Nigeria’s world famous author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said the Igbo have been treated unfairly by the rest of Nigeria, especially after the war, 49 years ago and therefore recommended the setting up of a truth and reconciliation committee.
Nigeria set up a body akin to the truth commission in 1999, headed by Justice Chukwudifu Oputa. It was called The Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission of Nigeria. But 16 years after it submitted its report, the recommendations have not been published.
Chimamanda made her recommendation today after she planted a tree at the Nelson Mandela Garden in Asaba, capital of Delta state. She was the guest of Dr. Newton Jibunoh, Nigeria’s famous environmentalist, who has the distinction of traversing the Sahara Desert.
The novelist and feminist campaigner, whose second novel, her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), took its title from the flag of the short-lived Biafra, said 50 years after the civil war ended, the Igbo have not been treated well by Nigeria.
“I think we should have a sort of Truth and Reconciliation Committee in this country, not just to address Biafra, which should be a central part of it, because it is impossible to understand Nigeria without understanding her history from around 1965 to 1970.”
“For Nigeria to thrive as a nation, we have to acknowledge the truth. In Asaba for instance, brutal massacres happened during the war and not yet acknowledged and so a lot still needs to be done. Let us just air our history, sometimes all people need to hear is sorry.
“There are houses in Port Harcourt today that were named abandoned properties and were illegally taken from their owners. There were people who lost everything they owned and just given a tiny amount to start all over. That is injustice that has not been addressed,” she said.
“Acknowledging our history does not mean we will have to divide Nigeria AND dissent does not mean treason.”
Nelson Mandela, after whom the garden was named set up a truth and reconciliation commission in post apartheid South Africa.
To Chimamanda, Nigeria cannot hope to make much progress without redressing injustice and embracing the truth and history.