There was a Country by Chinua Achebe


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Chinua Achebe’s personal account of Biafra-Nigeria Civil War, atrocities by Governments and the massacre of over 1 Million Biafrans.


The Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970 ended with the then military government of Gen. Gowon maintaining the “No Victor, No Vanquished” posture. This was despite the fact that the defunct Biafra, as it were, clearly lost out with millions of casualties, mostly women and children. This posture, with all its criticisms from those who insisted that Biafrans should be treated as prisoners of war, was maintained by the then Head of State who believed it was a reconciliatory take off point. Ever since, several policies, and programmes have been put in place to reduce the hostility between the then Biafrans (now mainly South- Easterners and a few South- Southerners) and the rest of the country. At the point when available evidence was suggesting that the hostility was reducing, late Prof. Chinua Achebe published a controversial book, “There was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra,” in 2012. This book, with a detailed account of the war, analysts argue, has reengineered hostility, “thereby bringing to naught all reconciliatory moves made in the last forty-two years.” Considering Achebe’s intellectual capacity, world status and what he represented, especially to the Igbo nation, one is tempted to agree with these analysts. However, such conclusion could be hasty without empirical proof. Therefore, the obvious questions are: has the book in any way influenced Nigerians to construct or reconstruct their memories of the war? Is it leading to fresh hostility, considering the fact that he accused prominent Nigerians of genocide? Qualitative and quantitative data generated through interview, questionnaire and focus group discussion revealed that the book has influenced Nigerians to construct and reconstruct negative memories of the war.