The Cult Of Personality And The Radio Biafra Phenomenon By Dele Awogbeoba

16/Oct/2015   //    Viewers:590    //    Likes:    //    Shares:    //    Comments:


A casual, objective and passive listener of Radio Biafra will be bemused by the Radio Station. Listening to its telephone call-in guests and its “Director”, one gets the view that a distinct cult of personality is evolving around the “Director”. The “Director” preaching has now evolved. Biafra is no longer simply an aspiration for self determination for a tribe. The “Director” now refers to Biafra as a “religion”. His adherents have referred to the “Director”, during live calls and in his presence, as a “messiah”, “moses” and a “spirit”. Some online callers to that radio station even suggested that they will prefer to die in the place of the “Director”. The ultimate act of self sacrifice!


It is becoming very clear that the “Director” aims to achieve equal status as Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Obatala or, more appropriately, David Koresh. What cannot be of any doubt, is that the director is a charismatic figure and he provides a great dream and inspiration for his adherents (most of whom (including the self styled “Barrister”) are barely educated).

“Director” has, by special promulgation from “the most high”, decreed, using polished English intermixed with fluent igbo, that “Biafra land” extends from the former Eastern region and now covers the Itsekiri, Urhobo, Isan, the entire delta state as well as the igala and Idoma parts of Kogi and Benue. His rationale (and deciding factor) is that once “you are a people that culturally tie two piece rapa” then one’s land becomes subsumed into Biafra project (whether those tribes likes it or not). The fact that most of delta and Bayelsa states spent the better part of 6 centuries as part of Benin empire before they were consumed into Nigeria by the British in the late 18th century is of less significance to the cultural test of the “two piece rapa”.

No doubt Ojukwu will be most proud of him. What Biafra could not achieve through force of arms, “Director” has, by special edict, promulgated commandments to forcefully take over territory of tribes and groups that have never had any cultural or governing relationship with the Igbos in the former East Central State in particular or the Eastern region or indeed Biafra in general. Curiously, the Urhobo (who are a sub group of the Edo and migrants from Benin during the time of the Ogiso dynasty) are proclaimed to be Biafran territory because it unfortunately passed the “two piece rapa” test whilst the Edo fortunately failed that test!!

One may be tempted to ask what motivates the “director”. He is clearly a highly driven man. He is also a very intelligent man. He is adept at using conjecture, omission and embellishment to construct a history of “Biafra land” that bears no semblance or connection with present reality or past history. It is no doubt the “opium” of a body of opinion within his tribe (many of whom have given testimony on Radio Biafra that his sermons on Radio Biafra have been integral to their self discovery and their conversion on their way to their metaphorical Damascus). The Biafra project, for him, has been a dream that he has cultivated (and been imprisoned) for decades.

He clearly has a deep aversion, hatred and antipathy for the North (whom he describes, for convenience, as Hausa Fulani) and the Yoruba. He also has ingrained hatred for black people (whom he has described as “stupid”, “backward” and “animals”). His own tribe have not been excused from being labeled in pejorative terms and descriptions either. His disparaging venom has also been extended to Willie Obiano and Rochas Okorocha. A clear messianic personality and self image is evolving which is intermixed with self hatred and self loathing.

What is clear is that the “Director” will find it hard to maintain his logical position when subjected to rigorous debate. He has no doubt evolved into a more intellectually self confident person over time and he now discusses, (devoid of anger and abuse) and from an intellectual perspective, Biafra and its underlying basis with people that do not share his Biafran world view on Radio Biafra. His worshipers however are clearly opposed to such a show of openness. They are less educated and less sure of their intellectual strength. They will rather prevent such a discussion that calls into question the basis of their new religion.

One therefore needs to ask the question, should Radio Biafra continue to be censured within Nigeria and is it truly a threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria. Is this new Biafran ideal (which the “Director” now calls a religion) likely to have the same destructive effect on Nigeria and or his tribe as the Boko Haram religious adherents (anchored itself on a perversion of Islamic religious concepts) have wrecked on the people of the North Eastern parts of Nigeria for the last 6 years. Ideologies anchored on religion no longer needs to be logical. It becomes faith based and the anchored head of that religion becomes the “Ayotollah” whose commandments (whether rationale or otherwise) must be followed without question or introspection.

I have never been a fan of censorship of opinions. Credible views will always be able to withstand logical and intellectual argument and analysis. I am also aware of the destructive nature of religious based teachings, especially when propagated by a charismatic figure who wraps himself in religious and messianic clothes. On this conflicting issue, I will, for the first time, admit to being bewildered!!

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