Biafra Essay, Research Paper
By: Phillip Brown
Mr. Bill Maher
Biafra: A People Betrayed by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. explains the end of the short-lived Republic of Biafra. In the article the Biafrans were portrayed as people fighting for their survival and in complete awe and knowledge of what was about to happen to them, Genocide. Complete and utter genocide, although it never came, neither did the peace, freedom, and first world life that it tried to achieve.
Throughout the article Vonnegut uses sarcasm to illustrate his points. At the beginning of the article Vonnegut wrote, ?It had a few friends in this world,? referring to Biafra, ?and among its active enemies were Russia and Great Britain. Its enemies were pleased to call it a ?tribe.? Some tribe.? Some tribe is right. The Biafrans were people of prosperity. They were Doctors, lawyers, merchants, poets, and more.
In the inner context, Vonnegut shows the concept of the other. General Ojukwu jokingly states ?They call us a dot on the map, and nobody is sure quite where.? Vonnegut replies with ?Inside that dot were 700 lawyers, 500 physicians, 300 engineers, 8 million poets, 2 novelist of the first rank, and God only knows what else- about one third of all the black intellectuals in Africa. Some dot.? This statement infers that the Biafrans know what is going to happen and can do nothing about it. Vonnegut goes on to write later referring to the retreat of the Biafran intellectuals back to their homelands, ? The dot has now vanished. Hey, presto.? Vonnegut implies that instead of joking about the ?dot? is very improper. Oh well too late is Vonnegut?s view.
In the closing statements of this article Vonnegut wrote, ?The Biafrans had never fought before. They fought well this time. They will never fight again. They will never play Finlandia on an ancient marimba again. Peace.? In the latter part of the quote Vonnegut?s sarcasm illustrates that the people who were persecuted, starved or casualties of a war that was fought in hope of obtaining freedom, fought in vain.
Vonnegut?s main thesis in this paper is about collective guilt. Nigeria was going to commit Genocide on Biafra. It takes a whole nation to kill another. Vonnegut stated ?The Biafrans kept telling the outside world that Nigeria wanted to kill them all, but the outside world was unimpressed.? Should they be impressed or not? An educated Biafran told Vonnegut after he commented that the Americans knew what was happening to the children, ?We?re grateful, but I wish they knew more than that. They think we?re a dying nation. We aren?t. We?re an energetic nation that is being born?.? Vonnegut emphasizes the fact that that ?It?s hard to prove genocide. If some Biafrans survive, then Genocide hasn?t been committed. If no Biafrans survive, who will complain?? This statement by Leonard Hall, of the Manchester Guardian, summarizes the entire situation. Leonard also described what was happening as the same thing that happened in Nazi Germany to the Jew in the Warsaw ghetto. How do you punish collective guilt? You don?t.