Issues of Life

Because We Were Igbo…

There I was…
Minding my own business.
Loving my friends and family,
And being loved in return…
Sure, things were not perfect.
We had our quarrels and dramas,
But we were happy.
We had life, liberty and choices.
We had dreams and hopes for the future…

But like a thief in the night
War came upon our land.
We heard that our people were dying…
They were being targeted and massacred
For no reason but for their tribe…
Their lives didn’t matter…
They lost everything as they ran for their lives
And our Government did not defend their rights.

So, we rose up to preserve our lives;
To leave a name and legacy for our people,
To regain control over our lives,
To defeat the enemy that hated us…
Because we were Igbo.

It was not our choice,
It was our only option.
So, we gathered all our resources,
And motivated all our people,
To rise up in unity against their enemies.
The war took many lives.
Our enemy was relentless.
They were cruel, inhumane, unjust.
They vandalised, destroyed and raped us.
They killed us from the air, land and sea.
And even though our numbers were few,
And our might was limited,
We gave the best resistance,
And we endured the years of war;
Of poverty, homelessness and starvation,
Fighting a destiny of extinction!

The war changed us.
Some we lost, before they died.
Consumed by the misery and loss,
They drowned their sorrows in drinking…
And some of us found ourselves.
We found the strength to love again,
To forgive our brothers and sisters…
But we lost too many.
Everyday we watched our children die.
Our young boys were conscripted to fight,
Without training and without ample defense
To face a harsh reality,
And fall before their enemies.
But if only to win the war,
It was a worthy sacrifice…

When the cry came,
That the war was at an end,
It was not a moment too soon.
We did not rejoice for victory,
But for liberty to breathe again.
For the end of the killing,
For peace was still long in coming…
Those who hated us hated us still,
But there was no more justification,
For the evil they meted out passionately.

We returned to our homes.
Many were occupied,
Many were burnt to the ground,
Many were vandalised and destroyed.
We were not the same.
Our possessions were stolen,
Our jobs and careers lost,
Our friends and family dead or missing…
All we had were our lives,
And the hope that
The sun would rise tomorrow…

This poem was inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s telling of the Biafran War in her book “Half Of A Yellow Sun”.

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