I often wonder how my birthday got entwined with Biafra sit at home day. The first time I came across the word Biafra was during my primary school days when I read Tony Ubesi’s novel.
As a child, my mother (may God bless her) introduced me to some of Tony Ubesi’s Igbo novels. Such books include Ukwa Ruo Oge Ya, Isi Akwu Dara Nála, Juo Obinna. While Uwa Ruo Oge Ya being a romance story was very popular especially among teenage girls and fired up romantic minds of some of them especially as it ends well for both Chude and Ngozi , Isi Akwa Dara nála and Juo Obinna which most people avoided reading actually tell historical stories of how Nigeria-Biafra civil war affected families.
The former (Isi Akwu Dara nála) is a tragic story of Chike and Ada. Chike a promising wealthy youth by 1960s standard got married to Ada, a beautiful charming lady. Both were happy until the event of civil war shattered their happy home. Ada became a ‘smuggler’ (like my maternal grandmother) by trading in salt and smuggling it through Nigeria – Biafra border. Eventually the young lady was enticed by the promises of young soldiers, became a wayward woman and eventually left her family.
Juo Obinna on the other hand is another story of Nigeria civil war and how it affected life style of an average Igbo boy who avoided forceful conscription into Biafra army. He was eventually caught, sent to the front and suffered untold hardship.
These stories were the first I read about the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. That was during my primary school days. Later in the years during my secondary school days when reading of novels became my greatest hobby, I came across and utterly read other Nigeria-Biafra civil war stories such as The Nigeria Revolution by Alexander Madiebo, Why We Struck by Adewale Ademoyega, The Five Nigeria Majors by Ben Gbulie and the Biafra Story by Fredrick Forsyth (My greatest novelist of all times) etc.
Aside these stories, my mother (unlike my father who refused to open up on Biafra story) told me her personal experience. Her family was forced to abandon their house in Obollo-Eke and moved to Imilike ulo which actually happens to be their ancestral home. From the Biafra stories I read, i deduced from her story that she and her family were fairly treated during the way. Imilike Ulo like most Nsukka zone did not suffer the type of massacre witnessed in Asaba and other areas. Even his father whose bicycles were stolen by some Nigeria army personnel had the ‘audacity’ to report the stolen bicycles to their senior officer who eventually forced his men to produce the two bicycles and return them to my grandfather. All this happened in the thick of the war. Yet they suffered.
Now after some many years since the end of the civil war, the Biafra drum has started beating again. I am often reminded of what Tony Ubesie admonished in his novel Isi Akwu Dara nála. It goes like this Onye cheta ihi mere na agha gbufuo onu mmiri maka na ono ya, o ka onye riri nsi (who ever remembers what happened during the war should not swallow his saliva, if he does, his case is worse than that of a person that swallowed poison).
The question is who is beating this drum and who are the people dancing to its tune. Is it Massob, IPOB or any of the Biafra agitators that are beating this drum? The drummer is squarely SOCIAL INJUSTICE that seemed to have been entrenched in Nigeria polity.
I dedicate this day to Late Uncle Sly. Odo who was forced to eat human fresh during the war and had a bullet scare till the end of his days. I also remember my mother’s story of losing 2 brothers during the war due to lack of health facilities. My regard also goes to my cousin, beautiful Juliana whose intellect was affected by lack of proper health care during the war.
To all those that lost dear ones, lets pray for the repose of their souls. I am neither an IPOB nor MASSOB, etc member but I strongly believe that IGBOs should have a day set aside to mourn their dead ones. Ultimately Happy birthday to me.
The post appeared on the Facebook wall on 30th May 2018