It was sounding GBAH!

My name is Agnes Ndife. I was born here in Awkuzu.
Tell her [the interviewee] that I am 85 years old.

Agnes Ndife remembers the Nigerian-Biafran War. Photo by Chika Oduah

We were in Awkuzu when the war started. I was married with three children by then.

How I knew that war had started was that we were in Oye-Agu [a locality in Anambra State, Nigeria] when it started and was coming and we were told that shelling was falling.

At night was when the plane came and was throwing bomb. Everybody had bunker in his house. Anytime they come to attack, we just enter the bunker.

We ran and went to Nteje [a nearby town]. We ran through the bush.
I was [the only one] carrying load. My children were all small. Nobody was strong yet. We ran together with my husband.

Our people ran just the way they have been. Every group was running on their own). What happened in Awkuzu was that we were there and they threw bomb. We run away now. We saw people we knew in Nteje [and stayed with them].
We were staying in a place where they built a house in the farm. At some point, they started building again.

We were coming home from where we were [to collect food] until the war finished).

We saw soldiers one day at Ugwu Oye [a locality in Anamba State] and we ran away. They were our Biafra boys.

Agnes Ndife. Photo by Chika Oduah

Me? Go and greet the army guys that use to look like spirits! [No, I didn’t greet those soldiers].

…we just climb on top of trees

I don’t remember the Biafra war songs. But they used to sing them. It is that one song that they sing? They march! Yes nah, I use to hear them sing. They used to march. We used to see the Biafran soldiers marching. There was a certain road they used to follow to where we are living. If we finish preparing our garri and try to take it to the market and we see plane, we carry our property and run away. We enter the bush and sometimes, we just climb on top of trees. We hid ourselves inside the bush.

You mean rocket? It was killing people. It was sounding GBAH! And smoke was coming out of it. There were people whose hands and legs were cut. We saw people whose hands were cut off. When everything is calm, we go to the place where it happened.

Everybody was praying.

[There was no time the bombing came near me.]

My children were OK. We were always running. We were not going to church.

We suffered. Even hungered. Someone who went from Nteje on foot carrying property to Nkwelle [a nearby town] and stayed and then plane came and we started running. That is the real suffering. Nobody died in my family.

They [my family members] came back [from the North where there was intense killing]. There was somebody we saw at Nteje and he was who told us that the war had ended. Nobody knew where anybody was. There was no phone call.

My brother from the same mother entered the army. Those that entered army from my place were too much and all of them came back.

Agnes Ndife. Photo by Chika Oduah

 

*This interview was conducted by Chika Oduah in Agnes Ndife’s home Anambra State, Nigeria.

 

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