By Ade Alade
Like a thief in the night, he crept into our sub-conscious by bombarding the airwaves with his secessionist messages using his clandestine Radio Biafra. And like a bolt from the blue, he hits the nation’s consciousness. Today, a relatively unknown young man with a strong message sweeping thousands from their homes and businesses to protest his detention, has suddenly become the cynosure of national attention.
Even at that, not many Nigerians really know him more than his 10-letter names; Nnamdi Kanu. For many, he is a mystery man. Nobody seems to know his parents, his place of birth, childhood, how he caught the bug of the Biafra struggle and what exactly he wants to achieve with a crusade that has led Nigeria into a 30-month civil war, precisely between 1967 and 1970.
To unmask Nnamdi who is currently in detention following his arrest by the Department of State Security Service, Saturday Sun went in search of the mystery man. Our findings, including a rare encounter with the incarcerated Director of Radio Biafra, no doubt, exposed the new face of the Biafran struggle.
Who would ever fathom that Nnamdi was born into royalty in Isiama Afara community in Abia State? Until now, no one including security agents who have been on his trail until he was recently arrested has been able to determine the motivation driving his struggle. Does activism run in his family? Are there landmark structures that provide him metaphysical inspiration? Maybe the fact that his father’s house shares the same fence with a historical relic of the Biafra war, that is the Ojukwu Bunker is one of such. The answers to these and many more would surely blow our minds.
Indeed, the Biafran activist was just a number, until about three years ago when he set up Radio Biafra, to advance the cause of his group, which has been agitating for the resurrection of the defunct Biafra.
He was the London Coordinator of Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), led by Ralph Uwazurike. Following disagreement with Uwazurike, he splintered to form another group, the Indigeneous People of Biafra (IPOB). Today, the little known Nnamdi, has become a tsetse fly perching dangerously on the real man, which if you try to kill, you risk breaking the real man, but if you allow it, it will suck and dry the man.
Born at the peak of the Nigeria-Biafra internecine war, he went to Government College, Umuahia, Abia State and later University of Nigeria, Nsukka before travelling to London to continue his university education.
On his reason for setting up Radio Biafra, Kanu said, it is to set a largely misinformed public free from the twin evil of tyrannical rule of a cabal of ill-educated and institutionally corrupt men and women and the sponsored sectarian killings directed against Christian Southerners living in Northern Nigeria by terrorists operating in the name of Islam.
He also said that, the radio will serve to articulate a solution to the plight of impoverished and confused Igbo families abandoned by their leaders in Northern Nigeria to a fate worse than those endured by black slaves in plantations in the Americas.
Radio Biafra, he stressed, will use and deploy every available resource to campaign for the rights of all oppressed indigenous peoples of Southern Nigeria to determine how they wish to structure their societies and live their lives. He added that the radio would broadcast debates on issues of national and international importance affecting the lives and rights of the indigenous peoples of Biafra and indeed indigenous people of all ethnic persuasions in Nigeria.
Radio Biafra also known as Voice of Biafra, is a radio station that was originally founded by the government of the Republic of Biafra, but is currently operated by Kanu. Believed to have had its first transmission before the Nigeria – Biafra war, the radio station was instrumental in the broadcast of speeches and propaganda by Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu to the people of the Republic of Biafra.
Based in the United Kingdom, Radio Biafra transmits via the internet and shortwave broadcast targeted majorly around Eastern Nigeria. It claims to be “broadcasting the ideology of freedom of the Biafra people”.
The station has been received with mixed reactions. While some critics have criticized the station for “inciting war” through its programmes and “preaching hate messages” against Nigeria, which it refers to as a “zoo”, others have largely seen it as the voice for the oppressed.
On July 14, 2015, federal authorities said the radio station has been jammed because it did not have a broadcast licence from the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission. However, the station in a swift reaction labelled such claims as “lies” and went on to release its new frequency details to the public.
On October 17, Kanu was arrested in Lagos by DSS operatives. On October 20, he was arraigned and granted bail, but he is yet to be released from detention. This has sparked off mass protests across parts of Delta, Anambra, Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi, Imo, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states. (Sun)