THERE WAS A COUNTRY( A personal history of Biafra)

If you think you have it tough, read history books_ Bill Maher.

Author: Chinua Achebe ((1930- 2013)
Genre: Memoir (non-fiction)
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Page count: 333
Year published: 2012

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One of my reads from last year. A time travel to the early days of the post- colonial era. After reading Half of a yellow sun by Adichie sometime around the first quarter of 2015, I fell in love with the Biafran story. So when I saw this book, I didn’t hesitate to read it as I was curious to know more about and understand what happened during those years, but this time from a totally different perspective; from someone who actually witnessed the war and its perils.

Nigeria was once a land of great hope and progress, a nation with immense resources yes, but even more so, human resources. But the Biafran war changed the course of Nigeria. In my view, it was a cataclysmic experience that changed the history of Africa.
Why has the war not been discussed or taught to the young over forty years after its end? Are we perpetually doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past because we are too stubborn to learn from them?
It is for the sake of the future Nigeria, for our children, that I feel it’s important to tell Nigeria’s story, Biafra’s story, our story, my story.

By the late Chinua Achebe.

The book starts off with stories from the early days of Nigeria as country interspersed with that of Achebe’s as a young schoolboy coming of age. He gradually takes us through series of events that unfolded with time both before, during and after the war. As one goes along, it is seen that Achebe did not just want to tell us about his experiences at the time but also show us the effect it had on him and the people of his clan. In his opinion, the Igbo people were unjustly treated by Nigerians. And he believes this was as a result of the intelligence and prowess common with them. If anything , I think Achebe before his death sometimes wished and believed  Biafra could have survived as a nation if things were better handled by its administrators.
One factor about Nigeria he doesn’t fail to note is that of its leaders and how they’ve always been the root of the country’s problem. This situation he feels will continue to hold until the masses are willing to get rid of all forms of bias and sentiments; especially those  closely related to ethnicity, when electing a leader.

Most important, Nigeria needed to identify the right leader with the right kind of character, education and background. Someone who would understand what was at stake- where Africa had been, and where it needed to go. For the second time in our short history we had to face the disturbing fact that Nigeria needed to liberate itself anew, this time not from a foreign power but from our own corrupt, inept brothers and sisters.
Nigeria’s principal problem was identifying and putting in place that elusive leader.

Pg 244.

One unique thing about There was a country was the manner and form in which it expressed its meaning using a blend of prose, poetry as well as anecdotes. This style of presentation made me love the book even more.

There was a country is a must read for every Nigerian who cares to know about his country’s past in order to proffer meaningful aid to a secure and prosperous future.

Go get yours now!

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