Hiding themselves like everyone else was

Cecelia Anizoba. [I was born in] 1935. It was in Awkuzu [a town in Anambra State, Nigeria] that they gave birth to me. I was in Awkuzu [when the war started]. There was something we were doing that time. My mother was into farm work. I was married then. I had already given birth to children. Three.

Cecelia Anizoba remembers the Nigerian Biafran War. Photo by Chika Oduah

We were only only doing any business that comes around that time. We were farming cassava. My husband was not doing anything. We were only doing farm work.

How I knew that the war had started was that there is this car they call armored car. They packed it in one place and it was just shooting. If you pass and the bullet touches you, it injures you or even kills. It was in Oye-Agu [a nearby town].That was when I knew that the war had started.

We went to a place they call Umuolum [a locality in Anambra State]. At that time, plane had started flying and killing people. When we heard the sound of bomb, we started running. Me and my husband and my children ran together. We stayed in Umuolum for two years. There were people that stayed in the bush.

There was a certain house we were staying. It was a small house. There was no bunker. [Fortunately, none of my children ever fell sick.]

We were there and we were buying food to eat. Some people were also bringing us food like some white people from Gabon.

I had a brother that went to the army. Patrick Okafor. He survived. He was part of those that were treating those that were shot during the war.

Cecelia Anizoba. Photo by Chika Oduah

Each time plane was moving, we were running so that nobody will get hit by bullets. We suffered. People were dying, including those that were killed by kwashiorkor. People were just dying. Some people left their children and ran away so they don’t get killed. We really suffered.

 

[Singing a Biafran propaganda song that she remembers]

 

Ebe ka unu si? Biafra [Where are you from? Biafra]

Ebe ka unu si? Biafra [Where are you from? Biafra]

Aghagim arapu Biafra, je na ebeozo bili [I will not leave Biafra and go elsewhere to live]

Aghagim arapu Biafra, je na ebeozo bili [I will not leave Biafra and go elsewhere to live]

Biafra ga adindu [Biafra will live]

 

We were seeing them [soldiers] each time they were passing. We were not happy because they were going to fight. I supported Biafra.

Why I supported Biafra is because I am from Biafra and any Biafran will like to support his or her brother.

Any place they are sharing food, we go and collect too. We were in Nteje [a nearby town] that time. I don’t know the name of the church [where we went to collect food and relief materials].

My children were not doing anything but just hiding themselves like everyone else was. They were going to school.

The worse day was the day they threw rocket everywhere. People were running. You could be running with your property and bullets will hit you and you die. Many people left their homes and were fleeing to other people’s homes.

There was no time it [bombs] was not coming.

We came out in the morning [one day] and they were saying that the war had ended. Everybody went back to their place because we were all staying inside the bush.

My mother and my father were around. We ran away together. But my dad could not run because he was not having strength again.

 

 

 

 

*Cecelia Anizoba granted this interview to Chika Oduah in Anambra State, Nigeria

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