Controversy has continued to trail the excerpts from Prof. Chinua Achebe’s latest memoirs, entitled ‘There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra,’ that was published in the Guardian of London In the book, which focuses on the Nigerian Civil War, Achebe claims that former Head of State, Gen.
Yakubu Gowon (retd.) and the late Yoruba leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, initiated the economic policies that caused the deaths of over two million Igbo through starvation during the war.
The controversial paragraph from the book reads, “It is my impression that Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those aspirations.
“However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbo at the time as the obstacles to that goal, and when the opportunity arose – the Nigeria Biafra War – his ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams.
“In the Biafran case, it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation – eliminating over two million people, mainly members of future generations.”
Many Nigerians who read the excerpts on the Internet appear to be sharply divided over the content of the book. While some accused Achebe of whipping up ethnic sentiments and accusing Awolowo falsely, others have expressed the opinion that the writer has told the truth about the civil war.