Saturday, 6 October 2012

There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe

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 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.

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