The John Paul II Center’s Russell Berrie Cohort XII traveled to Israel last month on a study tour, where they studied Judaism at the Shalom Hartman Institute, visited museums, and saw holy sites of all three monotheistic religions.
Below is a reflection by fellow Father Celestine Chukwubunna Muonwe of Nigeria on the trip to Yad Vashem, the world Holocaust remembrance center in Jerusalem:
Yad Vashem. This beautiful museum located outside the Old City of Jerusalem contains a historical summary of the Holocaust: the Second World War’s genocide that targeted Jewish people.
The artistic planning of the facility brings one face to face with the actual events that took place. For instance, the bridge leading to the facility symbolizes the entrance of the Jews into the concentration camps at Auschwitz.
The events of the Holocaust reminded me of the Biafran civil war genocide, against the Biafrans of southeastern Nigeria who seceded from Nigeria in 1967. Over three million people, comprising over one and half million children were starved to death, while the world remained silent.
The two events show the extent that hatred can actually go when it is not nipped at the bud. Just like the Jews were suppressed from living out and sharing their stories many years after the war, so also are the Biafrans today suppressed by Nigeria from keeping memory and living out the memory of their tragic experience.
However just as the Jews struggled over the years and finally achieved independence, I hope and pray that Biafrans would one day be free to live and share their stories from their own perspective and help bear the same story to the entire world as a lesson for the future of humanity: on how greed for oil money from their land led to an international conspiracy that caused so much death and destruction that some records put the war casualty from the side of Biafrans to five million people. May God save humanity from such carnages and bring men to live in peace and harmony.