The people of Asaba and environs on the platform of Asaba October 7 Memorial Group,have concluded plans to mark the 50th anniversary of 1967 Asaba killings. According to a statement by the group’s Chairman,Mr. Alban Ofili-Okonkwo, October 7 “marks the 50th anniversary of the killings of defenceless indigenes in Asaba,one of the ugliest episodes of the Nigerian Civil War.
“The victims had trooped out to welcome Nigerian soldiers that had reclaimed the vital town of Asaba in Midwestern Nigeria from Biafran troops in October 1967.” Ofili-Okonkwo added that the programme will last four days with the theme Remembrance and Forgiveness,adding that all activities to commemorate this year’s landmark anniversary will revolve around the theme.
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 commemorative activities start October 5 with a one-minute silence for the Asaba martyrs at noon,followed by a media briefing,canon shots heralding traditional burial rites for the dead,known in Asaba culture as Egwu ota.
Also planned are service of songs and candle light procession to Ogbeosawa, the grave site,for tributes to the dead, inter-denominational service,exhibition of artefacts,documentary and presentation of awards to honourees.
A major highlight of the anniversary,he further said,include presentation of a book on the carnage entitled the Asaba Massacre — Trauma,Memories,and the Nigerian Civil War, authored by renowned anthropologist, Professor S.Elizabeth Bird and co-authored by historian,Professor Fraser M.Ottanelli,both of the University of South Florida.This will be preceded by a colloquium with the theme In Pursuit of Rebirth.The activities will end on October 8 with thanks-giving service in churches all over the world.