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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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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.

--- Rose Chukwu


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