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.

 

Exodus in Biafra

Nnamdi Ebo 2 241x300 Do we secede? | The emergence of Yakubu GowonBOOKS . There was a Time  | By Nnamdi Ebo.

Exodus in Biafra.

Apart from the exodus in the second book of the Old Testament which tells of the departure of the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, led by Moses, this one was not biblical but mundane; it was a journey by a large group to escape from a hostile environment which Nsukka had become. There were rumors of federal advance to the university town and it was rife as people both natives and non natives prepared to leave town; to evacuate. The presence of eastern soldiers was noticeable everywhere as they drove by in trucks chanting musical intonations I could not decipher at the time and generally milling around menacingly. I think majority of them spoke with desperate menace in agitation and apprehension of an ominous sign.

At nights, dead and ominous silence prevailed in town; not the usual silence of darkness but the silence that presages ill fortune with and impending inauspicious thunderings as people said that federal troops were advancing towards Nsukka. By now the town had more soldiers everywhere with guns and some wielding machetes than policemen with batons. They took over the direction and control of traffic at junctions from the police traffic wardens. To me, it was odd and I sensed apprehension everywhere.

There were rumors that Nzeogwu and one Okigbo, a poet were in town. To be honest, I believed that what a poet was doing in town wasn’t supposed to be news but what struck me was that this poet called Okigbo was said to be in town in conjunction with the war effort. I remember imagining what connection a poet had with preparations for war. Poets wrote and recited poems I thought. Maybe I’ll get to know why this poet was in town, and I did, much later. One day I accompanied uncle Goddy to the town to service his car. His mechanic was an Onitsha man called Oka, short for Okagbue. He works at the university work shop but does mechanic work on the side in his compound residence.  

Biafra . Biafran refugees flee Nigerian army advanceAs we drove to Oka’s house for car repairs and as we drove back to the campus, I saw many bicycles, motorcycles, cars, buses and trucks loaded with people and belongings heading towards Bishop Shanahan hospital and the town market. This route is the road out of Nsukka town towards Opi junction from where you turn right to the 9th mile corner or junction and when you get there you turn left to Enugu or right to Onitsha. Many were also trekking with boxes and bags of load on their heads. Children tagged along their parents and wards as people moved out of town. I was apprehensive but I refrained from asking my uncle.

Throughout the days as he and his wife prepared for his family’s journey back to the United States of America, I noticed that he had been on edge, smoking his pipe more furiously than ever. It was a Saturday night in Odim Street on the campus of UNN and I was lying down on my bed. I started to fiddle with the dial of my small portable radio and I found Radio Nigeria:

“…the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces Major General Yakubu Gowon has reiterated the federal government’s determination and resolve to keep Nigeria one…this is Radio Nigeria…”

As I was changing to another channel it occurred to me that the usual aroma of Erinmore tobacco was not there. I said to myself; maybe he doesn’t want to puff tonight. Then the silence was broken by a subdued voice “this town is getting more dangerous by the day” I heard uncle Goddy say. I strained my ear to hear their voices better but I couldn’t. I have been aware of plans by my uncle to move his family out of Nigeria to America. This is obviously because of the deteriorating state of affairs in the country. Ojukwu had asked non easterners to leave the region.

I will miss this kind hearted black American woman who cooked okro soup one day with granulated sugar instead of salt and uncle Goddy went bunkers. I will also miss the friendly and happy cousins I came to regard as my little brother and sister. I can hear voices again “Yea, Enugu airport is not an international” his wife said, “Ojukwu has asked all easterners to come back”.

There was silence so I continued tuning my radio. As I hit VOA in a very low volume my uncle said “Ikeja will close soon to easterners” as he walked out of his room, went past my room to the sitting room. “Yea” she said softly. “Honey, do you want juice” he hollered and suddenly “yes daddy” from Boopey, his son, “you gonna wee wee on the bed, git to sleep boy!” she bellowed and he whimpered quietly. “Yvonne, you want juice or not?” “No thanks” As he walked back to his room I heard the sound of his footsteps stop “Boops go to bed, ok?” “Ok!” the lad said reluctantly. I dropped my radio, relaxed on my bed and crashed, as they say.

In the morning I heard voices coming from the sitting room. I recognized these voices as that of my uncle, his wife and Mr. and Mrs. Onyemelukwe from Aba. The two couples were close family friends with my uncle and his wife. They had a lot in common as both women are black Americans and their husbands went to the same university in the United States and were best men to each other at their weddings. Mr. Onyemelukwe was the Chairman and patron of Aba Giant Killers FC the resident football club of the Enyimba town of Aba; much like what Manchester United FC is to the City of Manchester in the northwest of England.

Boopey came into my room in his pajamas to borrow a Superman comic and he sat down on my bed and starting flipping through the pages. “Goddy, these women have to go”, “yes” my uncle said resignedly. “Ikeja or Port Harcourt?” my uncle asked, “Port Harcourt” Mr. Onyemelukwe answered (if my recollection is correct). “I ain’t gonna leave my children behind in Aba” Mrs. Onyemelukwe interjected, “of course not” my uncle said and there was silence, “Abi! Nwokem?” “Yah of course, but she’s rubbing it in” the chairman answered in a dejected voice, “cool it missus…we’re gonna leave this goddam place…and with our boys and girls, ok?” aunty Yvonne said with seriousness to which uncle Goddy hollered: “Yvonne! Don’t rub it in…Shut your mouth” my uncle vituperated.

There was silence from the sitting room as Boopey raised his head and said to me “you coming with us? Mummy said we’re going to America?” I shook my head negatively at him and he asked why, and I told him I am staying back. He dropped the comic and walked briskly to the sitting room and blurted out “daddy! Nnamdi said he ain’t coming with us to America” “he’s staying back with daddy” my uncle said and he shouted “Why?” “He’ll stay with daddy, ok?” “Ok!” and he walked back to my room “daddy said you gonna stay with him, ok?”

Early one morning, two days later, Aunty Yvonne, Boopey and Afulenu prepared to travel. As Basil loaded the boot of the car with their belongings I decided to help. I picked up a small box in the parlor and walked outside to the car. I noticed that about six houses on Odim Street had cars in their driveways with boots open and people were loading things. I heard footsteps behind me and turned and aunty Yvonne and her husband stepped out with their two children, “It looks like everybody is leaving town” said Aunty Yvonne.

Her husband looked towards the objects of her comment and “nobody is leaving town, maybe they’re just…” “they’re leaving town” she cuts in. “Yvonne get into the car please” “Goddy why are you worked up…we’ll see you in Virginia soon” she cut back. “I’m not worked up and you won’t see me in Virginia, not soon and I’m not worked up”. “You’re” “I’m not” “you’re” “Ok! They’re leaving town, so what do you want me to do?” “Nothing honey, I…” “Everybody get into the car” he bellowed.  

It was a day in 1967 and they got into the car and uncle Goddy drove out on the road to either Port Harcourt aerodrome or Ikeja airport, Lagos (I never found out which). As I waved furiously, tears in my eyes, with Basil standing by my side, my two cousins continued to wave continuously, obviously distraught and I could see them through the rear windshield as uncle Goddy’s Ford Consul sedan disappeared at the end of Odim Street, as he turned left in the morning sun.

To be continued 

_________________________________________________________________________________________

There Was A Time . Book Cover 01. 202x300 Do we secede? | The emergence of Yakubu GowonCulled 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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