Sometimes building a new vision --- developing a new dream --- fulfilling the promise for all people, means going back to remember. Sometimes, it means making things right. Sometimes it means paying tribute to those who sacrificed and those that showed up to risk it all to help.
Dr. Oguchi Nkwocha, Igbo visionary from Biafra/south-eastern Nigeria, shared the meaningful, commemorative initiative underway related to the HUMANITARY AID MONUMENT IN SÃO TOMÉ. It comes with a story we should all know --- a shameful story that will leave you in disbelief. It is one I regrettably missed in my busy-ness of early life and I assume you might have too.
The GOOD NEIGHBORS:
To set the stage for the description that follows, I remember how Dr. Nkwocha shared a part of this story with me. In his own words:
"Nigeria refused to allow humanitarian relief to go directly to Biafra. There were a few brave souls that showed up to help. Many lost their lives. Flying in relief to Biafra called for innovation. The Biafran airports were under constant fire and bombardments by the Nigerian Air Force. During this time with our good neighbors, the principal Biafran Airport became the busiest airport on the continent of Africa. It was the most efficient and most resourceful. Our innovation? All transactions were done in near total darkness! The world had failed Biafra, but there were brave souls---our good neighbors---who showed that they cared.
History teaches us one thing: Persons and Personalities are remembered, NOT for what they are NOR for what they do, but for what they have DONE."
WILL YOU SHOW UP TO HELP NOW?
Here is history and compelling story you won't want to overlook...this time. As I learn more about this story, I am sure its past, present and future comes to us as what Mother Teresa called "Jesus in a distressing disguise" calling out for all that is human in us to respond. We invite you to share in Xavier Muñoz Torrent's message below. The commitment demonstrated in this initiative is proof that the world, even if silent, does not and will not forget horrendous acts that painfully became part of the story of Biafra.
MESSAGE and INVITATION from...
Xavier Muñoz Torrent, President
Caué Association, Friends of São Tomé & Príncipe
São Tomé e Príncipe, África Occidental
Emails: email@example.com ou firstname.lastname@example.org
Cidade de São Tomé / Barcelona / Lisboa, July 2007
"Forty years ago, in the 30th May 1967, the Republic of Biafra was declared, by separation from Nigeria after political convulsions and indiscriminate killings which followed the first times of that post colonial federation. That proclamation was the starter of one of the most bloody wars ever seen before in the modern world -the War of Biafra- and one of the biggest genocides, that included the most terrible hungry: more than 1.500.000 civilians, mostly children, didn't survive to that drama.
From July 1968 till January 1970, the Joint Churches Aid was organising an humanitary air-corridor based in São Tomé island. Thanks to the skillfulness of pilots of different nacionalities in very risky night-flights, outwitting the Nigerian artillery, besieged Biafrans were provided with the most basic goods. The JCA's planes made plenty of flights (they did them different times every night) and took part in the evaquation of defenceless population where the genocide was sure.
The JCA's managers, the authorities of the Island and the civilian population were completely involved into a humanitary aid operations, with heroic facts (or simply human facts) which were place forever into the minds of people who lived that moment; even in the memories, legends and popular imaginary. The São Tomé port and airport registered an activity such intense as never before; São Tomé market filled up with cooperants, religious people, medical doctors, logists and military men…, but also adventurers, mercenaries, mavericks, smugglers and speculators coming from the most remote places of the planet. São Tomé became during that time a "hub" devoted to international relief and its name was placed on the world map again, as the capital of the most felt humanity that was fight against the most brutal violence and irrationality.
Nowadays, the rest of those planes used in that air-bridge, two "Lockheed Constellation" ("Connies"), abandoned to the climatic inclemencies since the end of the war, are the silent testimonies of this episode, almost forgotten, of the contemporary history of São Tomé and of the Western Africa.
AN INTERNATIONAL POPULAR INITIATIVE:
THE MONUMENT OF HUMANITARY AID
The Caué Association, Friends of São Tomé e Príncipe, believes, after these years of playing a function in local memory, of last evidence, a recognizement is needed for these aircrafts an is impelling an international popular initiative (by free subscription of individuals and entities) to ask to the Government of the Democratic Reuplic of São Tomé e Príncipe
THE CONVERTION / DECLARATION OF THE REST OF THE TWO LOCKHEED CONSTELLATION AIRCRAFTS AS AN INTERNATIONAL MONUMENT OF THE HUMANITARY AID, TAKING PART OF THE SANTOMEAN NATIONAL INHERITANCE.
The project includes the declaration of both aircrafts and the field where they are placed as historic monument and official catalogation, the renewing and consolidation of both planes and conditioning of one of them to be used as museum of humanitary aid and of the history of that air-bridge to Biafra; the organisation of conferences and exhibitions, debates and other different cultural and scientific manifestations about the humanitary aid or relief, about the humanitarism and about the social ethics of cooperation.
GIVE YOUR SUPPORT TO THIS INITIATIVE
The Caué Association is impelling a campaign for international support subscription. You can give your support to this initiative by subscribing it. Deadline to send supports: 31st July 2007."
How you can support this meaningful project:
May our world live with a greater more generous consciousness to ensure the past is honored, the present is healed and the future is one of HOPE for the Biafran people.
Founder, Global Dialogue Center
On behalf of the Nation and People of Biafra
RELATED PODCAST AND STORIES:
PODCAST with Oguchi Nkwocha, M. D.
STORY #1: NIGERIA: Did you know people are dying?
STORY #2: NIGERIA: GREED, HUMAN ABUSE, STEALING and loving your neighbor?
STORY #3: NIGERIAN LEADERS STOLE 100 BILLION SINCE 1999