The Asaba Memorial Project represents a collaboration between USF researchers in Anthropology and History, together with the people of Asaba, and the USF Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, to document and memorialize a mass killing of civilians that took place in 1967, during the Nigerian Civil War. The goal of this initiative is to “reclaim” the history of the event, in a spirit of reconciliation, allowing previously-unheard stories to be told and valued.
The project was initiated by Dr. Erin Kimmerle (Anthropology), who is Principal Investigator on a National Institute for Justice (NIJ) grant, supported by colleagues in the Lagos State University, College of Medicine (LASUCOM), under the direction of Dr. John Obafunwa. A forensic investigation of the Asaba sites is being planned.
Meanwhile, Dr. Elizabeth Bird (Anthropology), and Dr. Fraser Ottanelli (History) have been recording witness testimonies and have now completed 46 interviews in Tampa, Lagos, and Asaba. They are working with a community advisory board in Asaba and plan to reconstruct the history of the event and assist in formal memorialization. See Asabamemorial.org.
Research shows that communities in which there is formal commemoration of atrocities appear more resilient than those in which silence prevails. The Asaba Memorial Project seeks to provide a scholarly assessment of this historical event, to break the silence, and acknowledge and honor the dead and their descendants.