Grown-up Nigerians, also Igbos particularly, understand the adoring intensity with which Professor Austine S.O. Okwu did his occupation as a Nigerian diplomat between 1961 and 1967. Fearless and outspoken, on many occasions he stood for Nigeria, hard and fending off her detractors.
Though not as widely known as it needs to be, Austine Okwu needed a hand at the design of African faith and the creation of the Organization of African Union, the OAU. This was my comprehension on studying a subsection of the publication, In Truth About Justice and Honor: A Memoir of a Nigeria-Biafran Ambassador.
In case the translation stands, then this type of revelation in my comprehension of African American history (that, honestly talking, is adjacent to nil), needs to for the sake of posterity be pursued to finish.
Discussion on the telephone being immediately ruled out, I arranged to find that the Professor in his home to describe certain components, particularly the OAU facets of this publication.
He proposed Saturday, 2 pm, and I consented.
As soon as I came, parked my grey Honda alongside the curb and swiveled my head across my shoulder, then the Professor was heating up on the front deck beneath the New Haven, Connecticut sunlight beams.
If you descend a kola nut tree, then an Igbo proverb reminded mepersonally, get all of the nuts you desire since trees of kola nut grade are rarely climbed. In immediate arrangement I changed my mind, deciding to expand the meeting to adapt the Nigerian-Biafran civil war age.
He directed me through the front doorway to a small foyer. On the right was a midsize living space, suitably furnished to get a ninety-two year-old retired diplomat and his spouse, and bearing witness to innumerable gifts from enjoying relatives and well-wishers.
'Anselm, my beloved, please choose a chair,' he said, leading me farther in the core of the living space.
Beckoning me was my favored sitting place, the middle section of a three-seater black leather couch against the wall from the window. On a hardy brown table facing me, I put a copy of the publication and the most recent versions of my fixed posts, Part I and Part II.
The Professor sat to a single couch to my own right. As we spoke he regularly cleared his throat. "I'm not feeling well now; I've been in bed all day. If I had not promised, I'd have canceled. However, I really like to see you. After we're done, I'll return to bed. But I am pleased to see you, my son Anselm."
Can you take any medications, I asked?
"I don't like medication, unlessof course I get ill. My body will cure itself. I'm doing better. Are you going to choose ginger ale or water?"
"No, Prof. Thanks."
We all prevent soda and food such as middle-aged guys avoid talking ageing. We went uninterrupted.
I hadn't made a written record since the questions were sexy in my mind, such as freshly baked meat pie from an oven.
"Ask any question you'd like," he said, reading my thoughts. My mind mulled, considering the way to start.
Some guys do solicit queries simply to frown if a tough one is thrown. Since he likes to teach, he relishes queries of any issue. Obviously the caption'rescue the OAU' in his publication led the barrage.
Saving the Addis Ababa conference along with the OAU
'Can you really feel you needed a hand in the creation of the Organization of African Unity, OAU? If that's the case, how come your name isn't in most of the African American history books? Many guys became renowned for doing much less...' A mutual guffaw erupted to meet with the very last words.
'I didn't say precisely that in my novel', countered Austine, his guffaw yielding into a grin and end with clearing his throat.
'But this was my decision after I read the passage several times over. '
'Locate the page from the book where I spoke about my contribution to the OAU.'
On his insistence, I grabbed the publication from the desk, turned to page 136 and browse on the sectioned captioned,'rescue the Addis Ababa conference along with the OAU.' The vital sequence of this segment is set out below.
Emperor Haile Selassie
African States were split into two ideological camps, largely by their own approach to fighting with their ordinary imperial enemy. One camp favorite dealing with all the oppressors with kid gloves. Another camp needed the imperialists gone forthwith, without delay'.' A split Africa is a devil's launch pad,''' said Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and he called a meeting to combine the two warring camps, a total of thirty-one independent States. Julius Nyerere smelt a chance.
Julius Nyerere, Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, May 1963
President Nyerere, by the'kick the oppressors out today' camp, watched the Emperor's assembly as a fantastic chance to bring liberty fighters from regions of Africa still under colonial rule. He called a meeting of all diplomats serving in Dar es Salaam, a total of ten African heads of assignment.
'Inform the direction of the states,' said Nyerere,'allowing freedom fighters to participate in their May meeting.' For accent Nyerere replicated,'Our brothers that are fighting colonial oppression have to arrive at the assembly'
Diplomats did exactly what diplomats do; hear, take notesand maintain creep. Say thanks to the time , the food consumed, and friendship constructed and subsequently report back to their home nation.
All but one nodded acceptance at Julius Nyerere's directives. Soon enough that the only dissenter spoke. 'Inviting the freedom fighters,'' Mr. President, could set a Pandora's Box and scuttle the assembly,' opined the young Nigerian diplomat. Forthwith, Nyerere suggested an aide to arrest S.O.
Austine S.O. Okwu arrested by President Julius Nyerere
Difficult senior diplomats later hours in nearby restaurants is courageous enough, however dissenting having an African Head of State in a conference is obviously a mistake of judgment. Unless, of course, your title is Austine, where case inherent tact, guts, and shrewdness grip your choice making muscles.
Founded in detention, Austine was in a quandary. Can my magical charm work? And when it did they arrest me?
'Your position once more about the freedom fighters and the Addis Ababa Conference, Mr. Austine?' asked the President.
'I foresee problems, Mr. President. Inviting the favourite freedom fighters into the assembly would signify that additional Heads of State might encourage their own favourite freedom fighters, some of whom are fighting with equal Heads of State. These activities might scuttle the Addis Ababa assembly'
With one hand flapping a narrow brow, Nyerere considered the way the delicate convention could burst into flames. Two potential outcomes: Risk destroying the assembly or risk disappointing the freedom fighters.
He awakened with a confidant. After a couple of minutes ticked by, he arose and capitulated.
'Thank you,' Mr. Okwu,' said the President,'you're a real African patriot, along with your judgment might have spared the Addis Ababa conference.'
Memos went out into another diplomats: freedom fighters' presence is off the desk. The Addis Ababa convention went on, the two rival camps came together and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was born.
So did S.O. save the OAU?
Having attained some settlement on the OAU thing, our conversation analyzed events surrounding the Nigerian-Biafran civil war, 1967-1970: Was Kaduna Nzeogwu actually an Ibo? Can Austine fulfill the mythical Aguyi Ironsi? Were the Igbo condemn the January 1966 coup that ended the life span of this Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, and lots of iconic northern leaders? Why did the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Harold Wilson, maybe not lean on Northern Nigeria to stop the civil war? Can the Yoruba tribe talk up against the war? From what did the panic of Igbo domination of that age come? And so on.