Before the war ended

An excerpt from Allison Chimaeze Eñeogwe’s autobiography, Perseverance: Arise and Shine

Perseverance Cover

From my radio, I knew by late 1969 that Nigerian troops began an unprecedented move towards the Aba axis. Aba-Ngwa people are as farmers and producing the best garri throughout Nigeria. This movement of the federal troops seemed to be total as they were combing from village to village. The majority of Ngwa people who had no money to feed themselves if they fled from their homes decided to take on the greater evil – mass surrender. The information from the radio revealed that those who surrendered were treated fairly. All they had to do was to hide in the bush or anywhere and await the retreat of the Biafran army. Then, when the Nigerian army advanced towards them, the people came out with white handkerchiefs in their hands, shouted “One Nigeria” and were safe from harm. 

I went to Amepku Uratta, got my father with his wives and brought them to Umukalu Ntigha, Brother Levi’s village. By this time, he had also left Eziala Mbawsi – his in-law’s place – and moved to his village. 

Other refugees living with us were moving northwards towards Umuahia, but my wife was very sick and I knew that if we went further, she was going to die. Going further meant getting to Mbaise area or Okigwe. In such a place, where were we going to get food? So, I called my father and told him that we were going to surrender now. I told him what I had been hearing from the radio, the modality of surrender and how those that surrendered were treated.

This time around, my father was afraid. “Do you mean that after we have managed all these days to escape death from Nigerian soldiers you want us to surrender now so that they will kill us?” he asked. 

“No,” I replied. “The war has been going on for a long time and everybody is tired now. Most of the soldiers are now interested in whatever will end the war than what will protract it.” 

“Chimaeze, if you say we should surrender, let us surrender. If they kill us today, I have lived longer than you and I have eaten more food than you. I will abide by your suggestion.” 

Having gotten the approval of my father, I called everybody in Levi Okeogu’s compound – his elders, himself and all other refugees. I told them of the decision we had to take that very day, in view of the fact that federal troops were at our doorsteps. I had to be careful about making this thing open because I was afraid that someone might decide to report me to pockets of Biafran soldiers that were around the area who would not waste time in coming to execute me as a saboteur.

Since we were within shelling range of artillery guns, we could hear the booming sounds of all sorts of weapons, both small and large. Earlier, Levi had taken me to the bush with his brothers to map out our strategy. Thus, by 2 p.m. on 24th December 1969, we moved into the bush between Umukalu and Osusu Village and laid down flat in the bush. At about 4 p.m., we heard the marching song of the Nigerian army in Hausa, and I gave the order to shout, “One Nigeria” and rise up with handkerchiefs and move towards Osusu road and let the soldiers see that we were not armed. 

Earlier in the day, we had buried my father’s double-barrel gun and other guns in the compound of the Okeogus, which we did not recover. I had to buy new guns for my father after the war. 

As the Nigerian soldiers saw us moving in that convoy – male, female, boys, old and young – they were astonished. Some of them even knelt down and prayed to God and thanked him while others said, “So the war is ending?” Immediately, I came out from the bush with my wife and my two little children, my mother, my father and his entourage behind me. I was wearing a white long-sleeved shirt with white trousers. The soldiers shouted: “Welcome, my men. Food dey, water dey.” They instructed us to head to Okpuala-Ngwa hospital, where Isiala-Ngwa North Local Government Headquarters is located today. 

Not long after the first detachment of troops passed, another detachment came by. I was wearing my wife’s wristwatch – a Buler Swiss watch – the one I had bought for her for our wedding. One soldier approached me and quickly removed the wristwatch from my wrist and it fell. Immediately, two of his colleagues picked up the watch from the ground and said, “Sorry, teacher.” One blew the sand off the wristwatch and put it back on my wrist. “We are sorry, teacher,” they repeated.

According to these kind soldiers, they had been in the bush for three years now praying that the war would end. Now that the people were coming out to surrender, their greedy colleague wanted to treat them badly. One of them warned the offender that if he engaged in such misconduct again, he would kill him. His partner nodded in confirmation of the threat.

They ordered the soldier to apologise to me, and he said, “Sorry, teacher.” I am sure it was the way I was dressed that earned me the name, “Teacher”. 

We marched to Okpuala-Ngwa hospital where thousands were already gathered, loosely surrounded by some Nigerian soldiers. Immediately I settled down, a soldier came towards me and saw my radio – it was a Philips. The soldier told me that as soldiers, they took anything they desired from any refugee – radios and other valuables – but he had vowed that he would never take anything from the owner simply because the situation permitted it. So, he humbly requested to buy my radio. I told him that it was alright but that, since it was getting late, he should come over the next morning so we could talk about it. 

The following day, the soldier came as arranged. He was not alone. The night before, I had made enquiries in the camp and I was told that I was fortunate I passed through the front and came in here with a radio. I was advised to quickly do away with the radio before I was accused of using it to communicate with Biafra soldiers. Throughout that night, I was afraid that what I had been warned about may occur. 

I asked the soldier how much he would pay for my radio. The other soldier opened his bag and brought out a new radio exactly like mine. He was just there to advise on a fair price. “Talk truth for God, how much did you buy this radio?” my “customer” asked him. The soldier replied that he had just returned back from “pass” to Ibadan and that “truth for God”, he had bought his radio for 15 pounds. 

I didn’t argue with him over this position and the buyer said he would pay me 15 pounds. I had been expecting to get five pounds at most. The soldiers left and in less than ten minutes, the buyer returned and gave me 15 pounds of Nigerian currency. That was when I discovered that Nigeria had redesigned the currency during the war. The money felt like a thousand pounds and marked the beginning of my financial recovery. 

The Biafran currency was, however, still a legal tender among us in the camp. 

We stayed in the camp until 31st December 1969, when they told us to go back to our different homes in the areas that had been liberated by Nigerian soldiers. So, on 1st January 1970, we started our journey back to Egbede.

 

PERSEVERANCE: Arise and Shine is about an “Iron Man of Action” who rose from being an apprentice electrician to a top industrialist.

At 18, young Mazi Allison Chimaeze Eñeogwe dropped out of school for lack of funds and moved to Port Harcourt where he became an electrician. His uncommon ingenuity made him stand out, and he rose fast in his chosen career, which was truncated by the civil war in 1966, during which he had to cross enemy lines for trade. Once the war was over, he settled in Aba and got involved in different industrial ventures. His faith as a Jehovah’s Witness always put him in good stead before people, and his sense of humour has seen him through many dark days.

PERSEVERANCE: Arise and Shine chronicles this proud Ngwa man’s challenges – sell-outs, fraud, kidnap attempts, false detention and a two- year self-imposed exile – and how he has come out of it all still holding his head high.

 

Available on Kindle HERE.

Image source

Celebrate World Jollof Rice Day with Kitchen Butterfly

Monday, August 22, is World Jollof Rice Day! Come join Ozoz Sokoh (aka Kitchen Butterfly) at this mouthwatering event to celebrate all that is great about Nigeria’s favourite party food.

 

Kitchen Butterfly and Maggi

The event will feature:

– An exhibition of jollof rice photographs
– A session on the history of jollof rice
– A book meet: an exploration of ‘Jollof Rice in Literature’ (Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Without a Silver Spoon by Eddie Iroh). This session will feature Wana Udobang, Ozoz ‘Kitchen Butterfly’ Sokoh and Amanda Chukwudozie, and will be moderated by Eghosa Imasuen.
– Farafina titles for sale, at 10% off
Free jollof rice to eat

Date: Sunday, August 21, 2016
Time: 4 PM
Venue: A Whitespace Lagos, 58 Raymond Njoku Street, Ikoyi, Lagos

Entry is absolutely free, so come along and bring a friend!

Igoni Barrett and Binyavanga Wainaina Read in Lagos in October

Quintessence will, on Saturday the 19th of October, host the first readings of the Nigerian editions of critically acclaimed books by two authors.

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Igoni Barrett’s Love is Power or Something Like That has been described as “Something alive, like that,” by none other than Nadine Gordimer. In this collection of short stories, Igoni, with humour and tenderness, introduces us to an utterly modern Nigeria, where desire is a means to an end, and love is a power as real as money.

Binyavanga Wainaina, storyteller, essayist, and force of nature won the Caine Prize in 2002 for his short story cum essay Discovering Home. This brilliant story would be fleshed out into the incredible memoir of life lived, and home found, One Day I Will Write About This Place.

Farafina presents these books at the event of the year: Igoni and Binyavanga under one roof. You do not want to miss it. We will see you at 2pm on Saturday the 19th of October 2013.

Venue: Quintessence, Plot 13, Block 44 Parkview Estate Entrance, off Gerrard Road, Ikoyi. (See photo for map)

Prizes will be one by the early birds.

 

June 12: the Game of Thrones

By Amatesiro Dore

Book Excerpt

June 12 1993: Annulment by Abraham Oshoko (Graphic Novel, 289 pages. Farafina Books, 2013)

This is a sick book about a sick nation, sketched and written by a gifted artist. This is not fantasy fiction like A Games of Thrones by George R. R. Martin where knights and kings wage wars for the Iron Throne with the aid of dragons, magic, swords, and battleships. June 12 1993: Annulment by Abraham Oshoko is real and non-fictional. Nigerian politicians and military men are fighting for Aso Rock with billion naira bribes, revenue embezzlements, fraudulent lies, currency manipulations, character assassinations, and betrayal of friendships. If this is fiction, I would accuse Oshoko of being a very sick man, but these are historical facts, and they are ill.

When copies of this book arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, they were intercepted by men of the State Security Service. The glossy paged graphic novel, designed in a comic book style, received an august reception fit for precious political arts. The SSS delayed distribution and deliberated over “seditious” comments in the book. They withheld five copies for their corporate enlightenment and failed to send us a review, but they permitted Kachifo to take delivery of the remaining copies of June 12. Why? The SSS are right about this: most Nigerians don’t read. The secrets of Aso Rock are safely hidden in the coloured pages of June 12 1993: Annulment; confiscating the book is only going to drum up desired publicity for these classified pages.

Quotes from political pundits and national players peppered the ten chapters of this book. The book covers the annulment days of June 21st -23rd 1993 to the Palace Coup days of November 15th – 18th 1993. It is set in the following mental wards in Nigeria: Aso Rock, Aguda Guest House, MKO Abiola’s private jet and Ikeja mansion, Yar Adua’s compound, the National Assembly, Lagos State Governor’s Office, Dodan Barracks, Babangida’s mansion in Minna, and all other places where Nigeria is decided. June 12, 1993 is the manipulation of the people, by the people, and for the leaders. It is a struggle for federal power, the complicity of our royal fathers, and a record of the cash and carry politics of our political and military leaders. All the saints are villains, and all the bad guys are doing their best for Nigeria.

June 12 is also an economic crisis. The book reveals the seventy kobo fuel price, before the crisis, and the 500% increment to five naira per litre after the June 12 debacle. June 12 is beyond a democratic struggle, the right of every citizen to sell their vote to the highest bidder, and the military hypocrisy about civilian corrupt practises. In Babangida’s speech about the reasons for his annulment of the June 12 elections, he claimed over 2.1 billion naira was spent by both political parties (founded and funded by him), and that he could not swear in a President that had encouraged the campaign of divide and rule…blah blah blah.

The book reveals how the Central Bank of Nigeria was indebted to the bankrupted Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (or verse versa), and the foreign reserve was depleted within weeks after June 12.

Nigerians should read and remember the conspiratorial roles of Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Musa Yar Adua, Anthony Anenih, Ibrahim Babangida, Baba Gana Kingibe, David Mark, Arthur Nzeribe, Uche Chukwumereji, Ibrahim Dasuki, Ernest Shonekan, Sani Abacha, Joshua Dogonyaro, Oladipo Diya, and MKO Abiola, in an event known as June 12, which can be described as the sin of the nation.

Na wa o!

Na wa o!

Sick!

JUNE 12 1993: Annulment (Hardback: N4,500)

JUNE 12 1993: Annulment (Paperback: N3,000)

KONGA.COM, and at Kachifo Limited: 253 Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba, Lagos. Tel: 01-7406741, 0807 7364217.

Also Available  in Lagos:

– Quintessence: Falomo Shopping Complex, Ikoyi.
– The Hub Media Store: The Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki.
– Patabah: Shop B18, Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall, Surulere.
– The Booksellers Limited: Pan African University, LBS, Km 49 Lekki Expressway, Ajah.
– Lanterna Bookstores: 13 Oko-Awo Close, off Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island.

In Abuja:
– The Booksellers Limited: Ground Floor, City Plaza, opposite Biobak Restaurant, Rubuka Close, off Ahmadu Bello Way, Garki II.
– Chapters Books Limited: F7 Omega Centre, Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse II.

In Port Harcourt:
– Charams Bookshop: 10 Shop 105, Gods Grace Plaza, Peter Odili Road, Trans Amadi, P/H.
– Rainbow Bookshop: 20 Igbodo Street, Old G.R.A.
– Chapters Books Limited: Bovatti Building, 78 Woji Road, G.R.A. Phase II

In Ibadan:
– The Booksellers Limited: 52 Magazine Road, Jericho.

Abraham Oshoko’s June 12 1993: Annulment so hot even Nigerian Authorities won’t let it go!

3On the 12th of June 2013, Kachifo Limited was scheduled to commence circulation of its latest publication, June 12, 1993 Annulment, by Abraham Oshoko, sequel to June 12, The Struggle for Power in Nigeria.

The cargo containing the books arrived in Nigeria on Sunday, the 9th of June, 2013, and our staff went to the airport and with our clearing agents, commenced the necessary steps and clearance required before the books would be released. This was not to be, as after the Standard Organization of Nigeria had carried out their screening procedures, and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, had ensured that the cargo contained no contraband and cleared the books.

Then, just when we thought we could finally deliver the books to the waiting public, they were promptly seized by none other than the Nigerian State Security Service. Kachifo Limited staff were informed that clearance was being withheld to enable the State Security Service check the content of the book and ensure that the publication was not a “violence, anti-government book”. Annoying as this was, we have to say we did feel a little honoured that one of our publications was joining the honoured State Security Service roll. Really, doesn’t it have to be an important book to get blocked by SSS?

Nigerian State Security Service

Nigerian State Security Service

As part of the clarification process by the State Security Service, the book would have to pass through a panel, set up by them, to go through its contents and ensure that it did not contain anything that would potentially spark unrest upon circulation. They also stated that this was an important measure for them due to the fragile political state of the country because, according to them, “June 12 was the root of Nigeria’s current political problems” (we withhold all comment on this but would really like to know what you think).

The State Security Service then took 6 copies of the publication for review free – which were not returned even after the books had finally been cleared for release on Saturday, the 15th of July 2013. Staff of Kachifo Limited were on hand to receive them, after which the books were brought to our premises in Yaba, and circulation commenced.

The sudden anxiety displayed by the State Security Service was surprising to us at Kachifo Limited because the first part of the multi-part series which was published in 2006 and has been in circulation since then has not caused unrest of any sort.

The June 12 elections are, and will always be, a significant event in our country because the elections were a true display of fairness and democracy. It is important that such a vital part of our history be kept alive, for generations here and to come, to know and understand our past – warts and all. What  a gaping hole it would leave if we tried to celebrate and recognise some events and people, but act as though other events and the people involved in them never existed. Never forget #june121993.

Post script: Please tell us what you think our our post and of the June 12 event in general in the comments section below or via Facebook or on Twitter using the hastag #june121993 and we’ll reweet/like your post. Our Twitter handle is @farafinabooks or finds us on Facebook as Farafina Kachifo.

Abraham Oshoko: “It was the first time in Nigerian history as a nation that an election was held that was free and fair and free of electoral violence and malpractice.”

Abraham Oshoko, author and illustrator of the June 12 graphic novels talks about his newest addition to the June 12 series – June 12, 1993: Annulment and also what it means to be a graphic novelist.

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1. What did you find most challenging in writing June 12: Annulment?

The research…piecing together all the details from numerous sources.

2. Was June 12: Annulment easier to write than the first June 12?

Yes and No. Yes because I have researched and done something like this before (even though there were differences in conceptualisation) and no because the style of this new volume is different from the initial one.

Let me explain.  The first book (being the first one), shifted between prose and reportage. It was like that because it was my first time and the amount of information gathered during the research work was so staggering that it was difficult to decide how much information should come in and how it should be presented. Should it be prose, documentary, poetry, comedy or tragicomedy?

However, for this new book, I settled for prose. I thought; why not tell the story from the perspective of each of the players? Also, why not turn the players themselves into actual characters so that even though the story is non-fiction, it could be told in a way that will be appealing and yet intriguing to the reader without compromising the truth?

So you have a story that takes us into the reasoning of Sani Abacha on why he really believed it was his ‘turn’ to be head of state; or why IBB felt he had no choice but to go along with the annulment or why MKO stood his ground that he won an election and therefore he has to rule etc.

3. How did you conduct your research?

By gathering books, journals and articles written by all sides of the controversy. So there were books written by people close to Babangida, MKO, reports of eyewitness meetings with Abacha, Shonekan and so on. There were also personal interviews from most of the leading figures of that era.

After this, the facts have to be cross checked with other research materials.

It was records from news magazines like Tell, The News, Newswatch, African Concord etc. that strengthened the chronological order in the graphic novel.

4. Why did the June 12 elections stand out for you, after all there were other elections that were sabotaged in one way or the other?

It was the first time in Nigerian history as a nation that an election was held that was free and fair and free of electoral violence and malpractice. This is also the view of all the members of the Nigerian Electoral Monitoring Group and all the international observers from several foreign countries. So it was a monumental event that should be recorded properly.

 5. Did you feel that you were objective when writing June 12?

Yes. The goal was to avoid writing propaganda and faithfully chronicle the Nigerian history so that posterity would have an accurate history as much as possible. MKO Abiola was not spared in the book. People who were close to him spoke freely of his shortcomings as a person and as a leader; events surrounding him were depicted the way they actually happened. Babangida was not spared either but he wasn’t also unduly victimized. The truth was told according to what really happened by piecing together all parts of the puzzle and fitting them together to give us the whole picture.

6. What message would you like your readers to take from June 12: Annulment?

We need to be highly informed about our past and soberly draw lessons from it as we decide where we intend to go as a nation and as individuals from henceforth.

7. Do you write the story first and then draw the graphics or do the graphics come first for you?

Of course I have to write first. After researching different materials, collation is done and then plot is built after which I write the script. It is after this that the process of illustrating begins.

8. What would you say were the differences between a graphic novel and a comic?

Apart from the volume (comics are regularly 22 to 25 pages; in other words, a single graphic novel chapter), graphic novels are more mature. Comics may be for children but graphic novels (being actually novels but in illustrated format) definitely have a wider appeal.

9. Your portrayal of Babangida and the complexities of his position is really in-depth. Would you say he is the main character of June 12?

I wouldn’t say he is the main character as there are three main characters – Abiola, Babangida and Abacha and there are several supporting characters like Shehu Yar’Adua, General Obasanjo, Ernest Shonekan, Omo Omoruyi, Beko Ransome Kuti on the side of the activists and so on.

Abraham Oshoko

10. What would your advice to other writers and graphic designers be?

Keep at it. You learn to write or draw by actually doing it. Also, take some time off to study and enjoy the works of other gifted minds!

Finally, “There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding.” 

JUNE 12 1993: ANNULMENT is the second in this multi-volume series by Abraham Oshoko. The book can be pre-ordered by emailing orders@kachifo.com, calling +2348077364217 or tweeting at us: @farafinabooks

Upon release, JUNE 12, 1993: THE ANNULMENT will be available in all major bookstores across the country.

 

Coming Soon: JUNE 12, 1993: The Annulment

June 12 Cover(130529)Kachifo Limited, publishers of Farafina Books, is proud to announce the forthcoming release of JUNE 12, 1993: THE ANNULMENT the second installment in the historical graphic novel series by Abraham Oshoko. The book tells the important and intriguing story of one of the most important days in Nigeria’s history, June 12 1993 and the events surrounding it.

Release date is June 12, 2013.

ABOUT THE BOOK
On the 12th of June 1993, a presidential election, adjudged free and fair by an overwhelming majority of observers, took place in Nigeria. A few days after, its results were suspended; and barely a week later, Nigerians were given a new word to add to their vocabulary, ‘annulment’.

What really happened in those tumultuous days between June and November 1993? For the first time ever, the full story, with its intricacies, intrigue and complexities, is told from the perspectives of all its major players, in this full-colour graphic novel.

JUNE 12 1993: ANNULMENT is the second in this multi-volume series by Abraham Oshoko.

JUNE 12, 1993: THE ANNULMENT can be pre-ordered by emailing orders@kachifo.com, calling +2348077364217 or tweeting at us: @farafinabooks

Upon release, JUNE 12, 1993: THE ANNULMENT will be available in all major bookstores across the country.

June 12, 1993: The Annulment

By Abraham Oshoko

ISBN: 978-978-51084-4-6

Published in 2013 by Kachifo Limited, under its Farafina imprint