There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra

There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra

Chinua Achebe

Language: English

Pages: 269


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

From the legendary author of Things Fall Apart comes a longawaited memoir about coming of age with a fragile new nation, then watching it torn asunder in a tragic civil war

The defining experience of Chinua Achebe’s life was the Nigerian civil war, also known as the Biafran War, of 1967–1970. The conflict was infamous for its savage impact on the Biafran people, Chinua Achebe’s people, many of whom were starved to death after the Nigerian government blockaded their borders. By then, Chinua Achebe was already a world-renowned novelist, with a young family to protect. He took the Biafran side in the conflict and served his government as a roving cultural ambassador, from which vantage he absorbed the war’s full horror. Immediately after, Achebe took refuge in an academic post in the United States, and for more than forty years he has maintained a considered silence on the events of those terrible years, addressing them only obliquely through his poetry. Now, decades in the making, comes a towering reckoning with one of modern Africa’s most fateful events, from a writer whose words and courage have left an enduring stamp on world literature.

Achebe masterfully relates his experience, bothas he lived it and how he has come to understand it. He begins his story with Nigeria’s birth pangs and the story of his own upbringing as a man and as a writer so that we might come to understand the country’s promise, which turned to horror when the hot winds of hatred began to stir. To read There Was a Country is to be powerfully reminded that artists have a particular obligation, especially during a time of war. All writers, Achebe argues, should be committed writers—they should speak for their history, their beliefs, and their people.

Marrying history and memoir, poetry and prose, There Was a Country is a distillation of vivid firsthand observation and forty years of research and reflection. Wise, humane, and authoritative, it will stand as definitive and reinforce Achebe’s place as one of the most vital literary and moral voices of our age.

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International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Assessing the Economic Deficit (Herndon, Va.: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers/Brill, 2004). 20. The [Nigerian] House of Representatives asked the Federal Government to investigate the alleged “massive” looting of equipment at the Ajoakuta Steel Company Limited and the National Iron-Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, and bring the perpetrators to book. The House, in a resolution in Abuja, observed that the Ajaokuta steel plant had INDEX The page numbers in this index refer to the printed version of this book. To find the corresponding locations in the text of this digital version, please use the “search” function on your e-reader. Note that not all terms may be searchable. Abimbola, Wande, 27 Abrahams, Peter, 53 Abubakar, Iya, 27 Aburi Accord (1967), 85–87 Achebe, Augustine (brother), 8, 29, 172, 183, 188 Achebe, Chidi (son), 88–89, 190 Achebe,

the latter category. We arrived, and Christie promptly took me to meet her dad. “Papa” she said, “meet Chinua Achebe.” We shook hands, and then the pleasantries gave way to a brief interview: “Where are you from, young man?” “What do you do?” “Where did you go to school?” “Who are your parents?” I quickly discovered that T. C. Okoli was an Anglophile: He took pleasure in reciting passages in English from scripture, Shakespeare, and poetry; and he had sent several of his children

protected the Oguta people. From time to time, one could hear the artillery shelling as the federal government troops tried on multiple attempts to obliterate the Uli airport, which was near Oguta. The federal troops at that point had not discovered that there were two airports—Uli was the earlier one, which was very close to Oguta and the nerve center of Biafran relief efforts. A second, smaller airport, less well-known, was in Nnokwa and was also used for military missions. Nnokwa

energies next on procuring a lasting peace between the warring parties. During an official trip to Uganda the pontiff met the Biafran and Nigerian emissaries separately in lengthy talks, during which he expressed his desire that a peaceful resolution be found.7 The pontiff addressed the Ugandan Parliament on August 10, following an exhausting ceremony during which he consecrated twelve new African bishops, and repeated the Vatican’s desire to mediate a lasting peace between Nigeria and

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