• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • reddit
  • LinkedIn

There Was a Country is a very intimate portrait of the Nigerian Civil War (widely perpetuated as the Biafran War) which lasted from 1967 to 1970. What I enjoyed most about Chinua Achebe‘s account of this devastating conflict is his comprehensive detailing of the confluence of events leading up to war – from the anti-Igbo pogroms in the north led by Muslims, to missteps by the Nigerian government and military in their reaction, compounded by the complex colonial history of Nigeria, including several administrative bungles by the British. At the same time Achebe masterfully ties in his own story as an Igbo intellectual, which makes the tragedy of the war all the more compelling and personal. However, therein lies the double-edged sword in the narrative. Achebe’s perspective and experience as a privileged, leading intellectual light in the Biafran society is somewhat removed from that of fighters and ordinary Biafran civilians. Although he mentions starving Biafran children with distended stomachs it is clear that this was not a fate which befell his family. He eloquently fought for Biafra with his pen and his voice, not with a gun nor his own blood. So I am left unsure whether Achebe’s account of the war years is representative of the typical experience of a Biafran. Nevertheless, I celebrate this book for shining a light on this very dark, formative period in modern Nigerian history.

P.S. I highly recommend reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s Half a Yellow Sun if you are interested in a compelling account of the Biafran War. This is truly her best work! Feel free to check out my review in an earlier blogpost if you would like to know more.

Thank you as always for stopping by! Please feel free to share your thoughts or reactions in a comment below. Also, if you would like to receive more updates about my writing please consider joining my newsletter mailing list by subscribing below.

Pin It on Pinterest