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October 7, 2012 — 45 Years After the Massacre

October 7, 2012

Asabans gather to look at the exhibit: “Most Vulnerable Nigerians: The Legacy of the Asaba Massacres.”

From Liz Bird:

The purpose of this month’s trip back to Asaba (it’s sometimes hard to believe this is our fifth visit!) was to participate in the third October 7 commemoration, which marks the worst day of killing in the 1967 massacres. This time, we were bringing the final version of the memorial exhibit, on which we’ve been working since our trip earlier this year.

Our exhibit takes the form of 11 large (79 inches x 32 inches) panels, which tell the story of the rampage that left so many dead 45 years ago. Printed on heavy duty vinyl, they were mounted on portable metal stands, which we had carried with us from Tampa. Eventually they will be displayed in a permanent site in Asaba – for this special event, we erected them at the back of a community hall, where about 200 people came in procession after a memorial service at the largest mass grave site, Ogbe-Osawa.

The events at the hall included speeches, led by our friend Chief Louis Odogwu, head of the Asaba Development Union, and the showing of a short video we compiled from our interviews and research. There were a few scares as everyone struggled with the a/v equipment, but all worked out, and after the video we were asked to say a few words about our three years of research.

As we heard the appreciative comments from so many people, we were sure the work – not to mention the struggle to carry all the panels, stands, and other materials! — had all been worthwhile.  We reconnected with many people we’d met before, and we were especially happy to see a significant number of younger people in attendance, and avidly reading the panels.  

It has been a long day, but this evening we’ll be able to relax, think about today’s commemoration, and maybe plan the next phase of our work.

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