by Rachel Ogbu
Fusing history, memoirs, poetry and prose, Professor Chinua Achebe’s soon to be released book, ‘There Was a Country’ is the book the literary world can’t stop talking about.
The book which is a semi-autobiographical recollection of the Biafran War in Nigeria finally relieves Achebe of the burden that came with carrying for decades such traumatic details of a very disturbing war. Achebe–who had previously restricted his war recollections to a few poems–narrates his experience, as he lived it and how he has come to understand it.
When the war began, Achebe was already a known writer but he played his part in the conflict by protecting his family and his people serving the Biafran government as cultural ambassador. It was there he witnessed the killings first hand and watched the war’s full horror.
‘There Was a Country’ will provide new insights into the controversial claims and counter-claims that have been spoken or documented of the Nigerian civil war, which was fought between 1967 and 1970. In 256 pages, Achebe has managed to compress 40 years of research and personal experience. No wonder despite rejecting the title, is still referred to as ‘The father of African literature’ at 82 years old.