As I read through my copy of this book, I feel like sharing my views on the lingering worthless altercations and unhealthy arguments it has triggered in the polity.
Achebe has written his personal account of the civil war and it remains his personal view. Many may agree with him, many others may not. I find it ridiculously disappointing and most unfortunate that young people are joining this fray being stirred by some of our elders who, with due respect, used sectional politics to set our country on a retrogressive path. To me, the hullabaloo about this book (that many of the people causing the sickening controversy are yet to read) is entirely unnecessary. Pa Awo (of blessed memory) is a great man and will remain so (at least in my perception) no matter what anyone says, writes or feels; Same goes with Prof Achebe. I do not expect anyone who did not experience the war on either of the sides (Nigeria or defunct Biafra) to confirm or dispute the content of Achebe’s book. Whatever Awo did or didn’t do during the war is now history. He will always be remembered for being one of Africa’s finest leaders. Achebe will also be remembered as being one of Africa’s finest writers.
I don’t think there is any account of the civil war that everyone will agree with. More so, I don’t think the history of the war should determine how I should relate with hundreds of my good friends of other ethnic groups and vice versa. It’s 42years after, we have moved on. Should we forget the history, No. As young people, we should rather learn from whatever mistakes our elders and heroes made to ensure that there’s no repeat of such thing. Calling Achebe or Ndigbo names won’t achieve that.
Similarly, belittling Awo’s great achievements won’t do same either. People should choose whatever story they want to believe but using it to sow seed of hatred will do Nigeria no good. My take is that neither Pa Awo nor Achebe is our problem now, it is those people who use their (in)actions to fan embers of disunity and hatred that we should be scared of. They are the real enemies of Nigeria.
My focus is on young people because behavioural change among the elderly is almost impossible. Additionally, the youths are the ones who will outlive the consequences of whatever negative seed sown today and therefore should not join in sowing such seeds. Rather, let’s see what we can learn from our beleaguered history, and then use them to build a better country for our children.
May the soul of Pa Awo continue to rest in peace. May God bless Prof Achebe. May God bless all lovers and promoters of a more peaceful, united and prosperous Nigeria. And may almighty God continue to bless our dear country, Nigeria.