Please turn on javascript in your browser to play chess.
Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. 20 Mar '13 00:25
    Unless you are an Igbo nationalist or have studied the Nigerian-Biafran War,
    you may be wondering, 'Who was Bruce Mayrock?' (He does not have even
    have his own Wikipedia entry.) Some people have praised Bradley Manning's
    courage in defying the US government; Bruce Mayrock's courage was greater.

    On 29 May 1969, Bruce Mayrock, an idealistic young white American student
    at Columbia University, set fire to himself near the UN building in New York City.
    His aim was to draw more attention to the plight of the people in Biafra and to
    protest the international community's general lack of support for Biafra's cause.
    (The UK (the former colonial power), USA, and USSR all supported Nigeria.)
    Several hours later, Bruce Mayrock died of his self-inflicted injuries, having
    given his life on behalf of a black African people whom he had never met.

    Bruce Mayrock's sacrifice was in vain. At that time, pro-Biafran propaganda
    had convinced many Westerners (presumably including Bruce Mayrock) that
    Nigeria's victory over Biafra would result in the genocide of the Igbo people.
    After winning the war in 1970, Nigerian soldiers reportedly committed some
    war crimes in 'reprisal', but genocide did not take place. Bruce Mayrock had
    shown great idealism, altruism, and courage, but less in the way of judgment.
    Nonetheless, his memory remains alive to some of the Igbo people, who can
    mourn his death as well as the demise of the country for which they yearned.

    I am curious. Would the readers here be more inclined to respect Bruce Mayrock
    for being a courageous idealist or to dismiss him as a misguided ignorant fool?
  2. 20 Mar '13 00:35
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    Unless you are an Igbo nationalist or have studied the Nigerian-Biafran War,
    you may be wondering, 'Who was Bruce Mayrock?' (He does not have even
    have his own Wikipedia entry.) Some people have praised Bradley Manning's
    courage in defying the US government; Bruce Mayrock's courage was greater.

    On 29 May 1969, Bruce Mayrock, an idealistic young wh ...[text shortened]... yrock
    for being a courageous idealist or to dismiss him as a misguided ignorant fool?
    "an idealistic young white American student at Columbia University, set fire to himself near the UN building in New York City."

    "Bruce Mayrock died of his self-inflicted injuries, having given his life on behalf of a black African people whom he had never met."

    Did those Africans benefit from his self immolation?


    "Bruce Mayrock's sacrifice was in vain. "

    Oh, I guess not.

    "Bruce Mayrock had shown great idealism, altruism, and courage, but less in the way of judgment."

    I'd say!

    I think you answered your own question adequately.
  3. 20 Mar '13 01:40
    Originally posted by normbenign
    "an idealistic young white American student at Columbia University, set fire to himself near the UN building in New York City."

    "Bruce Mayrock died of his self-inflicted injuries, having given his life on behalf of a black African people whom he had never met."

    Did those Africans benefit from his self immolation?


    "Bruce Mayrock's sacrifice was ...[text shortened]... he way of judgment."

    I'd say!

    I think you answered your own question adequately.
    "Did these Africans benefit from his self immolation?"
    --Normbenign

    A martyr's influence may be incalculable. Bruce Mayrock's death did draw more
    attention, albeit briefly, toward Biafra, and so some more Americans might have
    been motivated to donate money to help the starving or sick people in Biafra.
    Perhaps a starving or sick Biafran child's life was saved by those donations.

    A dropped pebble may lead to widening ripples in a still pond.
    Let's suppose that a girl walks along Sofia Perovskaya Street in St Petersburg.
    She might begin wondering 'Who was Sofia Perovskaya?' She might then learn
    that Sofia Perovskaya was a daughter of privilege (a governor of St Petersburg),
    who dedicated her life to fighting oppression as she had perceived it. Sofia
    Perovskaya successfully planned the assassination of Tsar Alexander II of Russia.
    She was hanged, and the Narodnaya Volya was soon crushed by the Tsar's
    efficient secret police. But the memory of her did not die with her body, and
    she helped to inspire some future Russian revolutionaries. So perhaps that
    girl, walking along Sofia Perovskaya Street, might begin thinking to herself,
    "With enough courage and determination, I could make a difference in history!"

    "We have begun a great thing. Two generations, perhaps, will succumb
    in the task and yet it must be done."
    --Sofia Perovskaya

    "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country."
    --Nathan Hale (possibly said just before his execution for spying)
  4. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    20 Mar '13 01:46
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    Unless you are an Igbo nationalist or have studied the Nigerian-Biafran War,
    you may be wondering, 'Who was Bruce Mayrock?' (He does not have even
    have his own Wikipedia entry.) Some people have praised Bradley Manning's
    courage in defying the US government; Bruce Mayrock's courage was greater.

    On 29 May 1969, Bruce Mayrock, an idealistic young wh ...[text shortened]... yrock
    for being a courageous idealist or to dismiss him as a misguided ignorant fool?
    Your analysis seems to have a definite anti-Biafran slant to it.
  5. 20 Mar '13 02:01
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Your analysis seems to have a definite anti-Biafran slant to it.
    I am not old enough to remember the Nigerian-Biafran War while it took place.
    I was neutral when I approached it as a subject of historical study.

    The war illustrated both 'politics makes strange bedfellows' and 'the enemy
    of my enemy is my ally'. Here's how some countries (roughly) took sides
    (Please excuse some oversimplifications):

    Nigeria was backed by most black African countries; Biafra by a few black African
    countries and the 'white powers' in Africa: South Africa, Rhodesia, and Portugal.
    Nigeria was backed by the USA and the USSR; Biafra by China.
    Nigeria was backed by the UK and most of the Commonwealth; Biafra by France.
    Nigeria was backed by the Arab countries; Biafra by Israel.
    Nigeria was backed by Muslim countries; Biafra by Catholic countries.

    For further reading:
    _The Brothers' War: Biafra and Nigeria_ by John de St. Jore
  6. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    20 Mar '13 02:34
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    I am not old enough to remember the Nigerian-Biafran War while it took place.
    I was neutral when I approached it as a subject of historical study.

    The war illustrated both 'politics makes strange bedfellows' and 'the enemy
    of my enemy is my ally'. Here's how some countries (roughly) took sides
    (Please excuse some oversimplifications):

    Nigeria wa ...[text shortened]... es.

    For further reading:
    _The Brothers' War: Biafra and Nigeria_ by John de St. Jore
    I've read about the Nigerian Civil War in the past. Enough to memorize the name Lt. Col. Chukuemega Odumegwu Ojukwu anyway. Having gone to the trouble of doing so, it should be fairly evident that I've always come down firmly on the side of Biafra. I also have two Biafran one pound banknotes framed and hanging on my wall.
  7. 20 Mar '13 02:43
    Originally posted by rwingett
    I've read about the Nigerian Civil War in the past. Enough to memorize the name Lt. Col. Chukuemega Odumegwu Ojukwu anyway. Having gone to the trouble of doing so, it should be fairly evident that I've always come down firmly on the side of Biafra. I also have two Biafran one pound banknotes framed and hanging on my wall.
    _The Brothers' War_ is a balanced book (perhaps slightly pro-Nigerian).

    You might enjoy reading this book
    _There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra_ by Chinua Achebe
    It's a pro-Biafran personal narrative, far from an objective history of the war.

    If Biafra had won its independence, then Bruce Mayrock, Rolf Steiner (a
    German mercenary). and Count Carl Gustaf von Rosen (a Swede who led
    Biafra's Air Force into action) might have had streets named after them.
  8. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    20 Mar '13 10:04
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    _The Brothers' War_ is a balanced book (perhaps slightly pro-Nigerian).

    You might enjoy reading this book
    _There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra_ by Chinua Achebe
    It's a pro-Biafran personal narrative, far from an objective history of the war.

    If Biafra had won its independence, then Bruce Mayrock, Rolf Steiner (a
    German mercenary). an ...[text shortened]... en (a Swede who led
    Biafra's Air Force into action) might have had streets named after them.
    I might look into the one by Chinua Achebe. I've read 'Things Fall Apart' by him and thought it was an excellent book.
  9. 20 Mar '13 11:49
    20 year old fool sets himself on fire to advertise the plight of biafrans.
    A pathetic, obscene pointless waste of life.
    I'm glad he removed himself from the gene pool.
  10. 20 Mar '13 19:25
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    "Did these Africans benefit from his self immolation?"
    --Normbenign

    A martyr's influence may be incalculable. Bruce Mayrock's death did draw more
    attention, albeit briefly, toward Biafra, and so some more Americans might have
    been motivated to donate money to help the starving or sick people in Biafra.
    Perhaps a starving or sick Biafran child's li ...[text shortened]... my country."
    --Nathan Hale (possibly said just before his execution for spying)
    "A martyr's influence may be incalculable."

    Or it may just be a waste of life, especially when the martyrdom takes place halfway around the world. In my recollection, suicide isn't the usual method of martyr's deaths.
  11. 20 Mar '13 19:28
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    "Did these Africans benefit from his self immolation?"
    --Normbenign

    A martyr's influence may be incalculable. Bruce Mayrock's death did draw more
    attention, albeit briefly, toward Biafra, and so some more Americans might have
    been motivated to donate money to help the starving or sick people in Biafra.
    Perhaps a starving or sick Biafran child's li ...[text shortened]... my country."
    --Nathan Hale (possibly said just before his execution for spying)
    Just curious. What is your opinion of Ayn Rand's first novel, "We the Living", documenting a Russian girl's unsuccessful attempt to flee Bolshevism?
  12. 20 Mar '13 19:53
    Originally posted by rwingett
    I've read about the Nigerian Civil War in the past. Enough to memorize the name Lt. Col. Chukuemega Odumegwu Ojukwu anyway. Having gone to the trouble of doing so, it should be fairly evident that I've always come down firmly on the side of Biafra. I also have two Biafran one pound banknotes framed and hanging on my wall.
    Reportedly, notwithstanding American oil interests in Nigeria, Richard Nixon
    was quite pro-Biafran during his 1968 campaign to become the US President.
    I don't recall what President Nixon did to help Biafra after he was elected.

    Ojukwu had a quite diverse correspondence. It's known that he wrote to
    Mao Zedong, appealing for Chinese military aid. Presumably he wrote to
    the Prime Minister of (apartheid) South Africa as well to ask for military aid.

    "Give me 10,000 Biafrans for six months (of training), and we'll build an army
    that would be invincible on this continent. I've seen men die in this war who
    would have won the Victoria Cross in another context."
    --Hugh 'Taffy' Williams (South African mercenary who was a Biafran officer)

    But Biafra could hardly have afforded to allow 10,000 of its men to have six
    months of formal military training. For the most part, the Biafran forces were
    militiamen who had to learn the 'profession of arms' while under hostile fire.

    Why did you support Biafra?
  13. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    20 Mar '13 23:20 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    Reportedly, notwithstanding American oil interests in Nigeria, Richard Nixon
    was quite pro-Biafran during his 1968 campaign to become the US President.
    I don't recall what President Nixon did to help Biafra after he was elected.

    Ojukwu had a quite diverse correspondence. It's known that he wrote to
    Mao Zedong, appealing for Chinese military aid. Pr earn the 'profession of arms' while under hostile fire.

    Why did you support Biafra?
    I didn't. At the time. I was only seven years old when the war ended. Needless to say, I didn't really learn about it until much later.

    My (later) support stems from the fact that almost all African countries are artificial creations of colonial powers. There was no natural basis for a 'Nigerian' state other than the fact that those were the boundaries that European powers drew and subsequently bequeathed to their erstwhile subjects. As such, there is no reason why Biafra should be prohibited from seceding to form their own country. There is no reason why any people should be prohibited from entering into whatever political association it desires.

    Edit: I just found out that Ojukwu died about a year and half ago. I didn't even realize it.
  14. 20 Mar '13 23:29
    Originally posted by rwingett
    I didn't. At the time. I was only seven years old when the war ended. Needless to say, I didn't really learn about it until much later.

    My (later) support stems from the fact that almost all African countries are artificial creations of colonial powers. There was no natural basis for a 'Nigerian' state other than the fact that those were the boundaries ...[text shortened]... dit: I just found out that Ojukwu died about a year and half ago. I didn't even realize it.
    So would you have supported the independent state of Katanga?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_Katanga

    Why do you suppose that Nigeria was supported by most black African countries
    while Biafra was supported by a few black African countries as well as by South
    Africa, Rhodesia, and Portugal (who were no friends of African self-determination)?
  15. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    20 Mar '13 23:45
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    So would you have supported the independent state of Katanga?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_Katanga

    Why do you suppose that Nigeria was supported by most black African countries
    while Biafra was supported by a few black African countries as well as by South
    Africa, Rhodesia, and Portugal (who were no friends of African self-determination)?
    Katanga is a trickier question. It's unclear to me how much their secessionist movement was tied into Moise Tshombe's personal ambition. (As a sidenote, Katangan currency is MUCH more expensive than Biafran currency on Ebay).

    Nigeria was supported by most African countries for the simple fact that they didn't want to find themselves in the same situation. South Africa and Rhodesia supported Biafra in an effort to tie their illegitimate claims to free association to that of the legitimate Biafran one. Portugal...I don't know. Who knows what motivated them at that time?