Skip to main content


The Biafran story is closely woven into the history of my family. Without that war, there might probably not be a thing like me or my siblings; probably not be a thing like my family.

Let me explain.

My parents met inside a refugee camp in Gborokiri, Rivers state Nigeria. It was the Summer of 1968 and the war was raging on both sides. My mother was an orphan, a refugee left under the care of a Baptist missionary called Miss Harris. It was this white lady who had picked  her off the streets of Aba after her father was shot by the Nigerian soldiers.
Image source: Ruth Bourne/ Etim Eyo
  My father, on the other hand, was a remarkable young man who had left a flourishing career as a Sargent Major in the Nigerian police to enlist in the Biafran army. He came regularly into the camp to inspect the condition of things and to report back. It was during one of these visits that he chanced upon my mother and (not minding that my mother was still a naive prepubescent girl), a very piquant romance that would later blossom into an unhappy marriage began. And, that was how I and my five siblings came into a household replete with ghosts and shadows from a bloody past .

The Nigerian/ Biafran war had a terrible impact on the lives of my parents - most especially my mother. She was in primary four the year the war broke out. 1967. 
They were living at Aba, just her and the father. She was the only child. Her mother had left shortly after giving birth to her because she thought my mother would die the same way her previous babies had done. They were believed to be ogbanje babies. Locked in the mischievous circle of coming and going.
Hence she called my mother An'anihu. Tantalizer. Something beautiful but ephemeral. A mirage.

She was sure my mother wouldn't survive. Most especially because my grandfather refused to take her-  my mother - to the shrine of Kamanu, the village deity, to seek the protection of the gods like he had done with the other babies. 
She said if the other babies who had the protection of the gods could died, this one, my mother, undedicated and vulnerable would be a soft prey.
A year and six months later, after weaning my mother, she left and got married to another man. She would later give birth to three male children who all survived both the war and the aftermath of living in a country that merely accepted them back without necessarily forgiving them.

So my mother grew up in the shadow of an absentee mother who left her in order to secure a life elsewhere.

And, finally the civil war came and robbed her of the only security left: her father. 
One sad afternoon, she watched as a soldier pumped bullets into the body of her father. She watched as the last stronghold to survival crumbled into the mud.

Alone and defiant, she has held on tightly to the thin threads of hope all these years.

She unlike any other woman I've ever seen and known has walked through the valley and shadow of death and has emerged scathed but still strong and alive.

Here is to her spirit. To her courage. Here is to her health and happiness.

May we always remember


Popular posts from this blog

Dalu's Diary by Ogechi Ezeji : Children's Literature in Nigeria is Coming Back

I felt like a child once again, after reading Ogechi Ezeji’s Dalu’s Diary , a book of fiction for children and adults alike.The feeling I got from reading this work is akin to the one I got from reading Chinua Achebe’s Chike and the River , Onuora Nzekwu’s Eze Goes to School, Cyprian Ekwensi’s The Drummer Boy and all other great children fictions of Nigeria’s literary golden age, so many years ago. In the story, little Chukwudalu Aniche is obsessed with his diary, which he kept and wrote in at every turn of an important event that moves him to write. He initially lived in Owerri with his parents, Mr and Mrs Aniche and his beloved uncle Akachi, before his accountant father was transferred to Abuja, on account of his honesty and determination towards his job. Through Dalu’s diary, we are able to understand the inner workings of the young boy’s mind, his family, his closeness with his uncle, his view of his maternal aunt and her erratic daughter and most of all, his percept

Writers against the Bullying of Otosirieze Obi-Young and the Obfuscation of Truth

A STATEMENT BY WRITERS IN SUPPORT OF OTOSIRIEZE OBI-YOUNG In light of recent tweets and threads going around about the former Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper and the resistance to what many consider an unfortunate muzzling of truth, we, his colleagues and friends, would like to make a few things clear: We have worked with Otosirieze Obi-Young for years, have disagreed with him on many occasions, and never have we felt disrespected or stifled by him. We know and have often celebrated his firm commitment to diversifying the literary scene, giving young writers visibility, his efforts to make sure that prizes think of more writers than the already-known, especially those writers living on the continent; his push for the establishment of the Brittle Paper Awards is one example of concrete ways in which this commitment has been put to work. On Facebook, we have seen him talk passionately and with deep knowledge about the state of African writing and what needs to be done to enhance it,

Chetachi Igbokwe: What it Means to Attend Chimamanda Adichie’s Writing Workshop

Chetachi Igbokwe  is a final year student of English and Literary Studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is the current editor of the University of Nigeria’s student journal,  The Muse , a journal of creative and critical writing, founded by Chinua Achebe in 1963. He is a 2019 alumnus of the Purple Hibiscus Creative Writing Workshop, facilitated by the Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. What was it like having to be taught by the amazing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? Was it your first time of applying?  CHETACHI IGBOKWE : Thanks to Black Boy Review for affording me this platform. I respect Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and being taught by her was a great deal for me. Having read everything she has published thus far, starting from her first novel,  Purple Hibiscus,  which was a tour de force, it is evident that every generation must feel blessed to be graced with a writer like her. Originally, I knew about the workshop from close friends. I also knew h