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Asaba Memorial Day 2015

October 8, 2015

From Liz Bird:

October 7, as the date of the single largest killing of Asaba civilians in 1967, is commemorated each year with prayers, singing, and speeches. This year’s event took place at the site of the new monument at Ogbe-Osawa, on which were recently inscribed the names of hundreds who died there. Many other names are yet to be added, but there is space.

As guests, we were given ceremonial fraser2liz asabaclothing, which is worn for special occasions. For me, this was a close-fitting top over a long, richly patterned and fringed white skirt, while for Fraser it was a long white shirt over a loose-fitting, skirt-like garment. Both of us wore akwa ocha (embroidered white cloth) shawls, his worn around the shoulders, and mine around the waist, in accordance with local gender customs. The people of Asaba wore similar garments when they gathered 48 years ago to formally express support for a united Nigeria, before the troops opened fire and killed so many.

The event featured an energetic sermon by Father Patrick Isichei, who lost many family members in the massacre. He preached on the need to remember, but also to forgive, saying that those who hold vengeance in their hearts are no better than the soldiers who killed their brothers and fathers.

monumentA choir from a local Anglican church sang hymns, some of which had the people dancing and clapping. Individuals rose to speak and sing, emphasizing that those who died must not be forgotten. Many spoke of the need to plan for a major event in 2017, the 50th anniversary – we certainly hope to be there, ideally with our finished book in hand!

names

kola nut

Preparing for the kola nut ceremony

One Comment leave one →
  1. Cyril Eboka permalink
    October 9, 2015 6:41 am

    Kudos to you Liz Bird and Fraser also. Asaba is eternally grateful to you. More grease to your elbows.

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