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Today in history

On Saturday, January 15, 1977, the twice postponed, much criticized Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC '77) commenced in Lagos. More than 150,000 people witnessed the two hour long opening ceremony at the National Stadium with about the same number of people locked out for lack of space. Led by Ethiopia, the ceremony featured Olympic-style parade of colourfully attired dancing delegations from 47 countries. Ethopia got the lead position because it was scheduled to host the next festival. Senegal, host the first festivalboycotted FESTAC '77 in protest against what Presidendt Sedar Senghor said was Nigeria's attempt to dictate African culture because of its oil wealth. In spite of that, at least 13 heads of governments came in person or sent representatives to the opening ceremony. In his speech, General Obasanjo welcomed the visitos, extended fraternalgreetings to Black and African people around the world and urged participants to utilize the month-long exchange of ideas as step toward mental liberation.


On January 15,1970, at a ceremony that was later describedas "cordial, casual and friendly ,"Major General Philip Effiong of the Biafran Armed Forces handed a document of surrender to General Yakubu Gowon of the Nigerian Armed Forces. In a speech to the country on the same day, Gowon announced the formal end of the 30-month civil war which he traced to the troubled events that the Five Majors initiated exactly four years ealier. He proclaimed the day's event "the dawn of reconciliation" and that the war was fought between brothers so there is "no vanquished,"and no medals. General Gowon, son of a clergyman, thanked God several times in the speech, he also thanked African leaders who contributed to the peace process. That ceremony stands out till today as Nigeria, and Gowon's, finest hour. It inspired many books and millions of commentries around the world and, closed the chapter one writer described as "Black Africa's first major war fought with modern weapons in which all the Generals were Africans who had to command, sustain and supply large forces.


On Saturday, January 15, 1966, the Five majors-Chukwuma Nzeogwu, Emmanuel Ifeajuna, A. Ademoyega, C.I. Anuforo, Donatus Okafor-attempted to forceful takeover of government and consequently plunged Nigeria into a long メdes of January'that spun a trail of death, disaster and destruction and ended four years later on its exact anniversary. Official Police account of that day's events later stated that the Majors struck in Kaduna, Ibadan and Lagos, that their activities commenced at 2:00AM, that only 125 people were intentionally killed tough 27 died and that some other people were arrested and later released. In a broadcast aired on ther same day, Nzeogwu, the prsumed leader of the majors, stated that the coup is a revolution and its aim was to ムstablish a strong, united and prosperous nation, free from corruption and intenal strife."