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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.

My Biafran Eyes, by Okey Ndibe

*My Biafran Eyes was published by Guernica on August 12, 2007.*

“My father’s decision to stay in Yola nearly cost him his life. He was at work when one day a mob arrived. Armed with cudgels, machetes and guns, they sang songs that curdled the blood. My father and his colleagues—many of them Igbo Christians—shut themselves inside the office. Huddled in a corner, they shook uncontrollably, reduced to frenzied prayers. One determined push and their assailants would have breached the barricades, poached and minced them, and made a bonfire of their bodies. The Lamido of Adamawa, the area’s Muslim leader, arrived at the spot just in the nick…He scolded the mob and shooed them away. Then he guided my father and his cowering colleagues into waiting vehicles and spirited them to the safety of his palace. In a couple of weeks, the wave of killings cooled off and the Lamido secured my father and the other quarry on the last ship to leave for the southeast.” – Okey Ndibe

                                                                 

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Care Giver and Surrogate Mother.

Care Giver and Surrogate Mother.

*Nneka talks about her mother, late Mrs. Esther Chizube Mgbojikwe, who died in April, 2016.*

“My mum said many of the children in the refugee camps were separated from their families so other families were encouraged to take them in. She said the exercise was documented properly so it would be easy to find their parents eventually. My mum took one of the children. Her name was Angelina and she must have been about ten or eleven years at the time. She told my mum that she was running from the scene of a bombing when she saw people climbing into trucks. She joined them and that is how she ended up in Orlu with other refugees. She lived with us for about fifteen years and became like a big sister to me. I cannot think of my childhood without Angelina.” – Nneka Chris-Asoluka.

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Immune to horror.

Immune to horror.

I was in primary two at St. Mary’s primary school, Umuopara, Nguru, Mbaise when the war started. Fighter jets were flying over our school and when it became unbearable, we had to go into the bush to continue studying. I was only eight years but I started to see emergency platoons. I don’t know who summoned them but I started to see traders, secondary school leavers, tailors, in their work dresses, coming together and chanting war songs, “Nzogbu, enyimba enyi, nzogbu enyimba enyi!” After hearing of the pogroms in Lagos, Kano and how Igbo soldiers were massacred in barracks, people were saying, “We’re ready, enough is enough.” They absorbed them into the army and they started forming sectors all over Igbo land.

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Accused

Accused

As a kid, I had a privileged life. We had a fleet of cars in our garage – Cortina, Beetle and others. My mother drove me to school every day and by the age of four I was already answering phone calls. But the war shattered it all.

When the tensions started to build up in 1966, I was almost twelve years old and because we could read the papers, we were fairly engaged in national issues and knew what was happening in the country. The first and second coups had happened and it was exciting as young people like us looked forward to more action. We were reading about Major Nzeogwu, the counter coup, and how Ironsi was abducted, this Major General JT Ironsi, who could fight in the Congo without getting a scratch on his body as long as he held that insignia of a crocodile. It was all very exciting.

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Music in a time of war - 1

Music in a time of war - 1

“I remember an incident that happened at Akabo when the Nigerian soldiers were trapped in Owerri town. The brigade was very close to where we were performing and the soldiers were dancing and some of them were saying, “This war wey we dey fight so, abi make we come die when our ogas dey drink tea for house?”  After a performance, they’ll say, “Last night, that band good o!” Sometimes they even exchanged beer and cigarettes. But when there was a fight, they will fight to finish, because in the army they say the last order must be obeyed. These are the untold stories – the friendships within the war. This was the outlook in Biafra and it was very lively. It boosted the morale of the Biafran soldiers…” – Chyke Maduforo.

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