Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

 

Death Trains Arrive…

Nnamdi Ebo 2 241x300 On Aburi We Stand: Requiem for Aburi AccordBOOKS . There was a Time | By Nnamdi Ebo.

As the pogrom in the north progressed, the death trains with whole and mutilated bodies; men and women, children, mutilated and living inya miris arrived with regularity in all the train stations and hubs in the east. The train drivers (who were Igbos) told macabre stories of how their lives were spared from the pogrom simply because of their profession or line of work. They were specifically instructed to wait with the trains as the killers performed their tasks and loaded the coaches (with some forced help from some inya miris) with mutilated bodies.

They were then told to drive the trains back to the east and show Ojukwu. Ojukwu actually saw these spectacles when the trains arrived. According to the gist, he visited the Enugu train station and the pain was obvious on his face as he held himself from breaking down in front of his people. Thereafter, Ojukwu called on non-easterners to leave the region immediately as the government could not guarantee their safety any longer. War Cries soon changed to War songs as crowds spilled to the streets chanting war songs symbolized by –

Ojukwu nye anyi egbe, nye anyi mma!” – Ojukwu! Give us guns and machetes.

Anyi ama ekwe, anyi ga anu ogu! ” – We will never agree! We’ll fight.

Nzogbu nzogbu enyi mba enyi!” – As the elephant moves, its footsteps trample anything in its path.

My mother was then leaving in Port Harcourt the symbolic oil city with its burgeoning oil wealth which featured in the geo-politics of the impending war. Port Harcourt was named for Lewis Vernon Harcourt the Secretary of State for the Colonies by Lord Frederick Lugard in 1913. The then small city was the main port city of the east apart from the small Calabar port in the southeast of Nigeria. The area that became Port Harcourt in 1913 was originally the farmlands of the Diobu village group of the Ikwerre, a subgroup of the Igbo people; who I shall talk about in the course of my story in this book.

The only oil refinery then in Nigeria was the newly completed plant in Eleme near Port Harcourt which became a major attraction of sorts to both the federal and eastern governments. The British colonial ideology that divided Nigeria into three regions: North, West and East was a deliberate ethnic and religious gerrymander to keep the nation weak, unstable and open to plunder of its vast oil reserves by British oil companies led by the British Petroleum (BP). Later BP teamed up with SHELL Transport (Dutch) of Netherlands to become SHELL-BP. By this time, small petro-dollars and other agriculture-related regional revenues had started trickling into the federal purse under the 50% regional derivation regime.

With the stalemate, Enugu had diverted the trickling dollars to its own purse to the chagrin of Lagos. By this time, the death trains in Enugu which were also bound for the southern part of Eastern region had been arriving in Umuahia town and Port Harcourt. The same macabre scenarios of mutilations, women with their breasts cut out and dead bodies arrived and played out in both towns’ train stations. The trains arriving Port Harcourt strained the patience of the city’s residents and it exploded and angry crowds poured into the streets looking for vengeance. It was at that time that my mother told a story which she repeated to me again uncut as I was compiling my reminiscences for this book. The is the story of a beautiful Hausa woman called Hauwa who sold provisions out of a kiosk in Umuomasi PortHarcourt later changed to Rumuomasi. Neighbors and passersby bought things from this Hausa woman including my mother through her house girl. Hauwa was the daughter of a Hausa man and an Owerri woman.

Her kiosk was by a junction close to my mother’s house in Umuomasi known as the market road junction near the Ejims family compound. Hauwa was known to be cheerful and friendly and apart from the Hausa language, she spoke Igbo fluently (her mother’s language) as Igbo was the lingua franca after pigeon English in pre-war Port Harcourt. As Ojukwu had called for non-easterners to leave the region, many Hausas left. A few who thought that what was unfolding was a passing phase remained. This was also what happened in the north as some Inya miri thought it was a passing phase and remained in the north to their death. One day as angry crowds took to the streets of Port Harcourt the crowds surged towards Umuomasi as it then was and got to the cheerful Hausa woman’s kiosk. According to my mother, she was eating breakfast when she heard the commotion and chanting of war songs –  

Nzogbu nzogbu enyi mba enyi

Nzogbu! enyi mba enyi”

Nothing unusual as angry crowds taking to the streets had become a daily routine of the aggrieved masses as they pressed their macabre demands from Ojukwu to give them guns and machetes to go to war with Gowon. What struck me as a boy in all these is that this new found zeal to go to war was not noticeable in the minority areas of eastern Nigeria – the so called COR states. Suddenly, her house girl burst into the dining room crying profusely “what is it?” my mother queried “…them…them deh beat…beat Hauwa…” “Hauwa…what did she do?” my mother asked naively thinking she was in a decent society, forgetting that by this time, the whole country especially the east had degenerated to a place without the decency associated with cultured people. The dogs of war were asking and getting their pounds of flesh in the streets as my mother shouted “Hauwa! Hauwa!!” She abandoned her food and followed the house girl towards Hauwa’s kiosk.  

What my mother saw was a gruesome sight of Hauwa’s naked body sprawling on the ground with blood gushing from her private part; they had used sticks on her. She moved slightly, blood everywhere. She was surrounded by an angry crowd brandishing sticks, stones and cudgels looking down on her, eyes red. As my mother approached wailing and crying, many women were pleading with the mob, “biko ozugo, unu acho igbu nwanyi a! “Please it is ok, do you want to kill this woman?” some pleaded with the crowd. Hauwa heard their voices despite the din and turned suddenly struggling to her feet and made a wobbly run, legs rubbery from lack of strength towards my mother’s direction, hands outstretched begging for help, blood on her face dripping down her bare torso. She couldn’t talk, blood covering her mouth region but she staggered, all her teeth broken from a stone’s direct hit on her mouth.  

As she staggered towards my mother’s direction a voice barked “Madam! Madam! si eba pua! Kita kita…pua!!” Madam! Leave this place now!! “Please leave her…she’s dying. Don’t hit her anymore…she’s like one of us…please!” my mother continued to plead, more with herself than with the mob.  The huge ugly man with a battered physiognomy and totting a machete seemed to be the mob leader as he barked “Madam obu onye awusa, anyi ga egbue tata…” “Madam she is a Hausa, we’ll kill her today” he barked once again. He suddenly put his money where his mouth was with a quick strike of his machete on Hauwa’s head. Hauwa had no chance as she slumped immediately…

Nzogbu nzogbu enyi mba enyi

Nzogbu! enyi mba enyi”

They started dispersing as they sang war songs and moved on looking for more street action. My mother turned and cried all the way home lamenting “many of these people were Hauwa’s neighbors, even suitors; some may have been jilted lovers. It reminded me of the English author William Congreve (1670-1729) in “Mourning Bride” (1697) who wrote: “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” in reference to a jilted female lover, but these were men, not women. Why did they do this?

To be continued 

_________________________________________________________________________________________

There Was A Time . Book Cover 01. 202x300 On Aburi We Stand: Requiem for Aburi AccordCulled from: THERE WAS A TIME | Author: Nnamdi Ebo  |  Published by africagenda Publications  
ISBN: 978-978-50804-3-8  | 1st Edition 2013
Buy the book, THERE WAS A TIME |  Click  Bookshop
Nnamdi Ebo | [email protected]  
© 2015 Nnamdi Ebo . All Rights Reserved

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