Sunday, 21 January 2018 20:09

Adeyinka Makinde and Those Who Try to Deny Biafra

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I have often wanted to read Achebe's latest book There was a Country but hadn't had the courage to do so.. If I say I hadn't have time to read the book, that would not the whole truth. The truth is that one finds it hard to control strong feelings when dealing with events one finds extremely painful, excruciating, or agonizing. These feelings can turn into psychic pain if you are directly involved in the story. Biafra story is a stab in my heart because I lost several relatives, including parents who sacrificed all they had to see I was in America to gain education which my country denied me. The Israeli will never forget Holocaust just as the Igbos will never forget Biafra. The weighty story of Biafra can never be denied.

Could someone please explain to Mr. Adeyinka Makinde that Biafra came about as the people who were being killed and chased away by murderous mobs, ran home to a family and father figure that promised a semblance of protection. Mr. Adeyinka Makinde and this writer would do exactly as the Igbo did if Fulani cattle herders were to come at us in the middle of the woods with the AK-47, and we would be an Ojukwu if lions were behind us or if our wives and family members ran to us for protection from rapists and child kidnappers.

While I enjoyed Things Fall Apart because it was entertaining and relates to my culture, I consciously avoided reading There Was A Country for reasons I have already given. I told myself: "Look, man. You must read this book. Try reading several reviews of the book by your fellow Nigerians to get a taste. Do this before you pick up There was A Country." That's fair, isn't it? That's exactly what I did.

I took up the reviews after ranking a few reviewers' first names in alphabetical order. Adeyinks came first.  You could knock me down with a feather as I read Adeyinka Makinde's account. I wanted to see Makinde's handling of five questions. Why did Achebe undertake such a painstaking, meticulous, conscientious work? What motivated Achebe? What effects did  Biafra have on the Biafrans, on the Nigerians and the world? Who were the principal players? What lessons are to be learned from Biafra?

Mr. Adeyinka Makinde's review left a lot to be desired. It disappointed me and kept me wondering if the man ever went to school to have the title lawyer? I called a Yoruba friend and was told Adeyinka is a Yoruba name that means one who is surrounded by crowns on both sides, on the mother's and father's sides of the families. I can almost swear that Adeyinka Makinde did not read the book since he was anxious to disparage the author and poke holes through a book he never read and never understood. What was he driving at?.

Adeyinka, the reviewer,was more interested in belittling the book, finding fault with Chinua Achebe as a prolific  writer and advancing his self-indulgent theory that Biafra was a failed Igbo plot to seize power and grab undue headlines in an unsuspecting world, that Biafra was an underdeveloped feudal system. Makinde's review contained several erroneous assumptions made by a well-meaning but misinformed person eager to find  faults,. It is easier to tear apart but harder to construct.

One would expect a wearer of several crowns to present a well-reasoned judgment. What are the issues? Where is the meat, ?  It appears that Adeyinka the reviewer harbors unresolved conflicts pertaining to jealousies and bitterness against Igbos who were the first to organize the first successful coup in Nigeria, ahead of Awolowo..Was that the fact that robbed the reviewer of needed sympathy or empathy? Has he ever lost a family member?

Mr. Makinde belittles the book when he writes: " But the task of evolving a fundamental core of ideas and precepts aimed at transforming an ex-colonial, multi-clan group into a self-constructed modern nation deserves the sort of considered attention Achebe's book is not able to fully explore." What in hell does this sentence mean? Does he know of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's eight stages of death and dying?

Makinde jeers and makes a mockery of human suffering when he says: "The argument that by the dawn  of the colonial era, the Igbos had not evolved to a feudal level of social organization and developed attendant indigenous institutions of governance, akin to say to that of the neighboring Edo people, may of course be met with a riposte that the social organization practiced by many Igbo communities manifested a form of 'republicanism' and 'individualism." This is utter verbiage, circumlocution, gobbledygook, or simple nonsense. The importance of Igbos can be glimpsed in world history.

Finally, the reviewer showed crass, insensitive indifference to war its attendant evil. Adeyinka claims 'For Achebe, the importance of the civil war had profound consequences which went further than the territorial borders of Nigeria. It was he argues "a cataclysmic event which changed the course of Africa."' The Biafran War changed the course of the world just as the Hutu-Tutsi genocide changed the course of Africa and the world.

I am willing to forgive Mr. Makinde.. He never read the book. .He isn't  Igbo and he wasn't in the War. He never understood it and them. Even if he read and understood the book, it is clear that water does not pass through granite hills.

Dr. James C. Agazie; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ;

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James Agazie Ed D

A retired college Professor  with educational backgrounds in law (JD) education (Ed.D, MA) counseling,( MS) and and mathematics.  Write on topics dealing with Nigerian families, marriages, education, and employment.