A review of There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra.

Position:Book review

A review of There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe (London: Penguin Book, 2012. 352 pp., ISBN: 978-0143124030) by Samuel Oyewole (Samueloyewole47@yahoo.co.uk), Instructor, Department of Political Science; University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria

The Nigerian Civil War remains one of the most important political incidents in the history of the country. The Civil War covers the period of 30 months (1967-1970) of confrontation between the secessionist eastern region, Republic of Biafra and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The significant of this event for Nigerian political development cannot be overemphasised. Forty-four years after the war, its legacies have endured against the stability of the nation. Among the legacies of the Civil War and notable reasons for the book are: 1) despite the policy of reintegration pursued by the post-civil war governments, the Igbos (members of the ethnic group that dominated the secession) still continued to feel less secure outside their 'state of origin', and most particularly in the northern region; 2) the Igbo people have remained politically marginalised in the national politics; and 3) Biafra and neo-Biafra ideas have continued to serve as popular points of rally and advocacy. The relevance of violent advocacy groups like Movement for Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) is an instance.

Appreciable number of books has appeared on the subject of Nigerian Civil War. Some of the existing accounts have engaged the Civil War broadly, while others focused on aspects of the event, including antecedents of the war, battle experiences, the cost, international dimension, the consequences et-central. It is within the context of antecedents of the war and overall cost incurred by the Igbo nation before and during the war that one could find this book worthwhile. The book contribute to knowledge on civil war, ethno-regional politics, insurgency and terrorism, state viability, regime security, leadership crisis, art, education and diplomacy. The book benefited from the reputation of the author in the world of literature, in terms of attention. This account explains the Biafra secessionist struggle within the framework of leadership crisis in Nigeria. This factor is identified to have interplay the phenomenon of ethnicity, democratic reversal and state failure in Nigerian history. The book explains the trend that accounted for the personality clash between General Yakubu Gowon...

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