Achebe’s There Was A Country In The Court Of Public Opinion: 43 Years After The Nigerian Civil War

Ngwu, C. Christian, Ekwe, Okwudiri, Chukwuma, Okechukwu


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 outwith millions of casualties, mostly women and children. This posture, with all its criticisms from those whoinsisted that Biafrans should be treated as prisoners of war, was maintained by the then Head of State whobelieved it was a reconciliatory take off point. Ever since, several policies, and programmes have been put inplace 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 hostilitywas reducing, late Prof. Chinua Achebe published a controversial book, “There was a Country: A PersonalHistory of Biafra,” in 2012. This book, with a detailed account of the war, analysts argue, has reengineeredhostility, “thereby bringing to naught all reconciliatory moves made in the last forty-two years.” ConsideringAchebe’s intellectual capacity, world status and what he represented, especially to the Igbo nation, one istempted 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 reconstructtheir memories of the war? Is it leading to fresh hostility, considering the fact that he accused prominentNigerians of genocide? Qualitative and quantitative data generated through interview, questionnaire and focusgroup discussion revealed that the book has influenced Nigerians to construct and reconstruct negative memoriesof the war.

Keywords: Nigerian Civil War, Memory Construction, Reengineering Hostility

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