May 31, 2015 2:54:22 am
With candles in their hands, a solemn group of nearly 50 men and women gathered at Jantar Mantar on Saturday morning to sing the anthem of a country that no longer exists on the world map. “We shall emerge triumphant from this ordeal,” they said.
These men and women are from Biafra, which had declared its independence from Nigeria on May 30, 1967. They had gathered at Jantar Mantar to mark ‘Heroes’ Day’, to remember those who were killed during the civil war in the country between 1967 and 1970.
The civil war, say members of the Biafran community, was actually a genocide that is rarely talked about. They claim that 20 million people died during that period, after the Nigerian government banned the supply of medical aid and food to Biafra.
On January 15, 1970, Biafra ceased to be a country, after it was reintegrated with Nigeria. But for the community, the battle for self-determination is far from over.
‘Heroes’ Day’ is part of an agitation for the recognition of Biafra as a nation, and the movement has been picking up momentum. The remembrance meeting at Jantar Mantar is one of the many events planned across the world to mark the day.
“It’s not easy to explain what it is like to have a country that exists only in the past. Today, we have gathered here to remember the millions who died fighting for our independence. We dream that one day, we too will be free and decide our own fate,” said Solomon, who lives in Delhi.
Among those remembered during the event was Bruce Mayrock, a student who was killed while protesting the war.
“It’s very easy for people to forget what they don’t want to remember. But we live with the deaths of our forefathers every day,” said Michael O.
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