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My Biafran Story

My Biafran Story .org website is a collection of eye witness accounts of the Nigerian-Biafran civil war.
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BOYS' COMPANY

BOYS' COMPANY

The wounded soldiers were coming back to the village and telling us what was happening at the war front. They were showing us how to dodge bullets. They were carving guns with wood and giving us, teaching us how to do manoeuvres. They were preparing our minds to fight. But nobody told me how to dodge air raids. So, the first day it happened, I didn’t know it was air raid. I was fishing with my friend, Monday Iroegbu, from Amaogudu Otampa,  and I was wearing a red T-shirt. The bomber dropped nine bombs into the river. I was counting the bombs as they were being dropped, out of sheer curiosity. Monday is still alive and can corroborate this story. Some of the bombs exploded but many did not. We started running so they started spraying bullets at us. I got to one big tree and ran behind it. The helicopter lowered and parked in our ama, our village square. It was piloted by a white man. I believe they wanted to catch me alive. They just wanted a prize, a trophy. I ran into the bush and our people who were already taking cover there said, “Oh, remove your red shirt, remove your red shirt. That is why they are bombing this place.” So I removed it and threw it away. At the end of the day we came out and started counting dead bodies.

People were losing their homes because of the advancing enemy, but there was community assistance and collaboration. When they move to another community the people there will accept them. My grandmother took in over twenty people just because they were Ndigbo who were running for their lives. She was a local midwife so she was quite popular. We gave the refugees part of our farm land and they built temporary accommodations on it. We cooked communal food and shared to them. They were with us for almost four months before the war got to us and we became refugees ourselves.  

We were hearing about the war on the radio, but majority of the things they were saying were propaganda. So, even when it was getting closer to us we didn’t know. When the soldiers eventually entered our community my mother said she was not going anywhere; that she won’t run from Lagos to the village, and then start running away again. Almost the entire community ran away but my mother was busy frying and selling garri. I said, 'Mama, ndi mmadu a gba chaala oso – other people have run away.' She said to me, 'Nwa m’, ebe ariri nwuru wu ili ya - wherever the millipede dies is its grave.' My sister came out of the bedroom and said, 'Mama, if I die my blood is on your head.' My mother was shocked. She said, 'Who said that?' I said, 'It is Ifeyinwa.' She said, 'Ngwa, ngwa, ngwa - hurry, hurry, hurry, let us go.' That is how we started preparing to leave.

The day our village collapsed, there was an old woman who couldn’t run because she was blind. Her name was Nneoma Ukazim. We used to call her Nne. Her children were in the army. One of them was working with the Nigerians against our people and later became the chairman of the Liberated Isuikwuato Area. So, there was nobody to help her. She was just trying to feel her way around, touching walls and fences. I told my mother that I wasn’t going to leave the old woman. So I took her. We got to a small river where two palm trees were placed across to make a bridge. The old woman couldn’t get on it so I, a ten year old, I carried her on my back to the other side. A Biafran soldier who was running from battle saw me and assisted both of us until we got to a safer place. Surprisingly, she survived the war and I became her confidant, to the extent that she told me her burial plans and gave me the clothes she wanted to be buried in. She died in the 70s. 

We slept in somebody’s house the first night. The next day the shelling started in that community so we moved again. We kept moving. We moved about four times. The first place we ran to was a town called Ezere in Isikwuato. Some people ran to a place called Isi-Iyi. The war never got there. They said the deity in that place prevented the soldiers from getting there; that the people who ran there were safe. No bombs, no bullets.

A lot of people got lost due to the sudden movements. My sister, Florence, almost got lost. She went with other family members to Umuobiala, another community in Isikwuato, to visit my aunt, Mrs. Chidinma Ojiaboh. The day she was to come back, the shelling started. That day was what we called Church Ahia, when our market day falls on a Sunday. This happens once in eight weeks, and it is celebrated in a big way, like Christmas or Easter. So she couldn’t come back. And we couldn’t go to her. Even my aunt she had gone to visit, they left her and ran away. So my sister was running alone in a bush between Umuobiala and Afo Ugiri, when the vigilante found her. They were also called Civil Defence and were the liaison between the civilian population and military authorities. When they identify orphans they take them to the Red Cross. They assumed she was an orphan because she said she didn’t know the whereabouts of her parents. They took her to a camp where other children were waiting to be evacuated. But during the documentation one of the soldiers recognized her. He was from our village. That was how he sent us a message across enemy lines. We moved, me and my mother.

The Nigerian soldiers were still sleeping when we got to the check point, so we sneaked through their backyard. It was when we were coming back that they caught us. They asked us where we were coming from. They said I was Ojukwu soldier. I denied several times. They were convinced that Biafra was using child soldiers, which was true. They were using child soldiers to steal for the army. I was one of them. They called us Boys Company. They will send us to steal food and clothes. We will wear only our shorts. They will shave off our hair and rub oil on our bodies so that if they catch you, g'a gbu cha pu – you will slip away. We even stole guns and ammunition. Those who did very well in the training were given real guns which they called Ojukwu Catapult. They very small submachine guns and were easier for young boys to carry. The training was two weeks. They taught us manoeuvres, weapons handling, parade, how to recognize the enemy. Those of us who were born outside Igbo land spoke different languages. I was very good in Yoruba so it was an advantage. When the Nigerian soldiers catch you, you speak Yoruba to them and they say, 'Omo ale, just let him go.' My uncle was in the BOFF, the Biafran Organisation for Freedom Fighters. The day they caught him he started speaking Hausa. He was very fluent in it. Very fair in complexion. He said he was Dan Kano, that he was from kano. They asked him all manner of questions and he answered correctly, so they went drinking with him. He escaped and came back to tell us the story. 

There was even an airstrip in my community where lighter air craft used to land. It was in that vast land between Okigwe and Uturu, right from where you have ABSU up to Ihube. During the war it was called Ugba junction because there was a big Ugba tree there. They camped Nigerian soldiers on that land. But before it was captured by Nigeria, Biafra was using it as an airstrip. Before our place fell we were the ones protecting the airstrip. We used to put pongee sticks all over the fields so that no aircraft will be able to land. At night when our own planes are coming in, because we already know they are coming, we will create a path for them to land. The flights were a collaboration between the Biafran Air Force and some foreign bodies. Some of those journalists who came, came as aid workers. Some were bringing arms and relief materials, and also helping to move children of well-to-do Biafrans out. These are stories that will not make the headlines.

We had uncles and brothers who were working for the Biafran government digging trenches. Those trenches were dug by civilians, not by soldiers. They were using older men who were too old to fight. They were also using them for propaganda. They will go and dig trenches and come back with information about the enemy.

Where you have Stella Maris College at Uturu, there used to be a rehabilitation center for wounded soldiers. They called it Hope Ville. They were making shoes and all manners of crafts during the war.

Biafra was very organised. And everybody contributed. My parents contributed. I contributed. They called it Win the War effort. Everybody made contributions to that war. If you were making baskets, you donate them to the Biafran Government. Anything you can provide - farmland, houses – you give to the government. When they need an office, you vacate yours. Biafra succeeded because of communal efforts and that was why the war lasted for so long. The Nigerian army thought they could over-run the entire South East within days. But Ojukwu miscalculated. You have no arms, no bullets, you say you are waging a war. So those who are talking about Biafra did not witness the war, they are doing it because of the marginalization in Nigeria. 

Certain communities were even divided. Nigerian soldiers on one side and Biafran soldiers on the other. People used to sneak across to the Nigerian side to buy food and other things. They call it Ahia attack. I was following my mother to these markets. Some of them were designated as Ahia Ogbe - market for the deaf and dumb. Because of the air raids. These markets were held in the forests and only sign language was used. One day I escorted my mother to a market in Ishiagu to buy yams. We walked the whole day. I was carrying three long native baskets – abo. Inside the baskets I had yams and Adu, which is like cocoyam. My mother was also carrying a basket. Do you know that at every road block Biafran soldiers will take one yam? By the time we got to our village our baskets were almost empty. I cried that day and I said, “God, do not allow Biafra to win this war because if we do we are going to see worse things.” Ojukwu was no longer in control. The soldiers were hungry. They were committing atrocities in the areas they controlled.

The hunger was so much that one day we ate the wild variety of Una, the one called unabiwu. There was nothing else to eat. We said if bullets don’t kill us something else will kill us. After the meal, we slept for four days at a stretch. We didn’t wake up for four days. It probably contains very high levels of cyanide. We were lucky to have even woken up. On another occasion we ate a wild variety of beans. We bought it mistakenly, and it almost killed us. I was the first person it affected because immediately after eating I started having hallucinations. They gave us palm oil and coconut water, and that was what saved us. The only person who wasn’t affected was my sister, Florence, the one who was found in a forest. She had a stronger constitution. 

Just like my sister, my father was presumed dead during the war. We mourned him. They put something in the ground and conducted a symbolic burial for him. It was after the war that one of my uncles ran into him in Liverpool, England. He asked him what he was doing in Liverpool and my father said, “They told me my wife and children are dead. What am I coming to do in Nigeria?” My uncle told him we were all alive, that only one of us died. My father said, “What of my wife?” My uncle said, “Your wife is alive.” What happened was that my father was in the navy and Nigeria wanted them to bombard Port Harcourt with the NNS Aradu. He and his colleagues refused. They diverted the ship and abandoned it at sea. They were rescued by a Congolese fishing boat which took them to Congo. President Sese Seko granted them asylum and facilitated their move to England. The Nigerian government recovered the ship but it’s no longer sea worthy. After the war my father came back to the village, but we had to undo the burial we had done. They performed some rites before he could enter the compound. The government arrested him, court marshaled him, and sacked him with no benefits. He eventually became a sailor and that is what he was doing until he retired.

Anyway, after interrogating me and my mother at the check point, the Nigerian soldiers let us go. We brought my sister back. By then we had been liberated.

-Richard Harrison

[Cover photo courtesy internet]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LOVE IN A TIME OF WAR - 2

LOVE IN A TIME OF WAR - 2

I was there, anya m wee fu zi kwa ife n’ine gaa nu because my husband was an Air Force man - Staff Sergeant Samuel Chukwu. M’ g’a si n’anyi n’abo so wee nu ya bu ogu. Because oge dii j’ano n’ihu aya gi nwa g’a no n’ihu aya - I will say that I fought that war with him. Because when your husband is at the war front, you will also be at the war front. If he doesn’t come back you will never have peace of mind.

He left me at home with his mother to go and fight the war. I was with her for one year and six months. Just imagine a young girl newly married. I hadn’t even conceived then. I couldn’t hold it again.

One day one army man came on raking to our place, to find out what the enemies were doing. I told him I would like to follow him to go and see my husband, that whatever is inside I will take it. He asked me if I would be able to. I said yes, I will. My husband was at Ihiala at the time. The man told me when he will leave and asked me to prepare. When I told my Mother in law she said as long as I have the heart to follow him, I should go.  

We left our place around 6.00 pm. We went through Evbu. We went by foot, through forests, forests, forests. We got to a river. I can’t remember the name. The people who ferry people across said we have to wait, because there’s a time enemies walk about, and there’s also a time when everywhere will be safe for us to cross. They took us to a small house where we met other people who wanted to cross. We stayed there till around 2.00 o’clock. Then they asked us to come out. They brought the canoe and we entered. In fact it is God. It was only me and the man in that canoe. I don’t remember how much we paid. [She sighs] I have forgotten. A di a na m’ old now. A di ro m’ e lota zi ife n’ine – I am old now. I don’t remember everything.

We crossed to another town. I have forgotten the name. We rested there for two days because soldiers camped there. The man now arranged for a car to take us to Ihiala.

My husband was very, very happy to see me. He was living in a hostel. It was when I came that he got a house. And that is where we were until the war started raining - air raids, bombers, fighters, all of them.  

What the army did is that they will dig bunkers, but sometimes when the bomber comes it will drop bombs on the bunker. So they told us that once we hear the sound of the bomber we should run inside the bush.

We were living in the Air Force quarters at Ihiala. When they are going to fight, they will pack all the Air Force wives and go and dump us in a students’ hostel, because the students were no longer in school. We were many o, including those who had children. That’s how they were carrying us about like people herding cattle. We went to Aguata. We went to Ikenanzizi. When we are going each person will carry her own cooking utensils because nobody will lend you her own. I was pregnant with my first son by then. There was nothing for us to do in the hostel other than cook. Those who didn’t have will go to the market. After that, we will gather together and start discussing our problems. That will be our work until it’s safe to move us back again. [She laughs] The Air Force tried.

Agha Biafra. I can’t remember all I saw in that war.

The day I was having my baby, around 9.00 in the night, it is by God’s grace. If you see air raid that day. I can’t remember the name of the hospital but it’s a general hospital. Everywhere was shaking. I was in labor. You can imagine how I was feeling. But God brought me out. [She chuckles] They didn’t bomb the hospital but the noise erh. If this air raid is in Manchester, the nose will cause your heart to jump. If it is bomber you won’t hear the noise when it’s coming. When it comes close it will start dropping what it is carrying, killing people. After I left the hospital, nobody did omugwo for me. Both of us took care of the baby. In fact, he was the one who used to massage my body with hot water. He did everything. By God’s Grace, me and my baby were healthy.

When the war ended we went home to Isele Uku. The Nigerian government didn’t want to call back the people who crossed to Biafra. So everybody was waiting to hear news of what will happen. One day we were at home when they brought him a paper to resume work. He decided to go and tell his mother’s people the news, and also that they should keep an eye on me and our children. He went, and on his way back a car killed him. I asked myself, “Is it his destiny?” My happiness is that he didn’t die in that war. He survived. He got home. Because if he died in the war I am not sure I will be alive to come back. To God be the glory, we went home together after the war.

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THE WOMEN FIGHTERS

THE WOMEN FIGHTERS

I was working at Textile Mills Aba when they came and conscripted us. They just took us to Aba Sports Stadium, near Ngwa Road. The whole stadium was filled with people.

We had group pictures. The one I took with my group I can’t find it. I kept it all this time.

The military people used to come and train us. We did it for about three months. Male and female o. They didn’t train the girls separately o. There’s nothing like you are a girl. Your commander, whatever he says, that’s what you will do.  No going back. Whether you like it or not. When it’s time for us to take cover, everybody will lie down. They showed us how to handle a gun, how to lie down, how to... when they say... erh...what’s that their slang again? ‘Preseeeeent arm!’ You present your arm. ‘Preseeent arm!’ You raise it like this. [She lifts her arms]. When they ask you to shoot, you know that thing is not a real gun, then they’ll show you what to do. [She makes the sound of gun shots with her mouth] Kpa-kpa-kpa-kpa-kpa-kpa. They will shout, “Order!” You bring out your leg. So all that training is what they were doing. But, no, they didn’t allow us to use a real gun. I’m not sure they had it in mind.

We’ll go in the morning and come back in the evening. They gave us uniform. They didn’t camp us. We were coming from our houses.  Even then, my father and mum won’t allow me. They were so scared that we should...arh! [She claps her hands].

They just wanted the first batch to go and assist the real soldiers. We were not the real soldiers. They didn’t train us to that level. The real army was in the war front. This militia was just to go and support them. They sent some to Abagana, Port Harcourt, wherever they know the fight was fierce they sent them there. They were there, helping the casualties, like Red Cross. The women, they were using them in the refugee camps, but my parents refused. They say I won’t go, they won’t allow me to follow them out again. That was the end of my militia training.

In our own case it was this stick they gave us. But the people they were training to go to war front they gave them real gun and showed them what to do, how to use the trigger, how to do this and how to do that, take cover, lie down.

We were excited, yes, especially in the morning when our commander will start chanting ‘Hep! Hep! Hep! Hep!’ [She starts to march.] All of us, we were so excited carrying our guns. But we were scared o. They said all the people that went to the front didn’t come back. So when they conscript some people they will be pretending they are sick or something is wrong with them. They will say they have been in the psychiatric ward, yes. War is not something you wish to experience a second time. Very bad.

The war was not easy o. Not easy. Hei. The air raid will come in the morning from 10.00 o’clock to 12.00 o’clock. It will come again by 4.00 pm in the evening till around 5.00 pm. My mother dug a big bunker, so when the air raid starts all of us will go there and stay. In the morning my mother will disguise herself, paint her face with this black uri, then she will bring a basket with food to us. When she drops it she will quietly go back to the house. Throughout that day we’ll be there. Inside that bunker. Lying down. The little food she’ll bring to us that’s what we’ll eat until evening. After that second air raid all of us will then go back to the house. 

There was one air raid at Aba. Look at me. You see this thing here. [She touches a scar on her leg.] It was some of the bullets from that air raid. One afternoon like this the air raid came. It killed so many people near our house. Some of it fell inside one of the rooms in our house. Number 3A Asa Road Aba.  That is where we were living. It shook the whole house. It was then Ojukwu came to our house. That was the first time we saw Ojukwu.  He came with his people. They came and removed the bomb. Big something like this. Come and see dead corpses everywhere. [She touches a scar on her hand]. A piece of that bullet was in me for more than one year before it came out. [She touches her hand again] See the marks. This one, this one. It was moving round my body before they brought it out.

After that air raid we started running. From Aba we ran to Umuahia. From Umuahia we ran to Mbano. From Mbano to Nkwerre. From Nkwerrre, myself, my sister and her husband, and the last born of my mother went to Umuchu. We were at Umuchu when the war ended. We came back to Nkwerre. My parents were at Nkwerre. From Nkwerre we all started coming back to Port Harcourt.

Our parrot from the war followed us till after the war. Pretty boy, that’s what we called the parrot. It followed us till after the war. It was very intelligent. Even when they bombed our house in Aba, the parrot was there. We were hearing they were forcing women into marriage so our mother used to rub uri on our faces. If you see how our faces looked. Pretty Boy will give us sign that the soldiers are coming. When they come close to the house he will start asking them questions, “What are you doing here? What are you doing here?” [She laughs.] Then my mother will start crying and speaking Hausa to the soldiers. My mother, she’s a linguist. If it is Hausa, she will speak. If it is Yoruba, she will speak. Many languages. The parrot knew all our names. Pretty Boy. Yees! If you put sugar in his water he will drink. If you do something wrong he will gossip about you, unless you give him that sugar then he won’t talk. If not, when mama comes he will tell her everything you did.

[Cover Photo shows the contributor. The photograph was taken by Gorgeous Studios, 42 St. Micheal's Road, Aba.]

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EQUATORIAL CONSTELLATIONS, BY Silas Tiny

EQUATORIAL CONSTELLATIONS, BY Silas Tiny

The place and importance of the Biafran Airlift in the history of Sao Tome and, by extension, Portugal, cannot be over written.

For almost three years that the war lasted, this small island located in the Gulf of Guinea saw the influx of individuals from all over the world. Journalists, diplomats, aid workers, missionaries, clergy men, politicians, doctors, military personnel, mercenaries, business men and all sorts of people arrived the island on their way to and from Biafra. Consequently, hotels and guest houses, restaurants, shops and markets, beaches and other leisure spots, the aviation industry, etc, all benefited, in one way or the other, from the upsurge in commercial activity on the island. The governor of Sao Tome even tried to cash in on the windfall by imposing a fee for every child that was brought from Biafra into Sao Tome. But Father Tony Byrne, one of the initiators of the Air lift, resisted the move.

Born in Portugal in 1975, five years after the war and the Airlift ended, Silas Tiny is a Sao Tomean film maker whose interest in this monumental event led him into making a film about the airlift. The film is called ‘Equatorial Constellations.’ According to him, the goal of the film is “... not to narrate a past event but to display that very past through the present inner look of the ones involved in it 50 years ago. The film will, ‘...bring together former child refugees, Sao Tomeans, Joint Church Aid officials and volunteers who created the largest and riskiest relief effort that world has ever seen.’ He goes on - “Hundreds of children had been evacuated from their land, arrived in this island...escaping pain, slaughter and famine. Today, fifty years have passed, that memory remains an open wound, their names, faces and lives forgotten and their remembrances fade away...Where are these children, and what happened in their memories so far? What can they convey? Their stories are part of the universal memory and remain as living testimonies...”

Silas and I are looking for any of these ‘children’ because we think our projects will not be complete without their participation. We will appreciate any leads and references in this regard.

[The cover photo shows Silas Tiny]

 

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GOOD INTENTIONS, by Marie Louise Schipper

GOOD INTENTIONS, by Marie Louise Schipper

Fifty One years ago, the Nigeria-Biafra war grabbed the world’s attention with its sad, haunting images in newspapers, magazines and television sets. Forty Eight years after it ended, the stories of that tragedy are still being told through films, documentaries, dramas, art works and exhibitions, music, books, in conferences and lectures. One of the people who has documented an aspect of that conflict is Marie Louise Schipper, a Dutch journalist working for OneWorld magazine and de Volkskrant newspaper. She has written a book about ten Biafran children who were evacuated to the Netherlands from Biafra for medical attention. The title of the book is Goede Bedoelingen which translates to 'Good Intentions.' 

In 1968, Marie was a young girl living with her parents. According to her, “It was a big item because it was the first international aids for starvation in Africa and nobody realized what was going on at that time. We didn’t know a lot about Africa and as a matter of fact not much about Nigeria as well. And Africa was an exotic country far, far, far away at that time. So Nigeria came into our living rooms and we could see what happened. The news in the newspaper and television was so overwhelming of these dying children. And my parents - they were devout Catholics - always told me and my sister that we should care about other people. They would tell us to finish our plates and that we should think about the children of Biafra. The images made a big impression on me, as a child. The Dutch gave a lot of money [to the relief effort] because they felt we should do something because in WW2 so many people died, and it was determined that in Biafra far more children died. Another reason these children made such a big impression on me had to do with the war stories in my own family. My father worked as a forced laborer in Germany. He was 17. My mother’s family was on the run and had to live with a family they didn’t know. My grandfather died during a bombardment. He was never found.” 

When Marie became a journalist, she was surprised that the stories of these ten children were not written. "I thought there must be somebody who has written this all down. But there was nothing written. It was like when snow has fallen and everything is completely white and nobody has run into it. That was my first impression, that it was completely blank. There was nothing about it, only publications in the newspapers. When I started interviewing people everybody said, ‘No, I don’t remember these children, I don’t remember them.’ And I said, ‘Why don’t you remember them, because it doesn’t happen often that ten children from Nigeria, out of a war, come to the Netherlands.’ I felt they were hiding something. And I thought, ‘What are they hiding?’ I discovered that one of the children who was here had epilepsy and he was really ill. He was a bit retarded and was also in a foster home. He needed a lot of attention but people from the Nigerian embassy were very strict and said the children have to go back to Nigeria. The foster parents didn’t want to let them go because they didn’t know where they were sending them to. The foster parents of the sickest child were under so much pressure, so they decided to send him back to Nigeria. He was first sent to Gabon, with enough medicine for half a year, and afterwards sent to one of the rehabilitation centers at Ikot Ekpene. His family didn’t show up, so he was sent to Nung Udoe Orphanage and he died shortly afterwards. And I think that was why all the doctors were saying they didn’t know a thing. That was the reason they didn’t want to talk about it because they sent a boy who was really ill back to a country that was recovering from the war without proper medication."

“How did you eventually find somebody who told you the truth?” I asked. 

“I spoke to a lot of nurses and they had memories about these children. They also had photographs and they told me about the foster parents, and I said that must be the reason nobody wanted to talk about it.” 

“Why do you think the Biafran authorities decide to take them to the Netherlands instead of Ivory Coast, Gabon or Sao Tome?" 

“There reason was primarily because of Abie Nathan, an Isreali pilot. He was also a humanitarian and did a lot of food aid. He tried to mobilize the Isreali people to send in goods and food for the people of Biafra. He was very popular and charismatic, and had a lot of connections in the Netherlands. He was filmed by a television crew asking people to do something about Biafra; that everybody should give a hand. When this documentary was broadcast a lot of people got mobilized. He said he convinced Ojukwu that these children should be sent to the Netherlands where they could get proper help. But Ojukwu said no. Finally they decided to bring the children to the Netherlands as a symbolic gesture where the children in Europe would get acquainted with the Biafran children while the Biafran children would get more knowledge about the world. The decision was made and ten of the children came to the Netherlands. 

At the end of the war, eight of the children were taken back to Nigeria. But two remained in the Netherlands. The official documents said the two who remained in the Netherlands had no parents and family back home. But in the 1990's, one of them decided to look for her family. She discovered she had two villages full of relations. She returned to Nigeria to meet them.” 

When Marie started to gather material for her book, she knew she had to make the trip to Nigeria. 

“If I didn’t visit Nigeria, the story wouldn’t have been complete.” 

“That was very courageous of you. So, how did the journey to Nigeria start?” I asked. 

“I went to the African Studies Centre here in Netherlands, in Leiden. And one of the people who was connected to the African Institute, he works nowadays in England, he said to me the best thing I could do was contact *Emeka Anyanwu, an Anthropologist at Nsukka University. I thought it was a better idea the students of Edlyne go on research and try to find out what happened to the children. And it worked fairly well because we found two of them. It was like a needle in a haystack.  When we knew they were traced, we traveled from Nsukka to Owerri, from Owerri to Umuahia, and from Umuahia to Orlu. We visited the hospital in Umuahia [Queen Elizabeth Teaching Hospital] and all the places that were important during the war. I visited the airfield at Uli.” 

“Is it still there?” I asked. 

“Yes. You can see the traces of the road and there was a man who saw us walking and was curious. It’s not always you see White people there. He told us that was the road and he also knew the Ojukwu bunker. It was a small bunker. Even Edlyne didn’t know there was a smaller one.” 

It took Marie Louise Schipper fifteen years to finish the book, and it was published on October 27, 2017, in Amsterdan. Unfortunately, the book is written in Dutch and, at the moment, Marie cannot afford to hire a translator. She said, "I would like to give the opportunity for more people to read it.” 

 [I spoke to Marie on the 23rd of May, 2018, via Facebook and these are excerpts from our chat.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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