Reflections From Nigeria’s Civil War
SIR: I was a kid during the Biafran war. The drama of the war is still very vivid on my mind. My mother used to run around like a hen gathering her chicks from the hawk when the fighter jets hovered over our cloudy sky. She made sure that we were all next to her and hastily corralled to the bunker. Though there were not many of us, she double counted once we were inside the bunker to be sure that all of us were protected.
It was on one of the attacks by the fighter jets that one of the most tragic events happened to my family. It was on a Sunday. My mother and all of us went to church. The fighter jets were flying very low around the vicinity of the church. People scattered all over the place. Many were covering under the shade and protection of big trees. Some were running in the direction of their home. The news soon spread that the fighter jets dropped bombs at the church and many people died.
My father was home. The news of the bombing at the church shortly reached him. He instantly suffered a heart attack. The shock that all his family might have died from the bombing was overwhelming for him. He never recovered from the illness. Adding to the inadequacy of medical assistance precipitated by lack of movement during the war, he did not have a chance of survival.
Such was the aberration of war. The truth of the matter was that there was no bombing at the church. Rumor mongers were everywhere peddling sad news. The bombing took place at the market square a little far from the church. The villagers had mapped out a hidden area covered by big trees to prevent the hawking eyes of the enemy fighter planes from sighting the milling movement of people hurriedly picking up scarce food items at the market. Again, the story was that a saboteur has ratted out the location of the market to the enemy. He told them that Biafran soldiers were camping inside the area. The market was attacked, and many civilians died. However, the news was exaggerated to include that the hovering fighter jets at the church also killed many people.
War was a fantasy in my childhood mind. Kids ran outside of their houses to sight scrambling fighter jets to the nightmare of the adults. The reality of war came alive to me many years after the war was over. Families mourned their members who never returned. Mothers grieved for their sons who died at the war front. Communities took a long time to recover from the harsh realities of war; wounded soldiers and starvation caused misery and devastation. All these atrocities are fading from the consciousness of the new generation. Hostile events and circumstances press the demand for people to assert their humanness. May the next time never cause pain to our conscience.