The Final Of AFCON 2012: The Bianfran Experience- Uche Ezechukwu

The final match of 2012 AFCON contest which held in Libreville, Gabon, last Sunday night should have a very deep spiritual and Ivory Coast's Captain Didier Drogba Reacts AFP/Getty Imagespolitical significance to every Igbo man,Ivory Coast woman and child. As I meditated on these significant issues during the match, I had goose pimples and wished that there could be a new rule that would award the victory to the two contesting nations – Cote d’Ivoire and Zambia. I invite you to meditate on these facts, too:Zambia prepares heroes' welcome for Cup winners
• Gabon, the co-host of the soccer tournament was a great friend of Biafra and was one of the countries that recognized it during the war. In fact, the current Gabonese president, Ali Bongo, is the first son of President Omar Bongo (then Bernard Bongo, before his conversion to Islam) Former African Footballer Of The Year Kalusha Bwalya Holds AFP/Getty Imageswho had recognised Biafra. In addition to being the base for the transportation of relief materiel and armament to Biafra, Gabon was the key diplomatic outpost of Biafran enclave. President Bongo permitted and facilitated the air-lift of about 3,000 starving Biafran children to Gabon where they were saved from a certain death in Biafra. The Federal Military Government of Nigeria of Yakubu Gowon had officially adopted starvation as an official policy against the Biafrans. The philosopher king of the Gowon regime had reasoned that, “starvation is a veritable weapon of war”, and it was the official policy of that regime to starve all Biafrans to death through a land, sea and air blockade. Today, hundreds of those Biafran children who could not be identified and claimed back to Nigeria after the war are prospering as adult Gabonese-Biafrans. Zambia's Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene (L) Reacts AFP/Getty Images
• President Felix Houphuet-Boigny of Cote d’Ivoire was one of those who recognized Biafra on account of the clout of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, coupled with his relationship with other African leaders. Cote d’Ivoire also airlifted and hosted hundreds of Biafran kwashiorkored children and nurses who cared for them and many of them still hold Ivorien citizenship till today. When the war ended in Biafra’s disfavour and Ojukwu was forced to go into self-exile, it was Cote d’Ivoire that harboured him, his family and key aides for 13 years before he was granted pardon by President Shehu Shagari in 1982. Zambia's Captain Christopher Katongo Kisses AFP/Getty Images
• President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia (who was at the match finals in Libreville) also recognized Biafra during the war. Before then, Zambians had always laid a claim to a common ancestry to Eastern Nigerians, with whom they share an uncanny physical resemblance. Eastern Nigerian professionals and intellectuals had helped to build up the system in the post-independence Zambia in the early 1960s. Supporters Of The Ivory Coast's National Football Team Watch The Africa Cup Of Nations (CAN 2012) Final Football Match AFP/Getty ImagesThe University of Lusaka was built up by the likes of Profs Ben Nwabueze, Ben Obumselu, etc, just as their Judiciary. (In fact, Prof Nwabueze was the VC of the university). After the civil war, Biafra’s Airforce boss, Gibson Nwosu (the current traditional ruler of Awka) moved to Zambia and was largely instrumental to the development of the Zambian Air Force.
Members of  the winning Zambian team celebrating their victory over the Ivorien national team at the African Nations Cup finals in Gabon ... on Sunday.
As the match was being played yesterday, it looked to me that it was one of the events that was part of the national burial ceremonies of the late leader of Biafra which takes off all over Nigeria this week. The coincidences, for me, were too striking…and the outcome of the match had very deep and remarkable meanings to me.
Yes, the Zambians might have believed that the spirits of their national teammates that had perished in a 1993 plane crash off the Gabonese coast had played with them and had brought them victory. There are those of us who also hold that it was the spirit of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu which had brought together the three great friends of Biafra – Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire and Zambia – to Libreville (a city of freedom) for that celebration of life. With what happened in Libreville on Sunday night, the troubled spirits of the Chipolopolo players and of Ikemba, can now go towards the light and rest permanently in peace.
For me, too, it was a proof that the spirit of OJUKWU, the ‘Rebel’ I Served, is indeed, as I remarked in my book, indomitable. It also lent credence to the assertion of the Ivorien poet, Bernard Dadie, that, “les morts ne sont pas morts” (the dead are not really dead…)A Supporter Of The Ivory Coast's National Football Team Watches AFP/Getty Images


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