Sorrows of Passion as a Picturesque Reminiscence of the Biafra War – By Isaac Asabor



It is undeniable that the 30-month-long conflict which claimed up to two million civilian deaths in the eastern region of Nigeria has remained Nigeria’s darkest moment, and it continues to haunt the country’s deliberation in its ignorance of history, and since the end of the war, the tears, blood and grief it left in its wake over 30 years ago have prompted the sustained writing of books from different perspectives on the how to remember them in the future; even through teaching and historical fiction.

Unquestionably, the book which is of the human angle genre, offered Mr. Uche Chris, editor and columnist as well as an accomplished writer the weekend pedestal to introduce it to the reading public. The occasion of the presentation of the book entitled “Pains of Passion A Biafra Story, Courage, Bravery, Suffering, and Death” saw Dr. Felix Oragwu, a nuclear physicist and the mastermind behind the scientific and technological innovations that have sustained Biafra during the war years as a guest lecturer.

As Dr Jide Johnson, Director of Studies at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), who graced the occasion as a reviewer, said, “It takes the reader on a scenic journey to the 1960s and offers a heartbreaking view of the ravages of war.

“It is a text in eighteen chapters with a prologue and an epilogue. The issues, events and people discussed in the text are divided into four sections – Prologue, 2006; Part I with a January 1964 timeline that has 13 chapters; Part II with a January 1970 timeline that has five chapters; and Epilogue for closing.

“Heavy on the facts of Igbo self-determination struggles, the book offers the reader an understanding of how a well-meaning cause can quickly go wrong, or go away, as today’s youth say. It is a specially designed piece of art that every youngster of every tribe, every religion in Nigeria must read.

“Reading and understanding this, nothing good comes from war, because, as they say, ‘all is fair in love and war’. It shows those who never witnessed war but beat the drums of war that every soul loses in war. Lives, livelihoods, sanity, history, love, peace and security are all casualties, and there’s usually enough carnage for everyone.

“The loss of promise and greatness, as in the case of Sonnie Nweke, Jeremy Ulasi and Ada Ulasi; Sonnie, an only child with great potential seemed like the ideal candidate to survive, but he became a war wounded. If not for the war, they would all have had incredible careers and lived valuable lives in the Republic and the country.

“Despite Sonnie and Ada’s apparent distance from the heat of battle, their lives were lost in even more tragic circumstances, on the brink of freedom, all thanks to war.

“One could only sigh at the trigger that pushed Sam Ulasi into the army, the attack on the village bully, Captain Hippolite Nwaorisa, his determination to live or die as a man, and his sad died at the dawn of his dreams in distant America Truly, some dreamers die.

As understood from the critic’s perspective, the book offers its reader the brutal realities of those who witnessed the war.

“Some of the survivors were better off dead. One case in question is Master, head of the Ulasi family. A strong, ambitious and steadfast father before the war. He ruled his household with an iron fist and had great dreams for his children. After the war, he was the drunkard of the family who had no control over his children and ended in a stroke, having lost his most promising children, Jeremy, Sam and Ada at war Her last child, young Kele, a child of promise, was no exception, and he was also scarred by the loss and ravages of war on his family, even as far as America.

Johnson explained that beyond the scarred and traumatized were those whose actions only undermined the war effort. One such figure was Brigadier Commander, Joe Ibezi. “An arrogant dictator, a lamentable administrator who ran the brigade and the town like a personal fief.”

He reviewed, “Perhaps many people romanticize wars because of their potential to forge strange and unlikely alliances. This is seen even during World War I when Sonnie’s father, an impoverished African student in Britain, was dumped along with his white neighbor, Bertie, who was to become his wife. This was also the case with the relationship of Sonnie, Ada and Sam, and the entire Ulasi and Nweke families.

“Wars, like pandemics, reveal the inadequacies of systems and structures. This is why the losses often exceed the marksmanship of the opposing parties and extend to medical deficiencies. Many who would have had a chance to fight are often lost to systems unable to cope with some degree of emergencies that war throws at them, as Sonnie Nweke would have been in the first place.

Johnson recalled the words of Reid Boates, thus, “one of the main advantages of publishing a book is that you get your message out in a permanent form. A book gives solidity to the message”. In this historic piece , informative, educational, and intriguing, the author has adopted a critical, thought-provoking, and engaging style to awaken and sustain readers’ interest and understanding of the complex social, political, and economic issues that have characterized the emergence and the non- -emergence of a genuine Nigerian state and the consequent problems, implications and disruptions of the war to the national and family life of the individuals and peoples who constitute the nation-state.

“It should be noted that a book written by someone of South Eastern descent would have adopted Professor Chinua Achebe’s simple, fluent and banal style of English.

“However, Chris in his nationalist view has adopted the style of Professor Wole Soyinka which sometimes requires a dictionary to understand the usage of words and vocabulary in the text. One can see the influence of the Lagos-Ibadan axis media on the lexicon, expression and vocabulary of the author. Probably, the passion of journalism and the pains of war are best illustrated using enlightening and gargantuan words from men and women of wood and caliber . (Laughs).

“Above all, the book, a must-read, raised the recurring issues of national discourse that led to the civil war and are still in the public domain unanswered: the question of national identity; Inclusion and integration of all nationalities in the nation state of Nigeria; Issues and outcomes surrounding the Civil War; Creation of States; Oil exploration; Resource control and statutory allocation; Foreign influence, as well as other issues such as girls’ education. Indeed, education strengthens the confidence, independence and articulation of women, as was the case of Ada Ulasi.

“Teachers as opinion leaders and the power of media narrative in shaping public opinion and discourse.

“This is Uche’s narrative and outlook. However, there is no single narrative that covers all angles of the story. Remember the fable of the six virtually disabled men and the elephant that gave birth to the 5Ws and Hs in Newswriting? THIS IS THE STORY OF UCHE; HIS HISTORY! When do we hear or read yours? »

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