France, The Fulani and Biafra – Emeka Maduewesi

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Emeka Maduewesi, (NIGERIA MOMENT).

My heart goes out to France. Why should a people who so much love freedom be the victim of their own goodness? If there was no France, there would be no a United States of America in 1776. And that takes me to Biafra and the right to self determination.

In 1968, when the people of Eastern Nigeria and their Igbo ethnic group across the River Niger were subjected to a post-WWII genocide by other Nigerians with overt British support, France was the only world power that came to our aid. Russia, for the sake of Egypt, supported Nigeria. The United States ostrichally buried her head in the sands of neutrality. Over three million Biafrans died.

Biafra Flag and Ojukwu

France, always living up to their motto of Liberté, égalité, fraternité (Liberty, equality, fraternity) also got Cote d’Ivoire and Gabon, two of their many African independent colonies, to support Biafra. But France failed to secure a key nation that would have made all the difference in that war; Cameroon. So we now move to Cameroon, 1968.

Cameroon was a former German colony handed over to Britain and France under the League of Nations, later United Nations Mandate. As the wave of independcne swept over Africa in the 1960s, France granted French Camerron self government in 1956, with André Marie Bbida as Prime minister in 1957, and Ahmadou Ahidjo vice-Premier. Ahmadou Ahidjo was ethnic Fulani and Muslim.

In 1961, a referendum was held in British Cameroons to determine whether the territory should join neighbouring Cameroon or Nigeria. Northern (British) Cameroons voted to join Nigeria, whilst Southern Cameroons favored of integration with Cameroon.

Ahmadou Ahidjo was elected President of the Cameroon in 1960, having sided the French in the internal war with Mbida. André Marie Bbida, a Bamiléké Christian, had disagreed with Ahidjo’s extremely pro-French politics. Rather than compromise, Mbida went into exile in Conakry. He died in Paris on the 2nd of May 1980.

As pointed out earlier, France could not get Alhaji Ahmadou Ahidjo to support Biafra. Ahmadou Ahidjo chose to support his own people, the ethnic Fulani and the predominantly Islamic Nigeria as then constituted. Yes, if you take away Biafra and their Anioma kith and kin across the River Niger, the rest of Nigeria becomes 85% Islamic. Northern, Western and Mid-Western Christians will be extreme minority.

My point:
The world should realize that ethnicity and religion are thicker than politics. Ahmadou Ahidjo did not support the same France that made him President. He supported Nigeria because of the Fulani and his Islamic religion.

If Cameroon had supported Biafra, millions would not have died. My heart goes to the French for the hundreds they have lost. You did your best to save and in fact saved millions of Igbo. One of them is the President of Gabon today.

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Emeka Mbaewesi