I lived only 32 years, I died in my youth, yet I left more mark on your country’s history than your 78 year old granddaddy Buhari or is it Jubril these days…My name is Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna (Popularly called Emma Vancouver or The Assassin, Tafawa Balewa’s Assassin).
I wish I could play the romantic and tell you that the highest point of my life was meeting Rose in 1955 or the birth of our sons but that would be lying and telling lies is something I completely stand against.
So I would tell it true, the highest point of my life was winning GOLD at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Canada. I was literally higher than everyone else at 6 ft 8 in (2.03m). At 20 years old, I was immortalized (I didn’t have a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter handle); my image would be splayed across your exercise books.
Maybe I should satisfy the “North Vs South” blood lust by saying I had lied about the above and my highest point or sweetest moment was putting the bullet in that pig that graces your useless Five Naira note. Wouldn’t that be an awesome statement to make? However inciting it may be. I am Igbo you see and I am supposed to hate Northerners by default. I am also from Onitsha, the center of the Igbo agenda, where you could get killed for speaking against the tribe. No one thinks that my actions in 1966 and indeed that of Chukwuma Nzeogwu was borne out of the love of our great country Nigeria (I mean, 12 years past, I represented Nigeria at the Commonwealth games and not Biafra, actually there was no such thing at the time). My role in the Jan 1966 Coup d’état absolutely had to be tagged “TRIBE MOTIVATED.”
For love of country, I did everything for love of country. How many of us are truly patriotic? One good man wrote or explained:
“It was unity we wanted, not rebellion. We had watched our leaders rape our country. The country was so diseased that bold reforms were badly needed to settle social, moral, economic and political questions. We fully realized that to be caught planning, let alone acting, on our lines, was high treason. And the penalty for high treason is death.”
Chukwuma, Timothy Onwuatuegwu, Chris Anuforo, Don Okafor, AdewaleAdemoyega, Humphrey Chukwuka and I planned and executed our coup in a manner that would surely impress the modern day Game of Thrones fan. As with most things in this world, all didn’t go as planned and the Crocodile started to hunt us so my poetic friends helped me flee to Ghana. I remain forever grateful to Christopher Okigbo, J.P Clark and President Kwame Nkrumah.
A year later, the war broke out. Chukwuma and Emmanuel had caused a civil war (Gowon and Ojukwu were blameless). I stood for my people-the Biafrans and again I did my best for love. I tried to negotiate a cease fire with the Federal Government. I could see that we couldn’t win the war. We were backed up in our corner with minimal support from the outside world. I got Victor Banjo, Phillip Alale and Sam Agbam on board as well. I tried again to unite the nation, to bring an end to the killings. Millions of Biafra would have been saved and those disturbing images of malnourished children would never have been captured.
Brother Ojukwu was unto us and no matter how much I cried my good intentions, he screamed TREASON. I was executed on the 25th day of September 1967 along with my cohorts in Enugu and I hate to sound prophetic but two days later the North infiltrated the South and the big genocidal rape began.
While I did not get a state burial, a statue or a President at my funeral as some of my friends, I still know I lived THE LIFE. Dennis Memorial Grammar school (which I helped shutdown for a term-impact), Vancouver, University of Ibadan, serving as the SUG’s director of information, the Sigma Club, the Dynamic Party, Aldershot Uk, rising through the ranks of the military, Rose. I could say life was a fun ride till it ended with my body being tied and shot.
As elections draw near I decided to swoop down from heaven or is it rise from the pits to remind you of what is most important- ONE NATION BOUND IN FREEDOM, PEACE AND UNITY….
“All I ever wanted was to save Nigeria and her citizens”
“You need to think and pray very carefully about your vote because a vote for a candidate who promotes activities and behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your soul in serious jeopardy” — Bishop Thomas Paprocki
Naztory: Know Your Country, Love Your Country
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