A Review of Chinua Achebe’s Memoire
| by Osita Ebiem
( December 31, 2013 – New York City – Sri Lanka Guardian) Biafran - Nigeria war ended forty three years ago. The war was fought between 1967 and 1970. The ethnic/religious cleansing or genocide against the Igbo that necessitated the war took place from 1966 to July 1967 when the actual war began. Chinua Achebe in his characteristic sincere and honest narration clearly stated in this long awaited book that it is because there was genocide against the Igbo people then there became a country Biafra. It must have been extremely difficult on Achebe to maintain a balanced position since he was personally involved on the Biafran side but because he is an expert, he succeeded in writing an objective account of what happened. Because Achebe's There Was A Country is written so lucidly and honestly it should be taught in schools for the benefit of generations who did not witness the war.
Achebe in very plain language calls out those who were behind the crimes against humanity on his people, the Biafrans. It is particularly in this area that Achebe's critics come heavily on him. The parts played by Obafemi Awolowo, Yakubu Gowon and Harold Wilson during the war in deliberately starving to death Biafran children and their parents are just plain enough for all to see. In this aspect of mentioning those who did or did not do anything in Biafra, Achebe is careful and, like he anticipated the criticisms of the Awoists (Awolowo fans), he only recounts by citing copiously statements and verifiable evidences that clearly indict these men. More than three million (20% of the population) of Biafrans, mostly civilians were killed in the space of two and half years. Achebe's critics would have worth any consideration if they had come up with any credible counter arguments rather than simply trying to shout down their presumed opponent only because they do not like the sound of his voice since what he is saying makes them uncomfortable.
In the past many months since the book came out, it has succeeded in refocusing the world's attention on the genocide that took place in Biafra. In all, Chinua Achebe's There Was A Country is an important book by an important and credible witness. And for a better and a more just world, Achebe's account in this book should be taken seriously.