Only-truth’s account

My family almost never made it out of Kano in 1966 if not for my fathers small arms cache of double barrel guns. Nuff said about that! cool

My family moved from Kano in 1966 down to Port Harcourt and stayed there till the actual war broke out. My father was among the voluteers who went to conduct “combing” (put out the fires at the Port Harcourt refinery among other duties) when the Nigerian Navy was shelling PH from the coast. He sustained slight burns to his upper right arm and chest, and carried the scars to the war proper.

He joined the Biafran army when my family returned to Nnewi in late 1967, got few weeks of training, and was moved to the fronts at Nkpor.
Before the war, my father was in the leadership of Ndigbo in Kano alongside “Okonkwo Kano” ( great man!). He was shot in the left hip (from the back) by a Nigerian army snipper near umudioka and was mistaken for dead but was later found and rescued by his colleagues, then moved to the Biafran camp at Nwafor Orizu secondary school in Nnewi, from where he was then sent home.
In my father’s absence, my mother had to get involved in “afia attack” and walked from Nnewi (Anambra state) all the way to Umuahia (Abia state!) where she bought salt. She then carried the salt (on her head) all the way to Nnewi to sell. That afia attack kept kwashiokor away from my family thoughout the worst period of the war.

During one of her trips, she was basically rescued (together with other women traders) from a rain of mortar shells from the Nigerian army by some Biafran soldiers; one of them was a family friend who knew her back in Kano. She recalled that the soldiers loaded them to the back of a “tipper” truck which ferried wounded and dead Biafran soldiers back to towns behind the lines. One wounded soldier was desperate for water and she wanted to offer him water, but she was scolded by other Biafran soldiers who told her that if the soldier drank water he would certainly die. She had to cover her ears against all the mortar “whistles” (as she called them) and the painful moans of wounded soldiers.

She recalls that when she was walking back with the salt on her head, they would encounter many dead and wounded people along the road. On a certain trip, other women in their trip party were basically dumping their salt merchandize into the bushes and walking home with nothing. “Ndu ka aku” was the logic, but the problem was that you are dead without the salt which would be sold and the money used to buy food. You are certainly dead without the salt (thought my mother, and she was right!). She held onto her salt and walked home! My mum, the quintessential Igbo woman! Tough as a nail!

Well, I guess you all know now where I got my toughness. cool

My father recovered most of his properties in Kano though he had to sell some at give away prices. He later recovered one of his hotels in Port Harcourt.
He never really recovered from the war. sad