African Literature: 10 powerful books that explore the legacy of the Biafran War

10 powerful books that explore the legacy of the Biafran War

These powerful books help us understand a complicated time in our history, and the political and personal legacy that it still carries.

The violence, tragedy, bravery, and loss of the Biafran War has been memorialized in countless novels, diaries, memoirs, and works of nonfiction.

These powerful books help us understand a complicated time in our history, and the political and personal legacy it still carries.

1. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie

 

Half of a Yellow Sun is a tremendously evocative novel of the promise, hope, and disappointment of the Biafran war.

An astute exploration of extreme politics, as well as a moving love story, Adichie examines the state of Nigeria before the war, the wave of suspicion and violence that led to it and the hardship it brought to the Igbos.

2. Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Set against the backdrop of the Nigerian Civil war, Under the Udala Trees is a coming-of-age story of a young girl; Ijeoma, whose life is marred by war, death, and forbidden sexuality.

Under the Udala Trees, examines the homosexual love between Ijeoma, a Christian Igbo, and Amina, a Muslim Hausa.

3. The Last Duty by Isidore Okpewho

 

Brutally honest and rich in detail, The last duty focuses on the casualties of the Biafran war. It shows how the circumstances, the deprivations, the hardship faced during war changes people.

This book gives us fresh insight into the lives of those affected by the Biafran war, indicating that under pressure humans are capable of despicable and horrendous actions.

4. Everything Good will come by Sefi Atta

 

This novel traces the unusual friendship between two African girls, one born of privilege and the other, a lower class “half-caste”, against the backdrop of tragedy, family strife, and a war-torn Nigeria.

Everything Good Will Come evokes the sights and smells of Africa while imparting a wise and universal story of love, friendship, prejudice, survival, politics, and the cost of divided loyalties.

5. Sunset in Biafra by Elechi Amadi

 

Sunset in Biafra is a bitter and beautifully-written memoir by Elechi Amadi, which looks at the war from the point of view of an anti-Biafran minority.

Sunset in Biafra is Elechi Amadi’s only work of non-fiction and he writes from the perspective of a sensitive and refined civilian caught up in the chaos of conquest and occupation.

6. Sozaboy by Ken Saro-Wiwa

 

Written in ‘rotten English’ – a mixture of Nigerian pidgin English, broken English and idiomatic English. Soza Boy describes the fortunes of a young naive recruit in the Nigerian Civil War: from the first proud days of recruitment to the disillusionment, confusion and horror that follows.

7. Sunset at Dawn by Chukwuemeka Ike

 

In a novel that is at the same time a satire, a love story and a story of war, Chukwuemeka Ike has drawn movingly and convincingly on his own experiences of the Biafran tragedy.

Described with Ike’s individual brand of warmth, sympathy, and all sheer humanity, this novel tells with humour, a human story set in the tragedy of the Biafran war.

8. There was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe

 

Marrying history and memoir, poetry and prose, There Was a Country is a ground breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling as written by one of the most vital literary and moral voices of our age.

9. Survive the Peace by Cyprian Ekwensi

 

This profound, startling, and beautifully book focuses on the Nigeria-Biafra war, interrogating the problems of surviving in the so-called peace.

It looks for instance at the pathetic fate of James Odugo, a journalist who survives the war only to be cut down on the road by marauding former soldiers.

Cyprian Ekwensi also penned another book on the Biafran War titled ‘Divided We Stand

10. The Biafran Story by Frederick Forsyth

 

The book gives a heart wrenching account of the 1966 coups; the massacres of Eastern Nigerians; the pulsating operations in the theatres of war and the kwashiorkor that brought Biafra to her knees.

A close friend of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the Biafran head of state, this book was the outcome of Forsyth’s years as a journalist covering the war in Biafra.

Honourable Mentions:

Toads of War by Eddie Iroh

Girls at War and other stories by Chinua Achebe

Why we struck by Adewale Ademoyega

Tragedy of Victory by Brigadier General Alabi-Isama

The Brothers War by John de St. Jorre

Surviving in Biafra by Alfred Uzokwe

Journey of no Return by Tochukwu Nwankwo

The Man Died by Wole Soyinka

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