Format: MS-WORD Chapters: 1-5
Pages: 83 Attributes: COMPREHENSIVE RESEARCH
The word Trauma comes from the Latin Word “Trauma,” which means “wound.” The plural form “Traumata” means wounds in general. Trauma is a severe physical injury to the body caused by an external force of violence. It is a psychological shock having a lasting effect on mental life. The second operative word War is a conflict carried out by force of arms between nations or between parties within a nation. A foremost theorist of modern war, Carl Von Clausewitz, claims that war is an extension of politics by other means, the contest of political will of one group versus that of another. This is certainly the assumption made by those people who prepare, support and engage in war for governments. But Clausewitz is myopic and limited in his view. In kind and character the activity of war, like any other social activity, “expresses cultural beliefs and values shared by a group, only one subset of which produces organized, politicized wars, much less conflict of the clausewitzian sort, the large state wars mobilizing large number of large causes” (2).
Clausewitzian or not, war as we usually know means the conflict of numbers, not individuals alone or few, War in that tendency implies killing, something which will hardly change, despite any discussion of non-lethal means in recent years, until the social construction of war itself changes. Civil war denotes a combat between opposing groups of people. In a world where selfish national interests, racism, the struggle for power, and a myriad of other factors keep human relationships in a state of perpetual tension, this tension has often outlet in political turbulence of national or international dimensions. The American civil war, the world wars, the Spanish civil war, the Vietnan war, and the Nigeria Biafra war are few examples of the imbroglios that have resulted from the conflicts between men and institutions in a strife-torn world.
Nigeria is a Federal Republic comprising four regions: The East, the West, the South, and the North. In 1966 a military Junta came to power in a coup, and after riots and counter coup against Igbo, on 30 May, 1967 the Governor of the Eastern Region Lt. Col Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, announced an unilateral secession of the State of Biafra. The Igbo declared their own independence to protect themselves from the wanton massacres of Igbo in the North and harassment in other parts of Nigeria. Biafra existed as a republic and a historical fact from May 30, 1967 to January 14, 1970. Within her short span of life “she experienced popularity and hatred, loyalty and betrayal in her bitter war with Nigeria” (Ogu 1). She came into being at the peak of the Nigerian crisis when, for many reasons, co-existence between Eastern Nigeria and the rest of the country became impossible. She had as her delimitation, the whole land area of the present Eastern States – Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers. Before her name “Biafra” was abolished by decree in Nigeria, she had already created ample impact in literary minds with novels, drama, poetry, memoirs and autobiographies.
In Nigerian, official circles, the thirty months’ war between Nigeria and Biafra is called the Nigerian Civil War from 1967 to 1970. The impact of the war had traumatic effects on the lives of Nigerians especially on the Biafrans in particular. The war was fought between two distinct regions with clear marked boundaries, different ideologies, peculiar cultural and national traits. The main war took place in the geographical area known as Biafra. This research sticks to the name The Nigeria-Biafra War in order to depict the traumatic effects of war on both sides: Nigeria and Biafra.
This project is based on four novelists whose works portray experiences during the Nigeria-Biafra War. They are Okechukwu Mezu, Behind the Rising Sun (1971); Elechi Amadi, Sunset in Biafra (1973); Chukwuemeka Ike, Sunset at Dawn (1976); Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006). These novels discuss what happened to the Igbo of Nigeria at a certain time in their history. These novelists represent the horrors of the war from their different perspectives. Three of these writers may have their prejudices but their commitments to the war are those of insiders and participants. The last writer examines the ravages of war, poignant memories of war on human emotions, in a range of circumstances from romance to conflict.
These novels cover a wide range – Europe, African countries, and Nigeria. These writers give details of how the war is planned, marred or executed. Whether they write on the period of political crises or the war proper, the novelists have two things in common. First, their reference to “the specific object of representation: for philosophy, the object is ideas; for history, it is events; and for literature, action” (Akwanya 3). Secondly, their aspiration to warn the people about the threat posed by certain socio-political situations in the society as well as to “inspire them towards societal ideals and share with them the joys and sorrows of nation building” (Achebe 45).
However the war enables us to know the truth with regards to facts, feelings and attitudes at the time. This research is an attempt to understand better the past in order to appreciate what is happening in the present so as to enable us predict successfully our tomorrow: what could happen and how to meet such challenges if need be.
1.2 Historical Background of the Nigeria-Biafra War
Nigeria’s political problems sprang from the manner the British took over, administered and abandoned the government and people of Nigeria. British administrators did not make any effort to weld the country together in love and peace. This does not imply that the British government did nothing good in Nigeria. Far from it. Many things today stand to their credit. Nigeria owes certain achievements to the British administrators. Upon their departure nearly a hundred years later, “the people resumed fighting for their political rights” (Ademoyega1).
There was a fundamental difference between the political aspirations of the leaders of Southern and Northern Nigeria. In the former, political leadership sprang from the people, that is, from the grassroots. These people had been the custodian of their own civic rights before the British came. In the latter, however, the ruling class made up of the sons and kinsmen of the Emirs, took over the political leadership of the people. Unfortunately, they represented their own class interests, rather than the popular will of the masses. Ademoyega reminds us that this happened because the British “governed Nigerians indirectly through their traditional rulers” (3). In the South, they governed through the Obas, Obis, and Ammanyanabos who were relatively powerless amongst their peoples. In the North, they governed through the Emirs, whose sons and kinsmen were the chiefs and Native Authority Officials, who lorded it over the people.
From the beginning the British governed the North as a monolithic unit, merging the separate kingdom of Bornu with the Fulani emirates. They also governed the South as a unit until the Richard’s Constitution of 1946, which split the South into two, thereby establishing a country with three large regions: the North, the West, and the East. Each region was administered from its centre of power – Kaduna, Ibadan, and Enugu – by British representatives called Lieutenant – governors. The overall co-ordinating centre was Lagos, where the Governor resided. This was the pattern that led to the Independence of Nigeria in 1960 with the calling forth of regional representatives to the Constitutional Conferences that followed, “the political leadership of the country split into three, so the British motive of divide and rule was exemplified” (Ademoyega 3). However, the British stuck to the tripartite arrangement because it kept Nigeria continually within her sphere of influence, even after independence. The Igbo were victims of the residual shenanigans and schemings of British imperial policy in Nigeria.
Colonial Nigeria had been a peaceful country and generally a happy one with good security. Unfortunately after independence, owing to political imbalance in the political equation, and the backgrounds of the leaders of that period, things started to fall apart. Consequently, between independence and 1966, “the country witnessed political wrangling or instability” (Anwunah 96). There were accusations of tribalism, regionalism, ethnicity, nepotism, bribery and corruption, political antagonism, power tussle, election rigging, personality clashes, treasonable felony trial, disputed 1963 census figures, war amongst political parties, alliances and counter-alliances, leadership tussle in Action Group causing split of the party into two warring factions, and bloody disorder on the floor of the Western House of Assembly. With thugs and armed robbers cashing in with murder, arson and looting, a breakdown of law and order was imminent and national disintegration was predictable if not checked. So patriotic and serious-minded aspiring soldier-statemen planned “how to carry out a revolution” (Ademoyega 32).
In the face of all these political crises, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa’s Federal Government deemed it unnecessary to intervene. It was unsafe to move about even in the day time without military or police escort. Here and there could be seen irate crowds of party supporters burning effigies of some political party leader or other. Gbulie informs us that the situation in the country was very desperate:
Placard-carrying party loyalists often mounted road-blocks, stopping motorists, forcing them to declare their stand on the current crisis, and coercing them into chanting the demonstrators’ party slogans (7).
Hundreds of innocent lives had been lost in the process. A bold red sign, a clear warning of an imminent national disaster had long loomed large on the nation’s horizon. The Federation had floundered through a widely boycotted general election and the census crisis which had preceded it. Thousands of people had been rendered homeless as town after town lay ravaged in the wake of the internal security operations originally meant to restore law and order. The country’s politicians not only appeared to be above the law; they seemed to be actively engaged in breaking it-using the military to achieve their fulsome political ends.
By Christmas 1965, a contagion of rumours had swept like a windstorm through the entire Nigerian Army. For instance, rumours had it that the much feared Jihad had been scheduled to take place in January the following year. And the ‘D-Day’ was January 17, 1966 (38). Arms and ammunition were being smuggled into “the country in preparation for the Jihad and forceful Isamisation of the south” (Anwunah 5). In his book, Nigeria’s Five Majors Ben Gbulie stated the tripartite aims of the Jihad:
First, to eliminate all the powerful Southern politicians; second, to enforce the present Igbo-must-go hue and cry in the North; and third, to impose Islam on the Christian South and consequently to establish Nigeria as a theocratic Muslim country (39).
Boxes of arms and ammunition were smuggled into the country through the Northern border by Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduna of Sokoto solely for the purpose of prosecuting the said Jihad. He arranged with Brigade Nigerian Army, Kaduna, to have them stored for him at the Brigade Ordnance storage facility. The man-in-charge of the facility was an Igbo regimental sergent major, RSM Ambrose Chukwu. He was uneasy about this irregular arms storage that he called in pressmen and journalists to witness the boxes and possibly their contents. This exposure naturally angered Ademulegun who quickly “framed a military charge against Chukwu and had him court-martialled, (Anwunah 5).
The political instability in the country motivated Majors – Nzeogwu, Ifeajuna, Anuforo, Ademoyega, Chukwuka,Okafor and Onwuatuegwu to plan a coup d’ etat. Ideologically, the revolutionary officers had agreed on a programme power successfully. The core of their agenda covered areas of politics, economy, education, social and foreign affairs.
Politically, to correct the anomaly of the 1957 constitution into smaller unites or states. Collective leadership would include military and civilian personalities in the government. Economically, a provision for a change in the economic order-capitalism will be wiped out. Educationally, mass education would be given to the people in order to solve the problem of illiteracy within Nigeria then. Socially, to abolish the societal norm of the privileged class that were housed in Government Reserved Areas (GRAs) and the poor masses who lived in the slums. On foreign policy, their intention to reverse the British policy and the British sphere of influence on Nigeria would result to non-alignment with Western powers (Why We Struck 33-47).
The revolutionary officers decided to forestall the planned Jihad and Islamsation, by a military coup of the 15th day of January 1966. It was at this point that the Nigerian history changed. The Northern politicians saw the coup as a deliberate attempt by the Igbo to eliminate their tribal leaders as well as their political leadership in Nigeria as bequeathed to them by the colonial administrations. Consequently, they planned a revenge counter-coup which took place on 29th day of July 1966. The Counter-Coup was as bloody as the earlier coup (Anwunah 6).
The Northern revenge plan did not stop at a military counter-coup. The Nigeria-Biafra war literally commenced with a well-planned, well-programmed, and well-rehearsed pogrom which had significant religious undertones, both in the print and radio (4). The revenge plan included systematic forceful removal of all innocent Igbo and Eastern civilians from their northern homeland on 29 May, 29 July, and 29 September 1966. The massacres on September spilled into early 1967 to the extent that Gowon in February 1967 had to make a national remark to that effect that “enough was enough” (6). The revenge plan metamorphosed from pogrom to genocide and war in Eastern Nigeria.
The orchestrated pogrom, massacres, and killings in 1966 provided a complete extermination of the Easterners residing in Northern Nigeria. This gave rise to the Biafran desire for regional autonomy and independence. The Islamic North was not satisfied with the ethnic cleansing. They used their military wing to wage war on the Eastern Region. This was an operation planned to be completed within four days but which lasted 30 months and became historically known as the Nigeria Civil War (1967 – 1970).
In every age literature has always mirrored society; and writers have invariably “shown concern for the convolutions that beset their societies” (Nwahunanya 1). Writers in the countries involved in war have used the conflicts as source materials for creative literature.
In a world where selfish national interests, the struggle for power, and a myriad of other factors keep human relationships in a state of perpetual tension. This tension has often found outlet in political turbulence of national or international dimensions. The Nigeria-Biafra War resides in the minds of its survivors. Like other wars in history, it echoes stridently on the pages of numerous books-fiction and non-fiction, plays, and poetry of varying artistic merit. This confirms Kole Omotoso’s view that the Nigeria-Biafra War is the most important topic in post-war Nigeria writing. Part of the explanation for the dominance of war as a subject in Nigerian literature since 1970 may be found in Lucien Goldman’s observation that
Periods of crisis… are particularly favourable to the birth of great works of art and of literature because of the multiplicity of problems and experiences they bring to men. As well as the great widening of effective and intellectual horizons they provoke (50).
In addition Ogunyemi affirms that writers dwell on wars because of “the sheer urge to record an excruciating, indelible, visceral experience which they have been physically or emotionally involved in” (2). By so doing such writers make the experience less harrowing and purge themselves of it. Thus, according to Obiechina, “Out of every serious crisis in the life of a people, there comes a deepening insight into the true nature of men and of human society” (vi).
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