Man Shares His Father’s Memoir On Biafra And Surviving The Civil War
Samuel Otigba, a digital strategist took to social media to share excerpts of his father’s memoir on Biafra and how his family survived the civil war.
His father identified as Chudy Otigba, shared his story titled memoir on the Nigerian-Biafra war, and it’s horrific killings on Facebook.
Samuel said he was surprised that his father could write so well.
Sharing the memoir on Twitter, Samuel tweeted; “Dad’s Memoir on Biafra & surviving the civil War. Can’t believe he writes so well & no one knew.”
Read the memoir below,
I was in school that very day, the famous Central School Onitsha, the first primary school established in Onitsha, even the Great Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe “ZIK” attended the same school.
My mama came running, crying to the Central School around midday searching for me and my elder sister.
Mama was crying saying Ndi Awusa abatago Asaba, Onitsha Bridge, the only link between Asaba and Onitsha has been blown up.
Quickly She gathered us and we ran back home where my other siblings were already prepared and ready to travel to our village, Awkuzu.
Papa was no where around and we haven’t seen him for some days. Papa was a tall handsome man, the pride of any woman. He was a long distance gwongworo Mercedes 911 Truck driver.
The latest model of the 911 Mercedes Truck painted beautifully with different colours and with inscriptions I couldn’t remember now was always parked in front of our yard at Wetheral Street Onitsha just off Iweka Road. The OBAZE’S one story beautiful home was just a block away at Popular Iweka Street.
The Iweka hospital, the big MODEBELU Vast home and others were in the same Neighbourhood.
Opposite our face me I face you yard was the EGBEONUS massive three floors house with multiple rooms and shops on the ground floor.
My Papa gwongworo 911 Mercedes Truck model, the latest then was always parked in front of our yard but that particular day of our flight out of Onitsha, the Truck wasn’t there.
Although it wasn’t unusual because his Driving job takes him to Kano and Khartoum in Sudan, so we are used to his long time absence.
We were always rewarded with Akwa Ogazi “Guinea fowl eggs ” in crates, anu amili ami (Dried meats), clothes and many other things that he may have gathered on his long journey from Ochanja motor park Onitsha travelling through the North, Kano to Sudan and back were always a thing of joy and memorable moments each time he returns back home from his long journey.
He was very famous among his peers other drivers in those years of 60’s. Driving 911 latest model Mercedes Truck then in the 60’s was like driving a brand new Luxurious Bus today, and he was very good at it.
It was rumoured that he was among the few that can drive from Onitsha to Kano in 24 hours then there were no express Roads.
I was six years old then but already in elementary 2. I entered elementary school at age 5 because I had big frame and my right hand was able to touch my left ear across my head.
Mama gathered I and my siblings, we were five then, my elder sister, I am the first son and my little brother and other two sisters and we headed towards upper Iweka motor park and boarded a vehicle travelling to Oye – Agu Abagana Junction, where we took another vehicle to our village, Awkuzu.
My Mama as I remembered her then was a very beautiful tall black girl in her mid 20’s. She was nicknamed Akwete Nwanyi or Nwanyi Ghana because of her beautiful blackness and resemblance to Ghanaians.
She would have married my father as a teenager.
She was so beautiful and industrious, taken care of us in long absence of our father because of the nature of his job.
My mother was from Chukwurah family, ndi be Surveyor, from Odoje Kindred in Onitsha.
She was a Caterer with a difference.
Her small makeshift wooden Restaurant was just beside our house in a Mechanic workshop. But her food was the best in the area and very famous.
She used to wake me up around 5.30 am to help her while my elder sister will be taking care of my little siblings.
By 6.30 to 7.00 am a long line would have been formed in front of her Canteen waiting for her food. People going to work, artisans, school children etc all lined up with plates waiting for her hot delicious food.
And she never disappoints both in the quality of her food and time, always out on time between.700 to 7.15 am every day. We had one househelp then called Mgboyigbo.
Mama will wake me up around 5.30 am to help her singing:
”Chifora, me òsisò, ni ihi na ilu olugi dirigi. Ishu mili na iza iro, tupu ijebe akwukwò”.
I will quickly fetch some buckets of water from the public pump, sweep the front of our two rooms, help her blow air into the firewood so that the wood will catch fire before taking my bath to prepare for school.
Her SPECIALITY was Nni-òka na ofe òninò- ogbono soup..
The hot Nnioka is laced on top with the best and tastiest Ogbono soup garnished with azu mangala or azu asa (dried fish) with afa anu, (Orishirishi) intestine, na pu òku. She was the best in the neighbourhood, with her special DELICACY of Nnioka na ofe ogbono.
She was a very strong woman, black and very beautiful and industrious.
By the time we got to our village, there were tales of ndi igbo being slaughtered everywhere, fear everywhere, many were on the roads with anxiety, anxiously looking and waiting for the return of their relatives and family members residing na ugwu awusa especially Kano where the Igbos were being slaughtered like animals.TO BE CONTINUED.
It wasn’t easy when we got home at my father’s house in the village.
Nobody knows the whereabout of my father, last known was he travelled to Kano as usual ferrying goods and passengers to Kano.
One of the returnees from Kano said he saw him at Sabongeri Area of Kano few days earlier before he ran for his own life back to village when the progrom started. He testified that the Igbos were being slaughtered like animals in Sabongeri and it was by the mercies of God he made it home to Awkuzu.
Sabongeri Area was the abode of most Igbos living in Kano in the 60’s.
But thank God as young enterprising wise Igbo man, Papa built a 6 Bedroom Bungalow in his village Umuriam Awkuzu.
The House was full of all his siblings and his mother,(Grandma) , Aunty Ekegbo, (and her children), Aunty Mgbogo,( her children and husband), Uncle Nwoye and Uncle Jekwu, and others that I have never met before.
There were arguments everyday. We manangely took over Papa’s room, of course the only one available.
Nobody dare occupy his room.
Odogwu Nwoke, I think he was about 27 or 28 years old when the war started.
Though his father died when he was a boy, through hard work and God’s grace was a successful young man. Even in Kano, he was very popular because of his Big Gwongworo, latest model of Mercedes 911 Truck, with big wooden built back, to carry goods and passengers. The colourfully painted Gwongworo with big loudspeaker Horns that sounds like:
( Ejelum Aba ta, wenata echi), it was the most popular horn by then, like Sirens today.
There were also arguments among my father’s kindreds on the issue of the particular ground where Papa built his 6 Bedroom Bungalow.
The plot of the land where he built his house originally belonged to one late close relative, a barren widow.
She took up Papa as a small child when Papa lost his father at a very tender age.
My Grandmother remarried many different men to birth his other siblings and was not taking proper care of Papa.
So, this old widow, who was a very close relative of Papa then adopted him.
Tradition and culture then permits a barren widow to marry another woman in order to raise children to inherit her late husband’s lands.
This widow Ezeagbo married a fellow lady thinking she would have male children from her to inherit her late husband’s massive land, but she gave birth to only female children.
My father was like the only child she has.
God was favourable to my father.
Although stack illiterate, never went to any school he was very successful, Odogwu neti eti, Ikolobia Nwoke in his time.
The widow made sure my father married early before he was 20 years old.
And God blessed him with 5 children, 2 boys and 3 girls and Mama was also pregnant with another son during that time with Ejimfor who later died of Kwashiokor at Umu Eze Anam as the war progressed. Ezeagbo, the barren widow gave Papa a portion of land where he built his 6 Bedroom Bungalow, which in the 60′ was a big achievement.
But eventually she died before the war.
And now there’s war and quarrel has broken over the portion of the land Papa built his house.
some of my father’s elderly kinsmen, after dividing the vaste estate of this late barren widow land, were not satisfied but wanted also the portion of the land Papa built his house.
We all cramped into Papa’s room, the only one no one dare occupy even though nobody knows his whereabout.
Mama was being maltreateated by Papa’s siblings.Life was difficult, mama is no more running her restaurant, it wasn’t easy for her, no more income, she started selling some of her wrappers to feed us.
So many returnees from Kano, Lagos, PH who didn’t build any house in the village were being abused, insulted, spoken roughly and many of these were Rich Igbos residing in their own houses in the various cities they lived in Nigeria, that war forced now to run for their lives, some came back with only the clothes on them. TO BE CONTD.”
Dad’s Memoir on Biafra & surviving the civil War. Can’t believe he writes so well & no one knew. pic.twitter.com/w43iE8jGIi
— Samuel Otigba (@SamuelOtigba) January 21, 2021