by Patrick Egwu Ejike
At the age of 21, Chukwuemeka Ejiofor voluntarily joined the army as a Nigerian army officer before defecting to join the Biafran army when the declaration was made in 1967. One year into the civil war, he was made the Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu. Immediately after the war in 1970, he developed psychological and emotional problems. He lost his memory for three years. He remembers nothing.
The death of two people affected him negatively. His father died of stroke when he came back from the north after he had lost everything he worked to the pogrom and massacres of Igbos in the north in 1966. His mentor and relative, Staff Sergeant Sylvanus Ezekwu also died during the war.
Chukwuemeka Ejiofor flanking Col Ojukwu during one of the peace conferences in 1969 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo credit: Chukwuemeka Ejiofor
Now, at 71, he remembers the bitter memories of the war and what it cost him. “We were systematically massacred in 1966,” Chukwuemeka recalls the mass killing of the Igbos before the war. “I was stationed in Lagos at that time and when it started, we had to escape at night to Enugu,” he said.
Christopher Ejiofor during his coronation in 2008 as king. Photo credit: Christopher Ejiofor
At the age of 16, he won a scholarship to study in England and subsequently became the best student in his class. But the war took all he had learnt in school. “I feel sad. I was a victim of the Biafran war and you won’t believe it that after the war, for many years I suffered from what I call loss of memory. I lost my memory. I didn’t know all the things I had studied in college as the best student. It was very painful,” he said.
Luckily, he went into self-imposed exile to England after the war. There, he was rehabilitated by foreign missions and charities. “My saviour was that I escaped from Biafra and went into exile for many years. I gradually recovered because of the healing process. I had churches, charities, like St Vincent De Paul coming to help us come out from the environment of war. We were just lucky,” he told YNaija.
After the war, records have it that about 3 million people, mostly women and children died of blockade, starvation and malnutrition. He believes the figure is more than that. As a soldier, he saw thousands of people buried in mass graves.
“Three million was an underestimation. Every day, I pick little children from the road who were dead. There were many mass graves then that I lost count. I used to go to refugee camps to take children to Queen Elizabeth hospital, Umuahia by the next morning they are dead,” he said.
In 2008, his people asked him to come back and be their king. Today, he is a traditional ruler in Oyofo in Ezeagu LGA, Enugu state.
He believes Biafra will come one day and wants to be alive to see it. “The blood of innocent Biafrans especially women and children is crying to God for vengeance because of the cruelty and injustice done to them. It can never die away. It is a spiritual thing that can never be erased,” he said.
“We are not interested in our past. In Britain and the US, every November 11, they remember people who died in their first world war. They raise money for their veterans. We don’t have that culture here,” he explains.