonder. Cultural or socio-political similarities?
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We’re Crowd Funding to Set Up the Women’s Legal Defence Trust Fund. Please Support Us

What?

The Women’s Crisis Center Owerri is establishing a Women’s Legal Defense Trust Fund to aggregate funds from a variety of sources and to make grants with those funds to lawyers and organizations litigating cases that can have a broad impact on the protection, expansion and interpretation of women’s rights in Nigeria.

Why?

Because

  • Case law and apex court decisions have the potential to make sweeping changes in women’s rights protection and interpretation in Nigeria
  • Women and the lawyers that represent them frequently lack the funds required to access the justice system and to sustain litigation for a long time and through appeals
  • There are not enough public interest lawyers and NGO’s litigating women’s rights protection and interpretation
  • We want to systematically and strategically develop and report a body of case law to enhance and institutionalize legislative and policy changes that improve women’s rights.

How?

Fundraising

Crowd Funding & Donations

  • We believe that sustainable community and popular activism and action must be funded by the citizens
  • Funds will be crowd sourced online and solicited from private and corporate donors
  • Income, expenditure  and bank statements will be publicly reported  at regular intervals to be determined

Grants

  • In addition we will apply and accept grants from international institutions and bodies that share our principles and values
  • We will not take funds or grants from bilateral, multilaterals, or governments or their agents.

Publications

  • We will invest in and publish online and hard copy law reports, periodicals, books and journal to support the long term sustainability of the fund
  • We will invest in other social enterprise models that will support our goal and objectives

Grant Making

  • We will make direct grants to lawyers litigating cases that meet our criteria to cover legal fees, transport and accommodation out of station as applicable.
  • Cases will be chosen based on specific criteria that ensures they will have broad impact on a women and women’s rights nationally
  • Grantees will be chosen for their integrity, commitment, creativity,  and understanding of the legal issues involved
  • Grantees will report at regular intervals and will be given capacity building, mentoring and advisory support

Who?

Women’s Crisis Center was established in 2000 in Owerri Imo state in response to a study that showed the highest incidence of domestic and sexual violence occurred there.

The center ran a women’s shelter, an innovative community program to end violence, provided pro bono legal services and had a resource library.  The community program is in its tenth year while the resource center was moved to the federal capital for greater utility. The shelter was closed when it became evident that it did not fit the values of the community it served.

The WCC is managed by Lesley Agams, who will bring the experience she gained selecting and managing innovative social entrepreneurs and managing country programs for international organizations to the selection of the legal fund grant recipients and administration of the fund.  She will be a trustee and the Executive Director of the fund.

Ms. Iheoma Obibi, executive director of Alliances for Africa has accepted to be one of three trustee of the legal fund. Ms. Obibi, herself an Asoka fellow, will bring over 20 years experience as a leading women’s rights activist to the fund. You can read more about Ms. Obibi and her work at http://www.alliancesforafrica.org

When?

As soon as possible!

We have already initiated the registration process with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Abuja

Our next target is to raise an initial target of NGN1million in 3 months to complete the registration and launch officially with a press conference on October 4, 2012 and organize a major fund raising event on November 27, 2012

What We Would Like You to Do

Help us to reach our targets. Kindly donate to our fund. Help us protect and expand women’s rights and protections before the law.

Till we can pay for a website with Interswitch capability we request that you send your kind donations to the Women’s Crisis Center. No amount is too small!

God bless you as you support women’s rights development.

Account Details:

Name of Bank: Guaranty Trust Bank Plc

Name of Account: Women’s Crisis Centre Owerri

Account Number: 0023731452

Go to indiegogo here

Joy Osadolor Tells Her Story in Her Own Words, Its an Eye Opener

I met Joy begging in Abuja one night with her baby. I asked her why, she doesn’t look like someone that has to beg. Joy is from Benin in South West Nigeria. Her story is so typical it could be the story of every Nigerian woman. Her husband abandoned her with 3 children and a fourth one on the way. Listen to her story. You will cry.

She’s not posh, or educated, she sounds more like a bad Nollywood script sometimes but she is the average Nigerian woman, the uneducated, urban dwelling women who struggle to raise children and keep their husbands by their side each day.

Her determination, her spirit, her persistence and ultimately her courage are what endear her to me and make me want to help her. We’ve taken her to the Ministry of Women Affairs, WRAPA and to MTN Foundation. She does not meet the criteria for any of their programs.

All I’ve done all I can do right now is bring her story and her begging to the internet. So maybe she won’t have to stand on the streets at night (the only time she can come out as she explains) vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, though I doubt she is that easily exploited.

We have helped her open a bank account, the first in her life. If you are moved to help her please make a direct contribution to her. She says she needs money to resume her domestic fuel business and send her children back to school.

If you are in Nigeria you can make a donation to Joy’s account

Account Name: Joy Osadolor
Bank: GTB Plc
Account Number: 0121071317

If you wish to speak to Joy or make a donation from abroad you can email me at lesleyagams@yahoo.com

You can also visit my site for more information about my work in Nigeria http://www.lesleyagams.com

Grounds for Divorce in Nigeria – Cruelty & Domestic Violence

Cruelty is an old common law ground for divorce which does not exist under the Matrimonial Causes Act but can be used to establish that the respondent has behaved in ways that the petitioner can no longer be reasonably expected to live with him or her as provided in section 15(2).

Cruelty is the intentional an malicious infliction of physical and mental harm and suffering or a reasonable fear of further harm. It also includes the continuous infliction of minor acts of ill treatment that are likely to cause the victim to break down emotionally or mentally. However, temper and nagging are not enough to establish cruelty.

Strong evidence of cruelty includes police reports, medical records and eye witness testimony are desirable but not indispensable. The court is required to consider the entire evidence and decide whether it gives rise to a finding of cruelty. Generally conduct that endangers life, limb or health will amount to cruelty.

This will include persistent, pervasive and excessive violence or threat of violence, deliberately infecting a spouse with a sexually transmitted disease, constant displays of rage, use and abuse of juju/voodoo or religious doctrine neglect of a spouses physical needs for food, shelter and clothing and verbal and emotional abuse.

It should be noted that under the act the requirement is to prove that the petitioner/victim can no longer be reasonably expected to live with the respondent and the burden of proof is significantly lighter than it was to prove cruelty under common law.

The Nigerian case law on section 15(2) is remarkably well developed. Make sure your lawyer is knowledgeable about them and can cite the appropriate cases.

Image

Joy Osadolor Tells Her Story in Her Own Words, Its an Eye Opener

I met Joy begging in Abuja one night with her baby. I asked her why, she doesn’t look like someone that has to beg. Joy is from Benin in South West Nigeria. Her story is so typical it could be the story of every Nigerian woman. Her husband abandoned her with 3 children and a fourth one on the way. Listen to her story. You will cry.

She’s not posh, or educated, she sounds more like a bad Nollywood script sometimes but she is the average Nigerian woman, the uneducated, urban dwelling women who struggle to raise children and keep their husbands by their side each day.

Her determination, her spirit, her persistence and ultimately her courage are what endear her to me and make me want to help her. We’ve taken her to the Ministry of Women Affairs, WRAPA and to MTN Foundation. She does not meet the criteria for any of their programs.

All I’ve done all I can do right now is bring her story and her begging to the internet. So maybe she won’t have to stand on the streets at night (the only time she can come out as she explains) vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, though I doubt she is that easily exploited.

We have helped her open a bank account, the first in her life. If you are moved to help her please make a direct contribution to her. She says she needs money to resume her domestic fuel business and send her children back to school.

If you are in Nigeria you can make a donation to Joy’s account

Account Name: Joy Osadolor
Bank: GTB Plc
Account Number: 0121071317

If you wish to speak to Joy or make a donation from abroad you can email me at lesleyagams@yahoo.com

You can also visit my site for more information about my work in Nigeria http://www.lesleyagams.com

Not Another Commentary on “There Was A Country”

As part of my research for a biography that I am currently writing I had to read up on Biafra and the Nigerian civil war. By coincidence Chinua Achebe’s personal memoir  about the war “There Was A Country” released recently  (which I am yet to read) has been polarizing opinion among Nigerian commentators and pundits. The arguments have as usual been mostly emotional and tribalistic.

While Chinua Achebe asserts there was a ‘genocide’ and that it was spear headed by Obafemi Awolowo, Awolowo’s defenders argue otherwise. There is also a lot of rancor about whether the ‘true’ history of the civil war is being taught to our younger generations.

I have refrained from commenting.  My experience has been that discussing the civil war is like discussing religion or politics, unacceptable as polite dinner conversation. No one seems rational about it.  Tempers flare and friends destroy friendships.

There was an attempt by @CitizensPlatformNg to moderate a discussion on twitter that largely failed do more than stir the hornets’ nest. Nothing conclusive or progressive came of it, it seemed only to further expose peoples entrenched and fixed opinions.

Considering the sentiments expressed by the various parties it was a bit of a surprise to see the wealth of information available about the war on the internet alone. Especially considering that the debaters were mostly online activists. Google ‘Biafra’ and almost 2 million results come up, many of them commentaries and reports written during the war.

Like this one by Maxwell Cohen who argued vehemently in 1968 that there was a genocide and it was being ignored by the global powers for self serving reasons.  And this memorandum from the American Jewish Congress also of 1968 that pretty much said the same thing and names a number of other western liberals that believed that the starvation policy was a form of genocide.

George T. Orick, a business man who left Lagos just before the war started  said in his speech to the  First International Conference on Biafra in New York, on December 7, 1968 that;

“After the January 1966 military coup in which the Sarduana of Sokoto, who was the spiritual leader of the Moslems in Nigeria as well as the central leader of the Northern Region and in fact, if not in theory, of Nigeria, was killed, the folk wisdom of many of the tribes then (I call it folk wisdom because it was never official government policy, but it was a motivation expressed by the largest tribe in Nigeria) was that one million Ibos must die to avenge the killing of the Sarduana. I heard this many, many times. Nigerians will deny it, of course, but it was-said often.”

During an interview the subject of the biography I’m writing, and who was a child during the war expressed experiences and sentiments very similar to those expressed by Okey Ndibe in this 2007 feature on the website “Nigerian Village Square” titled “My Biafran Eyes”.

Having worked with victims of violence against women for over 15 years the most important lesson we learn and share is to always validate a victim’s account of their abuse.  As such I find the criticism levelled against Achebe for his  personal account of an atrocious war grossly unfair and quite frankly  akin to a public lynching  or like asking a rape victim ‘what were you wearing’.

And that’s all that I have to say about it right now.

One love and One Nigeria.

 

Fascinating to learn the region of south east Nigeria and most of Cameroon were known as Biafra or Biafara by the Portuguese. Makes you wonder. Cultural or socio-political similarities?

 

One more voice of reason in all the madness

Michael Asuquo

When the four boys were murdered in ways that make the barbarians look civil, you were not there. You watched it and afterwards, voiced your anger. You screamed things must change…NOW!

Things have not changed! More have been killed. More are waiting to be killed. What are you doing about it?

I read an article by M I Abaga on ‘HOPE’. The bottom line was: he wondered how long, we as a people would rely on hope for the change we desire! I wonder the same thing too. A dear friend of mine asked me on Oct 1st, this year (just 9 days back) why I bother to ‘worry’ about Nigeria. He advised I should just aim to make my money and live my life because, like he put it, “it doesn’t concern me”.

I thought his views were wrong – please prove me right by making this…

View original post 1,187 more words