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.

 

THERE WAS A TIME | Biafra: My recollection

Nnamdi Ebo 2BOOKS . There was a Time  | By Nnamdi Ebo.

My Recollection.

There was a time I was an eleven year old boy in the Nigeria of 1967. I have always known that I have a good memory. I first noticed my ability to remember things when I was growing up partially in Onitsha, Enugu and fully in the university town of Nsukka as a lad. Then, I could remember things exactly as they happened, at times with uncanny details.

My memory of events and happenings around me, especially when they tickled my fancy always remained with me. This is more so when those events and happenings relate to things I witnessed by myself or things told me, or things I heard from other people, my uncles, aunties, paternal grandmother, friends and neighbors. In addition, I was a voracious reader of books, pamphlets, comics and other literatures accustomed to adults, even as a lad.

I was fascinated with the mass media’s mini revolution sweeping Nigeria at that time in the form of newspapers, television and radio. As the war dragged on and Biafra reduced in size, especially when Enugu capitulated and Aba was threatened with Nigeria’s military advance, the newspaper and television media in Biafra vanished like dew in the morning after the afternoon sun. Biafra was left with the radio as the only means of getting any real information about the war effort on both sides of the divide.

Grundig radioThe Grundig radio (photo: right) was the preferred radio brand of choice. It struck me that most able bodied Biafran male had the Grundig in their houses; that ubiquitous electronic receiver that detects, demodulates and amplifies transmitted signals. If I saw other brands of radio I didn’t bother to take notice, only that they were all Grundig. My uncle Goddy told me they were German made.

Others that didn’t own radios endeavored to ask neighbors onwe ife putalu? As Biafra was encircled into an enclave and families relocated deeper into core Igboland, they still listened and I wondered whether the radio was the first property they grabbed as they fled from the federal advancing troops. Just before the war started, I was eleven years old in 1967 and a pupil of the University Primary School, Nsukka.

In my school were the children of Professor Eni Njoku, Professor Babs Fafunnwa, Professor Njoku Obi and white American boys and girls. Our principal was a man called Mr. Akpadiok. For reasons of similar resonance to the ear, the rascals amongst us called him Mr. Akpa idiot which means Mr. Bag of idiot. Dr. Chukwuemeka, Godfrey Ebo as he then was, my uncle Goddy, was a senior lecturer in the department of political science, faculty of social sciences and I lived with him.

ZikUncle Goddy told me that UNN is the first autonomous university in Nigeria and was established in 1955, a year before I was born. The university was formally opened on October 7, 1960.  He also told me that the University of Nigeria was founded by the Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (photo: right) the first President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. On further questioning, he said that UNN was modeled on the American educational system and it was done in conjunction with an American university. I never really got to know the name of this American university or its location in the United States. That explained the presence of Americans and the white pupils in my school and class. The great Zik or simply Zik as he was fondly called by admirers was my idol.

As a boy, I always regarded myself as a Zikist even though I never participated in any Zikist movement. Nsukka then as a town which hosted UNN was a small, quiet, peaceful and bucolic town peopled by largely uneducated, generous and friendly folk. These people were mostly the cooks and stewards in the university canteens and refectories, gardeners and workers. Right now, the people from Nsukka and environs are not only educated, they have produced professors and people of learning. Uncle Goddy told me it is the fallout advantage derived from proximity and location of projects in one’s locality. They reveled in the fact that the great Zik chose their town to establish and locate the great citadel of learning.  

A story that made the rounds told of a time when Zik approached the town’s elders for land to site the university. The story is steeped in legend with the elders telling a young strong native to throw a stone and when he did, the actual place where the stone fell could not be ascertained. Zik was told to continue building the university towards the stone’s direction until he can find it. That probably explains why the institution has so much land for expansion. UNN is actually the first land-grant university in Africa.

UNN logoAs my Biafra experience began in the UNN, this academic citadel was known and called the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). As I lived on the campus with my uncle’s family and going to school, it suddenly metamorphosed to the University of Biafra, Nsukka (UBN) in a twinkle of an eye and I couldn’t understand it. My uncle said we were no longer Nigerians but Biafrans. As the young nation evolved, I started hearing words like gallant Biafrans, the red devils, on Aburi we stand, we shall conquer, Ogbunigwe! 

It was in this bucolic setting that my Biafra experience began. My sojourn as a Biafran lad began in earnest as suddenly things started moving fast and uncontrollable around me in the house where I lived, uncle Goddy’s house, in the three bedroom bungalow with a boys’ quarter situated on Odim street in the Nsukka campus. The late uncle Goddy is my late father’s junior brother who took me as his son and nurtured me.

He was married to a black American woman called Yvonne, a tall beautiful fair skinned woman who spoke American English with a black American vernacular to match. Her language always seemed to hover around gonna and wanna and when she wanted you to leave her presence as in get out of here, it sounded like git outta here. Under that homely, school and university atmosphere, my experience of Biafra rolled uninterrupted. My experience of this true story began in the then bucolic town of Nsukka and ended in the same town of Nsukka where my recollection began.

Biafra was born and tried to grow before my eyes and the things I saw remained in my memory, embedded, stored to be used in future I guessed but I wasn’t sure. I knew I liked all things political and tainted with statecraft; after all, man is a political animal but I was a boy, inquisitive, demanding but resolute in my determination to seek information, news, at times gossip if it will help me in understanding what was happening around me, my country Nigeria, which suddenly changed to Biafra, another country.

I couldn’t believe it until we started moving from one town to another as refugees, running for our dear lives, to another town, then a village to another village, running but in my uncles’ cars, depending on which one I lived or stayed with at the time of the pullout or evacuation. Enugu capitulated and fell to the federal troops but Radio Biafra and Voice of Biafra kept saying and playing jingles this is Voice of Biafra transmitting from Enugu. Which Enugu were they referring to? Well, I later found out that is called propaganda.

Biafran children . Life Mag.I saw malnourished children emaciate, weak, eyes bulging out from inside sockets; not from curiosity or surprise but from lack of nutrients, with their stomachs swelling, belly buttons protruding as if by design and bodies looking like skeletons in a human anatomy laboratory. I saw soldiers carrying guns, others carrying sticks and cudgels, cutlasses and daggers, going to the war fronts singing, clapping in dilapidated Biafran Army trucks commandeered from Igbo transporters like Chief Augustine Ilodibe’s Ekene dili Chukwu transport company.

At times I would count arbitrarily – may be 200 Biafran soldiers going to join others in the war front but by the next week, as they returned to base, they may be 150 and we will hear that the others died fighting for Biafra. I saw dead bodies rigor mortised, others decomposing with flies and vultures competing for nutrition. I also took notice that the Biafran soldiers, those brave men who did what they had to do for their survival, fought the war believing that it was a genuine struggle from the bottom of their hearts – without pay.

I heard the exploits of Ojukwu, saw him in pictures, TV, heard his resonate voice on my portable radio, and saw him many times in motorized convoys as he rolled by in a Roll Royce limousine, Mercedes Benz sedan, other brands of cars; or a solitary Volkswagen Beetle car for security reasons. These were experiences that will live with me for the rest of my life. Somehow, as a small boy, I knew I will tell this story, may be write a book about the happenings around me in the villages and towns in Biafra as we ran, evacuated and retreated further into the heart of Igbo land. Somehow, we survived it but others did not, they died, some in the battlefields others from air raids, yet others from kwashiorkor. I also knew I had the knack for writing and I always practiced. I was smitten with the world-famous author Chinua Achebe and his books Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease and I read those books thoroughly and admired the man.

I have chosen to tell my Biafra story in my own way, having the clarity and freshness of immediate experience; a vivid recollection; uncut. I did this with a vivid description as I know how though without a graphic account of battle because I did not go to any battle (but with recourse to research, only to make sure the events and dates tally). In the course of my story in talking about the major tribe in Biafra, I’ll use either Igbo or Ibo as I deem fit.

This account of Biafra is from the eyes, ears and sojourn of an 11 to 14 years old boy, condensed later from the reminisces of a Political scientist, public affairs analyst, author and a scholar in Legal literature and politics. I will tell it as it was, raw, untainted, uncolored, undiluted, intact, and as I saw it, witnessed it, heard it and to the best of my knowledge; uncut –there was a time.

September, 2012

Nnamdi Ebo

To be continued

____________________________________________________________________________

There Was A Time . Book Cover 01.Culled 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 TIMEClick  Bookshop

Nnamdi Ebo | [email protected]  © 2014 Nnamdi Ebo . All Rights Reserved

 

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