Broken soldiers at the side of the road are the rejected remnants of a catastrophic civil war nobody wants to remember but few can forget.
In wheelchairs and propped up on crutches, a dozen Ibo tribesmen - veterans of the Biafran war of 30 years ago - come every day to sit by the curb of a two-lane highway on the outskirts of Biafra's erstwhile capital, Enugu. They have nowhere else to go.They gave their legs and their arms, and by the hundreds of thousands their compatriots gave their lives for an independence from Nigeria that lasted only 31 months. In return, they say, they got nothing.
For Nigeria's military dictatorship, the Republic of Biafra is a bad memory best left in the past.
But the underlying rage, that same sense of betrayal that provoked the secessionist war in 1967, is alive and simmering among the largely Christian Ibos of southeastern Nigeria.
"Look at me," says Francis Joku, a former foot soldier in the Biafran People's Army. He leans forward in his rusting wheelchair and points at calloused stubs where his legs once were. "None of us can walk. We're cripples like our homeland."
It's a lament that echoes Ibo sentiments as old as independent Nigeria.
A country of ethnic fault lines, Nigeria has had limited success in incorporating diverse and often jealous tribal groups under one flag. Economic problems are making the task increasingly difficult, and the ethnic rift is again spreading.
Under the five-year dictatorship of Gen. Sani Abacha, a northern Muslim, Nigeria's economy is in disarray. Corruption dictates in place of fair competition. Patronage contracts doled out to the loyal determine success in the private sector.
The prospects are particularly grim for the Ibos, whose long-standing enmity with Nigeria's northern Muslim tribes persists.
A generation after the Biafran war, Ibos complain that their oil-rich land is exploited by Abacha's regime while they are neglected and treated like an underclass.
Although Nigeria is one of the world's largest oil-producing countries, little of its $4.5 billion in yearly oil revenue has been put toward nation-building. The Ibo homelands, known casually here as "Iboland," sit over the vast majority of Nigeria's oil reserves but have seen scant returns.
"The federal government always wanted what was in Iboland, but they never wanted the Iboman," says Joseph Akani, 54. A war veteran paralyzed from the waist down, he smartly snaps his hand to his brow in a military salute to passing motorists from the side of the Enugu highway.
Ibos have virtually no representation in the upper echelons of Nigeria's government.
In Onitsha, the sprawling Ibo market town along the Niger River, electrical service is sporadic, roads are in disrepair and most people live in subsistence poverty.
The bitterness sounded by the veterans on the roadside is shared by many in their community.
"We're treated like second-class citizens," says businessman Casper Muba. "If Biafra had survived, could you imagine? We could have built a wonderful state with the resources God has given us. Instead it is taken from us and wasted."