TRIBUTE TO PRESIDENT OMAR BONGO –
(Enyi Mba – A friend of Ndi Igbo and our hero)
It is often said that “A friend in need is a friend indeed”. President Omar Bongo was indeed a true friend to Ndi Igbo. In our hour of greatest need, surrounded by enemies, betrayed by neighbors with nowhere to turn you came to our aid.
While nations cowered behind the veil of “common wisdom” or allowed their conscience to be bought, you courageously stood up to recognize the inalienable right of a people to self determination. Even as the world, led by the British government, insisted that Biafra was a Nigerian “internal matter” you stood firm in your assertion that evil could not be allowed legitimacy.
When parts of our mineral rich land were signed away by Gowon's adminstration to neighboring countries as compensation for closing off land access to Biafra, you opened up the land, coastal waters and airspace of your country for use by individuals and organizations that brought relief materials to our dying people.
When hunger was officially and effectively used a weapon of war by the federal government of Nigeria under Yakubu Gowon and given tacit approval by most governments, you saw the horror of starvation in the eyes of our children, declared that they too had a right to live, and acted. When the airlift of food and medicines from your territory Gabon was no longer enough to stave off the catastrophe that had befallen us, you opened your hospitals and orphanages that our children might live.
When all legitimate avenues and means for self determination were denied us, even as the governments of Eastern and Western nations formed unholy alliances bent on our destruction, you saw the unfairness of it all, and stood resolute in your decision that Biafra had a right to protect herself.
The overwhelming asymmetry of the Nigerian civil war made the conclusion inevitable. The elephant’s (Enyimba) trumpet call was muzzled and the world moved on. Like the elephant, our ability to remember is undying. In the deep recess of our collective memory as a people, we remember our time of peril, and those that tried to lighten our darkness. We will NEVER forget you and our other friends in foreign lands.
So dear President Omar Bongo, it is the blood debt that we owe you and our brothers in Gabon, that draws us to your death-bed. As you embark on your final voyage, we ask our ancestors to watch over you. The rain may fall, but will not drown you. The sun may shine but will not scorch you. Neither animal on land nor fish at sea will harm you. Our God will guide you. Amadioha will protect you, until you reach your final place of rest with your ancestors.
And may the country you leave behind continue to grow and prosper.
May your successor love your people even as you loved us.
May your people never know hunger or deprivation.
And may your good deeds be rewarded over and over and over.
ISE ! ISE!! ISE!!!
Igbo League, Inc (A Human Rights Organization)
(The term Enyimba depending on context, refers to the strength of the African elephant as a metaphor for Igbo strength, but could also mean Non Igbo friends of Ndi Igbo)