By Chibuike NwabukoAbuja (Sundiata Post) – The people of Asaba will in October organise a healing and forgiveness anniversary to mark 50 years remembrance of the October 7 massacre of more than 700 men and boys of its people by the Biafran troops in October 1967.
These were unarmed and defenceless indigenes of Asaba, who had trooped out to welcome Nigerian soldiers that had reclaimed the vital town of Asaba in Midwestern Nigeria from Biafran troops.
As a way of rising above the pain and anguish of the past and explore forgiveness as well as to heal and bring to closure this sordid event, indigenes of Asaba have decided to organise a memorial and that the theme for this for this year’s remembrance which will also mark the last anniversary is, “Remembrance & Forgiveness.”
Chairman of Asaba October 7 Memorial Group, Mr Alban Ofili-Okonkwo disclosed this on Tuesday in a statement sent to Sundiata Post.
He reminded that all the activities designed to commemorate this year’s landmark anniversary would revolve around the theme.
According to him, “Asaba indigenes under the auspices of Asaba October 7 Memorial Group have lined up a series of activities to celebrate the victims of the massacre with a focus on forgiveness.
While informing that the programme would span four days, he said that commemorative activities will commence on October 5 with a one-minute silence for the Asaba martyrs at Noon.
Mr. Ofili-Okonkwo explained that the primary objective of the “Asaba October Memorial” is to signal the rebirth of Asaba from the psychological and emotional devastation of the massacre.
He stated that the group will embark on sensitisation and citizen engagement programmes in order to achieve healing and closure which will “signal the collective resolve of Asaba indigenes to leave behind the memories of their tragic past and walk resolutely into a more promising future. “It also aims at galvanising Asaba people towards rebirth and healing.
The landmark memorial is expected to symbolise remembrance and forgiveness as the ultimate healer as encapsulated in our phrase ‘Asaba, Obodo gbayaliba’ – a land without malice, he said.
The Chairman therefore called on Asaba patriots; men and women of goodwill from across the nation to join in “erecting a befitting monument in memory of the dead where new life will be delivered, nurtured and celebrated as a symbol of shared humanity”.
According to him, “The campaign messages include: //WordsnotWar; //AsabaRebirth; //WeRememberWeForgive; //MyplaceofbirthAsaba; //remembranceandforgiveness.
The highlight of the anniversary would be the presentation of a book on the carnage entitled “The Asaba Massacre- Trauma, Memories, and the Nigerian Civil War” authored by renowned Anthropologist Prof. S. Elizabeth Bird and co-authored by distinguished historian Prof. Fraser M. Ottanelli both of the University of South Florida.
However, the book presentation will be preceded by the hosting of A Colloquium on the Asaba Massacre, with the theme: “In Pursuit of Rebirth”.
Eminent scholars, statesmen, renowned industrialists and other distinguished citizens of the world are expected to attend the activities marking this year’s anniversary.
The activities will be rounded off on Sunday, October 8 with thanksgiving service in churches across the world.