Biafran War Memories: an archive of personal stories
I am a Nigerian-American journalist. I was born in the southeastern region of Nigeria, the region that infamously seceded in 1967 to form the short-lived Republic of Biafra. The secession led to a brutal three year war known as the Nigerian Biafran War, the Nigerian Civil War or the Biafran War.
For many years, I have been compelled to learn more about this war, because it is linked to my identity. My mother was displaced by it and lived in a camp. My father has his own memories. In the process of trying to learn about this crucial time in Nigeria’s past, I have observed that the history of the war has been repressed. It’s been tucked away in the recesses of people’s minds, brushed over in the history curriculums in many Nigerian schools, dismissed as something that needs to be forgotten.
But we must understand history, not forget it.
In 2016, I decided to begin talking to people who remember the war. I’ve met some amazing people, heard fascinating stories that speak of the human will to survive in the midst of hardship. Here, I share their stories with you. This archive of first-hand accounts of the war is an ongoing project. I foresee myself continuing to collect stories until my hair turns gray. The stories are presented as reformatted transcriptions (edited for clarity) of recorded interviews that I conducted with each speaker. While most of the speakers spoke to me in English, a few spoke in Hausa. Those interviews were translated to English. I have left the speakers’ syntax and vernacular in tact, as much as possible.
If you know anyone who has memories of the war, please contact me. I’d love to capture their story.
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