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We learn more stories

October 6, 2011

From Liz Bird:

Since coming to Asaba, we have completed five more interviews, to add to those completed previously. Although we’re now quite confident that we have a good grasp of the events of 1967, every interview offers some unique perspective.

We heard today from a man who described a horrific ordeal that happened on the morning of October 7,  some distance away from the parade that resulted in hundreds of deaths at Ogbe-Osawa village. He was among a large group of young men and boys who were rounded up by soldiers and taken to an open area. He watched as those with him were lined up, and one by one, were given shovels and ordered to dig shallow graves for those already killed, before being forced to lie down themselves, and be shot.  

He described how he covered the body ahead of him, and lay down awaiting his turn to be killed. At that moment, an officer arrived at the scene, demanding what the boys had done to deserve this horrible fate. The officer then ordered the killing to stop, and the survivors ran as far away from the area as possible. He described the utter helplessness felt by the victims as they awaited their turn to die, “like lambs to the slaughter,” and estimated that up to 200 young men died at that place.

Another interviewee, Martina Osaji, described the death of her father, shot by soldiers as they rampaged through the town. She spoke of the need to honor the life of her father, a teacher who was widely known and loved. Like many others, she did not believe such remembering stirred up hatred or a sense of anger. She felt the time for anger was past, but that the stories of those who died should be told, so that the community could finally heal.

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