They take my husband by force

Irene Okeke remembers the Nigerian-Biafran War. Photo by Chika Oduah


My name is Irene Okeke. I don’t remember what year I was born. I don forget all. My husband dey die. So since then, I no dey remember anything at all. My sense is not correct. Ok, take it that I am 70 years old. My husband was Felix Okeke.

The time where I get married? Before the war. That is 19…I no remember the years. It’s around 1966. By then, the time where him dey, before the war, na only two children during the war. Before he enter army.

During the war, before the war start, he marry me before war start. Then, we run from North, return home. By then I get belle. My belle is small before then. I get first born. But I get belle first born where I born during the war.

We live in Zaria. But we run during that time they start the fight. We run. That year I born a pikin [a child].

Irene Okeke. Photo by Chika Oduah

In Zaria, dem go kill person. I see am.

Inside the house where you live, there is another people wey den come in from another place, from backyard. Come kill am. Kill my children.  Before we run we no carry anything. We just run. That year pass. Another year pass. Another year pass. Three years, dem fight. Dem do fight.

Three years, dem fight.

By then they take my husband by force enter army. That day I born second one. Son. Since that time I never born another one.

My husband die this year. No last year. November 1st he died. November 1. Then bury am at 30th. Then after 2 days, then do Christmas. Enter December. November, December.

…they take my husband by force enter army.

He die and government do nothing for him. Since the war end. How many years?


Irene Okeke. Photo by Chika Oduah




*This interview was conducted at the Biafran War Veteran’s shelter in Oji River, Enugu State, Nigeria

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s