Chinua Achebe at 82: “We Remember Differently”, By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In this piece, Chimamanda Adichie extols Chinua Achebe at 82
In this piece, Chimamanda Adichie extols Chinua Achebe at 82

I have met Chinua Achebe only three times. The first, at the National Arts Club in Manhattan, I joined the admiring circle around him. A gentle-faced man in a wheelchair.

“Good evening, sir. I’m Chimamanda Adichie,” I said, and he replied, mildly,  “I thought you were running away from me.”

I mumbled, nervous, grateful for the crush of people around us. I had been running away from him. After my first novel was published, I received an email from his son. My dad has just read your novel and liked it very much. He wants you to call him at this number. I read it over and over, breathless with excitement. But I never called. A few years later, my editor sent Achebe a manuscript of my second novel. She did not tell me, because she wanted to shield me from the possibility of disappointment. One afternoon, she called.  “Chimamanda, are you sitting down? I have wonderful news.” She read me the blurb Achebe had just sent her. We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers. Adichie knows what is at stake, and what to do about it. She is fearless or she would not have taken on the intimidating horror of Nigeria’s civil war. Adichie came almost fully made. Afterwards, I held on to the phone and wept. I have memorized those words. In my mind, they glimmer still, the validation of a writer whose work had validated me.

I grew up writing imitative stories. Of characters eating food I had never seen and having conversations I had never heard. They might have been good or bad, those stories, but they were emotionally false, they were not mine. Then came a glorious awakening: Chinua Achebe’s fiction. Here were familiar characters who felt true; here was language that captured my two worlds; here was a writer writing not what he felt he should write but what he wanted to write. His work was free of anxiety, wore its own skin effortlessly. It emboldened me, not to find my voice, but to speak in the voice I already had. And so, when that e-mail came from his son, I knew, overly-thrilled as I was, that I would not call. His work had done more than enough. In an odd way, I was so awed, so grateful, that I did not want to meet him. I wanted some distance between my literary hero and me.

Chinua Achebe and I have never had a proper conversation. The second time I saw him, at a luncheon in his honor hosted by the British House of Lords, I sat across from him and avoided his eye. (“Chinua Achebe is the only person I have seen you shy with,” a friend said). The third, at a New York event celebrating fifty years of THINGS FALL APART, we crowded around him backstage, Edwidge Danticat and I, Ha Jin and Toni Morrison, Colum McCann and Chris Abani. We seemed, magically, bound together in a warm web, all of us affected by his work. Achebe looked pleased, but also vaguely puzzled by all the attention. He spoke softly, the volume of his entire being turned to ‘low.’ I wanted to tell him how much I admired his integrity, his speaking out about the disastrous leadership in my home state of Anambra, but I did not. Before I went on stage, he told me, “Jisie ike.” I wondered if he fully grasped, if indeed it was possible to, how much his work meant to so many.

History and civics, as school subjects, function not merely to teach facts but to transmit more subtle things, like pride and dignity. My Nigerian education taught me much, but left gaping holes. I had not been taught to imagine my pre-colonial past with any accuracy, or pride, or complexity. And so Achebe’s work, for me, transcended literature. It became personal. ARROW OF GOD, my favorite, was not just about the British government’s creation of warrant chiefs and the linked destinies of two men, it became the life my grandfather might have lived. THINGS FALL APART is the African novel most read – and arguably most loved – by Africans, a novel published when ‘African novel’ meant European accounts of ‘native’ life. Achebe was an unapologetic member of the generation of African writers who were ‘writing back,’ challenging the stock Western images of their homeland, but his work was not burdened by its intent. It is much-loved not because Achebe wrote back, but because he wrote back well. His work was wise, humorous, human. For many Africans, THINGS FALL APART remains a gesture of returned dignity, a literary and an emotional experience; Mandela called Achebe the writer in whose presence the prison walls came down.

Achebe’s latest work: There was a country

Achebe’s most recent book, his long-awaited memoir of the Nigerian-Biafra war, is both sad and angry, a book by a writer looking back and mourning Nigeria’s failures. I wish THERE WAS A COUNTRY had been better edited and more rigorously detailed in its account of the war. But these flaws do not make it any less seminal: an account of the most important event in Nigeria’s history by Nigeria’s most important storyteller.

An excerpt from the book has ignited great controversy among Nigerians. In it, Achebe, indignant about the millions of people who starved to death in Biafra, holds Obafemi Awolowo, Nigerian Finance Minister during the war, responsible for the policy of blockading Biafra. He quote’s Awolowo’s own words on the blockade – ‘all is fair in war and starvation is one of the weapons of war. I don’t see why we should feed our enemies fat in order for them to fight harder’ and then argues that Awolowo’s support of the blockade was ‘driven by an overriding ambition for power for himself in particular and for the advancement of his Yoruba people in general.’

I have been startled and saddened by the responses to this excerpt. Many are

blindingly ethnic, lacking in empathy and, most disturbing of all, lacking in knowledge. We can argue about how we interpret the facts of our shared history, but we cannot, surely, argue about the facts themselves. Awolowo, as de facto ‘number two man’ on the Nigerian side, was a central architect of the blockade on Biafra. During and after the war, Awolowo publicly defended the blockade. Without the blockade, the massive starvation in Biafra would not have occurred. These are the facts.

Some Nigerians, in responding to Achebe, have argued that the blockade was fair, as all is fair in war. The blockade was, in my opinion, inhumane and immoral. And it was unnecessary – Nigeria would have won anyway, it was the much-better-armed side in a war that Wole Soyinka called a shabby unequal conflict. The policy of starving a civilian population into surrender does not merely go against the Geneva conventions, but in this case, a war between siblings, people who were formerly fellow country men and women now suddenly on opposite sides, it seems more chilling. All is not fair in war. Especially not in a fratricidal war. But I do not believe the blockade was a calculated power grab by Awolowo for himself and his ethnic group; I think of it, instead, as one of the many dehumanizing acts that war, by its nature, brings about.

Awolowo was undoubtedly a great political leader.  He was also – rare for Nigerian leaders – a great intellectual. No Nigerian leader has, arguably, articulated a political vision as people-centered as Awolowo’s. For Nigerians from the west, he was the architect of free primary education, of progressive ideas. But for Nigerians from the east, he was a different man. I grew up hearing, from adults, versions of Achebe’s words about Awolowo. He was the man who prevented an Igbo man from leading the Western House of Assembly in the famous ‘carpet crossing’ incident of 1952. He was the man who betrayed Igbo people when he failed on his alleged promise to follow Biafra’s lead and pull the Western region out of Nigeria. He was the man who, in the words of my uncle, “made Igbo people poor because he never liked us.”

At the end of the war, every Igbo person who had a bank account in Nigeria was given twenty pounds, no matter how much they had in their accounts before the war. I have always thought this a livid injustice. I know a man who worked in a multinational company in 1965. He was, like Achebe, one of the many Igbo who just could not believe that their lives were in danger in Lagos and so he fled in a hurry, at the last minute, leaving thousands of pounds in his account. After the war, his account had twenty pounds. To many Igbo, this policy was uncommonly punitive, and went against the idea of ‘no victor, no vanquished.’ Then came the indigenization decree, which moved industrial and corporate power from foreign to Nigerian hands. It made many Nigerians wealthy; much of the great wealth in Nigeria today has its roots in this decree. But the Igbo could not participate; they were broke.

I do not agree, as Achebe writes, that one of the main reasons for Nigeria’s present backwardness is the failure to fully reintegrate the Igbo. I think Nigeria would be just as backward even if the Igbo had been fully integrated – institutional and leadership failures run across all ethnic lines. But the larger point Achebe makes is true, which is that the Igbo presence in Nigerian positions of power has been much reduced since the war. Before the war, many of Nigeria’s positions of power were occupied by Igbo people, in the military, politics, academia, business. Perhaps because the Igbo were very receptive to Western education, often at the expense of their own traditions, and had both a striving individualism and a communal ethic. This led to what, in history books, is often called a ‘fear of Igbo domination’ in the rest of Nigeria. The Igbo themselves were insensitive to this resentment, the bombast and brashness that is part of Igbo culture only exacerbated it. And so leading Igbo families entered the war as Nigeria’s privileged elite but emerged from it penniless, stripped and bitter.

Today, ‘marginalization’ is a popular word in Igboland. Many Igbo feel marginalized in Nigeria, a feeling based partly on experience and partly on the psychology of a defeated people. (Another consequence of this psychology, perhaps, is the loss of the communal ethic of the Igbo, much resented sixty years ago. It is almost non-existent today, or as my cousin eloquently put it: Igbo people don’t even send each other.)

Some responses to Achebe have had a ‘blame the victim’ undertone, suggesting that Biafrians started the war and therefore deserved what they got. But Biafrians did not ‘start the war.’ Nobody with a basic knowledge of the facts can make that case.

Biafrian secession was inevitable, after the federal government’s failure to implement the agreements reached at Aburi, itself prompted by the massacre of Igbo in the North.  The cause of the massacres was arguably the first coup of 1966. Many believed it to be an ‘Igbo’ coup, which was not an unreasonable belief, Nigeria was already mired in ethnic resentments, the premiers of the West and North were murdered while the Eastern premier was not, and the coup plotters were Igbo. Except for Adewale Ademoyega, a Yoruba, who has argued that it was not an ethnic coup. I don’t believe it was. It seems, from most accounts, to have been an idealistic and poorly-planned nationalist exercise aimed at ridding Nigeria of a corrupt government. It was, also, horrendously, inexcusably violent. I wish the coup had never happened. I wish the premiers and other casualties had been arrested and imprisoned, rather than murdered. But the truth that glares above all else is that the thousands of Igbo people murdered in their homes and in the streets had nothing to do with the coup.

Some have blamed the Biafrian starvation on Ojukwu, Biafra’s leader, because he rejected an offer from the Nigerian government to bring in food through a land corridor. It was an ungenerous offer, one easy to refuse. A land corridor could also mean advancement of Nigerian troops. Ojukwu preferred airlifts, they were tactically safer, more strategic, and he could bring in much-needed arms as well. Ojukwu should have accepted the land offer, shabby as it was. Innocent lives would have been saved. I wish he had not insisted on a ceasefire, a condition which the Nigerian side would never have agreed to. But it is disingenuous to claim that Ojukwu’s rejection of this offer caused the starvation. Many Biafrians had already starved to death. And, more crucially, the Nigerian government had shown little regard for Biafra’s civilian population; it had, for a while, banned international relief agencies from importing food. Nigerian planes bombed markets and targeted hospitals in Biafra, and had even shot down an International Red Cross plane.

Ordinary Biafrians were steeped in distrust of the Nigerian side. They felt safe eating food flown in from Sao Tome, but many believed that food brought from Nigeria would be poisoned, just as they believed that, if the war ended in defeat, there would be mass killings of Igbo people. The Biafrian propaganda machine further drummed this in. But, before the propaganda, something else had sown the seed of hateful fear: the 1966 mass murders of Igbo in the North. The scars left were deep and abiding. Had the federal government not been unwilling or incapable of protecting their lives and property, Igbo people would not have so massively supported secession and intellectuals, like Achebe, would not have joined in the war effort.

I have always admired Ojukwu, especially for his early idealism, the choices he made as a young man to escape the shadow of his father’s great wealth, to serve his country. In Biafra, he was a flawed leader, his paranoia and inability to trust those close to him clouded his judgments about the execution of the war, but he was also a man of principle who spoke up forcefully about the preservation of the lives of Igbo people when the federal government seemed indifferent. He was, for many Igbo, a Churchillian figure, a hero who inspired them, whose oratory moved them to action and made them feel valued, especially in the early months of the war.

Other responses to Achebe have dismissed the war as something that happened ‘long ago.’ But some of the people who played major roles are alive today. We must confront our history, if only to begin to understand how we came to be where we are today. The Americans are still hashing out details of their civil war that ended in 1865; the Spanish have only just started, seventy years after theirs ended. Of course, discussing a history as contested and contentious as the Nigeria-Biafra war will not always be pleasant. But it is necessary. An Igbo saying goes: If a child does not ask what killed his father, that same thing will kill him.

What many of the responses to Achebe make clear, above all else, is that we remember differently. For some, Biafra is history, a series of events in a book, fodder for argument and analysis. For others, it is a loved one killed in a market bombing, it is hunger as a near-constant companion, it is the death of certainty. The war was fought on Biafrian soil. There are buildings in my hometown with bullet holes; as a child, playing outside, I would sometimes come across bits of rusty ammunition left behind from the war. My generation was born after 1970, but we know of property lost, of relatives who never ‘returned’ from the North, of shadows that hung heavily over family stories. We inherited memory. And we have the privilege of distance that Achebe does not have.

Achebe is a war survivor. He was a member of the generation of Nigerians who were supposed to lead a new nation, inchoate but full of optimism. It shocked him, how quickly Nigerian fell apart. In THERE WAS A COUNTRY he sounds unbelieving, still, about the federal government’s indifference while Igbo people were being massacred in Northern Nigeria in 1966. But shock-worthy events did not only happen in the North. Achebe himself was forced to leave Lagos, a place he had called home for many years, because his life was no longer safe. His crime was being Igbo. A Yoruba acquaintance once told me a story of how he was nearly lynched in Lagos at the height of the tensions before the war; he was light-skinned, and a small mob in a market assumed him to be ‘Igbo Yellow’ and attacked him. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos was forced to leave. So was the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan. Because they were Igbo.  For Achebe, all this was deeply personal, deeply painful. His house was bombed, his office was destroyed. He escaped death a few times. His best friend died in battle. To expect a dispassionate account from him is a remarkable failure of empathy. I wish more of the responses had acknowledged, a real acknowledgement and not merely a dismissive preface, the deep scars that experiences like Achebe’s must have left behind.

Ethnicity has become, in Nigeria, more political than cultural, less about philosophy and customs and values and more about which bank is a Yoruba or Hausa or Igbo bank, which political office is held by which ethnicity, which revered leader must be turned into a flawless saint. We cannot deny ethnicity. It matters. But our ethnic and national identities should not be spoken of as though they were mutually exclusive; I am as much Igbo as I am Nigerian. I have hope in the future of Nigeria, mostly because we have not yet made a real, conscious effort to begin creating a nation (We could start, for example, by not merely teaching Maths and English in primary schools, but also teaching idealism and citizenship.)

For some non-Igbo, confronting facts of the war is uncomfortable, even inconvenient. But we must hear one another’s stories. It is even more imperative for a subject like Biafra which, because of our different experiences, we remember differently. Biafrian minorities were distrusted by the Igbo majority, and some were unfairly attacked, blamed for being saboteurs. Nigerian minorities, particularly in the midwest, suffered at the hands of both Biafrian and Nigerian soldiers. ‘Abandoned property’ cases remain unresolved today in Port Harcourt, a city whose Igbo names were changed after the war, creating “Rumu” from “Umu.” Nigerian soldiers carried out a horrendous massacre in Asaba, murdering the males in a town which is today still alive with painful memories. Some Igbo families are still waiting, half-hoping, that a lost son, a lost daughter, will come home. All of these stories can sit alongside one another. The Nigerian stage is big enough. Chinua Achebe has told his story. This week, he turns 82. Long may he live.


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  • AliciaStone8070

    Wish he did not write all that lies about Awolowo, making life more difficult for you and I!

    • TellEm

      Wish Awolowo had not participated on the Nigerian side after saying “The unity of Nigeria is not worth the spilling of one drop of blood”. Well I guess appointment into federal government can change one’s perception of the importance of human life.

      • ‘the unity of nigeria is not worth the spilling of one drop of blood.’ This is the kind of thing you say in an attempt to discourage the country from following the downward path. Funny you would hold this against the poor man. You are pretending to be asleep, and all the rockets in the world won’t wake u up.

        • TellEm

          I do not hold the statement against him. I hold the fact that he did not mean it. No man worth his skin plays politics with human life. You need to wake up and smell the coffee. The Nigeria your ‘heroes’ fought for is the same one everyone is running away from.

  • Dr, Amodu, Jonah

    of all the reactions and counter reactions, literary show of wit, defense of region and religion, show of superiority and intellect that characterized the aftermath of Achebe’s THERE WAS A COUNTRY, Chimamanda’s critique stands out tall and reasonably balanced void of regional or ethnic sentiments. She was fair to all concerned and gave a panoramic view to issues other than personalities. this is my definition of literary criticism.

    • Well, it would have been balanced if she also mentioned that some non-easterners (civilians)were also killed in Ibo land. How about that for being balanced?

      • TellEm

        Read the article. She mentions that in the article. Most of those killed were thought to be saboteurs, some were innocent. But they WERE saboteurs in the East.
        This is nothing compared to the ethnic cleansing of the Igbo. Or the rape and killing of the same non-Igbo by the Nigerian soldiers when they occupied the southern regions of Biafra.

  • Layi Ola

    1. “But I do not think the blockade was a calculated power grab by Awolowo for himself and his ethnic group”. At least thank God you’re making this statement. Achebe’s statement which you refuted here turned a compelling argument into an easily dismissible ethnically biased statement, something you accused other commentators of.

    2. The was not inevitable. Reason could have prevailed. You mentioned that Wole Soyinka considered the war a shabby unequal conflict and indeed it was. And apparently like the first coup plotters, the war an it’s consequences was not well thought out. I find it hard that commentaries from Igbo writers seem to gloss over this fact. The decision to go to war is as condemnable as that of the blockade. Leaders on both sides should take the flak.

    3. In attempting to tell the story of the war in a manner that will benefit the generation that did not witness it, care must be taken to present the facts as accurately as possible and not embellish it with personal biases and ethnic colorations.

    Thank you.

    • ChiBoy

      1. The blockade was not a calculated power grab by Awolowo though the Yoruba benefited from it. Achebe did not suggest the blockade to be a Yoruba power grab but a result of the craze in Awolowo to reduce the numbers of Igbo. Many South West leaders expressed the same desire.

      2. The war was not inevitable. If Nigeria stuck to the Aburi accord, it would not have happened. Someone needs to explain to me why the Yoruba were not attacked since a Yoruba was among the coup plotters. I find it hard to understand why most Yoruba commenters gloss over this fact. The decision of Nigerian leaders to provoke the secession and then attack Biafra after all the killings in the other parts of Nigeria is condemnable. The Nigerian leadership needs to take the flak.

      3. I agree that all sides of the story should be told, not the lies and half-truths that have prevailed.

      Thank you.

  • Tayoabu1

    Alicia, wake up. He did not write lies about Awolowo. If you don’t like the truth, let it be and quit all these. I find those who make so much noise and defensive the ones who did not fight the war or witness what happened around those in power. If you all still say they were lies, so be it. Empathy…

  • Habib

    Dear Chimamanda, in your list of avid fans, I am up up there, and will remain there. I had stopped reading responses to The Book until I saw yours.
    And still, my position that all responses have supported the character of the respective ‘responder’s’ ethnicity is vindicated.
    I still wait to hear an Igbo ‘responder’ tell us the relationship between Igbos and other Nigerians before the January 1966 coup when Zik was safely vacationing in the Carribean with Papa Doc, and we’ll take it from there.

    • Ofili

      Again whether the early coup was igbo which I disagree with, it does not give people permission to kill 30,000+ civilians.

      And the irony is that since then coups (bloody and bloodless) have been perpetrated by Muritala, Dimka, Buhari, Babaginda and Abacha, ain’t seen no reprisal attacks =)

      • … but then does that give the permission for you to start a war that you could not finish and kill 3,000,000 civilians?

        • Ofili

          lol…funny. Ojukwu started the war and believed he could finish it. He started the war because nobody was saying anything about the 30,000 people that were being massacred, what was he to do…sit down and watch his people get killed. Please give me a break…and the 3,000,000 civilians killed, that was a direct result of the Nigerian army’s starvation plan.

          • TellEm

            … and indiscriminate bombings of hospitals and schools.

          • Dap Sijuwade

            Nothing can justify the killings of the innocent Nigerian Igbos and I believe Gowan and the Nigerian government should apologise to the Igbo nation for their inability to protect them. Saying that does not take away from the fact that the war was fought to not to prevent further attacks on ndIgbo, because they were already safe once they were back in the east. The war was about Ojukwu and his refusal to accept Gowan as the head of state and the fact that his power was reduced by the creation of 12 states which broke the eastern region into three, based on ethnicity. Rather unfurtunately that he was able to use the pain and suffering of his people to make them think the only solution was to break away from the federation, taking along with him other ethnic groups from the east that didn’t believe in the Igbo cause.. If Ojukwu had included matured minds like zik just as Gowan brought in Awo I am pretty sure they would have found a peaceful solution to the problem without having to go to war, but naïveté, arrogance and the exuberance of youth got the better of him. Neither did his privileged upbringing help. I guess he thought war was just the theory he learnt at military school, which he didn’t really grasp, because if he did he would have known and planned for the blockade, a common military tactic that as been employed since time immemorial.

    • TellEm

      Well let’s see, do we talk about the fact that Azikiwe, despite his affinity for Yoruba – giving his children Yoruba names – had cross-carpeting betrayals in the West? Or the fact that the North sought to get rid of his party at the centre despite his willingness to form alliances with them? Or the clashes with Hausa over the participation in coal mining? Or the threat to kill the Igbo in the Delta by Kalabari due to their participation in fishing? Or the boycott of Igbo traders by the Tiv? Or the Northernisation policy of the NPC? Do I go on? Take your pick.

      • Dap Sijuwade

        As much as u try to be objective, all your response as been Igbo centric. Y shold an Igbo want to rule in Yoruba land? isn’t that what everybody was scared of especially at that time. No ethnic group wants to be dominated by an outsiders, that is the way of the world, until this changes u can’t call the Yoruba defection from zik’s party betrayal.

  • Umar

    The only difference between Chimamanda and Achebe is that she tried to be smart by pretending to be objective. Another Igbo bold-face propaganda. The coup was not an Igbo coup? Tell that to the family of the victims.

    • Ofili

      I disagree that the coup was igbo. But let’s say for one second it was…does that give people a right to kill 30,000 civillian’s?

    • TellEm

      And what is objective about your comment? If it was an Igbo coup, how about the many Northerners who particpated in it but let off the hook. How about Brigadier Adewale Ademoyega. Using the word propaganda regularly to dismiss the truth does not confirm legitimacy on your lies.

  • SilentObserver

    If the author’s name was not appended, one could have easily deduced this piece was written by an Igbo related person, and therein lies the inability of any commentator not to be clouded by traces or doses of ethnic sympathies or bias. The civil war story cannot be told without the events leading to the war and the injustice that was done by one section to the other. No-one seems to want to remember that some leaders of northern extraction were also decimated? I doubt if any Nigerian can be totally unbiased on the accounts of the civil war, without extending sympathy to their own. Not sure what the benefit of exhuming the madness of the civil war would do our nation state going forwards? Better we spend all our energy and word on how to build a new and better Nigeria! It even gets more interesting when those who were not born at the time are claiming to know what happened with eyewitness authority! It’s time to retire this story, and wait for Yakubu Gowon’s account!

    • Ofili

      Emm…watch the Story of Nigeria by Jide Olanrewaju. He is Yoruba so there should be some neutrality in his voice

    • TellEm

      While we are at justifying genocide let’s also talk about whether that coup would have been necessary if the North had not rigged the election in their favour, if they had not brutally cracked down on the Tiv and tried Islamisation of the whole North and if they had not been trying to sell the country back to their colonist masters pulling their puppet strings.

      • At least, now we are talking about the north. So, not only the yorubas planned and executed the war?

        • TellEm

          This is not going to descend to a North or West hate fest competition. Nobody said the Yoruba planned or executed the war, we are talking about Awolowo for goodness sake and others like Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, etc. These people represent themselves only and not their ethnic nationalities. It would be stupid to tar the people of their region with the same brush. After all, some Northerners, Westerners, Niger Deltans protected Igbo people in their custody. However, more attacked Igbo people or those suspected to be Igbo. Each man must answer for his action and not the action of another.

    • TellEm

      If you only wish to speak on things that happened after you were born, then do not write in English since the language was formed before you were born. I understand that guilt makes this conversation uncomfortable for Nigerians but the war set the presidence for many of what is wrong with Nigeria.

      Why can’t we impeach the president without call of marginalization?
      Why are Nigerians so unconcerned about what is happening in some parts of the country that is not their region or place of residence?
      Why are discriminatory policies enshrined in our Constitution?
      Why are the people who united to fight Biafra and kill Ndigbo killing themselves now?
      Why did the North want to move the Petroleum institute to the North when Ojukwu wanted it in Port Harcourt?
      Why are the same people who killed the Igbo Biafrans calling for a scrap of NYSC after their relative get killed but dismiss killing of Igbo as victim mentality?

      Why does the North feel they do not have to give the Niger Delta or any parts of Nigeria concessions when they are in power?


    • Let them continue to tell the generations to come to remember to hate the yorubas. No problem about that – happiness is a matter of choice. I formed the habit of crying myself to sleep when I crossed from one secondary school to another, and was being treated as a year 1 student. It was my own way of getting at myself. Let them cry themselves to sleep.

      • TellEm

        Hate the Yoruba? Please. Nobody has advocated for the hatred of the Yoruba, at least not on this webpage. We however hate liars and killers who were and have been in government.

  • Emeka

    “We remember differently”. This is true. My Generation existed about a decade after the war, but we read books. We saw sad traces left behind by the war. Stories from our loved ones who suffered during this war still hunt us.. I respect Chimamandas objectivity. For me, this is exactly how she remembered. And again, this book is ‘Achebes Personal story of the war’ I think we should respect that he wrote deep down from his heart. But then again, like achebe would say, and I quote “if you don’t like someone’s story, WRITE YOUR OWN.”

  • Jenny Browne

    All that achebe wrote about Awolowo was true. He was the architect of starvation as war policy. He admitted it. I still do not understand why the self styled Awoists are so upset.

    • Ofili

      abi o…the guy said he did it, he admitted it. Yet people are getting upset about the very words the man said himself.

    • Absam

      It is not what Awo said that the Yoruba supporter are fighting about, but the twisting of the facts – his role in a federal cabinet to make it appear that it was a Yoruba agenda. That is the propaganda that tribalist Achebe postulated that MUST be corrected for posterity.

      • TellEm

        What makes you think the Igbo people think that Yoruba people are responsible for what Awolowo did? That is the kind of stupid thinking that led to the pogroms. Awolowo is responsible for his own actions. There are Yoruba leaders, not many, that spoke against the injustice, including Wole Soyinka who was imprisoned for standing for justice. Read his book, “The Man Died”.

      • Please leave browne alone. He who is pretending to be asleep can never be woken up.

  • Intellectual dishonesty

    Nice write up but chill on the victim mentality and complex. War is ugly, very ugly and everyone suffered.

    Please madam don’t be intellectually dishonest, it diminishes you as a person. Stop playing on words of which we all acknowledge you have a mastery off.

    I repeat again war is ugly and barbaric. If you want to acknowledge that fine and good but stop with the intellectual dishonesty, igbos are not the only victims, EVERYONE in Nigeria was and is a victim. That is the mindset we need to achieve this healing that you speak of.

    But as long this intellectual dishonesty exists there’s no healing love!

    • Ofili

      “EVERYONE in Nigeria was and is a victim”

      I need to smoke the weed your smoking…cause it is clogging your mind. The Igbo’s 30,000 of them were killed in a Pogrom, they lost their wealth in the $20 exchange no matter what they had. Please tell me how it affected the Hausa’s and the Yoruba’s if not made them richer. Please study your history.

    • TellEm

      Notice how the phrase “victim mentality” pops up easily when we discus the civil war but not when we discuss June 12 where fewer people died or the Ogoni masacre or any other injustice. Why? It is so insulting to the lives lost in the most barbaric way.
      The real intellectual dishonesty is saying we are all victims but dismissing conversation on the civil war as “victim mentality” – but not talk of June 12. Since everyone was a victim, why not demand reparations from the federal government to be given to the Easterners?

    • TellEm

      Oh! Let’s not forget the Yoruba Obas who went to thank the Emirs for sparing Yoruba while the pogrom was on-going.

      • omoyooba

        when was that? forming up stories. You will be a great fiction writer.

    • Martin

      My dear don’t u think that no lasting healing can be achieved without honesty. That is why telling the truth about what happened as it happened is the very key to this healing.

    • My grandmum had 7 children but she lost five during the war, anytime we sat in moonlit time tales she often painted a picture of a sad period in the lives of the Igbos,Ibibios and other ethnic groups within that enclave who saw and felt the full impact of the pogrom visited on the people. God shall judge all men.

  • Kanmi Iyanda

    I will always respect CA’s ability to tell as story and there is no doubt that if indeed we all have people who step into one’s shoes, then CNA will definitely be a worth successor in that distinguished line and as such, she must have her own interpretation of the controversial history of the Igbos in Nigeria.

    Saying all that though, it is worthy of mention that Igbos, just like the Jews, should not hold the whole Yoruba race responsible for the actions, utterances and convictions of one individual. yes, Awolowo was the de facto leader of the Yorubas, but even the Jews with their irreversible losses during the Holocaust cannot stick all of all of Hilter’s crimes on the German race. And I am sure no matter how much hatred is felt towards Awolowo, no one in their right senses would even begin to draw parallels between these two leaders.

    War is evil and no matter what anyone tries to make us believe; every side loses, albeit in varying degrees. Only an intellectual cripple would look back and refuse to acknowledge the calamitous effect the civil war had on the Igbos….nothing will bring back the lives lost or the economic and psychological trauma inflicted, but we all need to breathe and rather than indulge in what things we cannot change, begin to take the path to positive nation-building.

    I agree with NCA that we all remember differently. There is no way any ethnic group in Nigeria will reflect on the civil war the same way the Igbos will. They lost more and nothing can rewrite that fact. But, it is only reasonable that we make sure we do not dilute the facts. Igbos and Yorubas always had a rapport pre-1966 and although things have now changed, let’s ensure we stick to the facts. For instance, just picking on a tiny historical point, the prinicipal participants in the 1966 coup in which the slain leaders’ ethnic groups showed an unfair slant, were; 1966 Coup Planners:

    Major, Chukwuma Nzeogwu – Igbo

    Major, Emmanuel Ifeajuna – Igbo

    Major, Chukwuka – Igbo

    Captain, Adeleke – Yoruba

    Lieutenant, Fola Oyewole – Yoruba

    Brigediar, Victor Banjo – Yoruba

    Major, Wale Ademoyega – Yoruba

    Lieutenant, Fola Olafimiha – Yoruba

    Lieutenant, A.N. C Azubougor – Igbo

    Lieutenant, A.A.O Egbikor – Igbo

    Colonel, Nwawo – Igbo

    Colonel, Cyril Iweze – Igbo

    Colonel, Nwajei – Igbo

    Colonel, Mike Okwechime – Igbo

    Major, Albert Okonkwo – Igbo

    Captain, Henry Igboba – Igbo

    Col.Trimnell- Anioma Igbo

    Col. Nzefili – Anioma Igbo

    Lt. Col Animam Keshi – Delta Igbo

    Col. Ejoor – Edo/Yoruba

    Major Alale – Ijaw

    I know it is only a small detail, but let us start from there….

    • Let her or anyone for that mater hold the Yoruba responsible. Awolowo represented the Yoruba race. I am Yoruba. For your information, all responsible Yorubas have defended Awolowo. So we do not need your apology on behalf of the Yoruba race. Awolowo did excellently well. Only an ‘Omo ale’ Yoruba would support Ojukwu to annihilate the Yoruba people. If they want another war, they can start it. Let them continue to blame Yoruba. We know that the only part of Nigeria where they can sleep peacefully is Yorubaland.

      • TellEm

        You dribble is full of lies. When or where did Ojukwu express the need to exterminate the Yoruba. Nigeria has been founded and ruled ever since by lies like yours. Criticism of Awolowo is not criticism of Yoruba. If anything more Yoruba leaders expressed desire to reduce the number of Igbo. Read this site:

        • Truthman

          Just wonder why you would refer us to a… website. Apparently, you are asleep, and nothing can wake u up, not even a rocket being fired near your ear. It is easy to wake up one who is truly asleep. When the Ibos attacked ore, and ‘just wanted to cross to Lagos …,’ they would just have passed peacefully after the igbo (indian hemp) the soldiers had smoked? They would not have killed anyone? Or would the land not have become a battleground between biafra and the federal forces? Wake up! It is difficult to surrender (or objectively modify) stories told to you by your own people (embellished at times, if not all the time) from cradle.

  • Lanre

    Chimamanda, I am not here to reply to your post discussing Achebe. I scanned through and noticed your reference to my leader, Chief Awolowo. Let me start off by advising you to stick to literature. Do not get involved in bitter ethnic politics that some of us are going to fight to our graves. Some of us knew Chief Awolowo and I congratulate Chinua Achebe for reigniting this war. Hopefully, we will fight it this time to a definite conclusion.

    As the daughter of an academic, I am sure you were brought up to be open-minded and liberal in your thoughts. My first task to you is to organize lectures for your fellow Igbos in the Diaspora who are the harbingers of hate on most online fora. In many diaspora organizations, Igbos are known to spearhead rancour, enmity and deliberate division. This to me is a psychological hangover from the effects of the Biafran War. Talk to your people Chimamanda.

    To your quip about Chief Awolowo, I am doing my own writing too. A bit of a dilettante, but I am working on it. Give me a statement where Chief Awolowo said he starved Igbos so that he could advance the interest of Yorubas. Or better still. Tell me where Chief Awolowo said that Igbos will be starved so that Nigeria could win a war. Again, I clap for Chinua Achebe for starting a conflict he will not witness.

    My dear one, you were born about seven or eight years after the war. So you are my junior. If I met you in Lagos, you would have been one of these aburos I am toasting. I will advise you again. Stick to Literature and Creative Writing and do not dabble into politics and ethnic prognostications – of which you know very little. In the last 10 years, I have observed an online resurgence of Igbo militancy, irredentism and triumphalism. As a result, I will not be reading any of your books. Matter of fact, I have no Igbos on my reading list. That will not stop me from researching the Igbos. I am currently doing some personal work on the Osu Caste System in Igboland.

    Let us just say that we were never meant to be in one country. Achebe as an Igbo elder (as much as I dislike him for his views about Chief Awolowo and Yorubas) cannot be wrong.

    • Ofili

      “Give me a statement where Chief Awolowo said he starved Igbos so that he could advance the interest of Yorubas. Or better still. Tell me where Chief Awolowo said that Igbos will be starved so that Nigeria could win a war.”

      emmm…Awolowo is quoted as saying that =/

      Don’t get why people don’t read their history…sigh…

      • thanks so much for putting up a spirited fight against these people who like to turn a blind eye to rreality.

        • The ibos have not learnt any lesson at all. And that is very sad. They hold meetings on how to seize power in lands that do not belong to them. I don’t think any of us will claim he/she is not aware of this. Look inward and correct the flaw in your make-up. The love of money is the root of all evil. An ibo man is dead only if you rustle money in his ear and he does not get up … a word is enough for the wise; even the unwise.

          • TellEm

            This is the kind of ignorance that caused the war and the pogroms. Please where is the venue of this meeting? Seize power where? Why have they not done so in those lands? Why have they not gotten their ‘abandoned’ property back? Why are the meetings my relatives attend centered only on village matters, raising money for one widow or another, one project or another, settling family fights, etc? Why are they discussing such trivial matters when they could be planning how to seize power from the land that they reside in?
            You leave in a different world than I do.

    • Nkemjika Ojiji

      If you have nothing decent to add, it would do everyone a world of good if you kept mum. My name is Nkemjika and I am an Igbo girl. That does not mean that I cannot say boldly as Chimamanda has said that the entire war hurt all of us differently and we all have different experience/memories.

      Instead of addressing the facts before you, you are talking about “toasting” and you not being her age mate. In 2012 you are still one of those who measure intelligence by age. Big shame! The war affected her people and she is a Nigerian and she has EVERY right to write about it. I would advise you to quit advising anyone to desist from airing their views. If it’s their opinion, they have a right to air it. If you don’t like it, don’t read!

    • indeed, while you pretend to be nationalistic in your outlook, you have inadvertently given yourself away as an irredentist. the fact that you do not have an Igbo author on your reading list marks you out as an avowed tribalist. i pity you.

    • TellEm

      You want to understand hate, read about the expression by Yoruba leaders to reduce the number of Igbo here

    • Daniella

      I feel so much pity for you. I will advise you to stick to your tribalistic reading list, while the rest of the world move on to more noble things than tribalism. Like someone else said enjoy your hitch free ride to hell as you fight to your grave.

  • Bill Hansen

    As a “non-Nigerian” (who lives in Nigeria) I will not engage the ethnic wars and recriminations that are ALWAYS all too present in far too many Nigerian discussions of the past, the present and the future. I have had the privilege of meeting Chimamanda Adichie on two occasions; once as a guest at my university and the second time, completely by accident, in the airport in Abuja. She is an extraordinary talent and writer whose work is infused with passion, intelligence and power; a national treasure, to say the least. Her work is unquestionably “Igbocentric” insofar as she writes about experiences and “memories” as an Igbo/Nigerian person, but that’s her entire point in the above article: “We remember differently.” In other words, no memory is intrinsically superior to any other memory. I would suggest for those of you whose tendency is a knee-jerk reaction (read many of the comments below) that you might want to take the time actually to read her work. I’ve read all three of her books and they are, to say the least, powerful. They are powerful, not because they are Igbo, but because they speak to the human – HUMAN – condition and experience.

    Bill Hansen

    • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

      Hear! Hear! Enough said.

  • johnny


  • Jenny Browne

    I do not think that everyone in Nigeria was a victim alike as claimed. while the Biafran children starved and died in their millions from policies orchestrated by Awolowo and his Northern cohorts, by air raids and standing in daily lines for refugee rations, other Nigerian kids were going to school, taking vacations and living their lives without a care in the world. Yes war is ugly, but the suffering was not universal, you know why? Because those others in Biafra were considered dispensable due to nothing short of blind envy, covetousness and ethnic hatred. Nigeria needs to start facing up to its demons; it is difficult but doable. There has been no healing, just a pretense at it. That’s what I take away from the Achebe controversy.

  • Folo

    I wonder what Chimamanda stands to gain by dabbling into controversies? A young writer going into the murky water of politics is bound to get ‘roforofo’ed.

    • Ofili

      Facts are not controversies. Study your history.

      • Folo

        Which fact? You turned logic upside down and you call it fact. I hope you will be man enough to stay back and fight when the time comes. Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

        • Ofili

          lol…wetin they vex you. We are discussing on internet and you are talking about fight. I guess when one runs out of words he resorts to fighting =D

        • TellEm

          What makes you think it would be Ndigbo that would be attacked next time? Remember Awolowo planned a coup which did not succeed. That, my friend, is fact. You need to know the deep distrust that the Northerners have for the Yoruba that was why the coalition that fought Biafra broke down quickly after and the same Northerners did not support Awolowo. When Northerners kill NYSC students, the Yoruba are the first to scream North for Northerners, South West for Yoruba and South East for Igbo.

          • AliciaStone8070

            Awo is the a leader you wish you had. That i s why you hate Yorubas so with much passion! Jealousy makes the heart bleed.

          • TellEm

            Read my comments, I have said nothing to suggest hatred of Yoruba people. I however hate their leaders that committed genocide against the Igbo.
            Me, wish I had Awolowo as leader, ha funny. He did well by providing free education, nothing wrong with that. After all a few Igbo residents in the West at that time say they benefited from it. He seemed to be socialist leaning. That I do not want in a leader of Biafra. While good for a poor continent, creates an entitlement culture in the long run. It is the reason Nigeria are still talking about free education when there is no money for it. Socialism rewards laziness in the long run. Besides the people of the East did not need free education. The East had the highest number of professionals in Africa at that time. It was the high number of highly educated Igbo professionals all over Nigeria that caused the North to enact the Northenisation policy.
            We, the Igbo, are capitalists and do not want anyone bribing us with free stuff they cannot sustain. Where is free education now, where is Nigerian Education now, where are all those regional companies the North and the West brought into existence? I’ll tell you where – NOWHERE.

          • AliciaStone8070

            Well, if you can not see, too bad.
            South West is the only place going for Nigeria, where sanity reins.
            Okoroacha is offering free education or what do you call that? Capitalist with what?
            Petty trading , 419, drug trafficking or kidnapping , tell me which one!

          • TellEm

            What makes you think every Igbo man is from Imo, I am not. Not all Igbo are fiercely capitalist, Anambra is fiercely capitalist even the neighbours marvel at the business acumen of Anambrarians. Other Igbo states that choose communist ideals are free to but must source the money themselves. Capitalism is a core Igbo ideology long before we were colonised and the taxes raised in the East was used to build infrastructure in Lagos, the seat of colonialism.

            I don’t think you have been reading the news recently. A lot of the people getting caught for drug trafficking are Yoruba people – actors, actresses, old women, etc. Are there Igbo people also doing it? Sure, I would not deny that, but there are other Nigerians as well even more than the Igbo, especially Yoruba. It has gotten to a point where Nigerians are beginning to question that old “Igbo fraudster” stereotype. (Read )

            If by South West you mean Lagos, then you have a point. And the Igbo are a big part of that progress. The person that ensures contracts are well executed in Lagos before payment is made is the Commissioner of Finance in Lagos, an Igbo man. But the South East is moving ahead. The products that are not imported into Nigeria are manufactured in the South East – vehicle and machine spare parts in Nnewi, clothes in Aba, cars by Innoson, Smoked fish also in Nnewi – most of it in capitalist Anambra. We now have a fully operational river port in Onitsha that the govt has tried to prevent, the power project that Obasanjo refused to locate in the South East is now on ground and wholely private (Read ), we have created a wholy indigenous company to extract and refine crude oil in Anambra, etc. You have not moved beyond the South West so you do not know what is going on. Nigeria would one day wake up and see that the East they have tried to keep down by locating steel mill (that the original Russian contractors said should be located in Onitsha) in Ajaokuta instead; by not building the Onitsha port; by not giving the area even one international Airport, not repairing the federal roads, by excising oil-bearing Igbo land to Rivers, Cross-Rivers, and other states; refusing to locate a federally funded power plant, etc has used private initiative to surge past the rest of Nigeria and provide the most jobs in Nigeria. Then you Nigerians will truly realise that even genocide cannot keep God’s chosen people down. But you can choose then to continue to hate the Biafrans or learn from them.
            God bless Biafra

          • AliciaStone8070

            Awo is no more, go on and get out of Nigeria. Is anyone holding you back? After all your half brother Jonathan is there, I am sure he will not stop you. Start by fighting boko haram and then Nigeria. Again Awolowo is no more to stop you. Please go on!

          • TellEm

            Jonathan is Ijaw. Some Ijaws hate the Igbo as much as many other Nigerians do. Please petition your government to stop arresting and harassing members of MASSOB. Let them organise the secession peacefully. We want it democratically done. Your support, and not mere passive jibber-jabber, would be greatly appreciated by Biafrans. This would prove to all the cynics that not all Yoruba are like Awolowo. This would prove that we can trust them and even make treaties with them as an independent state.

          • AliciaStone8070

            Jonathan’s mother is ibo, which makes him half ibo.
            Yoruba will not support anyone, just go out there and bear your fathers name.
            As long as Awolowo is a hated Yoruba among the ibos, then all Yorubas are your enemy! Up Awo!

          • TellEm

            What makes him whatever ethnic group he is depends on what he sees himself as not what his mother or father is. Hitler is hated among the Israelis but Israel and Germany have or at least claim to have a “special relationship”. If you choose to worship the devil (aka Awolowo), fine. That doesn’t mean I hate you.

            “Yoruba will not support anyone, just go out there and bear your fathers name.”
            Fine, but do not complain if the same standoffish behaviour is reciprocated by other Nigerians. Do not start complaining if politicians from other regions would prefer to work even with the North than the South West.

          • AliciaStone8070

            Tell me the last time your people worked with Yoruba? To hell with ibos, we do not need their friendship nor working relationship!

          • TellEm

            I gave the example of the Commissioner for Financial planning. Azikiwe himself worked with the Yoruba. He gave his children Yoruba names, was handed the leadership of the NCNC by Herbert MacCauley, who many considered a Yoruba man. There are many instances too numerous where Igbo worked with Yoruba leaders and are still working with them. Many of them get stabbed in the back, but hey thats the price. My point is that I do not want to hear any Yoruba person complaining of the Igbo choosing to work more with others if they do not reciprocate the goodwill. I will not descend to the “to hell with …” comment. This here is recorded history and statements like yours shows the ignorance that is common and the prevalent hatred of the Igbo. It would be quoted in future when more ignorant people deny the hatred of the Igbo in the future so feel free to continue using such abuses against the Igbo and keep doing it in public space. We are not afraid of hate as long as haters commit to hating while watching our money pile up!

          • Obomni,

            Jonathan’s mother is not Igbo. I am very sure of what i am writing.

        • TellEm

          What makes you think it would be Ndigbo that would be attacked next time? Remember Awolowo planned a coup which did not succeed. That, my friend, is fact. You need to know the deep distrust that the Northerners have for the Yoruba that was why the coalition that fought Biafra broke down quickly after and the same Northerners did not support Awolowo. When Northerners kill NYSC students, the Yoruba are the first to scream North for Northerners, South West for Yoruba and South East for Igbo.

  • Folo

    I wonder what Chimamanda stands to gain by dabbling into controversies? A young writer going into the murky water of politics is bound to get ‘roforofo’ed.

  • south east for life

    Awolowo admitted doing what he was accused of during his life time but some tribalistic Yoruba people thought they could re-write history by playing the devil’s advocate. Duro Onabule had also written an article admitting Awo’s culpability but then some Yorubas are still mad with themselves for Achebe daring to say the truth. I love Wole Soyinka for saying the truth too and Teslim Elias for him and Soyinka coming to the Biafran aid during the genocide.
    God bless them all! And as for all those demented and tribalistic commentators here who feel that if they don’t igbos on their reading list, the sun will stop rising from the East am so sorry for ur delusion for we are celebrated internationally for success; so you may do well to enjoy ur hitch free ride to hell.
    Most Yorubas are myopically tribalistic and jealously insecure; thanks to Sanusi Lamido that said it all, or is he Igbo now? Of course not! I love you Adichie and Achebe my heros, happy birthday, my mentor and father. May God continue to keep you for us.

    • Wole Soyinka is the typical guy that would want to bend over to the other side. Just the way we would say that the police had no business going to Chuba Okadigbo’s house to retrieve the mace – just because we don’t want to be seen as being tribalistic. We all know Soyinka!

      • TellEm

        Maybe, just maybe Soyinka is not bothered about what ‘side’ he is on but more concerned about justice. The fact that one is Yoruba should not prevent him from recognizing justice and speaking up against evil. It is in all our interests to do so.

        First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist;
        Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist;
        Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist;
        Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew;
        Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.
        -pastor Martin Niemöller (A German criticizing German intellectuals for keeping silent against injustice)

  • Fred Itua

    I’m neither an Igbo nor a Yoruba man. Therefore, I’m at liberty to give a fair judgment on these unnecessary bickeries among the two tribes-Igbos and Yorubas.

    I’m very certain that majority of the resppndents here haven’t read Chinua Achebe’s book, There Was A country. More so, Professor Achebe was a victims of the bloody civil war and he’s got the right to document what he witnessed. If anyone has got any issues with his position, you can give your own testament.

    I recall with sadness the numerous stories my father told me about how the Igbos were treated during the war and I heard similar tails in Enugu during my one year NYSC programme. Until folks like Gowon make public apologies to the Igbo race and admit that he was wrong to have issued the order to cleanse the Igbo race, Nigeria will continue to hit a cul de sac.

    Chimamanda has done a perfect brief on Achebe’s work. Whoever still faults her objective position has got serious issues to deal with

    • omoyooba

      I will urge you to go and read books written on the incidents both by the Federal side and the Biafran side before making a statement. Also, the original Geneva conventions with is the codex of the modern laws of war. You can search online for Geneva Convention iv. When you see it, read through and meditate on Article 23.

      War is ugly and should be avoided. If you go into it, you are on your own.

  • T.Y

    I want to say that History is what we make of it. Awo’s position was just as dutiful as barbaric as it was, Shoyika admtted this but the flaw I still see is the inability of a growing majority of people commenting on this issue to admit that both Biafra and Nigeria were at War! Being a victim could be indirect, I recall how hard it was for me to comprehend this history because of the pain and horror I read. Sometimes words would even become blood on the pages of my book. It may also interest you to know that I lost cousins in the war almost lost a dear one. In the principles of just war however Wole Shoyinka was right. But I’ll like reemphasise the fact that the Yorubas didn’t start the and Awos position was a matter of duty and if must be fair put ourselves in that position and let’s react. The shadows from the war haunts not just the ibos but Nigeris as a whole Achebe has said how it haunts him, I just daid mine you also should say yours and let the Healing begin.

    • TellEm

      Nigerians need also to admit the fact that the war was avoidable if Nigeria stuck to the Aburi accord. It appears that being an indirect victim of the war does not allow Nigerians to see the evil the Nigerian state did before, during and after the war.

      No one is saying that Awolowo started the war, we are saying he did nothing to prevent it and fought it using evil, illegal and underhanded tactics. We are saying that the Yoruba and other Nigerians should condemn that. They should also condemn their leaders who wanted the Igbo to be “significantly reduced in number” (Read

      If the war truly haunts other Nigerians, then they should seek to make amends. They should return ‘abandoned’ properties and pay reparations for the genocide. They should let the Igbo know that they are not alone in seeking justice.

  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

    God bless you, Adannia. I think you are expecting too much if you want empathy from these barbaric lot. But our children’s children will remember: Ajo ife melu anyi. We will remember Awolowo the way JEWs remember Hitler. Happy Birthday, Chinua Achebe. You have outlived so many who want us all dead. Many Happy Returns!

  • Absam

    It is not what Awo said that the Yoruba supporter are fighting about, but the twisting of the
    facts – his role in a federal cabinet which Achebe made to appear as a Yoruba
    agenda. That is the propaganda that tribalist Achebe postulated in his book that MUST be
    corrected for posterity.

    If you heard one side of a story and believe it, what does
    that make you? A tribalist! Every Ibo that believes the Achebe’s story does not
    know the difference between facts and fiction. Achebe is a world renown story
    teller. The book should have simply be titled : THERE WAS A WAR because, there was never a country. Only a fictional one.

    • TellEm

      The twisting of facts have come from the Nigerian side. Why do people still talk about Awolowo’s actions as the action of the Yoruba. No doubt he formed the AG instead of joining NCNC to further Yoruba interests and a lot of his actions were driven by this. But most of his actions were also driven by a quest for power for himself.

      There WAS a country. The denial of the existence of Biafra is another lie that the Nigerian state has sought to perpetuate by various means – like renaming the bight of Biafra the Bight of Bonny. This lie would not succeed in preventing Biafra from reemerging.

    • AliciaStone8070

      Thank you Sir!

    • martin

      Hahahhaahahahahha where are the core intellectuals in Nigeria. If there wasn’t a country then there was no war either. May be the war is also a fictional one too

    • TellEm

      It is only mostly Yoruba commenters that see it the way you do. Nothing Achebe said suggests he thinks it was a ‘Yoruba agenda’. He said it was Awolowo’s thirst for power.

      And this nonsense statement ‘there was never a country’ is in line with what Nigerians have been trying to do after the genocidal war – deny history, twist facts, reinterpret facts, cover all traces of atrocity, rename the Bight of Biafra to Bight of Bonny, and so on. This is not different from the clowns who say the Holocaust did not take place. The history is recorded and documented to a great extent and the history of Nigeria’s atrocities and the evils Awolowo, Gowon and other Nigerian ‘heroes’ did would not be swept under the carpet.

  • Genius

    It is disheartening the way the reactions on Achebe’s recent book have gone. Clearly, Nigerians, especially Igbo and Yoruba are divided on his account of the Biafra War. I am reading the book and so far, I have discovered a lot of biased and insincere narration of the war experience by Achebe whenever he wants to paint the Yorubas black. From all accounts, Achebe laboured so hard to cite incidents where the Yorubas did some wrong to the Igbos but could not establish a clear account of direct hostility. The nearest he could find was the perceived role played by Awolowo, as a cabinet member, during the civil war. A vivid example was his narration on how he fled Lagos. He was silent on the ethnic origins of the soldiers who mounted road blocks from Lagos to Benin who allowed him free passage despite his prominent Igbo status. If he saw Igbo/midwesterner soldiers in Benin, could it not be inferred that those soldiers who gave him safe passage were Yoruba. Was is not his Colleague, Banjo that advised him to go hide in the East in order to preserve his life. If the Yorubas hated the Igbos as such would they have secure their properties for them?

    From all indications, Awolowo was a great leader. He led his people well, he educated them, to which Igbos children also benefitted because there was no discrimination, he developed the physical infrastructure of his region and by his economic policy, he ensued that his people were enriched. In what other way do you want to rate a good leader? I don’t know how any other group can deny these facts.

    While there were accounts of direct hostilities, massacre and ethnic cleansing by the North against the Igbos, by Achebe’s account, it is curious that he never directed his anger against them. In giving his account, he regards Northern atrocities as national and when he gives account of minor incident by the West, he magnifies it to justify his morbid hatred for the Yorubas.

    It amazes me to observe that the North are still using the East as stooges in recent political history, to achieve their aims, despite the atrocities committed against them. I wonder why Achebe would fail to give account of the role played by Theophilus Danjuma, Babangida, IBM Haruna (who are all alive) and concentrated his hatred on Awolowo, who is dead, and by extension Yoruba race. Achebe has sowed a sees of ethnic disagreement in already tense society.

    It is crystal clear that Achebe is racist and does not believe in Nigeria. He rather sees himself as an Igbo man rather than as a Nigerian.

    I really do sympathise with the Igbos and angry about the inability of the Federal Government to stop the on going atrocities against the Igbos in the present day Nigeria but I am always surprised that the best supporters of the Hausa/Fulani, during elections in Nigeria, are the Igbos. I hope the Igbos learn their lesson and begin to look up to the Yorubas as their true friends, towards changing their fortunes in Nigeria and towards a better nation.

    God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

    • Daniella

      Suggesting Igbos look up to the yorubas for a change of fortune is very egocentric and trying to play God, Igbos will not look up to yorubas for anything because they are not better than Igbos. Look around you, despite all the hate and discrimination on the Igbo race, they are thriving, doing very well. The Igbos are unstoppable, survivors, the sooner we all come to terms with this fact the better it will be for us all, cause we will realise all the hatred and scorn can’t stop them, its only a waste of emotions. If the war couldn’t stop them, no amount of hatred or badmouthing can.

      • Clearly, the man you have replied did not really mean ‘look up to,’ and I am aware u know that too. No race is superior to the other, and the moment one race begins to see itself as being superior, it lays itself open for the sucker punch. Statistically speaking and with the laws of entropy, it is not possible for anyone to claim a certain region of the world has more intelligent people.

      • AliciaStone8070

        So you call all these criminality success? You all need to wake up people!

        • TellEm

          Speaking of which, Obasanjo and other typical Nigerians that have looked to government to make a living still have cases to answer, especially the Haliburton case.

    • AliciaStone8070

      Igbos can never learn. Too blind a race.

      • TellEm

        That’s it, keep spewing hatred and justifying genocide. The world would know the truth – by the world I mean the section that know that Awolowo is not a god.

    • TellEm

      Igbo politicians had no problem working with politicians from other parties, that’s why NCNC was the most representative party at the time while others where forming ethnic centric parties. We all know Zik and his party won in Lagos. Some Yoruba members of NCNC were convinced to cross carpet, and that was what complicated the relationship of Southern political parties. If the Yoruba politicians who chose to, did not allow ethnic sentiments to rule their actions, cooperation between the East and West would have been better. Heck, the AG was formed as a Yoruba-centric party while the NCNC was in existence long before people of the East wanted to be identified as Igbo and was controlled by Herbert Maccauley who was essentially raised in Western Nigeria.

      • Fame

        Achebe blames Awolowo so he could fool the Hausas and pave way for Igbos to rule in 2015. He knows that the Igbos will have to forget how the North killed them if that tribe (Igbo) will ever rule again. I’m not tribalistic but Achebe’s ploy is appaling. He’s just messing around our sanity.

  • Blossom

    I must confess that the kind of bitterness and malice that brew from the heart of many Nigerians against their fellows from other ethnic groups as the comments on this post indicate suggest the that Nigeria is truly sick to death.

    There are issues that we seem to gloss over. One, war is ugly and brutal. Two, war words and word wars tread the same paths and could ignite one another. Three, aftermath stories of war are always traumatic memories and memories are personal and subjective.

    For those at war with Awolowo for the role he played or did not play, they forget that every party in a war devices mean of crushing the other. They also seem to forget that the war was not between brothers, for immediately brother go into war they became enemies! They equally forget that no one goes to war to lose. Be it Awolowo or Ojukwu, neither wanted to fight a war to lose. In essence, every strategy in war is right. It is only being sentimental to start trading blame of starvation or mass killing. It was a war and we must never forget to face that fact.

    However, we need to tread the path of caution because of the hatred and enmity that the words about the war are breeding. There is always a thin line between war words and word wars. And, as I pointed out earlier the one can breed the other. If we are talking of healing for our sick nation, then we must give room for personal stories without taking it as ethnic policy nor philosophical statements. As Adichie said, we remember differently. And since we remember differently, we must be ready to adjust to each person’s side of the story.

    • Daniella

      Madam every strategy in war is NOT right. That is why war crimes are punished as crimes against humanity. Really people should talk with more knowledge on any subject they wish to assault our senses with.

    • TellEm

      For those willing to defend the atrocities of the war, they forget that the war would have been averted had the Nigerian side stuck to the Aburi accord. How does mass killing help anyone win a war. It only hardened the resolve of the Biafrans to defend themselves from genocide. Not every strategy in war is right. Even madness has a method. Genocide is not right. Starvation of children is not right.
      I agree that Nigerians and Biafrans are not brothers and would never be. This is the more reason that we Biafrans should be free from Nigeria.

      • AliciaStone8070

        There was no mass killing , just mass starvation caused by Ojukwu selfishness!
        Think bro!

        • TellEm

          There WAS mass killing. It’s not about thinking, it’s about KNOWING. You can’t think much if you don’t know much (evidently). Read about the Asaba massacre and other documented cases of genocide carried out by the Nigerian army, especially the division commanded by Murtala Mohammed. Read generally from INFORMED sources about the war so your discussion about it can improve.

          • AliciaStone8070

            Was it Awo that ordered your so called mass killings? Why attack Awo?

          • TellEm

            Awolowo justified the blockade. The blockade killed about three million people. Awolowo did not try hard enough on the Nigerian side to avert war. He agreed with the terms of the Aburi accord but sided with the jihadists after getting an appointment. He encouraged ethnic based politics in Nigeria. He gave every Igbo with money in their banks 20 pounds pending “investigation” into their books, the investigations conveniently never took place, etc.

            Besides he is not the only one that was fingered in the book. Why is no one shouting that Gowon was criticised or Anthony Enahoro (that said he plans to limit Igbo movement after the war to the east, discriminate agaist them, excise oil bearing lands out of Igbo region, etc), or other people that were pointed out in the book? Awolowo is not a god, he is not above criticism. He did well for the Western region – ignoring the turmoil his kind of leadership brought the Western region – but so did Hitler for Germany. All characters of history should not be spared from scrutiny if we are to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

        • TellEm

          It’s not about thinking as much as it is about KNOWING. You can’t think much if you don’t know much (evidently). Read about the ethnic cleansing the Nigerian forces visited on areas it captured like Asaba and the other documented human right abuses by the army division commanded by Muritala Mohammed.
          [I can’t believe this site did not post my earlier comment, news management anyone?]

  • What is worrisome about the posts is that many contributors have not even read the book. One even stated that he is commenting because Chimamanda mentioned his hero in an unsavory circumstance-a plebeian reaction after the speech of Brutus: “Let no one speak ill of Brutus here.” And that is very sad.True, the efforts at deification of Awolowo has reached advanced level- in fact, it has reached the beatification level-that there proponents allow no devil’s advocate. Hence it is not just an impulse but a sacred duty of every Yoruba man not to derail that deification process. To achieve this, any and every method is right-including the falsification-or, at least, burial- of the truth. For them, any one trying to excavate the truth automatically becomes an enemy. To them, history is no longer the truth but the propaganda of the victor.It never occurs to them that they may be doing the greatest disservice to their hero. This is the stuff on which mob -or suicide actions-are made.Remember Salmon Rushdie.I remember when his books were being burnt, Rushdie looked out and lamented: “How fragile is civilization, how easily a book burns”

  • Yusuf Mohammed

    Please let forgive one another and build a strong and lasting relationship. As for me I love every tribe in NIGERIA and the whole world. I can hate you for some other reason, but not because you are not Hausa or Yoruba. I LOVE IGBO PEOPLE.

  • Eric tha Red

    Succinctly put! Ada-Igbo. Closure cannot occur, where myopic people, choose to remain in denial.

    • … and others would continue to sow the seeds of discord by listening and wanting to listen to only one side of the story, told by an embittered (pride-dented) old man.

      • TruthHurts

        Yeah, he should be cheerful about the atrocities of the civil war and proud of what Nigeria has become.

  • Just wonder what the fate of a yoruba man in the east was! Yeah, some Ibos must have been killed in Yorubaland (highly regrettable), but the man who eventually became my neighbour in 1970/1971 was an Ibo man (and his family) who never left Oba Akoko, Ondo State, and never suffered any indignities, much less any bodily harm. Ojukwu was a bad war leader. He never knew when it was time to fight, bu did not know the time to run to fight another day (you have to be good in both – that’s what a good tactician has to be). With the blockade in place, he should have seen the writing on the wall. Only a bad leader full of personal pride would not have called the war off! It should have been clear that you either surrender immediately with fewer casualties or prolong the war at the detriment of the bellies of your people. What I really blame Awolowo (not my favourite man, anyway) for is that each ibo man got only 20 pounds after the war. Moreover, the Ibos were prevented from acquiring the … because they were broke. Funny enough, he was back in Iboland campaining for election 8 short years later. Little wonder he was stoned.

    • TellEm

      Yoruba soldiers unwilling to stay along with others were allowed to return to Nigeria with a rifle for their protection. This was despite the fact that some Northern Yoruba partook in the killings of Igbo soldiers. Some Yoruba fought on the Biafran side. But many fought on the Nigerian side.
      It is easy to suggest he should have surrendered now, but to who? A Nigerian army that was looting and killing people in the areas they occupied? A Nigerian army that rounded up males in Asaba and shot them in the presence of their wives and children? Do not disregard the fact that the reason the genocide did not continue was because of international pressure. If Biafra had not brought the atrocities to international attention, BBC would have successfully managed the news and the genocide would have continued.

  • Funny why we have to bring in ‘Igbo superiority.’ I met an Ibo man last month, and he told me that while he was in UI, the ibos were in the majority, and that I should go and check. He probably did not know I had a way of checking – not true at all!!!! I have the convocation lists for the years preceding the war, and it is not true that the ibos were in the majority. Indeed, less than 25% were Ibos! What would have made Ibos to be in the majority when the west had better policies on education. The fact is, the typical Ibo man is proud for no tangible reason, and would easily concoct stories of his greatness and that of his ancestor.

    • TellEm

      Up to what point? Before or after the Eni Njoku/Biobaku isssue?
      It does not matter if they were in the majority of the graduating students, the concern for the West was the number of Igbo lecturers.
      Please actually read your history. There is no doubt that the west was concerned of increasing Igbo influence in academics, the civil service and other professions.

  • igbiki

    Was Lagos then not the capital of Nigeria and a legitimate target?

  • AliciaStone8070

    If Ojukwu had no plan to exterminate the Yorubas, why did he advance to Ore? You igbos are too blind a race. You doublespeak. Until you cure yourselves of blindness, misery is what you get.
    You all claim Ojukwu wanted to take Biafra out of Nigeria, yet he captured SS and advance to SW. Someone please tell me if SW & SS are Igbo tribes? Ojukwu was simply a selfish man and all he wanted was to be lord over the resources of the whole southern Nigeria!

    • TellEm

      Some say because the West needed help getting rid of Northern soldiers. I say Lagos was the capital. Do you expect Biafrans to allow the large number of Yoruba recruits into the army carry out their plan of genocide and do nothing? You Nigerians were busy bombing hospitals and schools in Biafra, clearly against the law, and Britain was supporting you. Even an empty brain knows that you target the capital of an enemy state. Would China attack Kenya or New York if they were fighting with America? It is stupid to think Biafra should do nothing while under attack.
      All the insults show the typical hatred that led Yoruba leaders to advocate genocide of the Igbo. Keep spewing them out here, you are proving me right.

  • AliciaStone8070

    Tellem, name Ojukwu for starting he had no plan to win. Stop chasing shadows! You still lick the ass of the north, even after killing your people in broad day light. Igbo people is a perfect case of a lunatic, who sees people that care for him as enemies and those that feed him with lunacy are his best pals. Guys wake up!

    • TellEm

      I blame Ojukwu only for counting on Awolowo’s word to take the West out of Nigeria if the East secedes. He agreed on the Aburi accord with Nigeria to avoid war but Gowon reneged on the agreement and was planning to declared a state of emergency in the East so they could invade. If I were in his shoes I would have seceded and I would have expected, like he did, the international community to support Biafra for the sake of justice. Who knew that the oil in Biafra would make Russia and Britain to sell arms to Nigeria? I mean, even declassified document shows that British intelligence thought Biafra was right reason to secede (Read

      Igbo were killed in the North and the West and Yoruba politicians lick more Northern anus than any part of Nigeria. Why are ACN and CPC talking of merging? Why would the Igbo trust Yoruba politicians when they did everything to undermine that trust? I mean, while one part of AG was negotiating with NPC another was negotiating with NCNC. You expect anyone to trust someone that used ethnic sentiment to cause cross-carpeting in your party? That, my friend, is lunacy.

  • sb

    HmmM, very interesting and remarkable anakysis, and for the commentators here , will want to ask, did the war suceed in keeping the country one , seeing what has happened and our level of development since the war, woult it not have been better for us to all stay apart, what lessons have been learnt from the war?
    For me , we are all the worse for it , may be before the great Awo died , he may have felt same , who knows?

    • TellEm

      I agree. The secession of Biafra, if allowed peacefully, would have made respect for minorities incumbent on other African states and would have spread democracy. After the war, discriminatory policies were put in place that retarded growth in Nigeria. The oil in the East, which was the main reason Nigeria fought against Biafra, is now the only source of Nigeria’s income and has shipped jobs to the countries that supported Nigeria (Britain et al). Igbo children were prevented from entering schools especially in the South-South after the war. Where are those schools now? Igbo property were seized in Rivers state, who is investing in Rivers property market now? (well very few if any and properties are overpriced as a result). Nigerians were told lies about how the East wanted to divide Nigeria, are Nigerians more united now? Even the Eastern minorities that complained along with other Nigerians of ‘Igbo domination’ are the ones complaining about ‘Yoruba domination’ of their oil resources (Read
      Nigeria was never meant to be one country and we would eventually all come to realise that.

  • Dibia

    As nigerians or Biafrans we need to educate ourselves and also detach all sentiments when commenting on issues as sensitive and delicate as the Nigerian Civil war. Lets be good people and stand up for what is just and true. If a child with an unbiased mind was curious about the war they would ask basic questions like what caused the war? and what happened after the war? and i believe any honest, unbiased person would accept that the igbos were victims of genocide and even before the war the ibos were always seen as a threat not only by other Nigerian ethnic groups but also by the colonialists. who are still exploiting us and laughing at the well structured divide and rule plan which suits their economic interests. We need to unite, stop all the corruption and watching our people languish in inhumane conditions and fight the enemy. For my hard of hearing or visually impaired brothers, that enemy is the colonialist not your brothers in Nigeria or Africa.

  • Factobjectivity

    I expected to read an endless praise of the literary icon, Achebe but this piece went beyond that. In stout defense of the controversial book, “There Was A Country”, Chimamanda further makes a case in sweet flowing prose for Ndi Igbo. Objective and yet incisive, little wonder you have gained the acclaims that have come your way recently. I wish we can focus more on our strengths in this country and move ahead. God bless Nigeria.

    • TellEm

      Whatever the ‘strength of the country’ is, it is not accepting the truth or trying to correct mistakes of the past. This is why Nigeria cannot move ahead. You need to know where you are coming from to know where you are going to.

  • TellEm

    Oh yes, they should have waited in Biafra for your leaders to kill them or surrendered to people who committed acts of ethnic cleansing in Asaba and other areas they captured. Say no to drugs dude.

  • Truth be told, wars are ugly and barbaric. The Biafra war no less so. Reading both Achebe’s and Chimamanda’s books, though one is a memoir and the other faction, I am of the opinion that Chi did a better job. There was a country is a rushed job in response to Half of a yellow sun.
    The starvation of civilians is rather unfortunate and painful in hindsight. However during the war, it will be ridiculous to expect magnanimity or charity from opponents. If the situation was reversed and the Igbos were fighting against say an Odua nation in secession, I doubt very much if they”ll hesitate to do likewise.
    Finally what effort did Ojukwu make to stockpile food for his beloved people. Was he dependent on the good offices of Awolowo, or the benificience of Gowon?

    • TellEm

      Well you can’t base justification for the action of Nigerian barbarians on conjectures. Would Igbo have done the same thing. Well maybe not. The Igbo were all over Nigeria, especially the Western region. They would have seen first hand the killings in the land the way the Yorubas did not see the killings in the North (indeed Yoruba Obas went to thank the Emirs because Yoruba were not targeted). The Igbo are fighting alongside Christian minorities in the North against Islamists, and they are well aware that these minorities hate them just as much as they hate the moslem majority, if not more. The same clowns that fought against Biafra – like Saro-
      Wiwa, Awolowo, etc – tried to court the Igbo to support their own agendas after the war. They did nothing about the ‘abandoned properties’ or other injustices. Do not be surprised by the distrust of Nigerians the Biafrans now have.
      Nobody was expecting magnanimity. The Biafrans were expecting Nigeria to abide by the Aburi accord (that they agreed to) or leave them alone. Nigeria did neither. This cannot be justified.

  • AliciaStone8070

    Yorubas did not ask you to trust them in the first place. Why counting on their trust to win a war. If your leaders were really serious about winning the war, Yorubas support wouldn’t have been relied on. Leave Yorubas alone, after all they are cowards. Cowards do not fight wars, let them be! They are happy the way they are.

    • TellEm

      There you go again. I am talking about Awolowo, you are telling me Yorubas did not… Awolowo does not represent the Yoruba people. There were Yoruba people that spoke against the genocide and the war. And besides, trust alone was not the basis for secession. Justice and self preservation were the basis. The only reason Nigeria won was because of foreign support. At the beginning of Nigerian aggression, Biafra fought the enemy to a stalemate. Biafra even gained territory. The whole thing changed when Britain, initially declaring neutrality because they expected an easy win for Nigeria, decided to supply arms to counter the Russians and in order to have inept Nigerians control Biafran oil.
      And the talk about trusting Yoruba politicians was to address you whining about Igbo politicians allying with Northern politicians after the war. I am saying, why would they ally with Yoruba politicians when they don’t trust them?

      About that “coward” comment, the Yoruba formed the largest number that struck Biafra from the sea, so while that “Yoruba cannot fight, they just like party” stereotype was prevalent at the time, Benjamin Adekunle boasted that his boys were mainly Yoruba. The cooperation of Nigerians other than the moslem Northerners, especially the Northern minorities in the war was what ensured that Nigeria had an army to fight Biafrans with. Don’t forget that some Yoruba fought on the Biafran side.

  • Kekere Ekun

    “Achebe’s falsehood-laden new book has reopened longstanding issues of the aged author’s credibility including old charges of alleged plagiarism of Things Fall Apart, reportedly of which Achebe’s people prevailed upon his kinsman accuser to settle as a family affair. There is speculation that the unresolved plagiarism controversy is part of Achebe’s undoing with the Nobel Commission. Chinamanda needs to be careful that what is yet conceded as her naiveté, will not also lead to questions about her own integrity and scholarship.” from “Chinamanda And Achebe Hate Campaign – A Word Of Advice.” by Olaitan Oladipo

    • TellEm

      It’s amazing anyone would be eager to discuss irrelevant issues like plagiarism but not genocide of the Biafrans. That clown, Olaitan, should call the police if he thinks that is an important issue. Meanwhile the issue of genocide in Nigeria should be trashed out. Right now, Nigeria has done nothing for the victims of the war, has no memorial of the people killed in the most barbaric fashion in Nigeria, etc. This country committed genocide against Biafran citizens and is even currently on genocide watch. Nigeria has been cursed since that genocide by disastrous governments and, even worse, by stupid people like Olaitan Oladipo.

  • TellEm

    No serious person talking about the civil war will want to relate it to the Igbo presidency pacification rubbish that Nigeria is all about. I do not want an Igbo president, there is still much hatred of the Igbo in the evil land called Nigeria and having an Igbo president will just be another excuse to blame Nigeria’s woes on the Igbo – “my girlfriend cheated on me, na omo-Igbo cause am, wey my knife make I kill all omo-Igbo I know for this town”. I want secession man not presidency.

    We would NEVER forget the killings and harassment of the Igbo in the North and the West. Nothing anyone is going to write would be able to achieve that. The killings and other crimes did not happen only in the North. Read about the “Upgaism” pamphlet that leaders of the Western region released to the public showing pictures of Igbo-owned businesses and stores, encouraging them to take over and loot those properties; read how they fought against employment of Igbo resident in the West by even international companies. The enemy is not the Yoruba or the Hausa or any part of the country, the enemy is Nigeria.

  • B

    Dear Chimamanda
    I loved the writing.I appreciate the igbo story and it is unfortunante that a lot of things happened. I have not read Achebe’s account but I have read some others. I really do not want to join on the debate on who to blame. I am Nigeria and I am empathic to stories from the war that sound sad. However, I am yoruba too. Where I come from, it is always said that words could be either male or famale.Stories could be told one way or the other. I am not completely sure that you were able to completely seperate the general ibo bias from your conclusions. It is no fault of your. We all grew up with different stories. I encourage others to write their stories. Awolowo wrote an account of the Civil War which my father had then.. I have been looking for the book but I have not found it now..

  • Anne Giwa-Amu


    A claim for copyright infringement has been made by Anne Giwa-Amu against
    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Harper Collins Publishers in relation to the
    literary work, Half of A Yellow Sun. Anne
    Giwa-Amu, a law graduate of the London School of Economics and Political
    Science, is demanding damages and an account of profit as a consequence of the
    infringement of her copyright in the literary work SADE.

    In legal papers submitted to the Court, Ms Giwa-Amu alleged: “…a substantial
    amount of original material found in SADE, an earlier copyright work also
    appears in Half of A Yellow Sun a later work…Ms Adichie could not have
    included this by coincidence”. Ms
    Giwa-Amu alleged that in 1998 she sent a copy of her manuscript to Heinemann
    Educational Books Ltd, Nigeria. “Chinua
    Achebe, a writer linked to the Biafra propaganda effort, was the main decision
    maker on the Board of Directors at Heinemann”.
    Ms Giwa-Amu was informed that Chinua Achebe read and accepted SADE for
    publication for senior secondary school in Nigeria under the sub-title ‘SADE
    United We Stand’. Chinua Achebe later
    endorsed and promoted Half of A yellow Sun and one of his poems appears on the
    first page which would have entitled him to royalties from the sale. Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Adichie share the
    same literary agent, The Wylie Agency.

    Ms Adichie wrote in the Premium Times that after the publication of her
    first novel, Purple Hibiscus, Chinua Achebe tried to arrange a meeting with
    her. Ms Adichie claims that after her communication
    with Achebe she wrote Half of A Yellow Sun.
    Ms Adichie admits that she had no experience of the civil war as she was
    born in 1977. She claims to have compiled
    HAYS after reading thirty-one books by writers who had first-hand experience of
    the war.

    In the legal papers, Ms Giwa-Amu alleged that Ms Adichie reworded and
    expanded her novel SADE and copied the setting, structure, plot, language,
    themes, characterization, content, form, subject matter, supporting arguments
    and scenes. Ms Giwa-Amu has claimed that
    every incident from her literary work, SADE, has been copied and expanded upon
    to create a literary forgery.

    In 2016, the case was submitted at the County Court at Cardiff, Cardiff
    Civil Justice Centre, 2 Park Street, Cardiff, CF10 1ET. It has since been transferred to the High
    Court in London and back to the Central London County Court.

    Claim number CO1CF281


    tel: 02920 376400 or 02920 376417.