As the debate and discussion goes on, on this recent Master work of Achebe, There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra, I am beginning to think that the best approach could be to, first, lay hand on this book, then go through it, before coming up with critics or appreciations. All the same, I came across this description giving at the Bookdepository.com and wish to share it with those who are yet to go through it. It might, also, be a good thing grabbing this scholarly writing work so as to understand why Achebe waited for 40 good years before breaking his silence on an issue that has always bothered him. I wish you a good digestion as the description, just like the book is really a must read.
“From the legendary author of “Things Fall Apart” comes a longawaited
memoir about coming of age with a fragile new nation, then watching it
torn asunder in a tragic civil war”
The defining experience of Chinua Achebe’s life was the Nigerian civil
war, also known as the Biafran War, of 1967-1970. The conflict was
infamous for its savage impact on the Biafran people, Chinua Achebe’s
people, many of whom were starved to death after the Nigerian government
blockaded their borders. By then, Chinua Achebe was already a
world-renowned novelist, with a young family to protect. He took the
Biafran side in the conflict and served his government as a roving
cultural ambassador, from which vantage he absorbed the war’s full
horror. Immediately after, Achebe took refuge in an academic post in the
United States, and for more than forty years he has maintained a
considered silence on the events of those terrible years, addressing
them only obliquely through his poetry. Now, decades in the making,
comes a towering reckoning with one of modern Africa’s most fateful
events, from a writer whose words and courage have left an enduring
stamp on world literature.
Achebe masterfully relates his experience, bothas he lived it and how
he has come to understand it. He begins his story with Nigeria’s birth
pangs and the story of his own upbringing as a man and as a writer so
that we might come to understand the country’s promise, which turned to
horror when the hot winds of hatred began to stir. To read “There Was a
Country” is to be powerfully reminded that artists have a particular
obligation, especially during a time of war. All writers, Achebe argues,
should be committed writers–they should speak for their history, their
beliefs, and their people.
Marrying history and memoir, poetry and prose, “There Was a Country “is
a distillation of vivid firsthand observation and forty years of
research and reflection. Wise, humane, and authoritative, it will stand
as definitive and reinforce Achebe’s place as one of the most vital
literary and moral voices of our age.
”The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said”. ALISON.