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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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'AFIA ATTACK' - A Soldier's Account

'AFIA ATTACK' - A Soldier's Account

The thing about Afia Attack is that hunger led people to take all sorts of risks. 

I joined the battle to prevent Awka from falling into the hands of the Nigerian Soldiers. My unit joined the battle in Amansea community but the Nigerian Soldiers kept having the upper hand. I remained in that sector between Awka and Onitsha until we settled at the Ogidi-Nkpor axis where we were responsible for opening up the Biafra One and Biafra Two routes to allow traders from Biafra Two to cross to Biafra One. The hunger was in Biafra Two – the present Anambra South and part of Anambra Central, while the food basket was in Biafra One – present day Anambra North which includes Ogbaru, Anambra West, Anambra East and Ayamelum. Stationed there, from time to time we would strike and dislodge the Nigerian army, and recover places like Iyienu and Nkpor Agu. We would then open up Nkpor road and once we did that the traders waiting on the Biafra One side would rush across with their goods. 

Each time we opened a thoroughfare, we wept. We saw what hunger did to people. It was a terrible experience. I remember the day I saw a cousin of mine, who is a Medical Doctor today, all bloated up, extremely pale in colour, his hair was just white and curly. He was just a little boy of about nine or ten years. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I wept. I said to myself, “Is this my family?” Well, that put the fire in me to fight more. 

Many of those traders were women, and they helped to keep families alive.  They were in two categories. Some of them were there to buy looted property from civilians and even soldiers, because many people left their houses without taking a pin. When soldiers entered those deserted houses there was always this temptation to pick property and sell in other to raise money for food, cigarettes, hot drinks, and other needs of theirs. It was this group of women and some men who usually bought such looted property off the soldiers. They bought from both Nigerian and Biafran soldiers. But the real ‘Afia Attack’ women were those who earned a living by going across boundaries, buying and selling, especially in foodstuff. They supplied soldiers with cigarettes, goof [marijuana] and hot drinks. This endeared them to the soldiers who reciprocated by granting them easy passage to whichever side of Biafra they were going as soon as the passage was secured.  Sometimes these women bribed people to take them across the front line because no matter how vast the area was, the soldiers knew the paths through which they could pass without being detected. They would escort them to a certain point and advise them to lie low until it was safe to cross. If the women were unlucky and the road closed after they had crossed, then they stayed back till the road opened again. And where did they stay? They stayed at the war front. They lived with the soldiers in the bunkers. Women with children. For us young men we jumped at those opportunities. We were happy. What we couldn’t get normally, we got on a platter of gold.

Some Biafran women even offered themselves to Nigerian soldiers in exchange for items like tinned foods and cigarettes. Some were used as spies. They would tell the women, “We will keep you alive but don’t give us away. Just give us information.” So it was give and take. Sometimes when we wanted to attack, we would filter the information the day before and the women would come close. Some would sleep with us in the night and in the morning, before we knew it, they would have crossed. And when they returned they came with all sorts of gifts for us. 

Markets developed around these boundaries. People would wait for the women to return because they were always in a hurry to dispose of their goods. And when they were going back they slept in the bunkers with the soldiers for as long as it took for the road to be opened again. 

But I don’t call them loose women. These were women who were so hard up that they used what they had to get what they needed. They saw their children and everybody around them dying, so they went out determined to help their families. Not only families, the soldiers at the war front were kept alive by those women. These women can never tell you what they did but they sacrificed a lot. They did things that were against the culture of the Igbo people just to survive. Sometimes they were caught by Nigerian soldiers and raped mercilessly. Sometimes they lost their money and other belongings. It was ‘Afia Attack’ that led to the phrase of ‘Di gba kwa oku.’ [To hell with the husband.] That was the origin of that phrase. What husband are you talking about when lives had to be saved? What are you husbanding when your children are dying before you? They made a lot of sacrifices for Biafra, their children, their families. I wish we can single them out and honour them. 

Something else happened during that war. Some Igbos were bold enough to join the Nigerian soldiers when they were driving Biafrans away, following them from place to place as they conquered and penetrated more areas. Some were acting as interpreters. Some, particularly women, were even living with them and giving them information. When they conquered a place they did not always kill people. What they really needed was information such as, “Who and who was here? Which route did they follow? Which way shall we pass?” Information gathering is very important in any war. So these people gave the Nigerian soldiers information. And any area they conquered they just went there and looted. 

That must have been what happened to my father’s house, because he was a wealthy man by the standards of those days. It was a beautiful six-bedroom bungalow, and when they were running away I visited them from the war front and we dug a big pit at the back yard. We carried all our valuables and buried in that pit hoping that whenever we came back we would just dig them up. But when we came back at the end of the war our house was leveled to the ground. Nothing was standing. Not only was the building gone, the place where we buried the property was completely excavated. Nothing was left in that pit. 

War is a horrible thing. It brings out the worst in human beings. The things you won’t ordinarily do, you will find yourself doing them.

[Photo taken from the internet]

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Dr. Chukwuemeka Ilo is a Medical Doctor and traditional ruler of his town.

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DISARMED IN A TRENCH - PART 2

DISARMED IN A TRENCH - PART 2

Ojukwu never knew this until 1976 when we met in Washington DC at the reception the late Nchewi Imoke gave him. After I told him how I saved his life, he said he would like to meet Reginald whenever he came to Nigeria. But we never did.

Immediately Ojukwu’s plane took off, a long distance shelling started raining from Awommama and we could see the canons flying past the airport. The Nigerians had miscalculated, so the shelling hit a village and killed people there. In between this shelling an International Red Cross plane from Caritas arrived and instead of landing on the air strip it lowered and poured its food supplies on the tarmac. We loaded some in our van to send to my parents. Because of the shelling a lot of the evacuation flights were cancelled. After Ojukwu’s departure, Colonel Achuzia took over the podium and started calling people to board for evacuation. He called Captain Anuku. Anuku entered. Called Colonel Timothy Onwuatuegwu, but he was absent. Meanwhile, the pilot of the plane was already panicking because of the shelling that had just taken place. As people forced themselves in, the staircase broke and every person on it fell off. The pilot panicked and took off without closing the doors. One person fell off and died. A young girl had her head crushed by one of the tyres of the plane. She was about 7 years old and the daughter of a prominent Nigerian.

We kicked off with our jeep loaded with food. Many people had come to board the planes but could not, so there was an exodus of people leaving the airport. You can’t believe that from within that massive crowd I heard the voice of my youngest brother, my mother’s last child. He was shouting the name of my sister, “Echika, Echika, Echika.” I told Reggie that I just heard Ugo’s voice calling Echika, and he said, “Lambo, how can you hear Ugo’s voice in this crowd?” I said, “Driver, stop, let me go down. You can continue. If you don’t see me again, tell the story but I will not live with my conscience if I don’t investigate this voice.” Immediately I got down my brother cocked his Kalashnikov and ordered everybody down. He took over the wheels and we started driving slowly backwards, and who did we see? My last sister, Echika, holding my two youngest brothers. She was only eleven years while Ugo was four. He had fallen down and bruised his leg that was why he was calling out her name. We put them in the vehicle and took them straight to my parents.

What happened was that my mother had handed three of them to Colonel Anuku and asked him to take them overseas. Colonel Anuku put them in a vehicle with an orderly and driver with instructions to take them to the airport. Then he took his own children and rode with them in another vehicle. When the shelling started, the driver carrying my siblings panicked and fell into a ditch, brought the children out of the vehicle and fled. My mother cried and cried. Reginald cried also and said he’d never dispute anything I said again. It was providence.

Many children got lost or separated from their parents that way. It could have been the same with my siblings. If they had evacuated them to Gabon or Ivory Coast they would have been sent to an orphanage and who knows what their fate would have been afterwards. My mother was the head of the Red Cross in Owerri and because there were so many abandoned children on the streets, she was helping people adopt these children. She would give them documents which they would take to their local governments and register the adoption.

During her funeral in 2000, a woman came with a huge cow, many dancers, and a young lady. During the presentation, she told the congregation how my mother knew she had been pining away from childlessness and asked her to adopt a child, who was one and half years old at the time. That was the young lady with her; all grown up. She told the crowd it was because of that her adopted daughter that she wakes up every day to face face the world.

Everybody applauded.

[Photos taken from the internet]

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Dr. Achiugo Lambert Agugua is a Consultant and Businessman.

Recent Comments
Guest — PJay
My heart bleeds reading these recounts of what happened during the war.
Thursday, 24 May 2018 13:10
Guest — Okoli C.U
War stories that melts the heart. We need this and more to know about the past, appreciate the present , then plan for a better fu... Read More
Friday, 15 June 2018 06:51
Guest — Ọbụmneke
This melt my heart. Each time I read this sort of recount, I feel I was part of the war. I have struggled to study why it is so wi... Read More
Thursday, 26 July 2018 17:53
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