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Chinua Achebe’s attack on Obafemi Awolowo in his Latest Memoir “There Was A Country” stirs controversy



The renown novelist, Chinua Achebe, has been brewing quite a storm recently following the release of his long awaited war memoirs ‘There was a Country’. The book which became public last week has gotten some good reviews, however, his accusation of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, one of Nigeria’s most respected leaders of being part of the genocide has brought up some debates.

Below is the controversial excerpt from the book:

“The wartime cabinet of General Gowon, the military ruler, it should also be remembered, was full of intellectuals like Chief Obafemi Awolowo among others who came up with a boatload of infamous and regrettable policies. A statement credited to Awolowo and echoed by his cohorts is the most callous and unfortunate: all is fair in war, and starvation is one of the weapons of war. I don’t see why we should feed our enemies fat in order for them to fight harder.

“It is my impression that Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those aspirations.

“However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbo at the time as the obstacles to that goal, and when the opportunity arose – the Nigeria-Biafra War – his ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams.

“In the Biafran case, it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation – eliminating over two million people, mainly members of future generations.”

His statement has received condemnation especially from Yoruba leaders who claim that Awolowo cannot be blamed for the war, rather he pleaded against it.

Yinka Odumakin, the spokesperson of Save Nigeria Group was one of the people in who criticized Achebe’s depiction of Awolowo in the book.

It is unfortunate that a great man of letters of Achebe’s status has descended to the arena of Biafran propagandists who are always ready to sacrifice the truth to achieve emotional blackmail. He has betrayed his intellectual calling by joining in the circulation of low quality rumours against Awo. I had looked forward to reading the book, but now I doubt if I would pick up a copy even if dropped at my gate.

Similarly, Awolowo’s daughter, Dr (Mrs) Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu has said she was disappointed about Achebe’s claim and that the Awolowo family may issue a formal response on the controversial claim by the novelist.

She told Vanguard, “One is still trying to come to terms with the sense of disappointment about the person who wrote what is now a brewing controversy in the  country.

“While a formal statement responding to the offensive comments of the writer is being prepared by the family all I can say for now is that I feel so disappointed”.

There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra recounts the 1967-1970 war when Biafra tried to secede from Nigeria. The book focuses on the author’s experiences during the war and explores the roles played by some of the major actors, including Awolowo.

It’s a bit difficult for me to understand what is actually going on here. But for those who do, do you think Chinua Achebe went too far?

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at


  1. Egein Baralate

    October 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Can any of them prove him wrong?

    • achebe is tribal

      November 2, 2012 at 11:26 am

      No but can he prove himself right??

    • Hairy Monsta

      November 25, 2012 at 3:24 am

      Have you read the book? He copiously buttresses his arguments with a lot of materials…even public documents published by the British Commonwealth Office! Can anyone counter his views intellectually with facts and not abuse?

  2. Jacob Ajayi

    October 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I would have thought everybody should refrain from whipping up emotions over an inglorious event which almost destroy our beloved country, Nigeria some 45years ago. This is a time to forge inter-tribal unity and relationship instead of re-igniting the tribal and ethnic differences and pitching one nation against another such as Ibo vs. Yoruba or Yoruba vs. Hausa/Fulani or Hausa vs. Fulani etc. All the issues of the past were divisive and today we Nigerians should learn to interpreting history to further worsen the much needed harmony required to confront religious intolerance and insecurity of lives in our land. “Help us to build a nation where no man is oppressed”

    • Concerned Native

      October 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      my dear nigerian brother you speak the truth of those who had not experienced the horror of the biafran war. those whose wealth wasnt stolen and only given 20pounds no matter how much they had prior to their wealth just because of their tribal identity. You speak the truths of those who live in ignorance of nigeria ever being one without unearthing the pain of the civil war. The fact is that nigeria will never know peace until the issue of biafran war and the aftermath is discussed in open honesty as professor achebe has done. forgiveness is easily uttered by those that havent been wronged. The wounds must be opened and cleaned with a fresh new antiseptic of understanding. Many people will call awolowo a hero and others a villain, the fact is the man did good for his tribe, but bad to other tribes. In nigeria we always want to sweep the truth under the carpet, and that carpet is full now and we must face the blunt untailored truth in its rawness. Our generation and that of our parents must have a round table discussion from all parts of the country, because until these things are talked about we will continue to have a nigeria without peace. What is in question is not chief awolowo’s tribe, but the acts he performed during and after the war. yes in war anything goes, but for a man who had in his may 1967 reassured the igbos he would back them up, then turn around and betray them, and if not worst after the war, keep their wealths just because of their tribal identity, that is wrong, and we must call evil evil. I am not igbo, but my maternal traditional land is in the east, and not only did what awolowo do before and after the war affect igbos and non igbos, it shattered the mind of a whole generation, and indirectly made every generation there after to not trust anyone from awaolowo’s tribe 100%. My maternal grandfather was one of the generals in the side of the biafrans and he is a yoruba man, and till today he never regretted fighting with the biafrans, because he believed in the cause to liberate a people, no matter their tribal identity. Many nigerians today cannot claim one tribal identity and that is good, but we must learn to read our own history with an open eye and with honesty no matter how much it might hurt and help mend the future for our children. Unfortunately every tribe under biafra during the war’s psychi has been tainted, and we cannot fix that by accusing professor achebe of attacking awolowo, because the fact is he spoke his truths as he knows it. What he has done is open up a dialogue for us, this generation to look at the past discuss it and try to see how we can heal. Believe me if you saw half of what professor achebe and my grandparents and some of our parents saw during the war in the east, you wouldnt be asking for this generation to forgive easily. Forgiveness is not easy, for as we know biafra had the right to secede nigeria just like south sudan had, but the difference was that the super powers..I.E usa,uk,ussr..etc knew what they would lose if biafra left nigeria so therefore they backed nigeria. Believe me when i say, nothing hurts more than when our own brothers and cousins betray you, especially when he had given his word to be on your side, but to betray you for a presidental position the north promised him, that at the end he never got. The truth hurts, and i like how professor achebe served it un-apologetically, and that is how truths should be presented. So before any body starts affronting professor achebe, let us look to history books, not only those written by our own, but those outsiders who witnessed the horror and wrote about it.

    • chichi

      October 8, 2012 at 1:04 am

      @ concerned better PREACH!!!

    • Changing Faces

      October 8, 2012 at 8:05 am

      I just love your response! Same thing I’ve always said, Nigeria can pretend forever that Biafra never happened, but we’d never know peace…. The same people who say that Achebe is whipping up Biafra propaganda are doing exactly the same thing, whipping up Yoruba/Awo propaganda! Can they disprove what Achebe said? No. They’d rather whip up ethnic sentiments. I’m all for one Nigeria, but the wrongs of the past must be addressed! EOD

    • missA

      October 8, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Bless you ,my dear, Bless you!

    • naija man

      October 8, 2012 at 10:51 am

      Dear Concerned Native, I will guess you are either related General Ademoyega or General Banjo ‘cos those were the only 2 yoruba Generals that served the Biafra Army & not only served it but they were the main two commanders; I’m yet to read the Professor’s book but I only hope he blaimed OJUKWU & GOWON for the war !!! ‘cos all the history books I’ve read both western written & those written by Nigerians puts the blame mainly on those two … Ojukwu had no business fighting the war knowing fully well the east was not equipped to fight it >>> The East was less than 20% equipped with guns …. & if Ojukwu had not broken the agreement from the aburi accord … of which Ojukwu too asked for way too much …. there wouldn’t have been a war !!!

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      October 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      Concerned Native, tell ’em. Nigerians love burying our heads in the sand, wishing ish away like it never happened. What the heck people, we fought a damn war that brutalized the likelihood that a particular tribe of people could ever feel they were co-partners in this country & still, everyone keeps trying to sweep those years under the carpet.

      How can you even pretend the country’s unified and has moved on? We aint, if we don’t deal with it, we’ll never move on. Even the generations born long afterwards continue to run with the stories of our messed-up history with no corresponding stories of attempts at reconcilation. What kind of questions do you think young people asked their parents after reading “Half of A Yellow Sun”? As someone’s said above, if Chinua has given us his own truth as he knows it, then all those crying foul need to give us more information about what the damn heck really happened… Freaking tell us, we need to know!!

    • igwebuike

      October 8, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      Concerned Native, you will live long to see your childrens children. May God give you peace all the days of your life for simply saying the truth. Amen

    • ihuoma ken ohiorenoya

      October 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      My fellow Nigerian,GBAM! You have said it all.

    • Igbo Boy

      October 9, 2012 at 9:23 am

      Well said, i believe that Nigerians are so blinded and misinformed and don’t have the facts of what really happened before, during and after the Biafran war and thats why they get sentimental when they hear things like this but i know the real facts and for someone like my grandfather who was the First black clerk in the Nigerian Railway Corporation and had vast acres of land houses and wealth being given 20 pounds to start over after the war can make any man a tribalist and live with anger and hate for the other tribe for the rest of his life.

    • feyi A

      October 9, 2012 at 11:26 am

      @naija man ogbeni ejo gbenu edake!! u sound like my father who fought for nigeria in the war. he is sentimental. am not unlike una cos my mother is igbo and nobody is my demi god. nigeria failed the moment that coup those aboki northerners them carried out turned into a massacre of the igbos in the north. why did they kill more than 6000 igbos?? that one was in the plan?? even if the first coup na igbo coup as them talk did it kill civilians???? ojukwu did what a leader will do for his people, owolowo too. but you think if hausa killed plenty yorubas as they kill igbos owolowo wont declare war???? owolowo was a confirm rogue o, go ask question na no nonsense man. truth is owolowo betrayed igbo people after giving his word. my mother lost her father in the war. my father and mother with their old self wont still discuss the civil war without quarelling. the problem of biafra still de affect nigeria. all the boko haram them na still the same problem of biafra them no solve!! problem of biafra no be ojukwu na the massacre by the abokis and unsolved problems that led to it. owolowo remains great us but he betrayed igbos…. opari.

    • idogun native

      October 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      Very passionate, i hope Achebe was able to discuss the real deal of betrayal that happened in the biafran camp

      Igbo leaders of that age were selfish and wanted things for themselves…..guess what,my grand father tells of teh story of how the young igbo man he housed and gave a farming land to led people into my village to slutter innocent souls

      You can igbos as commissioners in the west,the so called achebe probable sold most of his books on our land…..but try finding a permanent secretary that is not an indegene in the east

      Its leaders like Achebe that has made it impossible for us to trust our igbo brothers in this generation

      You want biafra right? Then pack your bags and get out of south west,because guess what,the amenties and schools and every other thing you are enjoying in the south is based on the foundztions set by leaders like Awo and built on by newer generations like Fashola

      Achebe made a name for himself without the guts of even impacting the educational sector of the east so that he can say crap like this that would affect the future and those gullible enough would swallow it

    • achebe is tribal

      November 2, 2012 at 11:36 am

      U r not serious, see ur long speech dt dint even make sense in the end.. talking as if u were there..ok lets say awolowo did commit all these crimes mentioned.. were the ibos so innocent too? this people that caused this war are almost all dead, why should the present generation suffer for the sins of the former..i know forgiveness is not easy but to forgive, we must in order to move on and get better. its a painful part on both sides..stop trying to make the ibos the only victims..everyone was affected!

    • Mr. Law

      November 4, 2012 at 9:31 am

      No time for long stories…The truth of the Biafra War will keep on emerging…The Nigeria Government and its people should be aware that the Government of Gowon committed alot of unspeakable atrocities to the “Igbos”..the God’s chosen people. They should find a way to revisit and compensate the Igbos for the wrongs melted against them. Gowon and his cohort fought them with unholy policies and with their own God given resources like an alien enemy without recourse but the blood of the children that was sacrifice is calling for vengeance… ,Let the Igbos be appeased for peace!!!

    • Debsmba

      May 24, 2013 at 3:45 pm

      Well said

    • Tosin

      October 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm

      Well said sir, let the past remain in the past as time heals all wounds. We should rather focus on forging a better future ahead for our country. Dwelling on past events and stirring up inter tribal or ethnic differences will only inhibit our ability to forge ahead together

    • Harrison Davids

      March 21, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      Tosin u said exceptional good,that’s shows ur unethnical adherence.I think fair discussion on this issue has to be conducted and justice be dispensed.No one affected would not hesitate to show concern over this gruesome event that hampers nigeria from going further.This a fact as long as this country is concerned there be no progress

  3. Chris Enekwechi

    October 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Professor Achebe’s kind is too big to shy away from the truth just because enemies of the truth like yinka odumakin and co are making senseless noise over the truth of the nigeria/biafra war told.
    History knows that awolowo offered sefishness and wickedness to the nigerian society. These enemies of truth cant erase that record.

  4. chike emefie

    October 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Chinua Achebe did not write what Chief Awolowo did not say.

    • Tonerro

      November 21, 2012 at 1:58 am

      Of course he wrote what Awolowo did not say. All you have to do is re-read the preface to his infamous statement where he said and I quote “IT WAS MY IMPRESSION………..”. Intellectual dishonesty is our problem. What Achebe did not manage to reconcile are the tons of evidence which defies his hypothesis. Any scientist knows that when you hypothesize and you see data, actually lots of data, that does not match your hypothesis, you modify or throw out your model. Igbos here hear what they want but refuse to ask simple questions that would either have strengthened Achebe’s “impressions” or forced them to be discarded. As far as I am concerned, this is a classical display of herd instinct.

  5. Layo

    October 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Well, if Awolowo did say that, what are people coming to his defence, including his family taking about. That was not a politically correct statement to make. If he did not say that, and it was simply a case of hearsay, then Achebe, with all his literary genius, should be ashamed of himself. Simples

  6. Olalekan

    October 7, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I think the renowned novelist has just expressed his views and frankly speaking I find nothing wrong with that at least objectively. If our elders feel he has not presented the facts as they were then they should write a book on what really transpired during the civil war between Nigeria and our Ibo brothers after as a student of history I and indeed other Nigerian youth have often looked forward †̥ seeing a work on the above subject. So rather than dissipate so much energy on name calling and washing our dirty linen as a country in cyberspace let opinion leaders and elders like Obasanjo, Gowon, Soyinka etc give us facts! Enough of this ethnic cyberwar!

  7. R

    October 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    It’s a personal memoir, Achebe’s telling the story of Biafra from his own personal experience and perspective. Therefore, he is justified to say what he will. Any person that disagrees is free to write his or her story from Awololowo/his/her own perspective. They’re barely any public records on the Biafran war, not many people know about the gravity of the war, the millions of lives that were lost. I don’t even remember being taught about the war in school or even hearing about it till my early teens. It is great to have someone write on it.

    Another thing many of us forget is that no one is perfect. Leaders sometimes make mistakes for whatever reason. It is not impossible that Awolowo, as respected as he was/is, made mistakes. I’m not saying that he did, but we should be realistic. I’m sure Achebe has reasons for making that statement and it is not one he made lightly, without thinking of its consequences.

    I pre-ordered my copy of the book last week and I’m looking forward to reading it. I might not agree with everything, I might not understand everything, but at least ill be informed, even if only a little bit.

  8. Die Pretty

    October 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    In as much, as i think C.Achebe is one of the gretest writers of our time. This statement against Awolowo, (even if right) leaves a lot to be desired, especially at this volatile and sensitive time in the history of the nation. This will add no value other than cause more division and disharmony within the country. Is Nigeria, not divided enough as it is? We have lots of problems already, so much so that the int’l organizations are even predicting division before or by 2015, so why rock the boat?. In my opinion, this statement is 25, maybe 30 years late. Why was this not said when Awolowo was alive. Why make this claim now whether true or false against a man who is not here to defend himself. You needed to see the controvery this post caused on Linda Ikeji’s blog, a lot of tribal attacks and what have you. 90% of these commenters were not even alive during the biafra. In as much as i do not know whether the statement is true or not,as i was not even born then, i think the timing of this statement could not be more wrong,as it serves no purpose other than to pull a nation that is already down further backward. As a nation we should be looking forward.
    My opinion.

    • Miss B

      October 8, 2012 at 3:09 am

      20 or 30 years to late sums up the whole book in general.

    • Koseemani

      October 8, 2012 at 7:09 am

      @Die Pretty: While the larger chunk of what your position portrays may be excused as contextually true in light of present day realities, i beg to differ on the timing of this work, to an extent. The earliest Prof Achebe could have said anything about this was 1999. Now, you could understand his silence between then and 2003 due to the prevailing situation of gingerly reintroduction to the terrain of fragile democracy. thereafter, anytime was right. In any case, Awolowo died during Babangida’s military stunt, way back in 86. So, Achebe is not trying to talk about a person who couldnt defend himself. He is beyond that. He only feels now its okay to talk about a haunting dream he’d carried with him for about 45 years. for me, i can even rationalize his reason for choosing now to speak. Writing such grave statements as those previewed requires you to be doubly certain you know what you are doing, and also to be sure you are aware of all possible consequences both for you and all other persons involved, and that you are ready to go all the length. Now hose decisions take time. You may love him or hate him, but Professor Achebe is not made of the stuff of those who will kowtow to anyone’s whim of emotion, or appeal to the sacrifice of fools to soothe imagined egos. No. He is a man who will vomit the truth, even if it hurts, coz that way, we can painfully but certainly negotiate our way to resounding healing. I still have a hunch anyways, that the book is a tad bit one sided, which is why we need responses in kind, not the aimless bantering that had become the book’s trademark on cyberspace. Oh, and, on a lighter mood, quite an appellation you have there. Catchy. Lawlz.

    • Truth

      October 8, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Really? So we should keep pretending alls well?

    • feyi A

      October 9, 2012 at 11:45 am

      but the problem of biafra still de affect nigeria. what do you people think boko haram stand for? why do you people think boko haram is bombing only north and has not entered west or even east?? stop being naïve abeg. nigeria cant move forward unless the land is cleanse. nigeria will break soon if them dont go back and discuss biafra war. have you heard of the war casaulities?? millions of igbos died against thousands of nigerian armies. why should igbos move on like that?? it is easy for a yoruba man to say move on. go and say it is ariara market you will be beat to death. it will take generations and generations for the damage to heal

  9. ebube

    October 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    As a young Igbo lady, I don’t know what actually happened during the civil war but this is how a lot of people see Awolowo and Yoruba’s in general.
    However I am sure Pa Awo had a memoir so its left for his descendants to publish it or find another way to disprove Achebe’s work rather than the noise they are making

    • Yolo

      October 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      URRR…. The average yoruba person as of right now is not looking at igbo or anyone as his enemy because yoruba people never saw the civil as yoruba-igbo like MANY IGBOS DO-which is ridiculous was Abacha yoruba, Ken Saro wiwa yoruba, Gowon Yoruba, Isaac adaka boro yoruba, Babangida Yoruba or Ogbemudia who “liberated Bendel becoming military govenor of Midwest” Yoruba, what of Murutala Mohammed was he from Ogun state? anytime I hear a person talking of civil war its MAINLY my igbo friends/fam who want to engage with my yoruba friends via twitter, facebook etc. But what ndigbo do not understand is Majority of Yorubas do not know about civil war, the youths do not care about Awo Zik or whoever. Its not their fault either- why should they engage in tribal discussion over a “war” they, their parents, and even grandparents did not experience let alone see…

  10. adamu yusuf

    October 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Old man Achebe should not be crucified for giving an account of a war as seen and heard by him. However, Awoist now have the task of countenancing what was put forward by the old man, with a more accirate account of what transpired a long time ago.

  11. Joseph Saayor

    October 7, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Chinua Achebe is rational,he is tribalistic.Nigeria is nation that people hate the truth.Those complaining should also bear it and know that whatever their commiment today history most surely tell.We always say one Nigeria, one Nation!But when opportunity comes people who claim to be elite will hijack the opportunity.

  12. Ijay

    October 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I would advise the yoruba community to take a chill pill. All what he expressed were his personal opinion which everyone will agree with me he is entitled to. Let’s not heat up the polity unnecessarily over this book. I’m looking forward to reading it as I have just ordered a copy from Amazon.

  13. summamsss

    October 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    I am not a Triablist. I am a Nigeria.
    BUT, Being half Yoruba and Hausa,

    I always find it so interesting that Igbos when it comes to Biafra and even now only pick on Yoruba’s – what the Yoruba’s did back then, what Yoruba’s do now, Awo did this, Obasanjo did that …. I never hear enough about the people who were actually using Igbo people to do Kilishi, which were Northerners.

    People in War do what they do best, Self Preserve. Awolowo did that, and I cannot call him inhumane or less intellectual or less of a Leader. Because Ojukwu did the same thing, to preserve his people, he went to war. I think Igbo’s or people in the south east can never face the North out of sheer and utter fear so they nitpick at Yoruba people.

    An igbo boy came into my room at uni and tried to touch me,without consent or invite I asked him Is he ready for the wrath of an Hausa Man, Father from trying to sexually exploit me? Because if he is ready no problem, If he is not … he had better make sure he kills me after….. The fear on his face. Nonetheless lets Make (good) Love and Not War.

    God Bless Nigeria.

    • Yolo

      October 7, 2012 at 10:52 pm

      I actually agree igbos dont engage with hausa but yoruba, coupled with the fact most northerners do not care how they are perceived by igbo’s or southerners. I have an igbo friend who posted Biafra pics on his facebook. mind you his father is WELL known politician in Abuja, he himself has Majority yoruba and hausas as friends, with a few igbo. Our hausa friends did not even care to look at the photo or comment. Obviously this is something that he thinks about, else he wouldn’t have posted it. If anything Hausas can careless about negative comments made towards them about pre-civil war igbo killings in the north, Civil war and even riots of Boko Haram, Suleija Bomb blast igbo victims, Oil money fiasco etc- I know MANY Hausas see the comments about them all over the internet but They just Ignore It. Yoruba should learn to do the same. I don’t even engage in civil war talks, even though ALOT of igbos want to argue about it. I dont Know anything about the war, and I do not care… sounds harsh but I dont argue over things that will not better my life….

    • Nonye

      October 8, 2012 at 9:03 am

      I wonder why you had to post this. What bearing does this have in the discussion here? Just proves tha you Hausa people are truly dimwitted, yes I said it………………….Gbam.

    • Charis

      October 8, 2012 at 11:22 am

      There’s a lot to be said concerning the civil war. What Achebe has done is to open up discussion on this matter. I’m Ibo and have been taught although not deliberately that the Yorubas are not to be trusted because of the role they played. While I may have seen deception in people, Ibos and Yorubas alike, the best people in my life have been Yorubas.
      What i would like is an objective review of the war, if such a thing exists. Over 40 years have passed without the nation talking openly about a major event in its history. It doesn’t serve us to sweep it under the carpet and act like it never happened or that it didn’t and continues to affect us. Beyond the tribalism and the emotions it may whip up, we need to talk about the civil war. teach it in our schools.
      And in response to your statement as to why the Ibos pick on the Yorubas i would say this: The wounds of a friend are more grievous to the heart than that of an enemy. The Ibos knew their stand with the Hausas but hoped for friendship with the Yorubas.

    • infallable

      October 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      u ‘bush meat’, ojukwu did not go to war.. get your history right..

    • alex

      October 8, 2012 at 11:41 pm

      Did Achebe tell a lie?

    • Concerned

      September 29, 2015 at 12:46 pm


  14. chinyere james

    October 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    We Nigeria should face reality and stop accursing our pass leaders,and we learn from their mistakes. And l’m looking forward to read the book soon.

  15. Nomy

    October 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Yinka Odumakin please hit your head on the nearest well or better still dive rock! Did Awo make or did he not make the comment on starvation? If he did, what then is the hullaballoo about? If you no go read the book if dropped on your doorstep please excuse those of us who want to learn and who will read the book! I am Igbo, proudly so, i think of myself as a survivor afterall my parents survived the war and gave birth to me, if your hero Awo had wanted to go down in history smelling like roses after the war then he should have zipped his mouth and carried out his wickedness without talking about it!

  16. Austin Uche

    October 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    i totally agree wiv wah die pretty especially and every other commenter have said… Well said guys

  17. Abikoye Oluwatoyosi

    October 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Chinua Achebe wrote his memoirs not Awolowo’s memoirs, his own view or opinion, he was alive then and he could not have written what was not. In politics anything is possible because you see a lot of decisions both rational and irrational made against the perceived enemy. And if Awolowo made such statement then, so what? He was fighting a war regardless with whom and am sure in today’s world, which one of us will not descend to weapon of mass destruction (I mean Nuclear power if the UN or another super power is not watching or in our support) to silence the supposed enemy and his offspring forever? He must have contemplated every word before putting it in print. So, why the contest in words? If Awo’s family contradict this, it should not be in words that tends to lower Chinua Achebe’s credibilityor guarantee bias, they should put the facts before us Nigerians and let us know the truth in white and black, allow us savour every word and move on, at least no one is pointing fingers and ICC is not involved looking for whom or whose family, if they are downright sure Chinua is wrong, I await the coming of Awo’s true account. Saying,feelings of hatred will be expressed is out of the question, as we all know better than to descend to the state of chaos based on tribalism (a better reason would be it, never tribalism I suppose). Give Nigerians the truth no matter who is involved. I would be very pleased if Awo’s family give us his memoirs not some fabricated stuffs and tell us, one of our finest leaders wrote that because I would not only be disappointed but, much, much more so. Yet, as funny as this may seem, I’ll say to Chinua Achebe thumbs up for the good work which must have taken every atom of courage in him, am sure he waited this long not for a trivial reason but, a good one known to him.

    • Davis

      October 7, 2012 at 10:31 pm

      ” Give Nigerians the truth no matter who is involved. ” Best statement i have read in regards to the Nigerian bruhaha.

  18. samuel kunle-oluwatobi

    October 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Its unfortunate that tribal inclinations is apparently emphasized beyond mutual agreement to forge ahead as one indivisible nation.Those who declare war and the party that fight back had the option to dialogue extensively before firing shots.Once war is declared,every method is fair enough.Now that we’re all clamouring for peaceful co-existence, a book is released to re-open wounds,that’ll add no value to the nation. If we cannot live together peacefully as one national entity,ofcourse we can path ways without firing shots.Why are we deceiving ourselves in forced marriage that’s not working?However,the book,though wrongly timed,is an account of what happened in the Author’s view point.It sufficed the truth about our collective insincere union-two can hardly walk together unless there’s solid agreement.Enough of reactions driven by tribal sentiments.Only a foolish man will feed his enemy to fight him hard.With hunger,the senseless war was quickly brought to an end.Had the Prof Achebe been in Awo’s shoes,would be foolish to do otherwise.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      October 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      The war was not senseless it was a people fighting for their independence. It is the same way countries all across Africa fought for their independence.

      Secondly, hunger as a weapon for war is questionable…even the Geneva Conventions prohibits that especially against women and children not taking part in the hostilities. Reference –>

    • naija man

      October 8, 2012 at 11:25 am

      @ Ofilli, you are on point with Geneva Convention and its policies …. but lets look @ things piece by piece … this was the 6Os not too long after USA bombed Japan with 2 nuclear bombs, … my American History Prof said Truman had to bomb Hiroshima & Nagasaki killing innocent women & children because reports from the US marines and Army was that most of the Japanese women and children were fighting to the death & so President Truman ordered the bombed dropped and Japan instantly surrendered; American will argue that many US soldiers lives were saved due to those 2 nukes but ask the Japanese families that died !!! …. Nigerian Army heard similar reports too during the biafra war …. I’m not saying Awolowo was right or wrong; i just prefer to look at things a little deeper

  19. ENDY

    October 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I want everybody to know that Achebe is a figure and man of honour. He cannot fabricate any lies against Awo. You all should not forget that there are international observers who also have memoir of the war in Nigeria of which Achebe himself know this. The said book is printed and Published in UK who also supported the Nigerian part throughout the civil war and the book is also now on sale in the UK, I believe the book must have been reviewed and edited by the UK government before authorizing Achebe to release it. Note the UK played major role against Ndigbo during the war and they have accepted their mistake. it is hightime for Awo family and their allies to accept that Awo did wrong against Ndigbo and we forge ahead.

  20. Olumide

    October 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    I think achebe is looking at the issue from a tribal perspective, whatever he writes about will always be personal because he was among the fools that fails to listen to Awo’s advice that the igbo people will not succed. What pa. Awo did was practical and a prove of his intelectual prowes among millions of his peers in igbo land. Awi funi ko to dani, agba ijakadi ni!

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      October 7, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      awwww…Olumide needs a hug…he does not mean what he typed. =)

    • lily

      October 7, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      @Olumide who even gave you the permission to speak? its ignorant people like you who have achieved nothing that are fast in calling people names….smh

    • James

      October 8, 2012 at 1:32 am

      bla bla bla go back to your nairaland filled with your likes of low IQ and stop polluting bellanaija

    • Ben

      October 8, 2012 at 8:21 am

      Please go back to school!

  21. ucylo

    October 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Chinualumogu Achebe is the greatest writer I’ve ever know!!! I love you Achebe……The Truth they say is Bitter.

    • Dap

      January 31, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      Sounds like my mom, calling her take on things the truth. Hearing what u want to hear so u call it the bitter truth. Sorry to disappoint u dear, Achebe’s views on the war is nothing but his opinion and a biased one at that. Don’t jump in the water if u can’t swim. Meaning don’t go to war if u don’t want to die. War is to kill or be killed. End of story.

  22. my two cents

    October 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Honestly, while I’m not a fan of Awo (bite me), I think Ojukwu contributed more to the killing of millions of Igbo and Niger Delta (because people forget the we Niger Deltans suffered during the war) people. Was the war REALLY that neccessary? And then you blame a man for not leading his people into war? Because, the resentment some Igbo people have for Awo and by extention, Yoruba people is the claim that Awo had said that the Yorubas would fight with the Igbos and changed their minds when the time came to fight. Sweetheart, if you feel the issue is so important that you are ready to die, don’t project your issues on the man that feels he still has something to live for.
    Besides, any good General knows that starvation is part of the strategies for winning a war. It may be politically incorrect so is war. Nigeria did not declare war on Biafra, Biafra declared war on Nigeria. In fact, if we REALLY want to be honest and are not just being emotional, Ojukwu was motivated in part by glory and ego.

    • feyi A

      October 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      so they is no glory in avenging the death of more than 6000 igbos?? all you yorubas make me ashamed.

  23. ayo

    October 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    4 all that commented on both divide sensibly without denigrating the memory of revered Pa awo I salute u…4 d stupid igbo/ibo voltrons that was talking anyhow about Pa awo I am not bothered cos u r all victims of d self induced sorry state..didn’t awo warn ur fathers against the war?didn’t he? So u niggaz shut d fuck up. And was achebe not d cultural ambassador 4 biafra? He is a coward..y didn’t he speak up when awo was alive?

    • feyi A

      October 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      your demi god awolowo was good to yorubas but he contributed to the problem of the nigeria today. if yorubas cant face that we are idiots and tribalist like you. let me tell you something about those igbo people you are abusing, if tomorrow nigeria splits they will become the chinese of africa. they have the greatest spirit i have seen, we yorubas are lazy people awolowo saved our generation with education. so i understand why you demi god him but he remains a betrayal to people who called him friend. opari

    • Olaray

      October 11, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      Exactly Cowardice. You are opening you people’s nyash!

  24. Ibrahim Musa

    October 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Professor Chinua achebe wrote the truth that many of our leaders, chiefs,and parents dont want to face. Yes chief awolowo did good in his time especially for his people, but as any historian who has truly studied nigerian history will tell you, he did evil that ruined a generation. Not only did he betray, his actions changed how many people view members of his tribe today. As an hausa-fulani growing up in the south south, my father always told me, that if i was to ever trust anyone other than hausa that it would be an igbo, and never a yoruba. He always sites the civil war and the role awolowo played as to his thinking. He always said ” if a yoruba man can betray his southern brother who rescued him from jail, what would make him not betray you, a stranger from the north.” what i noticed was that my father just like most people from his generation that witnessed the war were deeply tribalistic and bore a strange distrust towards a whole yoruba tribe. I grew up with yorubas, igbos, tivs, uhrobos, and as children we were so close, but as we got older, our parents tribalistic rants were passed down to us without knowing, another unrequested consequence of the war. I admire and respect professor achebe for speaking the truth many of our elders dont want to speak perchance another war might begin. Sometimes we need to open old wounds to feel human again. He is one nigerian elder that will say jump and i will, because his never afraid to tell the truth. Critics such as yinka and even awolowo’s daughter have the right to say whatever they want just like professor achebe, but they should speak the truth. Those leaders who were there like obasanjo and his cousin wole soyinka know the truth, so until those two speak against what professor achebe has written, i remain faithful to the words of professor achebe. It is about time nigeria faced the aftermath of the civil war. To me, awolowo is not a hero, rather a villain and traitor( my opinion based on my father’s war diaries), because for a man to block another man’s hard earned money being returned to them and keep it in the west, only because of their tribe, that is wrong and against Allah. my dad was a nigerian soldier during the war, and things he did to his own maternal cousins from the east haunted him till his death seven years ago. I was told how many northerners and south westerners kept properties that belonged to the south easterners, my father inclusive made our wealth through properties belonging to easterners , even after the war, and how awolowo’s goal was to ruin the igbos for a whole generation, and he almost succeeded. Now what i write here is from my father’s mouth and he was a high ranking official in the nigerian army and i still have his diary he kept and i have cried everytime i read the things he did, especially to his own maternal cousins. I have shared this painful part of my family history with my two kids, and i know it has made them better nigerians. War is truly evil, and nothing is truly fair, but what i fault awolowo on is his confistication of igbos property and money after the war. I fault the nigerian government for not teaching its own history properly and honestly. I already got my copy of professor’s book, and all i can say is that all i can do is apologize for the gruesome things my father personally did, but i can only try to live a better live and help fix the wrongs by helping discuss it, and maybe we should build a museum or monument for all who lost their lives, whether north or south. This is our history,whether north or south, and truly injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. @ olumide, you have the right to say what you want, but please shame the devil and speak truth.Like i said yes your pa awo did some good for his people, but the atrocities he committed before the war,during and after to other tribes, is what you must consider. Insha ‘Allah Nigeria will slowly mend old wounds.

    • feyi A

      October 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      thank you jare. plenty truth de your yarn.

    • One Nigeria

      October 10, 2012 at 10:08 am

      The wise man must remember that while he is a descendant of the past, he is a parent of the future.” ~ Herbert Spencer
      I like your comment Ibrahim, If it’s possible please publish your dad’s diaries. If Wole Soyinka wants to write, please let him write too so that we can all read and learn. You spoke well; a war museum is an excellent idea. Every country has a terrible past. The atrocities of King Henry VIII is well known and well documented. The French wars of religion are documented in history books. The holocaust is documented, discussed, televised, etc. and it amazes me that there are currently Jews living in Germany. I believe that it is because theses issues have been discussed over and over again and as hard as it has been, people have moved on. It is important for the truth to be told from different perspectives so that the new generation can learn never to repeat the sins of our fathers.
      If the truth is spoken and all that we achieve from it is bitterness and more tribalism then there would be no hope for our country.
      Can I just caveat by saying I am not Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa, I am an ethnic minority who is praying for one Nigeria. All this tribalism and killings in the name of Religion will annihilate out country if we are not careful.

  25. ayo

    October 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    See all this ibo tribalist talking anyhow…nt surprised tho ur problem is self inflicted and u fail 2realise dt.jst dnt denigrate Pa awoz memory wt ur gutter talk…no problem if u dnt trust the yorubaz..we neva trusted and love you 2..Pa awo warned ur forefathers they didn’t listen 2 him,achebe now came around 42yrs postwar and 25yrs afta awoz death 2 talk trash…did u fools expect awo 2 support you against Nigeria?wen he was imprisoned did your forefathers make efforts 2 effect his release? Awo is just 2 sophisticated for your entire generation to match intellectually…

    • feyi A

      October 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      you need to shut up ejo. shut up!!!!

    • Nwakuche Durugo

      November 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      Achebes comment is public knowledge, he accused awo while alive on these same issues in his seminal book THE TROUBLE WITH NIGERIA, my only grouse with Achebe in his new book is that he should have tried to get a copy of the speech awo delivered at the yoruba leaders of thought meeting after his release from calabar prisons. In that speech he was reeling out statistics on the lead the ibos had taken in virtually every sphere of education and commerce. Awo now saw an opportunity to stunt the growth of the ibos and gleefully implemented, nine years later awo came to campaign in the east and was chased out, HAVING VISION IS NOT AN ATTRIBUTE OF THE VISIONLESS. Awo was not a man of VISION, it was a tragedy of monumental proportion that a brilliant man like awo couldnt see beyond ethnic prism. Achebe also didnt spare the ibos in his new book, he called them brash, impatient etc, their nature brought them envy from other ehtnic groups. General Gowon cut a pitiable figure at the SIVERBIRD MAN OF THE YEAR AWARDS when pictures of starving biafran children were being shown on the screen, i wonder what qualified him to be given a LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT award, was it for carrying out genocide, program , making ethnic hatred sate policy? Governor Akpabios questions to him about his policies before and after the civil war were left unanswered. War criminals Like murtala mohammed, IBM Haruna and ibrahim taiwo who slaughtered thousands of defenceless civilians in asaba became national heroes. As Achebe said in his new book the only consensus reached by other ethnic groups in nigeria is their resentment of the ibos. Ibos will remain forever grateful to General Ibrahim Babangida who abrogated obnoxious policies that federal Govts used to hold the ibos dowm , import licence and co. The free market economy has shown who the real entrepreneurs are, the yorubas and hausa/fulani have what i call govt created billionaires the ibos have the merchant billionaires, virtually all the unmerited advantages awo gained for his people have been eroded over time bcos they were not worked for or earned through hardwork or ingenuity. The strength of the ibo man is his fierce REPUBLICANISM which i dont want him to lose bcos we are in Nigeria. What beats my imagination is how a self destructive people like the yorubas when faced with an external group can come together. Nigeria will continue crawling until we pay restitution for evil committed by so called past heroes. What awo couldnt achieve on the political turf Gowon gave him through the civil war the fact remains that before RWANDA, DARFUR THERE WAS BIAFRA>

  26. omo-onile

    October 7, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Tribalism & myopic views will never allow Nigerians to admit or face the truth!! Look around you & you can see where living in denial has led Nigeria to and will continue to. The truth stings whether or not we agree with it, the tribalist in our mist will come out swinging in defense of Awo & all his greatness, but it still doesn’t change the role he played in the war plus the converting of ibo wealth, before the civil war the ibos owned lagos & the yorubas were not very happy that they had become tenants on their own land . oya over to you tribalist to humor us….. Sure Awo looked out for the the southern region & the yorubas but that does not change the role he played as Gowon’s finance minister during the war, if the Biafran war had been a war fought among a white nation, Awo in the same exact role he played would have been labeled a war criminal would have faced trial in Hague but since it was Nigeria anything goes.

  27. omo-onile

    October 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Just pre-ordered mine on Amazon!! Looking forward to a great read, and for all the Achebe haters out there, how about you do yourself a favor and order you a copy and just maybe your tribalism will allow you to learn something new beyond your limited sphere.. Just saying, at 81 the professor has accomplished more in his lifetime than any of you haters combined will ever accomplish four lifetimes over and has nothing to prove to ye of little understanding…..

  28. sky blue-nairalander

    October 7, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Achebe is entitled to his opinions. If the opinions of Achebe are potent enough to trigger war then Nigeria does not deserve to exist as a nation. It seems everything nowadays is capable of triggering war in Nigeria, including any talk of what happened in the past. One of the rather unfortunate things I find about Nigeria is its unwillingness to deal with its past as a nation.

    Any child going through the Nigerian educational system might never know that Biafra ever happened or what it really was about. I don’t know (and I might be terribly wrong)of any National museums that catalogue what IS our past in that regards. Such things are a bit worrying because they show the signs of a deeply insecure union where many monumental things are left unsaid because ‘there will be war’.

    It seems everything in Nigeria is capable of triggering war and instability except corruption and nepotism. So the question is this: Can we heal the union without talking about it as a nation? Can we move on without first looking back? And by the way when I mean talk about it, I don’t mean the petty little spats that go on on this forum on a daily basis, I mean national discourse. People died on both sides of that war and yes, heavily on the side of the Igbos. As a nation, is ignoring them as if they never existed the sacrifice required to keep Nigeria together? What makes a nation and what makes a union?

    We need more understanding of ourselves, because beyond the politics that goes on with the political elite where it seems we are all divided for the benefit of their continued control of the nation, many Nigerians want the same things: a nation where they can feel valued and achieve their potential. What has to give to get that?

  29. lulu

    October 7, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Dr Phillip Atanmuo a native of Ogidi and Chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo in the state, said: “Truth is always bitter and that sums up my reaction’’.

    Dr Atanmuo demanded that Nigerians face the reality of how things are and stop wiping up tribal sentiment at any slightest opportunity, retorting that those wiping up the sentiment were just striving to paint Ndigbo black.

    ‘’Until there is fairness , equity, justice and love for one another, Nigeria would remain down but once these virtues are propagated, healthy competition will creep in because all the best brains in the world are from Nigeria. Go to Europe and you will discover that the best brains there are from Nigeria – the most brilliant people all over the world, yet nothing is happening here because of tribalism and unnecessary bickering and antagonisms,” he said. – excerpt from

  30. molarah

    October 7, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Trust Nigerians to get sidetracked at all the trivial news that come their way. Awolowo did wrong, Awolowo did right, all na past tense, and has no bearing on the price of garri in our present day market. All Achebe is trying to achieve is to document history for the present and upcoming generations, and I personally salute his efforts. It is good as a nation that we understand perfectly where we are coming from, so that we do not repeat history. Anyone that wants to add sentiments into the matter seriously needs to take a chill pill. We just love to idolize past heroes blindly forgetting they were humans like us that made mistakes and wrong judgement calls as well.

    That being said, can we move forward now? I make this statement especially to the Igbos, because a lot of them seem to have their brain clocks tuned to a certain year known as 1967, including those that were not born during that era. Its a highly annoying trend when someone your age can’t seem to reason past a particular time in history that they never even experienced! Enough of the fixations of what went wrong in the past, because we all know what happens to the driver that keeps his eyes on the rear view mirror. Young Igbos need to really face up to themselves and ask themselves some tough questions. Forgiveness, acceptance, tolerance, love, progress are all the values you learn in church; why do they fly out of your head the moment you encounter a Yoruba man on the street? All this hatred, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness will not get you anywhere as a people, and it will not get us anywhere as a nation. And its all the more ridiculous since none of these evils were done directly to you as a person. You think you are the tribe that has had it toughest: even if that is true (and I’m sure its not), can your personal travails compare to indigenes in the North that have never experienced any dividend of good governance? Those in abject poverty, plagued by various parasitic diseases, totally deprived of education and basic amenities? I’m sure when you come across such you would not even be able to open your mouth. Do you think you are the only ones that suffer tribal discrimination? Or the only ones that have suffered betrayal at the hands of another race? If you dare say yes to any of these then I’d be thoroughly convinced your bitterness has badly clouded your rational senses. Please learn to open your eyes and see past what has been done to your tribe. See a brighter and better tomorrow and walk towards it – and not backwards into the past.

    • infallable

      October 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm

      c’mon dont deceive yourself. you know u’re not an intellectual, why bother commenting on this page. listen to yourself, you dont live in the real world.. go back to ‘keeping up with the kardashans’ and other shows of the likes…

    • molarah

      October 8, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      Lol. FYI, I don’t even watch that show. Next time, if you want to disagree with something I’ve posted, please have a REALLY good reason.

  31. Sylvia

    October 7, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Personally, I don’t think Chinua Achebe went too far at all, he only said it the way it was.

  32. fade

    October 7, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    I think d great writer Achebe expressed himself without giving consideration to what such would cause at this critical point. In my opinion, I feel he is instigating another secession, however, people should be free to secede if not satisfied, when unity fails, why not stand alone and let’s see who stands and who would crawl? Afterall, God did not create Nigeria, the white man did, though our being together isn’t by mistake.

  33. Okechukwu Ofili

    October 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Not sure about the statement or the facts behind it…all I know is that the Biafra war is a largely ignored war in Nigeria.

    Of late my Dad will tell me these stories about the war and I am like huh? That did not happen…we were never taught that in Nigerian history. He would talk about how they were randomly shelled daily…so much that it became a normal thing. He would talk about how people were killed en-masse and their dead bodies loaded on trains…

    I guess all is fair in war…I just wish we don’t try and act as if it never happened.

    FYI: Steve Jobs stopped believing in God when he saw the pictures of starving children in Biafra. Irony is that I never knew it was that bad until I read the Steve Jobs memoir this year…that how much it is missing from Nigeria’s history.

    • Purpleicious Babe

      October 8, 2012 at 10:51 am

      Each comment I read and inclusive of the post only brings questions to mind not ANSWERS. The question that keeps coming to mind is does this ongoing debate on this platform matter?? does it make a difference? And if it does, what difference does it make and how substantial is the difference i.e. can it change our ways of lives for the better?

      What the leaders did and did not do etc is it teaching us to be better humans and work towards a better community? What is the purpose of the book? Is it to cause more havoc or solve the present solution? What is the solution for a better Nigeria and culture?
      How can we as the future leaders deal positively with tribalism and look to the opportunities in the future? Why does it seem we are blaming and discussing blames? Is it to get to the root of a problem? How do we get to the root of the problem when honesty is nothing but misunderstood amongst many that demand honesty but we are not even honesty with our own issues? Or is it to just walk around in circles and debate forever?

      Is it so hard to learn from the situation, admit the truth, own up, apologise and lets deal with the pain and move on. What is MOVING ON for some us? How do we define moving on for everybody??

      Any form of war is painful and its even more painful when our loved ones have experienced it and something is yet to be done about it. THE SAME OLD ISSUE IS STILL DISABLING US IN OWN PRIVATE CLOSET. SMH

      The truth is, there will always be a different interpretation of the biafra events regardless of who and who didn’t tell it. Its a FACT.

      The QUESTION is inclusive of the ones above? How do we cultivate and maintain a better harmony in Nigeria and MOVE FORWARD? How do we let unity refine us for the better and allow true legacy to live in our hearts, homes, community and nation??

      I will do my part so help me GOD.

      P.S. Pls BN do a chronicle of the tales of the BIAFRA war for some of us that dont have a clue or understand the point of it. I dont know how our history teachers missed this one IN school ohh…

      Pls do not refer me to Wikipedia.

    • Purpleicious Babe

      October 8, 2012 at 10:54 am

      Each comment I read and inclusive of the post only brings questions to mind not ANSWERS. The question that keeps coming to mind is does this ongoing debate on this platform matter?? does it make a difference? And if it does, what difference does it make and how substantial is the difference i.e. can it change our ways of lives for the better?

      What the leaders did and did not do etc is it teaching us to be better humans and work towards a better community? What is the purpose of the book? Is it to cause more havoc or solve the present solution? What is the solution for a better Nigeria and culture?
      How can we as the future leaders deal positively with tribalism and look to the opportunities in the future? Why does it seem we are blaming and discussing blames? Is it to get to the root of a problem? How do we get to the root of the problem when honesty is nothing but misunderstood amongst many that demand honesty but we are not even honest with our own issues and deal with it positively? Or is it to just walk around in circles and debate forever?

      Is it so hard to learn from the situation, admit the truth, own up, apologise and lets deal with the pain and move on. What is MOVING ON for some us? How do we define moving on for everybody??

      Any form of war is painful and its even more painful when our loved ones have experienced it and something is yet to be done about it. THE SAME OLD ISSUE IS STILL DISABLING US IN OWN PRIVATE CLOSET. SMH

      The truth is, there will always be a different interpretation of the biafra events regardless of who and who didn’t tell it. Its a FACT.

      The QUESTION is inclusive of the ones above? How do we cultivate and maintain a better harmony in Nigeria and MOVE FORWARD? How do we let unity refine us for the better and allow true legacy to live in our hearts, homes, community and nation??

      I will do my part so help me GOD.

      P.S. Pls BN do a chronicle of the tales of the BIAFRA war for some of us that dont have a clue or understand the point of it. I dont know how our history teachers missed this one IN school ohh…

      Pls do not refer me to Wikipedia.


      October 8, 2012 at 11:59 am

      mr ofili God will bless you…Nigerians forget to easily….ask a current 14 year old if they know when biafra war happened, who participated and who resolved and brought peace ….NO ANSWER. biafra is even to far…ask your average secondary school student to tell you the story of Ken Saro Wiwa….NADA. or even the late Dele Giwa. I BLAME THE GOVERMENT FOR NOT IMPLEMENTING A SYSTEM THAT SUPPORTED AND ENCOURAGED NIGERIAN HISTORY BEING TAUGHT IN OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM. instead you will hear teachers asking you in class what does Washington D.C stands for.

  34. hehe(this i know)

    October 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    The worst thing that anyone can do is to try to re-write history and indulge in historical revisionism. This is especially so when the person is a reverred figure and a literary icon. Sadly it is in the light of such historical revisionism that I view Professor Chinua Achebe’s assertion (which is reflected in his latest and highly celebrated book titled ”There Was A Country”) that Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the late and much loved Leader of the Yoruba, was responsible for the genocide that the igbos suffered during the civil war. This claim is not only false but it is also, frankly speaking, utterly absurd. Not only is Professor Achebe indulging in perfidy, not only is he being utterly dishonest and disengenious but he is also turning history upside down and indulging in what I would describe as ethnic chauvinism.

    I am one of those that has always had tremendous sympathy for the igbo cause during the civil war. I am also an admirer of Colonel Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu who stood up for his people when it mattered the most and when they were being slaughtered by rampaging mobs in the northern part of our country. At least 100,000 igbos were killed in those northern pogroms which took place before the civil war and which indeed led directly to it. This was not only an outrage but it was also a tragedy of monuemental proportions.Yet we must not allow our emotion or our sympathy for the suffering of the igbo at the hands of northern mobs before the war started to becloud our sense of reasoning as regards what actually happened during the prosecution of the war itself. It is important to set the record straight and not to be selective in our application and recollection of the facts when considering what actually led to the starvation of hundreds of thousands of igbo women, children and civilians during that war. And, unlike others, I do not deny the fact that hundreds of thousands were starved to death as a consequence of the blockade that was imposed on Biafra by the Nigerian Federal Government. To deny that this actually happened would a lie. It is a historical fact.

    Again I do not deny the fact that Awolowo publically defended the blockade and indeed told the world that it was perfectly legitimate for any government to impose such a blockade on the territory of their enemies in times of war. Awolowo said it, this is a matter of historical record and he was qouted in a number of British newspapers as having said so at the time. Yet he spoke nothing but the truth. And whether anyone likes to hear it or not he was absolutely right in what he said. Let me give you an example. During the Second World War a blockade was imposed on Germany, Japan and Italy by the Allied Forces and this was very effective. It weakened the Axis powers considerably and this was one of the reasons why the war ended at the time that it did. If there had been no blockade the Second World War would have gone on for considerably longer. In the case of the Nigerian civil war though the story did not stop at the fact that a blockade was imposed by the Federal Government which led to the suffering, starvation, pain, death and hardship of the civilian igbo population or that Awolowo defended it. That is only half the story.

    There was a lot more to it and the fact that Achebe and most of our igbo brothers and sisters always conveniently forget to mention the other half of the story is something that causes some of us from outside igboland considerable concern and never ceases to amaze us. The bitter truth is that if anyone is to be blamed for the hundreds of thousands of igbos that died from starvation during the civil war it was not Chief Awolowo or even General Yakubu Gowon but rather it was Colonel Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu himself. I say this because it is a matter of public record and a historical fact that the Federal Government of Nigeria made a very generous offer to Ojukwu and the Biafrans to open a road corridor for food to be ferried to the igbos and to lessen the suffering of their civilian population. This was as a consequence of a deal that was brokered by the international community who were concerned about the suffering of the igbo civilian population and the death and hardship that the blockade was causing to them. Unfortunately Ojukwu turned this down flatly and instead insisted that the food should be flown into Biafra by air in the dead of the night. This was unacceptable to the Federal Government because it meant that the Biafrans could, and indeed would, have used such night flights to smuggle badly needed arms and ammunition into their country for usage by their soldiers. That was where the problem came from and that was the issue. Quite apart from that Ojukwu found it expedient and convenient to allow his people to starve to death and to broadcast it on television screens all over the world in order to attract sympathy for the igbo cause and for propaganda purposes. And this worked beautifully for him.

    Ambassador Ralph Uweche, who was the Special Envoy to France for the Biafran Government during the civil war and who is the leader of Ohaeneze, the leading igbo political and socio-cultural organisation today, attested to this in his excellent book titled ”Reflections On The Nigerian Civil War”. That book was factual and honest and I would urge people like Achebe to go and read it well. The self-serving role of Ojukwu and many of the Biafran intelligensia and elites and their insensitivity to the suffering of their own people during the course of the war was well enunciated in that book. The fact of the matter is that the starvation and suffering of hundreds of thousands of igbo men, women and children during the civil war was seen and used as a convenient tool of propaganda by Ojukwu and that is precisely why he rejected the offer of a food corridor by the Nigerian Government. When those that belong to the post civil war generation of the igbo are wondering who was responsible for the genocide and mass starvation of their forefathers during the war they must firstly look within themselves and point their fingers at their own past leaders and certainly not Awolowo or Gowon.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      October 8, 2012 at 9:57 am

      Son…you are a sharp guy but your logic is faulty.

      If you are fighting a war, where you enemy is trying to wipe you out, will you grant him entry into your region via a food corridor. That would be quite not smart.

      Secondly during war, food is typically deployed from the air by humanitarian organizations. Your reasoning that night time would have allowed Biafra smuggle in weapons is weird. Because regardless of whether food was being dropped at night or not, they could have done that.

      The fact is that starvation was a deliberate strategy during the war. America even sat quiet and did nothing.

  35. richard akpan

    October 7, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    achebe said the truth about the starvation issue…but that not withstanding lets not be tribalistic…….try and read just before dawn ,before you comment…..i know the timing is bad but the truth is always bitter…the issue is not about the yorubas or the hausas or the igbos but national unity which is impossible without national integration…now it is no more ethnic but religious war……if nigeria were to divide it will be upto 150 countries…the truth remains,how long can we tolerate each other…..moslims to christians…..ethnic to ethnic..

  36. ozuomba fabian

    October 7, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Nnanyi Achebe. U ve grown both in age nd in wisdom, a great man of an IROKO tree we all know dat wat u re teln us is notn but simple truth

  37. olorile

    October 7, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    at the end of the day Biafra had to DIE FOR NIGERIA TO LIVE! full stop! in america there was the civil war! the South had to LOSE for AMERICA TO BE ONE NATION NOT DIVIDED what does this Chinua Achebe want?if Biafra won there would be no NIGERIA! and the TRIBES WOULD BE AT WAR! like in rwanda. is that his wish? he needs to get over his Tribal Perspective because many people gained from that WAR ENDING THE WAY IT DID. AWOLOWO SAVED NIGERIA!

  38. Msunderstood

    October 7, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Tribalistic jargons. Ojukwu wanted war, Awo advised him against it.The former went ahead wit d war n lost. Wetin come concern pa Awo. Who feeds his opponent during a war? Would u? Why pick on Yorubas?

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      October 8, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Ojukwu did not want war he wanted independence particularly from the North. Same way as Eritrea wanted independence from Ethopia, the same way South Korea wanted independence from North Korea. Nobody wakes up and starts to fight a war for no reason. Please go and study the war.

      We have to move forward, but that does not mean we should forget the past.

      Also Ojukwu was not an angel, he made mistakes. Same with Awolowo. We should be able to call out people whether they are our people or not. For instance I don’t like Things Fall Apart as a book, I hated the way it ended. I won’t say it is a good book because I am igbo.

    • Free Spirit

      October 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm

      Stop typing things you have not properly researched Ofili. Please do more research on the circumstances that led to the independence struggles in Eriteria and circumstances that led to the division of North and South Korea. Those situation have nothing to do with an illegally declared biafra. There are simply to main ways to take a teritory protected by a country’s constitution (legally or militarily). Yes a people have the right to secede or determine their destiny but biafra did not go through the right channels hence the lack of support from 98% of the international community. I absolutely sympathise with the biafran cause and conditions that made ojukwu decide to provide a safe haven for all Igbos in the Eastern Region which I believe was the correct decision. However, the decison to secede illegally would not have been tolerated by any Nation in the world no matter how developed. Although I agree with the respected Achebe’s potrayal of Awolowo, I have to agree that his ambition to become president of Nigeria affected some of his choices and the same can be said about ojukw’s ambition affected choices he made before and during the civil war.
      In the words of Chimamanda Adichie, “the danger of a single story is not that it is not true, it is that it is incomplete and it robs people of their dignty”. While I respect chinua achebe’s point of view………it simply remains his point view.

    • NELIUS

      November 6, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      go to school again, you’ll lean, if you would from reason. your side of history only says from where you got it. ”Awo advised Ojukwu against war…” it is a pity

  39. questa

    October 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    There was a country! Thank God there are still Hausas, Igbos and Yorubas. Who knows? There may still be countries. Prof can keep his pen safe. There may be a new story but war must be won somehow. However, how it went is just a story by the survivors.

  40. Adejoke

    October 7, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I can’t wait to read the book! I thought Awo was in charge of Finances and not strategy( I may be getting it all mixed up). I wonder why the other intellectuals were not mentioned. I’m not defending Awo, I’m just a Noigerian who wants to know what transoired during the war. It beats me why Ojukwu is not criticised for leading millions of Igbos to death… What really lead to the 20pound policy? This might be the perfect time to tell us the truths. I still love and respect the writter . This is serious o, judging by the number of viewers using their full names

  41. Osuchukwu Ekiti

    October 7, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    If you really want to know the truth then go out on the street of Lagos or Abuja and ask any Igbo why they trust Hausa people instead of Yoruba people . If you want to die then trust a Yoruba man ,he must surely change at the eleventh hour . I have read so money books about the civil war and most of them said things about how Awo did a U turn , the worst being when he said that every Igbo man will be given just 20pounds to start life again . He took all the money that belongs to Igbos but today we are still better ! Never trust a Yoruba man if you want to be alive ,they change any time and any how . Long live Nigeria our Father Land !

  42. my2cents

    October 7, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    My only comment is to the writer of the piece above, please be more mindful as to how you use the word “genocide” what occured in the Biafran war was NOT genocide. The misuse of the word can lead to the lessening of the meaning. That is all.

    • omo-onile

      October 8, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Please define Genocide?! 2 million ibos killed and you sit on your high horse and tell someone to be mindful how they use the term genocide! You my friend may want to understand the use of a term before opening your mouth,

  43. Ezeh Chisom Gaius

    October 7, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Its being countered cos they know the writer is legend and this book will live longer than things fall apart, so they can’t imagine a dent on the image of there “Icon”. I must say I am proud of Achebe, dts d spirit dt also flows in Akunyili and if it were the case with every Nigerian, this country will be developed by now. I watched U.S presidential debate and I was impressed, Nigeria will never do that, they will rather cover the truth. it doesn’t matter how bad the tension is, there’s never a perfect time, he has made his opinion and I am sure he is ready for what comes with it, eat him for all I care but now we know. Pa Achebe, I respect your courage.

  44. grapes

    October 7, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    In as much as Achebe has a right to write a memoir on the Biafra war, in my opinion, that can be achieved without making inciting accusations which is already causing strong tribal sentiments and hate between an already tribalised and burdened country. To the extent of mentioning Awolowo s name, my question then is, what does he hope to achieve? Where do we go from here? I am not Yoruba, neither am i Igbo. However, i long for a united Nigeria. if someone argues that that is unattainable, then let us at least not be burdened with a history that we cannot change. Such comments, Achebe should know, will only promote negative sentiments, as we can see.

  45. roqeebah

    October 7, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Many of us will never know for sure what really happEned because each person is bound to tell the story from his/her own point of view and based on personal experiences. And while its true that we need to forgive one another in order to forge ahead, this biafra issue is frankly being over flogged. The yorubas seeemingly always on the defense while the ibos seem to always try to find pity party. I believe forgiveness in this regard is a matter for each individual and not something for us to call another national conference for. We have more pressin issues and its on us, the present generation to try to forge ahead not apportion blames nor praises. Let’s just leave it in the past and hope to God we won’t have to wish we hadn’t placed our trust in certain hands again. And always remember_ YOU ARE NIGERIAN first before being ibo or yoruba or ijaw or hausa. I think it was Balewa that said we must recognize our diversity yet bury our differences and work togther as a team in order to achieve our ambitions. Love!

    • ihuoma ken ohiorenoya

      October 9, 2012 at 11:38 am

      My dear roqeebah am sure you are a nice and intelligent person no doubt.It reflects in your speech(writing),but your talk reminds me of one of my mum’s favorite proverbs,” If it is not your loved one’s corpse that is being carried,it might seem or could as well been fire wood to you”,so I will understand your thinking that the issue is over flogged.I bet none of your loved ones where affected.That is good.I agree with the forgiveness thing because I am a christian but we all know that is easier said than done,especially when a lot of people,millions are involved.As for being a Nigerian first I doubt that is how it happened.From history,I think we where first from our diff tribes before Nigeria became.Most of our tribes are over 52 years old.I would really want us to put all these behind us someday but let the truth be told.No cover-ups.And let those who are matured enough,apologise for hurting his fellow Nigerian.That should help us move on.May God grant us grace.

  46. rukky

    October 7, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    I respect anything Chinua Achebe says or writes, a bit biased on my part, because of his impeccable track record. However, I don’t think tribalism should be the topic of the day. With all due respect, please talk to me about tribalism when NEPA starts consistently providing the nation with electricity, when people are not pushed to the brink of desperation and kidnap others just to put bread on their tables, when we start to develop our infrastructure and public buildings don’t resemble derelict overgrown shacks. Like seriously? No be today, Nigeria has issues—established. What we need are solutions because I feel like this union of many beautiful tribes is heading for an ugly divorce. Enticing division and remembering the pains of the past has never solved anything—ever! Like, Nigeria was such a great country, a safe country, we should be focused on getting back that Nigeria—the Nigeria that was founded on the notion ‘united we stand, divided we fall’…Otherwise let’s split joor! I know it won’t be easy but if Somalia can, yes we can. If China and Taiwan can, yes we can. I mean seriously? We have this international image of Nigerians being affluent but most people in Nigeria cannot even exercise their fundamental rights to adequate water, electricity, health care and basically, human dignity. And you want to speak to me about tribalism??? Like seriously? Like Seriously? Tribalism? Gotta be kidding me, doesn’t affect my life—a lack of clean water and safety from book haram does…how about we write suggestions on how to fix that. We have too much on our plate, collectively, to try and solve that I don’t think we should have time to pounder upon something as presently minute as tribalism. *Annoyed*

    • Msunderstood

      October 8, 2012 at 7:10 am

      Big Cyber Hug.

  47. rukky

    October 8, 2012 at 12:13 am

    *Sudan–opps! lol

  48. Awa

    October 8, 2012 at 12:26 am

    What does achebe and Igbo want to gain with this.
    Why do Igbo feel Yoruba is their only obstacle to progress.
    They cannot attack Hausa/Fulani rather support them.
    Hausa/fulani rather support Yoruba.
    Igbo should silent Achebe and the like 2015 is very close.
    Yoruba’s we are watching.

  49. chichi

    October 8, 2012 at 12:59 am

    This will only turn into a yoruba vs igbo thingy..i have read most of the comments and i find it interesting that the yorubas are quick in saying “why reopen old wounds”, “one nigeria” so and so.i did not go through the war but my Dad did..he was just a boy in nnewi town when all these were happening…while the young ones in igbo land were constantly living in fear and hiding in the bushes, young ones in the west and other places enjoyed education and what not. So yes my dad did not finish primary school nor did he attend secondary school at all but he and his brothers struggled to become the honest and successful businessmen that they are today and im very proud of them..i used to live in lagos an its true that places like lagos, abuja, kwara, and ibadan have issues but please go to major igbo states and see the problems we have there…i love visiting my hometown nnewi but i still weep inside because its like they have no government what so ever…the hospitals are nothing to write home about, no electricity, the roads are horrendous, no good schools, no water….the influential men of the town are doing good but really cant do much.We need the freaking government…so yes, when ppl in the west complain, i think, “uhh, you havent seen nothing yet”…So my people,its not JUST history,because ppl are still suffering tremendously in the east…ppl still feel the effects of that war and absolutely nothing is being done..Do you think igbo’s just love getting up and fleeing the east to places like lagos, abuja or even outside the country??..Ngige was once the governor of Anambra state..That is one man who was actually WORKING and tried to improve the state of his ppl..but then obasanjo and co descended on him…i dont have issues with yoruba’s or hausa’s cos i have some of them as friends and i love them to death but our government is so messed up…For some of you who think the igbo’s complain too much or just want to reopen old wounds, im saying this, the igbo’s are not even talking..most of us are busy just trying to make it to help extended family members..WE DONT TALK ENOUGH and that is why the government rides thing i really admire about the yoruba’s is that they are very vocal..they know what they want and they TALK and ppl listen..igbo’s dont really and its at the yoruba’s commenting..if this happened to y’all, i swear y’all would make the loudest noise…lol..i love yall still but seriously now, the injustice is just too much..

  50. KingsQueen

    October 8, 2012 at 1:08 am

    A controversial book makes an interesting read, can’t wait to grab my copy 🙂

  51. NNENNE

    October 8, 2012 at 1:46 am

    My question is simple. Is Nigeria one? Has Nigeria ever been one united country?
    A country where, a man /woman cannot live, work, own a business, comfortably outside his ancestral home . Is that unity? Am a Nigerian of Igbo origin , born in Port Harcourt. The kind of job I have in New York ,I would never have any where in Nigeria outside Igbo land. People will be quick to remind you that you are a non-indigene. REALLY?

    We all need to look at other countries to understand what unity means. Example, the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
    Am all for one Nigeria but what we have so far is a divided Nigeria.
    We need to start all over or better still, stop deceiving ourselves and go our separate ways!

  52. Sandra

    October 8, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Wat has happened has happened… Like sum1 said d fear of d northerners will nut let d igbos say anytin bad or lay any claim to d hausa tribe smh…d yorubas are clearly been attacked in dis book… I would tink an exposed man like achebe will nut succumb to tribalism. Clearly he is a tribalist smh… May God save our country… For d luv of money he has printed dis book. I still believe things fall apart was one of d best book out of nigeria

    • Gani

      October 8, 2012 at 8:18 am

      Too many ignorant people in this country! So he’s now a tribalist because he wrote he truth? What do you even know about .biafra? So at over 80yrs Achebe needs the money from this book to buy another life or what? Maybe you should ask your father what happened during the war before you comment on issues you obviously know jack about.

    • PH Boy

      October 8, 2012 at 8:26 am

      For the love of money????? seriously! I truly don’t envy your wisdom

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      October 8, 2012 at 9:24 am

      I am pretty sure IF you read the book you will find out that the main war was between the Igbos and Hausas. What causes a lot of friction is that the neutrals joined against the Igbos. Again I don’t blame people for not knowing about the war cause it is not taught in our history classes.

    • aida

      October 8, 2012 at 11:35 am

      oh sandra i wish i could buy u just a little wisdom

  53. shawwy

    October 8, 2012 at 2:35 am

    A lot of Nigerians(home and abroad) especially the Yoruba, do not know anything about the Biafran war. But for a chance read of the memoirs of Major General Madiebo on a boring day I myself wouldn’t have had a clue. it’s almost like nobody wants to talk about it, like keeping quiet will make everyone one forget it ever happened. After broad reading and research, I have come to the conclusion that the Igbo nation was wronged during the Biafran war….our Yoruba leaders obviously made questionable decisions. Achebe calling Awolowo out is a case of stating the obvious. In my honest opinion, the Nigerian nation is a lie we are being force-fed, we all obviously “can’t just get along”……

  54. Achebe's nemesis

    October 8, 2012 at 3:20 am

    Title: Shame on Achebe for saying bad about the dead.
    Achebe is a delirious bewildered poet seeking to court controversy and whip up sentiments to sell his maliciously written book. Having said that, Achebe is entitled to distort fact in his new book, as it clearly states it is his personal memories.
    A man whose memories have failed to remind him that the Igbos are solely responsible for the importation of tonnages of fake and substandard drugs that killed many Nigerians for years. He should write a personal memoir on that too.
    I strongly believe that much should not be expected from this senile man living on past glory.
    If Awolowo said they – Nigeria should not feed its enemies – Biafra, Achebe’s deliquent brain failed to understand that during war only prisoners are taken.
    In his many fictional works I am sure we can find where enemies have had to fight bitters war.
    The man should just stick to writing fiction and leave history to the historians.
    I am sure somebody will come up some day, many years after his death to ruin his name to by making some spurious claims about what he didn’t say during his life, then he won’t be around to defend himself.
    And to the senseless goats supporting Achebe’s statement, I pity you cos of your folly.

    • PH Boy

      October 8, 2012 at 8:35 am

      I really want to see your point but then i realize that your syntax is too awful for me to comprehend. Obviously, you were still back in the village or some hole when the ‘free education’ scheme was in play.

    • notaplayerhater

      October 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      Poor you. You’ve obviously not had a good night rest in a long time cos despite trying to prevent it, the truth keeps hitting u in the gonads!! get a grip, k!Or else, you’ll be your own nemesis!


    October 8, 2012 at 3:20 am

    Chinua Achebe is entitled to his opinions. However, Igbos keep beating a dead horse, always bringing up tribalism and it’s not helping anybody. Igbo people are so quick to tell the whole world how Yorubas hate them and killed them off, bunch of gibberish. They refuse to see the truth/fact that Mr Ojukwu(R.I.P) had a huge part to play in, it’s called mismanagement. Igbo people refuse to own up to their responsibility but will talk all day how Yorubas hate them. I really don’t get it. I grew up in Kano, and many Northerners hate Igbo people to the core and they don’t hide it. But, igbos dare not tell Hausas anything because they know Hausas will not take nonsense from them. Yorubas are too passive, that’s the reason Igbos say whatever. I met an American, and the first thing he told me as a yoruba person, why are you guys killing off igbos? Igbos, need to stop all these shenanigans, and foolishness of spreading lies. It’s been about 30years now, time to move forward. Even british people who assisted can’t even come out to defend the war because they know it’s pointless. I don’t know what else igbos want, for Yorubas to do what for them? But, I see what is going on here, many of these people need to go do something better with their time like promoting tribal unity in Nigeria. None of these writers are talking about how colonization destroyed Africa, Nigeria but they want to be talking about something that was based on a man who made a bad decision that ended up in the death of many but refuse to see his role.

    • tomeloma

      October 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm

      You’re so right, I also grew up in the north and the Hausas and Igbos can’t can’t stand each other but respect each other because one tribe is very agressive and the other merciless to any other culture. For Igbos it was always easy to pick on the Yorubas who in comparison are quite passive because an Hausa man will just wait for the next riot to point you out as Iyamiri or even kill you off himself (true story).

  56. Ayomide

    October 8, 2012 at 3:31 am

    Achebe wrote from the position of a biased observer. It is important to read his book nevertheless. Obafemi Awolowo , at least from Achebe’s account helped resolved the conflict quickly, or else the whole Igbo race would have been almost wiped out. Blame a stubborn Ojukwu that would not allow access to deliver aid/relief to his people. He died without writing his memo. Yet, here is the history in the proceedings of the British parliament in black and white . Ojukwu had the chance to stop his people starving, but he would not allow access.This is a fact:; and this is another fact : .

  57. yalie13

    October 8, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Totally agree with elements of several of the preceding statements. Biafra was truly a travesty, and for years I’ve sought for accounts about it…sadly they are few and far between (at least those written by Nigerians). What I do know however is that the blame which it sounded like Achebe was trying to assign does not lie squarely with one person, party, tribe or religion. Unfortunately the 40+ years of silence since its occurrence makes all of us unwitting accomplices and the millions of lives that were lost seem to be superfluous sacrifices. But in part I wonder is it a systematic silence that we have adopted where Biafra is concerned or does this simply reflect our lack of emphasis as a nation on crafting our national history?

    Part of the furor created over Achebe’s statement is the sense that some of us get that he might be using his status acquired as an internationally renowned literary figure to rewrite (or some would argue write) history. While it is true that his book is appropriately released as a personal memoir, given that few sources about the Biafran conflict exist at this time, it would be rather difficult to discount this as a primary historical source.

    As a people too, Nigeria seems to have an abundance of amnesia…we have learned the art of political helplessness and do not hold our leaders to enough accountability. Just look at the parade of recent presidents…why was Obasanjo who was involved in so many of the deleterious coups of the 70s, heartily voted in as the first leader of our young democracy? Why is it that several of the proponents for our so-called democracy all had their early beginnings in the Nigerian military, the very same one Ojukwu also belonged to? Why is it that even my parents though they grew up during Biafra seemed to lack knowledge about what was happening a few states away? Sound familiar today even as most of Nigeria presses on largely ignorant about the travesties in the Niger Delta or the frequent massacres that assail Jos every now and then? Why does every dialogue about Biafra always rely on the belief that religious vs tribalist motives predominated? Why do we continue to overlook perhaps the most unifying reason for Biafra’s secession and the war? Oil, money, power. Simple but true. And does Achebe’s claim falsify the “no victor no vanquished” campaigns that came in the wake of the end of the war? What about the unspoken rule of power sharing between the North and South that has predominated since the 70s, and the fact that many Igbos have benefited from it…why are the Yorubas always the unwitting scapegoats when in fact their region was the sole place (and continues to be) in Nigeria where both Hausa and Igbo can coexist freely, and in safety? If anything the Yoruba continue to propel the agenda of integration.

    Ok, enough of the questions, haha. While I am curious to read Achebe’s account, more importantly I hope that an objective and hard look at historical events evolves out of this. The truth is all parties were at fault, from the young Igbo military officer who spurred the coup that kickstarted things, to the Northerners who killed many Igbos unprovoked, to Ojukwu who rallied many Igbos together to secede (forcing non-Igbo peoples in the oil-rich Delta regions along with him) despite many pleas for them to stay as part of Nigeria, and yes to the Nigerian army who carried out inhumane acts. While it is easy and understandable for Igbos to play the role of unwitting victim, if these wounds are to be re-opened, less finger pointing needs to be done, and more understanding of the various motives of those in power at that time in bringing about the events that took place needs to happen. Events such as these never follow the stereotypical lines of hero vs villain, good vs evil…there’s something about the quest for power that corrupts that all. Most importantly, what is the way forward? I certainly hope Achebe lays out some ideas in this regard. Clearly Nigeria can never be divided into the three major regions; there are way too many interdependent interests for that. I do however believe that some of Nigeria’s political cronyism and those who continue to lurk at the mantle of leadership (like seriously why would Babangida think he would be valid in having a shot at the presidency back in 2007) need to be permanently toppled.

    • tobenna

      October 8, 2012 at 8:24 am

      well said, yalie13.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      October 8, 2012 at 9:21 am

      Well said man…some times when my Dad tells me stories about Biafra my mouth is open. The way people were killed and butchered by their own was quite crazy. But what is more crazy is the way it has been treated as if it never existed….that’s the sad part.

    • ami

      October 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm

      long, but well said. I think everyone should read it. The scary thing is our anemia and shortsightedness is allowing us to make the same mistakes over and over again and we are just going in circles. So instead of the mantra “igo be ta” things have gotten worse.

  58. Na wa o!

    October 8, 2012 at 3:46 am

    I don’t know why the book should stair so much controversy. Prof. Achebe is just writing things from his own point of view and what he observed during the biafra war. I don’t see what the problem is. If this memoir and narration of what happened during the biafra war is what is going to lead to Nigeria’s break up, then so be it. As Nigerians, we are not really united anyway.

  59. Kelechi

    October 8, 2012 at 5:13 am

    Nigerians amaze me in different ways,mostly the so called educated ones. These are same people that went online to insult Boko haram of Northern Nigeria for planning on attacking Christians without watching a video are now online insulting a notable professor for speaking a public truth? The memoir is not about an entire race but the role a particular Naija leader and others played during the war. Why can’t Nigerians absorb truth and move on? Are we afraid international community will read the said book and start hating on a particular tribe? Nigeria is already hated so please buy the book and read it and if you feel he is not speaking the truth then write and publish a rejoinder.

  60. Kelechi

    October 8, 2012 at 5:17 am

    @Olumide, From your last sentence I could tell you agreed with Chinua Achebe’s insertion on Awo been a mass murderer and a power hungry traitor. When one is desperate, he does anything to make his superior(Fulani) loves him(Awo). It is not about a tribe but a single guy that betrayed his own conscience. Truth is always bitter ain’t it?

  61. Kelechi

    October 8, 2012 at 5:20 am

    I am waiting for Wole Soyinka’s own ordeal . I know he is not a typical egba man, he will speak the truth as always. He was at Ojukwu’s burial and made a ground shaking speech about his dear friend. Fela,Gani, Wole Soyinka ,Fajuyi and few others I salute your courage in saying it as it is.

    • Reason

      October 8, 2012 at 7:04 am

      well said.

      Thanks for not writing a self indulgent essay like some of the other commentators on here.

  62. Reason

    October 8, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Why cant we all just get along?

    • igwebuike

      October 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      U mean Tag along???

  63. Tee

    October 8, 2012 at 7:01 am

    Based on the excerpts, Achebe’s comments are subjective. He couldn’t quote anyone in particular. It sounded more like beer-parlour gist. Anyway, it’s no surprise because Achebe has never been known to have respect for Awo. Good, no official statement is credited to Awo regarding this. If indeed he hated the Ibos that much, and wanted to eliminate them, and this was common knowledge to ordinary Ibos; do you think the Biafran leader would revere him and describe him as the ‘best President Nigeria never had’. Achebe’s sentiments or beliefs about personalities should bot be made public. That could be stories for his kindreds under the trees in the village. His book should have bee discussions on issues and institutions that led to the avoidable war. Great mind discuss ideas, policies and institutions.

    • Chinua

      October 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      Lol that was sarcasm! Awolowo never became the president he so desperately wanted to be. He betrayed Ojukwu , he told Ojukwu he would pull western region out on the eve of Biafra, after Ojukwu facilitated his release from prison (he was in jail for treason). Instead he sided with the Hausa’s thinking he would be made president of the second republic. I guess Awolowo overestimated his intelligence. So my dear Ojukuwu was making fun of Awolowo.

  64. gbolade

    October 8, 2012 at 8:18 am

    We need to discuss our past to embrace our future if we are to remain as one country.
    Why is the unfortunate civil war not taught in schools?
    This was a very important event in Nigeria’s history and its almost as if no one wants to discuss it. Painful it may be, but it needs to be impartially recorded. Better to do so now some of the actors are still alive. In a few years time, when they are gone, it may be difficult to remove fiction from fact.
    I strongly believe we need to write our history stating the facts otherwise foreigners will have to do this for our lazy, fearful, fragmented, tribalistic asses.
    If we cannot do this along with other historical Nigeria events, painful as they may seem, then ‘the center cannot hold.’
    My thoughts.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      October 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Well said…I could not believe it was through the Rick Ross village that I saw the first footage of the Biafran war. #irony

    • ami

      October 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm

      I concur.

  65. Joki-Lasisi

    October 8, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Our people say “Obe ge omode lowo, omode so obe nu. Obe ti seun to fe se”. (a knife injures a child on his hand and the child throws away the knife out of anger. But hasnt the knife done what it intended to do?). So throwing away the knife angrilly does not make any difference, nor does it even make any sense, since the knife has done what it intended to do. It is sad, when a respected old icon like Chinua, a sage, to whose fountain of wisdom the younger generations should naturally drink, now descend to the level of a toadler. If indeed the reverred Awo had made that war time situational statement, and the statement translated into a war time policy by which the battle was won, i think it is a credit to the great Awo. Now the unfortunate twisting of the very wise policy by Achebe is tantamount to a childish response of throwing a sharp knife away for doing it’s job, rather than mending and tending the injury to healing point. Like i said in another forum, selinity should be graciously tendered with a peaceful retirement life. A chant of war is not a proper son for an octogenerean by the side of fire. I hope Pa Chinua will drink to this. Peace !

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      October 8, 2012 at 9:17 am

      Again I refer people to the Geneva Convention, it is wrong to starve people…women and children not involved directly in war to death.

      Also it is easy to say it is a war strategy when you were not involved.

      Again starvation is wrong.

    • ami

      October 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      I disagree with you comment about praising Awo for suggesting that starvation is the best way to gain victory. Omo Yoruba.

  66. Maik

    October 8, 2012 at 9:51 am

    People should view Achebe’s write up on its own merit and not on ethnic levels. He said Awolowo advocated starvation of the Igbos during the war. Some have said here that it is his own strategy to win the war and that in war situations you do anything to win. I will grant them that because I dont really know the international conventions guiding wars.

    But what will these people say about Awolowo authorizing the payment of 20 pounds to Igbos after the war irrespective of whatever amount of money they left in the bank before the war. Will they still call this war strategy? This is sheer wickedness anyway you look at it. And to think that No Victor, No Vanquished was decleared after the war yet Awolowo did this suggests of a grand plan to incapacitate a people with ones perceived advantage.

    What I belive the Awolowo family and supporters should do is to come up with their own facts and then we compare notes. I have read in the news where a lot of Yoruba people are insulting Achebe not because they doubt what he has said (because they havent put forward any counter facts) but because they believe no one has the right to mention Awolowo’s name. This is where I disgree with them. Awolowo, irrespective of whatever he did for the Yoruba nation, was human and his actions or inactions should be said without fear. He was not God and never can be. Do we fear him? Capital NO. Do we respect him? Maybe YES.

  67. Rasberry

    October 8, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I wasnt born then. From the story I heard, Awolowo actually made the satement and did starved the Ibo people. Achebe only wrote and documented history. He said what was said and done. Shekina.

    • ami

      October 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      But Achebe also gave an opinion on why Awo did what he did which might be true but Awo is not here to counter Achebe’s opinion.

  68. naija man

    October 8, 2012 at 11:14 am

    (correction) we all have to read the Professor’s book 1st but I only hope he blaimed OJUKWU & GOWON for the war !!! ‘cos all the history books I’ve read both western written & those written by Nigerians puts the blame mainly on those two … Ojukwu had no business fighting the war knowing fully well the east was not equipped to fight it >>> The East was less than 20% equipped with guns …. & if Gen GOWON had not broken the agreement from the aburi accord … of which Ojukwu too asked for way too much …. there wouldn’t have been a war !!! that war was about Ego & Oil pure and simple

  69. my two cents

    October 8, 2012 at 11:20 am

    In fact, now that I have given this some thought, I hope Achebe is not an agent of the enemies of Nigeria. Remember the report that Nigeria would break up in 2015? At the time we all felt it was nothing, right? Well, since then a faceless Boko Haram has surfaced and now someone is trying to instigate problems in the South. Achebe as an elder knows the subtleties of saying this at this point in our history. When an elder comes out to say things that can bring nothing good, then he is up to no good. Please, people, let us be guided. Let us not allow one man who is enjoying his old age and who doesn’t have any children here (aka nothing to loose), lead us into destruction.
    The war was wrong, it was a mistake, a lot of people effed up badly. But we have to move on from it. While I know a lot of people are only interested in finger pointing, let us not forget that war is a very serious matter. Achebe will not move back to Nigeria if there is a war. In fact, he will make a lot of money from being flown around the world, ‘bringing attention’ to the situation. Please, let us act like educated people.

  70. okechukwu

    October 8, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Achebe’s statement should be seen for what it is-his own personal view of Pa Awo,and he has a right to air it.I do not see it as his or Ibo view of yoruba people in general.After all,Prof Wole Soyinka went to prison for his stand on the war.he was not comfortable wt the treatment meted to Igbos.Adekunle Fajuyi is still a much respedted name in Igboland,cos he died in defence of his igbo friend.So has so many yorubas and igbos stood together in defence of common causes and has established long standing and enduring friendships between them.The issue of Tribe should take a backseat in this matter.The main reason why Achebe’s has elicited so many sectional comments are as follows,one,Nigerian situation has deterioted rather than improve since 1970,making it difficult for Igbos to forget the pains of the war.two,Igbo’s perception of Pa Awo is totally different from the Yoruba perception.He is revered in yorubaland for his achievement for his people,but Igbos are not part of his people and do not have any encomiums to pour on him.I think the defenders of Awo should do well to Look at message more than the messenger.Achebe may be undplomatic in his book,but he has said what 99 percent of igbos who lived through the war think about Pa Awo.How to correct this impression is what should occupy the minds of latter day Awoists,who ride on his name to political glory and relevance,without aquiring his dogged,progresive and puritanical qualities.May God save Nigeria.

  71. Sanya

    October 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Ndigbos has for d past 42 years been looking for people to blame but themselves for their unfortunate misadventure called the Nigerian civil war. But for the Iroko starting another blame game now shows the mindset of our passing elite. It wansn’t Awo that asked them to start the war in the first instance. And the Igbo elders had every opportunity to have called off the war when they realised it wasn’t what they could win, especially if they loved their people so much and didn’t want them to die. Singling out Awo as being ambitious and all that, without giving credit for the roles and sacrifices other Yorubas like Soyinka, Fajuyi, Banjo, Ademoyega etc made says a lot about the intentions of the writer at this time. Awo, as a patriot, did the best in the circumstance he found himself then to reduce human carnage and we are proud of him.

  72. duchess

    October 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    hmm….this book is already causing a lot of controversy and we have not even read it…the book is based on Achebe’s personal memories and as such it is bound to be one-sided(form his own view) but i think if the Awo’s are disappointed in him, they should publish Awo’s memoirs for people to read and compare…i disagree with those saying the timing is wrong, the timing is never ‘right’ in nigeria as we always fear that any comment or opinion will lead to a war. i am personally happy there is a book written from one man’s memories so i can read and learn..if his observations and opinions can lead to a war, then we are not a nation..(i hesitate to say ‘united’ cos we rily arent) but it may be that for the foundation of this nation to become strong, we have to go back to our roots and find out where the leaks are from cos it seems this whole problem with our nation(corruption, political blackmail, ethnic wars, killings here and there) started then and have been on the increase since. Every time i read an account of the wars, chills run down my spine and for those of us thinking ‘we might as well go to war’, i have to say you should all please go talk to those who lived through it and you will hear them all saying one thing: we all pray there is never another war in Nigeria. It is not an experience we should all be thinking ‘ehen, worst comes to worst, make we fight’….From Ojukwu-Awo-whoseover was involved in making decisions that destroyed and is destroying generations, they all made mistakes and we should be able to talk about those mistakes without fear and learn from them, which is what i think we should all learn from Achebe’s book after reading it…May we never experience another war in this country but let us face our mistakes head-on.

  73. Toyosi

    October 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    We as a nation don’t have a culture of writing or recording our history in detail, which is unfortunate as the only people other than the Igbos who know the Biafar to any detail have not educated the next generation about it, hence we have refused to learn or forgive. The wrong done then ( or even before that) has coloured peoples perception greatly and tribalised us for too long. To the extent that we place people in leadership positions in which they have no skill or experience, all because they are of a tribe. May God Help

  74. Maik

    October 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I just read where one Yoruba man is saying that Achebe wrote the memoir because he (Achebe) is annoyed that a Yoruba man (Soyinka) won Noble price ahead of him (Achebe). What nonsense! People will just ridicule themselves in the open just because they want to be seen as protecting their ethnicity.

  75. laila

    October 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Pa Awo helped resolve the war and saved the Igbo Race from extinction. Igbo’s should give due credit. Ojukwu on the other hand refused food to reach his starving people in the name of pride. Pls lets stop all this eyinmba-eyim rantings. I dont see any references to the banal genocidal comments made by northern leaders at the time. There were open calls for the extermination of the South West – where are those comments? Pls let Pa Awo rest in peace. No need to make veiled accusations againsta a man who cant defend himself. Igbo people should pls stop seeing Nigeria as a fight – they already lost the only one there was!!!

  76. Tincan

    October 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Can’t we all just get along?

  77. Tony

    October 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm


    On Aburi we stand

    “The Distortion of Aburi Accord”

    Excerpts from Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s Selected Speeches

    Anybody who was present at the Aburi meeting or has read the minutes, the communiqués, statements, and verbatim reports would be surprised that a person who calls himself a head of state could so deliberately mislead accredited representatives of foreign governments by saying that the implementation of each item of the conclusions required prior detailed examination by the administrative and professional experts in the various fields. The conclusions in Aburi were no proposals but decisions taken by the highest authority in the land.

    What happened in fact was that specific matters, namely, the decrees and sections of decrees to be repealed, the mechanics of army reorganization, and the question of rehabilitation of refugees, were referred to experts. The meeting of the financial experts to consider the question of rehabilitation of displaced persons has not been held because the Ministry of Finance does not think that such that such a meeting would serve any useful purpose. The army experts met and reached agreements, but these were rejected.

    Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon told the Heads of Missions that the agreement about returning the regions to the positions before January 17 also meant in effect that the federal government in Lagos would continue to carry on its functions as before. He failed to inform the world that the decisions taken at Aburi, the federal government meant no more than the Supreme Military Council. No one of course who knows the sort of advice Lieutenant-Colonel Gowon is receiving in Lagos would be surprised by this suppression and distortion of the truth.

    The actual Aburi decisions read as follows:

    Members agree that the legislative and executive authority of the Federal Military Government should remain in the Supreme Military Council, to which any decision affecting the whole country shall be referred for determination provided that where it is possible for a meeting to be held the matter requiring determination must be referred to military governors for their comment and concurrence.

    Specifically, the council agreed that appointments to senior ranks in the police, diplomatic, and consular services as well as appointment to superscale posts in the federal civil service and the equivalent posts in the statutory corporation must be approved by the Supreme Military Council.

    The regional members felt that all the decrees passed since January 15, 1966, and which detracted from previous powers and positions of regional governments, should be repealed if mutual confidence is to be restored.

    It is difficult to understand the introduction of the word “veto” into the matter. The Aburi Agreement was that any decision which affected the whole country must receive the concurrence of all the military governors because of their special responsibilities in their different area of authority and so to the country as a corporate whole.

    On the reorganization of the army, it is for Lieutenant-Colonel Gowon to explain to the world what he means by the “army continuing to be under one command,” when in the very next sentence of his statement he also speaks of an agreement to establish area commands corresponding with the existing regional boundaries. This contradiction in itself tells the truth, and one does does not need to belabor the point.

    The actual decision of the Supreme Military Council as recorded in the official minutes reads as follows:

    The Council decides that:

    (i) on reorganization of the army:

    (a) Army to be governed by the Supreme Military Council under a chairman to be known Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and Head of the Federal Military Government.

    (b) Establishment of a military headquarters comprising equal representation from the regions and headed by a Chief of Staff.

    (c) Creation of area commands corresponding to existing regions and under the charge of area commander.

    (d) Matters of policy, including appointments and promotions to top executive posts in the armed forces and the police, to be dealt with by the Supreme Military Council.

    (e) During the period of the military government, military governors will have control over area commands for internal security.

    (f) Creation of a Lagos garrison, including Ikeja barracks.

    It is clear from the Aburi decisions that what was envisaged was a loosely knit army administered by a representative military headquarters under the charge of a Chief of Staff and commanded by the Supreme Military Council, not by Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon as he claimed in his present statement to the diplomats.

    According to the Aburi Agreements “the following appointments must be approved by the Supreme Military Council; (a) diplomatic and consular posts; (b) senior posts in the armed forces and the police; (c) superscale federal civil service and federal corporation posts.”

    Everyone with even the most superficial acquaintance with the Nigerian civil service knows what those expressions mean and connote.

    To confuse issue, Lieutenant-Colonel Gowon gave the impression that the main difference between him and me on this particular decision was that I insisted on canceling the appointments of existing civil servants. I can think of nothing more slanderous.

    It is clear from Gowon’s statement in question that he is prepared to distort the verbatim reports of the Aburi meeting. To keep the public informed, the Eastern Nigerian Broadcasting Service will be playing the tape records of the proceedings live at scheduled times…. Arrangement have been completed to transform those tape recordings to long-playing gramophone records … We are also going ahead to print and publish the documents and records of Aburi meeting. We in the East are anxious to see that our difficulties are resolved by peaceful means and that Nigeria is preserved as a unit, but it is doubtful, and the world must judge whether Lieutenant-Colonel Gowon’s attitudes and other exhibitions of his insincerity are something which can lead to a return of normalcy and confidence in the country.


    I must warn all Easterners once again to remain vigilant. The East will never be intimidated, nor will she acquiesce to any form of dictation. It is not our intention to play the aggressor. Nonetheless, it is not our intention to be slaughtered in our beds, We are ready to defend our homeland.

    Fellow countrymen and women, on Aburi We Stand. There will be no compromise. God grant peace in our time.

  78. Aladejana

    October 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    In as much as Achebe said the fact about the starvation policy, let us not be tribalistic about it. During any fight, let alone war, you employ anything at your disposal to weaken and conquer your enemy. Moreso, it was Biafra that declared that he is ready for war, Ojukwu would not allow for relief so as to whip up sympathy from international community. If there had been any agreement between Yoruba/Igbo or Awolow/Ojukwu to fight the war and Awolowo reneged, who had told us his considerations then. A good reminder is that of Oba Kosoko of Lagos who was seeing as a weakling for surrendering Lagos to the British during his reign, after considering all the implications and the catastrophe that could happen if he had done otherwise, even though his white cap chiefs opposed his decision.But today Lagos is better for it – everyone wants to be in Lagos due to gains of sophistication brought by that treaty. Moreso, if it were the Biafrans/Ojukwu dat had same opportunity or weapon to overcome, it could have as well be used.

    All said and done, to be so emotional or sentimental about something that had come and gone, with no good result to any part of the country, is not worth it. Has any of the states from the old Northern Region, Western Region, Mid-west or Eastern Region been better as result of the war? Definitely NO! Whereas in some climes, it would have given a clear direction for nation building and consolidation, but not here. It would have taught us that reckless killing of any tribe (as was done before the war) can trigger war, and that depriving others of their legitimate right could rock a national boat, none of these lessons had been learnt.

    I like these contributions from Msundertood, Okechukwu and Questa;

    Tribalistic jargons. Ojukwu wanted war, Awo advised him against it.The former went ahead wit d war n lost. Wetin come concern pa Awo. Who feeds his opponent during a war? Would u? Why pick on Yorubas?

    Ojukwu did not want war he wanted independence particularly from the North. Same way as Eritrea wanted independence from Ethopia, the same way South Korea wanted independence from North Korea. Nobody wakes up and starts to fight a war for no reason. Please go and study the war. We have to move forward, but that does not mean we should forget the past. Also Ojukwu was not an angel, he made mistakes. Same with Awolowo. We should be able to call out people whether they are our people or not. For instance I don’t like Things Fall Apart as a book, I hated the way it ended. I won’t say it is a good book because I am Igbo.

    There was a country! Thank God there are still Hausas, Igbos and Yorubas. Who knows? There may still be countries. Prof can keep his pen safe. There may be a new story but war must be won somehow. However, how it went is just a story by the survivors.

    And so from me, all that matters now is for us to shape our future by ourselves by confronting all the wicked and visionless leaders we have now who had no plan for the geographical expression called NIGERIA.

  79. olah

    October 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    why not wait to read the book? Reading just a few paragraphs is not enough to come to a logical conclusion.

  80. Mahla

    October 8, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I’m not a Nigerian but what I find funny is that the only argument the Yoruba folks have is why Awolowo’s name should be mentioned as though he was God. Please! He made wrong decisons, the truth has been spoken. If you have counter-facts not sentiments, then speak-up. “Sorry” is not a sign of weakeness. Admit a fault and then forgiveness can come and the nation can truly move on.

  81. omoibo

    October 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    The truth be told, the average Nigerian does not know shit about Nigerian history and no thanks to our government. I love history and it wasn’t until recently that I was able to find various video archives on Nigerian history on YouTube that I truly began to understand the complexity of Nigeria as a country. The Niger protectorate which later became Nigeria was created by Luggard as a way to streamline, tax & control the exploitation of Nigerian resources by the british during colonization. I had family members, uncles, aunts that lived in the north before the civil war & let me tell you they had some horror stories to share about the atrocities committed by the hausa on ibo’s before they fled to the east for safety. The reason Biafra will continue to come up is the Nigerian government has not come up with a way for the involved parties to really reconcile & begin the true healing process needed to move forward. Old wounds will continue to linger, I will share the Biafran story with my kids when they are of age because it’s a history of my ppl/ Nigeria that ought to never be forgotten. sure, the non ibo’s can say let by gone be by gone, it’s like you telling the jews that lost entire generations & family members during the holocaust that they ought to forget the holocaust ever happened because it happened in the past. So again for the tribalist in our mist, my advice to you is to get online & head to YouTube and spend some time to watch videos on Nigerian history, Biafra then you may be inclined to question a lot of your preconceived assumptions.

  82. 'Mide

    October 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    False Sense of Victimization in Achebe’s Worldview .
    Posted by Ozodi Thomas Osuji in Ozodi Thomas Osuji on October 14, 2008 | 0 Comments


    Ozodi Thomas Osuji

    Chinua Achebe is a literary writer, not a social scientist. Perhaps, his lack of training in the social sciences mitigates his lack of understanding that he tends to see himself as a victim, an especially immature approach to living. This unwarranted sense of victimization is conveyed in his October 9, 2008 Lecture marking The Guardian Silver Jubilee (at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria, Island, Lagos). In that Lecture, Achebe mused on “What Nigeria means to me”.

    Achebe tells us that he was born at Ogidi, “one of a thousand or more towns that made up the Igbo nation, one of Nigeria’s, indeed, Africa’s largest ethnic groups…numbering over 10 million”. He went on to say that Igbos “have been called names like stateless, acephalous and such terms by anthropologists, argumentative by others”.

    Apparently, Achebe does not like other people’s negative views of Igbos and tries to put a positive spin on Igbos obvious political underdevelopment; he saw virtue where others saw primitivism because: Igbos: “small scale political organization” had its advantages, for it offered Igbos opportunity “for every man’s eyes to reach where things are happening”.

    Achebe tends to minimize serious issues. Igbos did not evolve large scale political organizations. Their sociopolitical organization begins and ends in the town. This has serious ramifications for Igbos political culture and political behavior. Igbos are socialized to see politics as that which occurs in a small town, in a family, really, where every man is an active participant. Igbos do not have the political culture that sees politics taking place in a large polity, such as is now in Nigeria. The Igbo psyche is not habituated to politics in large structures by centuries of exposure to such political superstructures. The consequences of this problem are that the Igbo do not really know how to operate in large scale political entities. Igbos come into the modern polity with political behavior more appropriate for villages. Igbos political behavior lacks the sophistication expected in large complex political entities.

    As a result of their limited political reach Igbos generally do not understand the consequences of political action in large polities. In large polities ones behavior must be circumspect for one mistake could lead to political conflagration. Consider the Major Nzeogwu led political coup of January, 1966.

    Mr. Nzeogwu’s inner political landscape was of the Igbo variety and he could only think of politics as what takes place in his small town. In that small scale situation one could wake up one fine day and remove the putative leaders of the village family and proceed to organize the village as one sees fit and that pretty much would be the end of it. But in a large polity, such as Nigeria, with its many ethnic groups, it is obvious that killing the political leaders of Hausas, Fulanis and Yorubas would lead to different consequences for the villager who felt like taking matters into his own hands. For one thing, he has to deal with such abstract political concepts as “what legitimizes his government”?

    If Nzeogwu was habituated to large scale politics he would have thought about the consequences of killing Hausa and Yoruba leaders. It would have occurred to him that Nigeria is a tinder box, a powder cake and that one misstep could lead the country into erupting in flames that might engulf his Igbo group. Thus, this boy, for boy he really was, not a man, went ahead and killed Hausa leaders and when those whose leaders were killed erupted in ethnic cleansing of Igbos, Nzeogwu felt surprised!

    What exactly did Igbos expect when they killed the Prime Minister of Nigeria, Abubaka Tafawa Belewa, the Premier of Northern Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello and the Premier of Western Nigeria, Samuel Akintola and did not kill a single Igbo leader, such as Nnamdi Azikiwe and Michael Okpara? As in George Bush’s Americans invasion of Iraq, did Igbos expect to be welcomed as liberators? Of course they were perceived as enemies hence Igbos were killed in the counter coup of August of 1966.

    The counter coupe was exactly what political realists would have anticipated and, perhaps, prepared for but naïve Igbos apparently did not expect those whose leaders they just killed to kill their own leaders!

    “Six months later, Northern officers carried out what was perhaps a revenge coup in which they killed officers and men in large number. If it had ended there, the matter might have been seen as a very tragic, very sad interlude in nation building, a horrendous tit for tat. But the northerners turned on Igbo civilians living in the North and unleashed waves of brutal massacres…it was estimated that 30, 000 civilians, men, women and children died.”

    Achebe, apparently, has not learned the lesson that he was supposed to learn from the pogrom. He is still minimizing the action of Nzeogwu and his fellow Igbos. He is still seeing Igbos as victims unto whom supposedly bad Nigerians unleashed evil to. Therein lay Achebe’s problem.

    I understand that Achebe is a simple story teller, his novels are of secondary school variety and lack what for lack of a better phrase can be called philosophical and psychological thinking. Achebe writes for teenagers but not for adults. His reasoning tends not to be analytic; his writing is what one would expect from a secondary school graduate but not from a sophisticated thinker who understands the nature of man and the ways of the world. Achebe tends to appeal to his readers emotions not to their reason.

    Consider: Nigeria was just sixty years in the 1960s. The various ethnic groups still had ethnic affiliation as their primary identity. Indeed, such is still the case today; the idea of Nigeria is an artificial social and political construct superimposed on many Africans tribes by a foreign ruler, the British, and had not taken hold in the peoples unconscious minds. People living in the geographical expression called Nigeria are not “Nigerians” but Hausas, Yorubas, Igbos, Efiks, Ijaws, Binis, Tivis etc. If that was the case, and it was, it ought to have occurred to Nzeogwu that killing Hausa and Yoruba leaders would be perceived as Igbo declaration of war on non-Igbo Nigerians and as Igbo effort to dominate them.

    And why should non-Igbos permit Igbos to rule them? Hadn’t they just struggled to get rid of a set of foreign rulers, Europeans, so why should they permit another foreign ruler, albeit African to replace Europeans and rule them? Why should Hausas permit Igbos to rule them? It does not add up. Common sense would have asked Nzeogwu and his gang not to play with fire.

    “I find it difficult to forgive Nigeria and my country men and women for the political nonchalance and cruelty that unleashed upon us these terrible events”; events that resulted in a “30 months war” and at the end of which “Biafra was vast smoldering rubble; the cost in human lives was a staggering two million souls, making it one of the bloodiest civil wars in human history”.

    Again, in this passage one sees Achebe’s either arrested mental development or refusal to understand history and reality as it is, not as he wants it to be. He does not seem able to understand what happens when folks living in multiethnic polity do not behave realistically and minimize the consequences of their naïve actions.

    Many Igbos, for any number of reasons, seem incapable of emotional maturity. Throughout their brief stay in Nigeria their behaviors are marked by arrogance and pride. Generally, they assume that they are superior to other Nigerians. They look down on other Nigerians, insulting them, right and left. These insults make other Nigerians resent Igbos. If you call folk put down names they would feel angry at you. Igbos called and still call Hausas Nnama, Aturu (Cattle) and in many other ways verbally derogate Hausas.

    Generally, Hausas, like a more mature people, exercise patience and tolerance of Igbo verbal abuses of them. However, abuse takes its toll on people’s patience; it inevitably engenders rage in the abused for the abusers.

    Igbos make other Nigerians to hate them by looking down on them. Thus, occasionally, other Nigerians erupt in rage and kill every Igbo person in sight. This killing of every Igbo in sight is generally the type of behavior meted out to human beings who, for mental health reasons, imagine themselves superior to other persons.

    It is delusion disorder (a partial psychosis) for any human being or group of human beings to see themselves as better than others.

    All Human beings are the same and equal; to look down on another human being is a sign of insanity. Insanity is inability to deal with reality as it is but to insist that it accommodate ones wishes. In this case, Igbos wished that they were superior to other Nigerians; they are not but they behave as if they are hence are deluded (are partially psychotic; full psychosis requires the presence of delusion and hallucination).

    Jews, for whatever reasons, fancied themselves superior to their European hosts and Europeans resented the so-called chosen children of God who looked down on them. Occasionally, Europeans erupt in anger at the superiority feeling Jews and massacred them. During the Second World War, six million Jews were killed in Europe, dwarfing the two million Igbos that Achebe considered unprecedented in history. The so-called elect of God, Jews, apparently, believe that God is insane hence created some of his children superior to others; a sane God must create all his children equal.

    I do not think that it is for Achebe to forgive Nigerians; what it is necessary for him and his fellow Igbos to do is for them to grow up and become realistic to the ways of the world. It is time for Igbos to understand human nature and start behaving like adults, not children.

    Chinua Achebe is a useful story teller; he described his Igbo society at the point of its encounter with the Western world. He was able to tell us how Igbo society reacted to the West. However, he was and is not an analytic writer, nor is he a philosophical writer.

    Achebe does not subject his stories to rigorous analysis or philosophical musing and give us insights into human nature. For example, a reading of William Shakespeare, especially his immortal tragedies, such as Macbeth, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and King Lear etc gives the reader the impression that he was up to date with the philosophical musing of his time, 1600s. You could see Descartes and Spinoza and other philosophers in the ideas he placed into his characters mouths.

    A reading of Achebe, on the other hand, does not show that he has studied philosophy, psychology or even basic sciences. Consider the Okonkwo character in his apparent Magnus Opus, Things Fall Apart. In that character we are told of a man born by an artist, a father who loved music but not money (good for him) and that as a result of his father’s never do wellness, penury, Okonkwo grew up poor.

    In Igbo society, to be poor is a curse. Igbos are an achievement orientated society; they reward archiving persons, and ridicule losers. Children socialized into this neurotic society (as Carl Rogers would call it; see his “Client Centered Therapy”, 1950) tend to fear social rejection and struggle to become successful, so as to be accepted by members of their society. Thus, Okonkwo struggled to become successful and, by and large, succeeded.

    As Achebe put it, Okonkwo, the child, washed his hands and the elders permitted him to eat with them. Igbo society accepted Okonkwo as a very important person (VIP); he became part of the decision makers of his land.

    However, Okonkwo paid a serious price for this social acceptance predicated on conditional acceptance: his life was driven by fear of failure and social rejection. He feared failing and seeming weak. If he failed and was perceived as a weak man his Igbo society would reject him. He did not want to be ostracized by his conditional accepting society.

    As a result of his efforts to conform to his society’s conditional acceptance of its people, Okonkwo developed paranoid personality. Okonkwo, the paranoid personality, feared been demeaned and made to seem inferior.

    The paranoid personality feels inadequate and wants to seem adequate; he fears been seen as inadequate, inferior; he tends to resent those who see him as inferior; he quarrels with whomever he imagines looks down on him. As I have pointed out elsewhere, as a result of Igbo society’s conditional acceptance of its people, many Igbos develop paranoid personalities. Igbo society is a pathological society that produces pathological people, people who so fear inferiority that they compensate with imaginary superiority and from its deluded stance look down on other Nigerians; Igbos project their feared inferiority to Hausas and see them as inferior persons.

    As evidence of his paranoid personality trait, when Okonkwo’s wife appeared to disrespect him he beat the hell out of her (in the West such behavior is called domestic violence, for which Okonkwo would go to jail). When the child, Ikemefuna, that was given to Okonkwo’s care was demanded by the mob to be murdered in revenge for the murder of ones of their own, Okonkwo disregarded the fact that the child called him father, had attached to him emotionally, bonded with him, and not only handed the child to the town’s savage mob but killed him. Okonkwo killed the lovely child, Ikemefuna (killed his real self) in an effort to seem tough, so as to be liked by what Lord Lugard called “savages of the lower Niger”. Okonkwo’s behaviors are evidence of a pathological paranoid character.

    Eventually, political realism and geopolitical power politics came calling at the doors of Okonkwo and he could not handle it and opted for suicide rather than accept reality (just as Igbos opt for suicide, been killed by Hausas, by putting Hausas down, rather than accept the reality of their equality). The white man came to Okonkwo’s town, presumably Ogidi, and Okonkwo, presumably Achebe’s grandfather, could not tolerate the dawn of the white man’s rule. He harassed those Africans who accepted the white man’s rule, as symbolized by his relationship with osu Christians. Osus, a persecuted Igbo outcast group, apparently, found refuge in the white man and his religion, succor from the abuse of their fellow Igbos. Okonkwo mercilessly persecuted the osus indicating that he is a mindless man who had no sympathy for the oppressed of his society.

    The British authorities tried to intervene to protect the Christianized Africans (such as Okonkwo’s son, and since the book is really a thinly disguised autobiography, presumably Achebe’s father) Okonkwo defied the British authorities and the British decided to show him who is now the boss in the land. Like paranoid personalities who could not deal with reality as it is but insist on having the reality they made up, Okonkwo killed himself to avoid been captured and humiliated by British authorities (paranoid characters fear humiliation, belittlement, degradation and criticism; see the American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 1994, section on personality disorders).

    Please cross reference Okonkwo’s behavior to Adolf Hitler’s behavior. Paranoid Adolf Hitler, driven by compensatory power, he felt inferior and compensated with desire for superiority and power, having caused a whole lot of havoc in Europe, was about to be captured by the Russians and taken to Moscow and exhibited in a Moscow zoo as an animal avoided that fate by killing himself, as Okoknkwo did.

    What is the point? The point is that Achebe made the chief character of his book a paranoid personality. I suppose that this is appropriate since many Igbos tend to have paranoid personalities and Okonkwo is the prototypical Igbo character, a neurotic paranoid person.

    I must confess that as an Igbo I resent the fact that Achebe introduced us to the world as a pathological people. One had hoped that Achebe had some psychological insight and did not make his typical Igbo man a crazy man, as he did with his Okonkwo character. Before he dies, I demand that Achebe remedy his wrong by writing another book, this time, portray Igbos in a salutary manner, construct a healthy Igbo character as the chief character of that anticipated novel.

    Although this essay is not a literary appreciation of Achebe’s writing, let me make the following observations. Achebe’s chief characters are generally weak men, men with what in the language of mental health have personality disorders. In “No Longer at Ease” the chief character, Obi Okonkwo (presumably Achebe himself) was a vacillating man who found it difficult to make up his mind, to marry an osu or not. His fence sitting is not Hamletian for Hamlet was the familiar story of an intellectual, a man who thinks too much hence finds it difficult to make up his mind until circumstances force him to fight for what he believes; Obi Okonkwo was a coward, not a thoughtful man wrestling with philosophical issues, as Hamlet did. In “Arrow of God” Achebe continues with his characteristic indecision as to whether African religions are the religious equivalent of the imported religion of Christianity and did not give the reader a clear indication of where he stood on this very crucial matter. In “Man of the people” we are shown a petty thief who is motivated by desire to enrich his pocket but not to serve the public good. In “Anthills of the Savanna”, perhaps, Achebe’s only adult novel, we are introduced to the man’s self pitying and self righteous commentary on Nigeria’s politics. In “the Trouble with Nigeria” we hear Achebe’s sophomoric views on what is wrong with Nigeria, Kleptocracy, and how to fix it, a view predicated on poor understanding of the causal factors involved in Nigerians tendency to criminal behavior.

    Africans, in general, have been criminals for, at least, a thousand years, or for however long slavery lasted in Africa. They became criminals when they devalued human lives and preferred to sell their people to either Arabs or Europeans. The contemporary African character is thoroughly warped and stunted and it would take, at least, two hundred years of intense resocialization to bring him to normalcy.

    Achebe’s moralization is not going to make thieves (African rulers) decent human being; it would take a miracle to change the thieving ways of Africans. For our present purposes, Achebe has not written a book that one might call outstanding in the sense that he portrayed the human condition in all its tragic glory. He ought to do us all a favor and accomplish that task before he dies. He probably has it in him to do so, unless he is totally lost to self pitying and sees man as a victim of his environment.

    The Greek tragic hero (or, in Dante’s categories, the divine comic) is what a grown human being is. An adult man takes his life into his own hands and does what he has to do to meet the challenges of this world even though like Sisyphus (as Albert Camus pointed out) in the end he would be defeated by nature; he would be defeated because he has a character foible and because of the human condition; all people must be defeated, for one thing, despite their heroic struggles they must die, and as Hamlet pointed out, become food for worms ( a bit of existentialist realism, or is it nihilism, would do Achebe some good; his aphilosophical, infantile trite irritates one).

    Achebe concluded his lecture by telling us that he is shocked at the generosity of a few Nigerians towards him. He noted that after the war he left the country for the United States and that a certain Nigerian military officer, a poet (General Vasta?) who, apparently, had just concluded a war against Igbos and, presumably, killed Igbos, was so enthralled by his (Achebe’s) writings that he missed him so much as to do something to bring him back to Nsukka. More recently, Achebe said that he was involved in an accident that made him wheel chair bound and that Nigerians from all walks of life have poured their well wishes to him. He insinuated that he is amazed that Nigerians could be this generous.

    Apparently, Achebe still has not got it. Nigerians do not hate Igbos. Nigerians hate aspects of Igbos behavior. The very Hausas that killed Igbos love Igbos. If you have ever personally dealt with individual Hausa persons you would know how kind they are. The issue here is that Igbos abuse Hausas and make them angry and their anger is understandable.

    One is not condoning killing any one; one just knows that if one is psychologically abused, as Igbos abuse Hausas, that one would be angry and even consider killing Igbos.

    As for the struggle for who rules Nigeria, well, politics is the struggle for power and control, is it not? What is new in the fact that politics means individuals struggle for who would control their environment? It is perfectly understandable that Hausas and other Nigerians struggle for the control of the Nigerian political environment. What needs to be done is find a way to share power in the Nigerian polity. In other writings, I have explored ways to accomplish this goal amicably, not by having one group lording it over others, for that would always lead to resentment, conflict and war.

    In concluding his lecture, Achebe said: “It has occurred to me that Nigeria is neither my mother nor my father; Nigeria is a child, gifted and enormously talented; prodigiously endowed and incredibly wayward….I have said somewhere that in my next incarnation, I want to come back as a Nigerian, again…..Nigeria needs help; Nigerians have their work cut out for them, to coax this unruly child along the path of useful creative development. We are the parents of Nigeria, not vice versa. A generation will come if we do our work patiently and well and given luck, a generation will come that will call Nigeria father or mother, but not yet.”

    Hear him, hear him. This is the best passage in Achebe’s otherwise self pitying and other blaming lecture. Nigeria, indeed, all African countries are not yet nation states, as those are understood in international politics. A time would come when African countries would become real nation-states.

    It is not for us to give up on Nigeria and other African countries but to work hard to turn them into nation-states. As of now they are mere conglomerations of African tribes, many of whom, like Igbos, did not know what a nation state was and still do not know, and are learning. Their learning curve is rather stiff but over time they would have had enough shared experiences, history, understood each others languages and met other indices of nationhood to become nations.

    In the meantime, it would do Achebe and his fellow Igbos some good to learn to respect their fellow Nigerians and stop alienating them with their verbal abuses. It would do them well to learn that not only they worked in Nigeria’s best interests.

    Achebe alluded to the self serving claim that Igbos, more than other Nigerians, worked for Nigerians independence. That claim is arrant nonsense. Nigeria’s independence struggle, as it was, began with the 1920s Lagos crowd, with such non-Igbo folk as Herbert Macaulay, H.O Davis etc.

    It is part of Igbo misguided arrogance for them to always see themselves as working more than other persons for the common good. If truth be said, we all know that Igbos have many character flaws, including selfishness. Igbos are generally unprincipled and opportunistic and work for their individual self interests, not social interests. Azikiwe, for example, worked for his self interests as shown by his establishment of a chain of money making enterprises; he was a petty bourgeois not a real nationalist fighter.

    Nigeria’s curse is that she did not really fight for her independence; if the British had made it tough for Nigerians to gain independence, so that Nigerians went to war and fought for, say, five to ten years, for their independence and millions died they would have been better off. Nigerians would have taken their liberty seriously and fought to protect it. But because independence was handed to them in silver platter they do not value it hence a few of them steal the country’s monies and the many live in poverty.

    Americans fought a protracted war for their independence and value it but Nigerians did not hence do not know what liberty is. As John Stuart Mill said in “On Liberty”, liberty requires constant vigilance. The price of liberty, Thomas Paine said, is the blood of freemen.

    Nigerians have not made sacrifices for their liberties hence are not free men yet; they are still slaves and, sooner or later, will fight for their freedom and at which point will produce leaders to rule them, not criminals who steal from them. At present, cowardly Nigerians are afraid to fight and die fighting for their freedom hence allow a few unscrupulous criminals to appropriate their wealth. At some point Nigerians must stand up and, like men, fight the thieves of Abuja; until then, they will get the type of rulers they deserve, kleptocrats.

    In sum, I find Achebe’s lecture mildly offensive in that it presented him and his fellow Igbos as the victims of other Nigerians. Igbos are not the victims of other Nigerians. Igbos are their worst enemies. They psychological abuse Nigerians hence dispose Nigerians to hate them and occasionally take out their frustrations on Igbos, killing them. This is not to say that Igbos should be killed. No, no one has a right to kill another human being. Nevertheless, a critical study of history shows that arrogant people who disrespect their neighbors are generally resented and often killed and when that happens they receive what they asked for and apparently want to experience. They are not victims.

    There are no victims in this world; we all contribute to our fate. Achebe must learn to see himself, Igbos and all human beings, as taking the consequences of their behaviors, good and bad. Achebe must become an adult writer; I expect him to write an adult book, one that, perhaps, would garner him a Nobel Prize in literature. At present, his writings indicate poor comprehension of human nature. A bit of study of psychology, philosophy and science would make Achebe a great writer, and place him in the ranks of such immortal writers as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Walter Scott, Milton, Pope, Dryden, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Shelling, Novelis, and others.

    “I have witnessed another outflow of affection from Nigerians from every level. I am dumbfounded by it. The hard words Nigeria and I have said to each other begin to look like words of anxious love not hate.”

    I say, despite all its problems, I find Nigeria the best country on planet earth and if reincarnation is true, like Achebe, would like to be reborn in Nigeria.
    This essay is in response to “What Nigeria is to me, by Achebe”. The Guardian Newspaper, October 14, 2008 (Policy and Politics Section).
    Ozodi Thomas Osuji

    October 14, 2008

    [email protected]

  83. Ikeotuonye Theophilus

    October 8, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    And the man died; who even at old age cannot look death in the eye and say the truth. Chinua Achebe’s war epithat, ‘there was a country’ is classic and typical of the man behind the pen. Many in the welter foliage of this fleeting existence had crossed this generation of leaders -an absurdity; a wasted generation of invested hopes. The contemporary Nigeria is a function of the reactionary society emergent from the ruins and ashes of the Biafran civil war. It is therefore full hardy for anybody to wish away the paoradoxes so seemingly buried in anomie against history. Great felonies perhaps have in time been extenuated to assuage and pacify mortals. Nontheless, the leaders as actors in Achebes ‘lost country’ were selfish tribal biggots, who only but manifested their inate geographic disdain and tribal prejudices. It is also not in question that the road the country leads today is a reflection of the sensitive suspicion the father of nepotism and tribal opportunism foisted on a teething nation like Nigeria in the post independent Nigeria. The snake cannot but have copies of its reflection. Achebe’s manuscript is a testament some would want to wish away, but not for the discerning- the passage of a collossus like the Ikemba expectedly, must draw a new lane for a people and geographic contraption that has gone bunkers called Nigeria. Treachery is an institutionalised paradigm in the history and time of pa Awolowo, it is unciosconable for refutals to re-write truth as fallacies when 52years history of this country have not blinked from evident truths that are still very fresh and not a national burden on the Yoruba race. Are we to shy away like ‘ayo’ from the dirge and odium infested on us by our leaders? no! but we only have to change the perception with equitable equanimity comminsurate to the now. Nigeria’s history is replete with the likes of the untrustworthy sages in yoruba land or even in Igbo land- the plague is palpable. The scar of abormination according to Zik is darker than gray, only it vitiates the stature of the true man and guides him to early passage in the prime of treachry. “Olumide”, you cannot change what the luminous Author have written by either angst or curses though, natural fallouts, but you can only hear the truth as hyphenates of a marveric leader driven by selfish passion. The sage cannot be dimnished by what Achebe has written because his course is a documented tale of the past, present and the future. It can only embolden the appologists, without dimming the light on the farmished. It will neither stop the drift to Lagos nor hinder the senseless orgy of the Biafrans in developing even cemetaries in the west because -‘read history’, without them no Nigeria. Even Awo realised that beyond Zik; that’s the reason for the long knife called treachery.

  84. NNENNE

    October 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    @Aladejana… Love you to pieces!
    The huge question becomes, how do we build one Nigeria.What we have now is just a joke.
    That is why despite our resources, human and material, we cannot make a real mark in the world. That is why, brain drain is the order of the day. That is why, we are always ruled by a mediocre,who have no vision to build a solid nation. How do we end corruption and nepotism? The time is now. How do we move forward? God bless Nigeria.


    October 9, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Unfortunately, Nigerians don’t know their history except what we read in history books written by the same people who colonized us. Chinua Achebe, has every right to say his opinion or experience. The only problem is, implying that Yorubas hated and wanted to get rid of Igbos is UNCALLED FOR. Now, Hitler deliberately wanted to exterminate Jews, whites mistreated Black Americans, etc but blaming the Biafran war on Yorubas or a specific person doesn’t make any sense. First of all, Igbos started the war themselves, they went against the government and wanted to do it their way. There’s no evidence to confirm or defend Awolowo’s perspective on Biafra war, it’s just Chinua Achebe’s opinion and opinion is usually based on how one feels not necessarily fact/truth. People in their right mind know, when a group of people decide to go against the government or attack them or try to separate themselves from it, the government will retaliate back. So, if Awolowo acted out, it might not be based on hatred for Igbos, he just did what he needed to do. Mr Ojukwu, knew full well the war will not result in anything except loss and death. But, he insisted because of his pride and ego. If he and Igbos want to be realistic and use their common sense, not speak out of emotions will see that they caused it themselves. As usual, everybody likes to tell their story and play the “victim card”, which is what is going on with Igbos. Although, I think the biafra war should be taught in classes but Igbos don’t be so biased and senseless to keep talking about how Yorubas hate you guys so much and want to kill you. If that’s the case, I doubt there will be intermingling going on or Igbos living freely in Yoruba land. This is what happens when there are too many tribes, one will always stand out than the other, or feel more powerful or less. It’s impossible to get along perfectly but we can learn to respect each other. The common factor with Africans is division, people screaming let’s divide and using Somalia or Sudan as an example. These people have to be the most foolish people there is. So, they will rather see Nigeria turn to another Somalia, there’s nothing good that came out from African countries that divided, they are left in ruins and worse than ever.
    The main problem going on in Nigeria at the moment is not tribal conflict, it’s corruption, underdevelopment, wickedness, failed government, and it is not affecting just one tribe, it’s affecting all of Nigeria. So, why can’t Nigerians focus on more important issues that is at hand. I wonder, if there’s any Nigerian who was alive during colonization or slavery to say something about it as opposed to hearing what Europeans have to say. I will rather hear how Nigeria can move forward, how to free ourselves from mental colonization, white superiority, from failed leadership, corruption not how this tribe hates the other, how yorubas kill Igbos because last time I checked the recent atrocious act that happened at UniPort wasn’t tribal it was human wickedness. The bad news coming from Nigeria everyday isn’t tribal, it’s lawlessness and it applies to everybody. Time to put our priorities straight and focus on crucial issues affecting people and the country as a whole.

    • Hairy Monsta

      November 25, 2012 at 3:51 am

      Have you read the book so replete with facts sourced from all corners of the earth and clearly anotated? A lot of it is from sources that are now on-line so you need not travel. Please refute what was presented devoid of name-calling or pretending that the massive killings before, during and after the war is good for the soul of Nigeria! We cannot bring back the dead or re-live yesterday, but we can learn from it. 2 million died on the Biafran side vs. 100,000 on the Nigerian side (according to General Gowon who is very much alive). We cannot lead Africa with a hole in our hearts. I repeat, please read the book and particularly the NOTES. Achebe just presented his views. Perhaps others will gladly do the same so that we can begin understand more of this painful past. Ignoring it is out of the question. South Africa stared hard at its painful past and is forging a nation we can all be proud of. Nigeria should not be afraid to do the same.

  86. Ceo

    October 9, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I thank God that people like Achebe is speaking up and letting the world and the younger generations know the truth of the war. Yes some people have spoken well by saying that Nigerians should stop talking about tribal issues and rather focus on how to move the country ahead, but the forget that if you cannot remember your past, there is no way you will make your future better. They should remember that it is because of the importance of the past to the future that we have history and other books to refer to. May the Almighty God continue to guide and protect our renowned Achebe and his family. It is unfortunate that people like Yinka Odumakin whom I respect for his crusade against in-justice, can make the statements he made above against the memoirs of Achebe. Please let Odumakin know that NOBODY IS BEGGING HIM TO READ THE BOOK, more intellects and people whom know and accept the TRUTH would always read the book and give credit to whom credit is due to. If all these people whom are attacking Achebe have alternative views or they know exactly the comments and actions of Awolowo, should then write their own memoirs for the world to read and compare.

  87. feyi A

    October 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    the problem is that yorubas are living in a lie. nigeria doesnt have a hero yet. all we have is men that have done well for their tribe no man has done anything for his country yet. owolowo is not a nigeria hero he is a yoruba hero. igbos have the right to hate him and say everything they wish, he sabbotaged them. ojukwu on the otherhand is a hero to igbos. he did what any leader with love for his people will. all these yarn from owolowo worshippers na nonsense. he gave us free education and contributed to the killings of millions whether we take it or leave it. and people clamouring for nigeria to tackle present issues no sabi say the past affects the future. they blood of the innocent that died is affecting us and na like this nigeria go remain stagnant if they are not vindicted. am done.

  88. Keke

    October 9, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    How can anyone in his right senses expect the average yoruba man to agree that awo was a villain blood-sucking, power hungry tribalist, they have spent half of their existence adoring and celebrating him. Thanking their stars for having a leader who wantonly destroyed another people and tribe for the benefit of his own tribe. Revered Achebe deserves praises for having the courage to give us the truth like a perfect gentleman that he is. What the shameless critics should do is to go back to their history books and verify the glaring truth that is contained in this classic.

    • Godwin O. Isaac

      October 10, 2012 at 12:36 am

      I don’nt think Achebe will write a memoir based on hear say.

  89. Keke

    October 9, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    How are we in all fairness still arguing over the truth contained in this Achebe classic as if the yoruba of today has stopped hating the ibo man. Invariably the vast majority of the yoruba people today hate the ibo man and would gladly re-enact the same destructive policies of awo if given the opportunity. How do we expect the nigerian state to wake up and lift the rest of Africa when there is so much disdain, distrust and hatred among the tribal contraptions that make up the entity called Nigeria. There can never be any american or singaporean success story in Nigerian until the yoruba man ends his hypocrisy and tribalism and embrace the beauty there is in accomodating and loving this untimorous neighbour.

    • Gogobiri Olokodana

      October 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      No Yorubaman ever hated the Igbos. I dont know what that hatred would bring for Yorubas. The fact isthat the Igbos taught they are the wisest of all tribes and took to guns against advice of peace. And when that war started they were aiming towards the Y oruba cradle and they expect Yorubas to fold hands. The I gbos are starting that agenda again. By the special grace of God they will continue to fail.

  90. Keke

    October 10, 2012 at 12:02 am

    How are we in all fairness still arguing over the truth contained in this Achebe classic as if the yoruba of today has stopped hating the ibo man. Invariably the vast majority of the yoruba people today hate the ibo man and would gladly re-enact the same destructive policies of awo if given the opportunity. How do we expect the nigerian state to wake up and lift the rest of Africa when there is so much disdain, distrust and hatred among the tribal contraptions that make up the entity called Nigeria. There can never be any american or singaporean success story in Nigeria until the yoruba man ends his hypocrisy and tribalism and embrace the beauty there is in accomodating and loving this untimorous neighbour.

  91. Godwin O. Isaac

    October 10, 2012 at 1:07 am

    Chinua Achebe is too accomplished a writer to base his memoir on hear say.

  92. Keke

    October 10, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Why are we in all fairness still arguing over the truth contained in this Achebe classic as if the yoruba of today has stopped hating the ibo man. Invariably the vast majority of the yoruba people today hate the ibo man and would gladly re-enact the same destructive policies of awo if given the opportunity. How do we expect the nigerian state to wake up and lift the rest of Africa when there is so much disdain, distrust and hatred among the tribal contraptions that make up the entity called Nigeria. There can never be any american or singaporean success story in Nigeria until the yoruba man ends his hypocrisy and tribalism and embrace the beauty there is in accomodating and loving this untimorous neighbour.

  93. One Nigeria

    October 10, 2012 at 10:24 am

    The wise man must remember that while he is a descendant of the past, he is a parent of the future.” ~ Herbert Spencer
    I like Ibrahim’s comment, If it’s possible please publish your dad’s diaries. If Wole Soyinka wants to write, please let him write too so that we can all read and learn. Every country has a terrible past. The atrocities of King Henry VIII is well known and well documented. The French wars of religion are documented in history books. The holocaust is documented, discussed, televised, etc. and it amazes me that there are currently Jews living in Germany. I believe that it is because theses issues have been discussed over and over again and as hard as it has been, people have moved on. It is important for the truth to be told from different perspectives so that the next generation can learn never to repeat the sins of their fathers.
    If the truth is spoken and all that we achieve from it is bitterness and more tribalism then there would be no hope for our country.

    Can I just caveat by saying I am not Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa, I am an ethnic minority who is praying for one Nigeria. All this tribalism and killings in the name of Religion will annihilate out country if we are not careful.

  94. cjay

    October 10, 2012 at 11:26 am

    these yoruba people sef! haba! it is a book from his view. you cannot force any man to see an issue from your view. it is at first usual internal until it is let out. if we accept the concept of a half full and half empty glass of water then you should accept this. the biafran war was a major issue in Nigerian history and it wont go away because some tribe or people want it to. the issues that lead to the war made it necessary to activate a self preservation mode -fight for your survival. if the yoruba’s where in that boat i bet they would have fought to survive. My dad fought in that war. he commanded a platoon. Please see an issue with an honest neutrality, then you will really see some reasons why the other persons position is the way it is. please google for pictures of the biafran war and you would weep – i did. i wept not because am ibo, but because of the value i place on a life. today the world sits back and watch syria experience a similar genocide by the government of allah assad and nothing is happening -this is reminiscent of what biafra went through. if you condem the killings in Syria then i bet you the position should be same on biafra. I am new age/generation free thinker on issues and really it piques me when someone makes a clear point and some other thinks he is being sinister – please go and write your own book then. i can go on and on about this but i will end with this, the aftermath if the war is this – it is very difficult for the 2 tribes to inter marry. i have asked a couple of yoruba girls out prior to now and the response made me feel like a leper – ‘my father said ……” , “omo yibo ke? ” …… whether you choose to accept it or not , it is only the truth that sets one free and remove the burden and yoke we carry. people lost families,relatives, properties. babies starved to death and pregnant women were killed…..sadly some people watched all these unfold , and you now want to deny them the right to air the events they experienced and witnessed. this is not politics, this is our history and stories we are talking about. it will not be embellished to suit a certain tribe or personality, it will be told the way it is -the truth. God help Nigeria.
    PS! Nigeria is at a Fed up point today- a point where everyone wouldnt mind going there separate ways . biafran got to this point some decades ago -it didnt make sense then, but right now it does.

  95. Missy

    October 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    The wise man must remember that while he is a descendant of the past, he is a parent of the future.” ~ Herbert Spencer
    I like Ibrahim’s comment, If it’s possible please publish your dad’s diaries. If Wole Soyinka wants to write, please let him write too so that we can all read and learn. Every country has a terrible past. The atrocities of King Henry VIII is well known and well documented. The French wars of religion are documented in history books. The holocaust is documented, discussed, televised, etc. and it amazes me that there are currently Jews living in Germany. I believe that it is because theses issues have been discussed over and over again and as hard as it has been, people have moved on. It is important for the truth to be told from different perspectives so that the next generation can learn never to repeat the sins of our fathers.
    If the truth is spoken and all that we achieve from it is bitterness and more tribalism then there would be no hope for our country.
    Can I just caveat by saying I am not Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa, I am an ethnic minority who is praying for one Nigeria. All this tribalism and killings in the name of Religion will annihilate out country if we are not careful.

  96. idogun native

    October 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Very passionate, i hope Achebe was able to discuss the real deal of betrayal that happened in the biafran camp

    Igbo leaders of that age were selfish and wanted things for themselves…..guess what,my grand father tells of teh story of how the young igbo man he housed and gave a farming land to led people into my village to slutter innocent souls

    You can igbos as commissioners in the west,the so called achebe probable sold most of his books on our land…..but try finding a permanent secretary that is not an indegene in the east

    Its leaders like Achebe that has made it impossible for us to trust our igbo brothers in this generation

    You want biafra right? Then pack your bags and get out of south west,because guess what,the amenties and schools and every other thing you are enjoying in the south is based on the foundztions set by leaders like Awo and built on by newer generations like Fashola

    Achebe made a name for himself without the guts of even impacting the educational sector of the east so that he can say crap like this that would affect the future and those gullible enough would swallow it

    Please pack your bags and leave our lands,those unfortunate to be married to your tribe can follow….selfish and money valued tribe, its you people that would betray yourselves anyway and pls dont bank on the niger delta iol,it doesn’t belong to you

  97. drama king

    October 11, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Read and discover why Chinua Achebe is still angry with Awolowo. Click link:

  98. femi dave

    October 12, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I hope this will calm Yoruba’s haters nerve
    Although Chief Obafemi Awolowo is not alive to respond to allegations levelled against him by renown novelist, Chinua Achebe, an interview he granted during a town hall meeting in Abeokuta, Ogun State in 1983 could as well pass for a defence.

    Fielding questions from members of a panel and the audience, Awolowo explained his policies as the Federal Commissioner of Finance during the Nigerian civil war.

    The town hall meeting which was part of his electioneering as the Unity Party of Nigeria presidential candidate in 1983, lasted for 90 minutes. It was aired live by some radio stations.

    Awolowo, who was then 74 years old, spoke on his roles in the civil war, especially the 20-pound policy, the alleged use of starvation against the Igbo and the change of the national currency.

    He said those castigating him on the basis of his roles in the civil war which began in 1967 and ended in 1970 were those who felt the only way to remain popular was by peddling lies against him.

    Achebe, in his wartime memoirs entitled, There Was A Country, accused members of the Gen. Yakubu Gowon cabinet, particularly Awolowo, of making “regrettable policies” aimed at deliberately reducing the number of Igbos.

    The novelist, whose most popular work, Things Fall Apart, has been published in more than 50 languages, said Awolowo came up with the starvation, 20-pound and currency policies with a view to exterminating the Igbo.

    According to Achebe, the late sage and former premier of the defunct Western Region, perceived the Igbo as his enemies.

    However, Awolowo, in the interview said contrary to the claim that he used starvation as a weapon against the Igbo, the then Federal Government was actually sending food to civilians in the war region.

    He added that government stopped sending food to the region when it was discovered that it (food) was being hijacked by Biafran soldiers, who in turn gave the food to their “friends and collaborators”.

    Awolowo said, “We were sending food through the Red Cross, and CARITAS to them, but what happened was that the vehicles carrying the food were always ambushed by soldiers.

    “That’s what I discovered and the food would then be taken to the soldiers to feed them, and so they were able to continue to fight. And I said that was a very dangerous policy, we didn’t intend the food for soldiers. But who will go behind the line to stop the soldiers from ambushing the vehicles that were carrying the food? And as long as soldiers were fed, the war will continue, and who’ll continue to suffer?

    “So I decided to stop sending the food there. In the process, the civilians would suffer, but the soldiers will suffer most.

    “When you saw Ojukwu’s picture after the war, did he look like someone who’s not well fed? But he was taking the food which we sent to civilians, and so we stopped the food.”

    On his reasons for changing currency, Awolowo said it was to prevent Ojukwu, who is now late, from taking the money allegedly stolen from the Central Bank of Nigeria by his soldiers to buy arms abroad.

    “We did that to prevent Ojukwu from taking the money which his soldiers had stolen from our central bank to take abroad to buy arms. We discovered he looted our Central bank in Benin, he looted the one in Port Harcourt, looted the one in Calabar and he was taking the currency notes abroad to sell to earn foreign exchange to buy arms.

    “So, I decided to change the currency, and for your benefit, it can now be told the whole world,that only Gowon knew the day before the change took place. I decided, only three of us knew before then- Clement Isong, who was the CBN governor, Attah and myself.”

    Achebe had written in one of the chapters of the memoirs published in the UK Guardian on Tuesday that the policy was orchestrated “to stunt or even obliterate the economy of a people.”

    But Awolowo said the policy was what government resorted to when depositors could not show proof of what they had as deposits.

    “All the banks’ books had been burnt, and many of the people who had savings didn’t have their saving books or their last statements of account,” he said.

    Awolowo, who reiterated during the town hall meeting that he was “a friend of the Igbo,” said he saved the accrued revenue for the Eastern state during the period the war lasted and gave it back to them at the rate of 990,000 pounds as monthly subventions.

    He said, “I didn’t go to the Executive Council to ask for support, or for approval because I knew if I went to the council at that time, the subvention would not be approved because there were more enemies in the executive council for the Igbo than friends.

    “And since I wasn’t going to take a percentage from what I was going to give them, and I knew I was doing what was right, I wanted the Eastern state to survive. I kept on giving the subvention of 990,000, almost a million, every month.”

    He said he also ensured that the houses owned by the Igbo in Lagos and on the other parts of the country not affected by the war were kept for them.

    He said, “I had an estate agent friend who told me that one of them collected half a million pounds rent which has been kept for him. All his rent were collected, but since we didn’t seize their houses, he came back and collected half a million pounds.”

    By: Ade Adesomoju/Punch News

    • ihuoma ken ohiorenoya

      October 12, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      mmm hmmm…. Okwu gi ato ka.Any proofs?Because in reality,experiences of Igbo people were diff.What of their own official bank records if the people no longer had theirs?How did redcross donations suddenly become FG of Nigeria’s?Those who really wanted to send help that will get to the hands of starving children and civilians did just that.There are proofs.And even at that,FG of Nigeria army tried hard to stop them.Proved positive a lot of Igbos lost property and estates they have in other parts of Naija .Wetin we dey talk sef ?! Even in Igbo land gan sef,Hausa soldiers dispossesed some people after the conquest.A lot of people became rich from acquiring Igbo ppls property.My brother go and find out from those who were really affected.All this town hall meeting politics and propaganda is not what the affected Igbos remember.They say person wey shit they quick forget ,but the person wey pack the shit no dey forget.No need to rise in defence of what they do not know.They can apologize on his behalf though,so we can move on .I no vex O.One Nigeria.


    October 12, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    @ Keke

    Really? Igbos, keep lying to themselves and are so delusional. Igbos don’t even get along among each other, buty like to run their mouth how Yoruba man hate the igbo man. You guys need to go find something better to do with your time. You guys want to separate? Go ahead, let’s see the outcome of it. Keep in mind, it will be worse than Biafra and we will be able to document everything this time around to see how you guys destroy yourselves with your own hands. Prof Chinua Achebe, is just stirring up the pot. If you guys decide to go against the government, Nigeria again, get ready we will retaliate again probably worse.

  100. Agba40

    November 15, 2012 at 5:51 am

    My brothers! l am alarmed at the rate this Pa Achebe’s had generate the use of abusive language across board, which is very unfortunate. The issue is the causes and effect of an action.In a discussion like this, it is always good if you can come up with a superior reason why Chief Awolowo is right or wrong or why Pa Achebe is wrong or right. The facts is, before 1966 saga.There are considerable development in the western region not witness anywhere in the federation.We have first television satation in africa, first national stadium in nigeria, odua investment and free education. How come Chief Awolowo is envious of the ibos? We need an explanation.Chief Awolowo unforgiving spirit need also to be explain in Nigeria context.The issue of war had be dealth with, with many commentators on both side of the niger justifiying what went wrong and right.At the end of the day! the future is not rosy for the younger generation with the amount of enimity generated on the web.The question now is what is survival stategy for the southerners.Our nothern brothers has done well by not engaging in all this hulaballo.When it matters am sure you will never found them wanting.Can’t southerners learnt history?Egos will drive us into extinction if care is not taken, a word i enough for the wise

  101. Agba40

    November 15, 2012 at 6:06 am

    “It is my impression that Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those aspirations.

    “However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbo at the time as the obstacles to that goal, and when the opportunity arose – the Nigeria-Biafra War – his ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams.

    “In the Biafran case, it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation – eliminating over two million people, mainly members of future generations.” As far back as in 1952-1959, Chief Awolowo had put in place policies that will free western region of any manupulation.As a matter of fact Western region had loan federal government money.Free education had been succefully implemented, Liberty stadium first of its kind and the first Television station built in ibadan. And the first in Africa.How come is envious of ibo?, when he had done what no other region had done.l just want somebody to use this mediun to educate me pls if am wrong and l will gladly accept. pls no abusive language

    • Hairy Monsta

      November 25, 2012 at 3:33 am

      God bless you for your humble comments. I believe Achebe spoke in the context of Nigeria, not Western region. Clearly Awolowo got his chance to play on the Nigerian stage with the displacement of the Igbos…(and who wouldn’t. Was he not a politician?) To think that it was Ojukwu that freed him from Calabar Prisons…

  102. stella

    November 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Why is it that Nigerian do not like looking into their not so good past? The fact that Awolowo gave western Nigeria free education does not make him a saint All sorts of evil took place during the war and it should not be swept under the carpet, how else would we learn from past mistakes.

  103. Kazuna

    December 14, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Many of us here criticizing Achebe have not even seen the book cover of his novel or even read it. They all criticize base on hearsay!!! very typical, typical of Nigerians.

  104. Kazuna

    December 14, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Let us recall that Awo (oh what a saint!), as mediator , was guest to Ojukwu, nay Ndi Igbo. He ate their food, drank their water and breathed the same air with them. Regrettably the same man was to appear beside Yakubu gowon in the pummelling Ndi Igbo. What is worse is that Awo , in the guise of a mediator spied on Ndi Igbo. The intelligence He gathered impressionistically gave him enough reason to believe, as he told his followers thereafter, that the Eastern Region was not prepared for the war it was about to embark.
    Oh what a saint with a huge halo! If he was still around I’d give him a huge hug.

  105. omo nla

    February 20, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Reading through most of the comments from passionate Nigerians evokes so much sober reflection, but has it crossed anyone’s mind, the events that predated the civil war. Let’s try to put these events in brief perspective.

    1. The first military coup in 1966 led to what was called ” The betrayal of trust”. There was an agreement among the soldiers that carried out the coup to take out all the corrupt leaders in each region of the country, as well as the Prime Minister and the Ceremonial President. The North lost Sir Tafawa Balewa (PM) and Sir Ahmadu Bello (Premier of the Northern region). The West lost Chief S Akintola (Premier of the Western region). The Midwest lost Chief Okotie Eboh (Finance Minister). The East spared Chief Michael Okpara (Premier of the Eastern region), and had informed Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe (President) to travel out of the country on medical grounds before the coup.

    2. After the “Betrayal of Trust” the junior military officers that carried out the coup, handed power to the most senior military officer who happened to be General Aguiyi Ironsi (A great man). At the time Chief Awolowo was still in prison and one of the expectations of the coup plotters was to see him released from prison. General Ironsi appointed Col Odumegwu Ojukwu as the Eastern region Governor, Col Adekunle Fajuyi for Western region, Col David Ejoor for MidWest and Col Hassan Katsina for the North. He however, delayed the release of Chief Awolowo from prison because he felt the security situation of the country wasn’t safe enough, but some did not buy the idea at that time.

    3. Some angry northerners in the army felt their region had just lost out in the power game, and began to make moves to remove Gen Ironsi as president. Shortly after his inauguration, the president began an official visit to each region of the country, he went to the North, no attempt was made on his life. He went to the East, he was spared. Until, he came to the West, when the Northern coup plotters came to Ibadan so as to kill him. Col Fajuyi (May God bless his soul), said no, you can’t do this to the yoruba race and he entered the same car with his boss and began to drive around Ibadan just to buy time. When the coup plotters saw it’s getting to day break, they killed both Gen Ironsi and Col Fajuyi in July 1966. Col Fajuyi sacrificed his life to exonerate the yoruba race from the conspiracy.

    4. After the coup Gen Gowon was made the president, and one of his first acts as president was to order the release of Chief Awolowo, and he made him the Chairman of Government and the Finance Minister. With that singular move, Gen Gowon won the hearts and minds of the yorubas.

    5. The balance of power seemed to have reversed and Col Ojukwu and other officers of Igbo extraction were as angry about the second coup as their northern counterparts were about the first. So, Col Ojukwu led the secessionist movement and that was the start of the civil war. Gen Gowon was naively assured by Col Hassan Katsina that the federal forces would overrun the Biafran forces within weeks. But they were grossly mistaken; Col Ojukwu (a man of great intellect and gusto) had better preparations and was clearly winning the war at the early stage.

    6. In the heat of the war, Chief Awolowo did what most of us would do for his/her benefactor, he helped him win the war. We may query the unfortunate outcomes of his advice or question his quest for political control, largely speaking most people would have acted almost the same way Chief Awolowo did, if the situation be reversed.

    7. As the war reached its climax, the Biafran forces made a move to capture Lagos the seat of power, just like every rebel force does (capture the capital). That move was the beginning of the end of the Biafran movement, the yorubas felt drawn into the war because their territory would have been annexed by the Biafran forces. It’s a popular opinion by some school of thoughts that the Biafran forces would have won, had it been that the federal capital was Abuja by then, because their won’t be any reason to cross the western borderline.

    The bottom line however is, a great injustice was done to the Igbos, and it must be corrected for us to get past this bad blood that’s still holding the country back. The civil war was a sad moment in our history, and we must make effort never to repeat the error of the past.

  106. Amaechi

    March 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    You write well, Omo Nla, but you would have been better off stating your “facts” more accurately. To wit: the Aburi Accord. Ojukwu did not turn his back on the Aburi Accord; rather it was Gowon, on the advice of his British cohorts, who reneged on the accord reached at Aburi, Ghana. Do you even have any idea what the Aburi Accord was all about? I doubt that you do because if you did, I do not think that you could have come to the conclusion that Ojukwu asked for too much. It will serve you well and others like you to get your facts straight before you take to forums such as this one to espouse a position that has very little merit in fact. Every other region of Nigeria has always hated the Ibos because they feel the Ibos dominated most aspects of life in Nigeria pre the Biafra war. What you people fail to understand and acknowledge is that for anyone to become dominant in whatever endeavor that person engages in, he or she must possess the virtues of hard work, exceptional intellect, perseverance, diligence, meticulousness, and above all the will to succeed in that endeavor, be it a street sweeper, a ditch digger, or an academic. This is what distinguishes the Ibo from the Yoruba or the Hausa/Fulani. I know what I write about because I have lived it: I was there when it all was happening and witnessed this lack of drive in some of the Yoruba and Hausa that I had first-hand interactions with.

    Awolowo had as his grandest dream, the Presidency of Nigeria, no matter what. It was for this grandiose delusion that led to the riots of 1965 in the Western Region, riots that were a direct result of Awolowo’s Action Group political party’s loss at the elections, which the NCNC won. The 1965 Western region riots, instigated by Awolowo and Akintola, were what led to the Coup of January 15/16, 1966, due to the inability of the Federal Government of Nnamdi Azikiwe and Tafawa Balewa to curb the violence in the Western Region. It was this same Awolowo’s blind ambition for political power that let to his imprisonment in Calabar for treason. The Yorubas started the killings and lawlessness in Nigeria, not the Ibos or the Hausas. And when the war came, most of the Yorubas sat on the sidelines as instigators. Well, Awolowo never became President of Nigeria but if any one of you doubts that he would have made a pitiful President then all you need to do is look to what Obasanjo did to the Country.

    It can become very tiring talking about the ills of Nigeria but one thing will remain factual: Nigeria was never meant to be and would never have come into being were it not for the evil machinations of the British, who in their infinite wisdom thought it right to amalgamate 3 so very different and disparate regions into a single entity called Nigeria in 1914. These are peoples who have lived variously and separately and within their own unique entities since time immemorial. Just think about this for a moment. There was not a Country called Nigeria before 1914, period. But the Ibos, the Yorubas, and the Hausas and their other related groups have lived on their lands from the time man came into being on this Planet. We all can wish as much as we wish for Nigeria to remain as the British Colonialists had envisioned but know this, we are human beings, and thinking human beings at that. Consequently, the day will come when nature will revert to its own origins, and we all know what that would mean.

  107. Odiegwu

    March 24, 2013 at 3:30 am

    … and so what country and society is this? Achebe’s statement enjoins us to think and act differently. It is statement in my view that enjoins us to chart a different society and country. Nigeria has failed to live up to the expectations of every generation: past and present. It has failed because we have been unable to have any conversation that is not mired in bitter acrimony. So Awolowo said what he said; said it in the midst of a bitter and cruel civil war, said it to benefit himself and/or his ethnic group, said it for a variety of reasons. The question remains however what society and country do all of the comentattors above desire or aspire to have? Tragically all of the comentators are caught in the same web that is Nigeria, tragically we cannot seem to escape the web of that is Nigeria and so 40 + years later ur narrative has more or less remained the same. Achebe simply lived long enough to write about this national tragedy whose scar has not healed because it remains an open sore. The killings that precipatated the war has not stopped, countless governments seem unable to do anything about these killings. What form of citizen does Nigeria, its government and peoples hold out for one another? It is remarkable the commentators have not seen fit to lament the fact that they country has neither lived up to the aspirations of the January and June 1966 coup plotters nor the victors of the civil war. 53 years Nigerians (Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Efik, Tiv Fulani, Kanuri, Efik, Ibibio, Ijaw to mention just a few) are mired in a profound and paralysing struggle to define and determine what society and country they are and want to be and become. Without a sense of direction, without a compass we will afil to take a rightful place anywhere in West Africa, in Sub-Sahara Africa and in the world.

  108. Bobo

    March 26, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Haba…lets imagine Awo actually said that … at a war planning roundtable. War is not a joke, the moment war breaks out you are on your own oh. It is a serious matter and gun / bomb no dey know brother or sister o.o.o.o. by going to war Biafrans declared that other Nigerians are enemies and vice versa. Stop being sentimental…we ought to know that experience of being in a war-zone is grave. It will always be grave whether you are there or not. But the war-Marshalls must be loyal or they are traitors at that point in time. A project must be carried out…and complementary plans were formed at both the Nigerian war-table and the Biafran war-table. Do you know the plan form the other end and the ideas put forward by the patriots at that war-table? Let’s move on and find solution to an almost institutionalized two-headed dragon

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