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Mapping important sites

October 10, 2011

A bullet hole visible in the balcony railing

From Liz Bird:

After a very full day on the 7th,  during which we not only attended the commemoration, but also completed another few interviews, we were busy again on our last full day in Asaba. One of our goals this time was to use GPS to plot various key sites involved in the events four decades ago, in order to create an interactive map. So on Saturday, guided by our friend Chuck Nduka-Eze, we set out record these locations.

Using a program designed by my ingenious doctoral student, Maryann Cairns, we used specially programmed cell phones to record GPS location, photos, and associated voice recordings. We noted the largest massacre and grave site, as well as the locations of other killings, the route of the parade, and several family compounds where violence and killings had happened. We also noted the centers of each of the five quarters in Asaba.

Medua Uraih, an older brother of our friend Ify Uraih, showed us around the family house at 42 Ugbomanta Road, where troops burst in and terrorized the family. He showed where the soldiers entered and sprayed the house with bullets; on the second floor balcony, bullet holes are still clearly visible on the metal railings. Later however, a federal officer, Captain Matthias, who was appalled at the slaughter going on, moved troops into the ground floor of the house, and protected many extended family members, who all survived the killings.

Unfortunately,  Medua, Ify, and their brothers Paul and Emmanuel, along with their father Robert, had already joined the parade to Ogbeosawa on October 7. Paul, Emmanuel, and Robert died, while Medua was gravely injured. He still carries scars on his back where bullets felled him.

Outside the Uraih house (l-r) Chuck Nduka-Eze, Ify Nduka-Eze, Medua Uraih, Fraser Ottanelli

We thanked him for his hospitality, and continued around several more sites. Chuck introduced us to his sister, Ify, and showed us the impressive new statue and small park dedicated to his late father, Sylvester Nduka-Eze, a very prominent nationalist politician who is much revered in Asaba.   It was an interesting morning.

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