So people must die

Elizabeth Habiba Mohammed remembers the Nigerian-Biafran War. Photo by Chika Oduah

My name, it’s Elizabeth but when I got married to my husband he gave me Habiba as my name. Okay? I am 63 years old. When I was born at East. I’m from Imo. I was born in 1952. January 20. I’m from Aba [sic], from Imo state.

During the war, at the time in the East aircraft used to come plenty so when they come plenty, when people are running, they will say, “Take cover, take cover, take cover.” So everybody will take cover for ground during the war.

Elizabeth Habiba Mohammed. Photo by Chika Oduah

It used to bomb. The aircraft is used to bomb everywhere. Then when it come plenty them go begin to bomb all over at East.

The aircraft is used to bomb everywhere

When the bomb fall now, it used to kill plenty people. It’s what I observed that time.

We didn’t used to go for refugee camp. I no even know where the refugees dey. I stayed at home throughout the war.

We suffered when the plane craft come, we run up and down. We didn’t see any federal soldiers in my town. Wetin I observe that time is the plane when it come to bomb so we will run.

I’m from Aba. I saw Biafran soldiers. I saw the Biafrans.

I don’t know even know what the war was about. I know that yes, the Igbos, they want to cut their self out from Nigeria. So that is why they want to stay alone for Biafra and leave Nigeria. But I don’t know anything. I don’t know what they are doing. But when everybody is running from the planes too, we go run.

Elizabeth Habiba Mohammed’s hands. Photo by Chika Oduah

My father, he’s a trader. My parents are traders.  But I cannot say when the war started. I don’t remember the day. I remember the war finished, 1970, ba? Yes, I heard on the radio that day. They said the war is over. Everybody rejoiced.

I was happy, now. Happy, rejoicing, the war is over. Everybody is happy to see say everything stop December. The suffer stop.

Many people died because when the bomb drop, plenty people used to go. Buildings used to damage. How the bomb will come down people no go die? So people must die.

Elizabeth Habiba Mohammed. Photo by Chika Oduah

They used to bomb the government properties, not the poor people own. Na government properties they used to go and burn. Dem no dey burn the poor people place.

*This interview was conducted by Chika Oduah in Elizabeth Habiba Mohammed’s home in  Kaduna State, Nigeria

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