–Patrick O Okigbo III
As the Igbo adage goes, “Ọkụkọ sị na ọ gaghị echezọ ọnye kworo ya ọ̀dú na udummiri”. The literal translation is that the chicken says that it won’t forget the one who plucked its tail feathers during the rainy season. It means that one should not forget the person who provided support in a time of great need. While Ndigbo may not say it every day (as we should), we do not forget those who came to our aid in our darkest days.
Friday, 8 May, was the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. The Red Cross is one of such organizations that braved all odds to provide food and supplies to Biafrans in those 30 months of darkness and survival. The Centre For Memories (Ncheta Ndigbo) shared a message of appreciation for the organization. That message got me thinking about the other organizations that provided support to the millions of men, women, and children who were victims of a conflict they had no hand in starting.
According to Wikipedia, approximately 30 non-governmental organizations and several governments provided non-military direct and indirect aid through or in support of the Biafran Airlift. Major contributors of such items as food, medicine, transport aircraft, air and ground crew included:
American Jewish Emergency Effort for Biafran Relief
Canada (financial, food, material, C-130 Hercules aircraft)
Canairrelief (an NGO organized by the Presbyterian Church of Canada and Oxfam Canada. Over 10,000 tons were carried in 674 flights)
Church World Service
Das Diakonische Werk (a German church group provided flight operations)
Germany (one C.160 aircraft)
Holy Ghost Airline (run by the Irish Catholic Holy Ghost Fathers, Africa Concern)
International Committee of the Red Cross – also acting as an umbrella group for multiple national Red Cross agencies
Nordchurchaid (an ad hoc organization of Protestant churched from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden)
Israel (Israel Aerospace Industries)
Save the Children Fund
Sweden (C-130 Hercules aircraft)
UNICEF (contributed four field service officers)
United States (financial, food, material, and eight C-97 US Air National Guard transport aircraft)
World Council of Churches
While the exigencies of life make it such that Ndigbo do not share their gratitude daily, it should never be construed as a lack of gratitude. The fact that there is still a group of people referred to as Ndigbo is thanks to your support. Like the proverbial chicken, we will never… never forget that you heard our cries and responded, at great cost. May the heavens never turn a deaf ear to your cries.
Many of these organizations are responding today to the many conflicts across Nigeria (Boko Haram in the North East, Herder-Farmer conflicts in North Central, rural banditry in the North West, Resource militancy in the South-South, separatist agitations in the South East, kidnappings, robberies, and violent gangsterism in the South West). Like the Biafra conflict, millions of Nigerian men, women, and children are again caught in a conflict they had no hand in starting. May this short post of gratitude continue to encourage you all to continue to respond to our collective cries even at great cost to you.
Dalu nụ. Thank you.
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