There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra

by Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe, Nigeria’s distinguished Professor of Literature based in the United States, has recently published ‘There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra’, his war time memoirs and reflections on the process leading to Nigeria’s darkest page in history and its outcome. The 333-page book has been received with mixed feelings back in Nigeria with the loudest voices seeing it as ethnic activism championed by an ‘unforgiving’ old man. Achebe is not known for cowardice. As an author, he contributed in no small measure in placing African literature on the global literary map. He spoke directly to the racist construction of African narrative in western literature by making nonsense of Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness.” He has earned his place in his chosen path, yet at 82 he choose to speak about an issue that Nigeria has struggled, albeit unsuccessfully, to move away from for the past 40 years. It takes discipline and courage to wait for this long and speak to the conscience of humanity.