Rejoinder to Adam Nossiter’s New York Times Review of Achebe’s Memoir By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

“Rumors of Nigeria’s demise have been somewhat exaggerated.”
With that sentence, Adam Nossiter started a perfunctory review of Chinua Achebe’s memoir, There Was A Country in the New York Times. The possibility of Nigeria’s demise is not a rumor. If such demise is exaggerated, the CIA is also guilty of the same crime. For Nigerians who daily live with the signs and symptoms of a dying nation it has passed the prelude. Each time they pay the price for a deeply flawed nation, the rumor is closer to reality.

Nossiter’s main issue with Biafra is that it was not viable. This is like telling the Jews after Holocaust that the state of Israel in Palestine was not viable. And I am sure that many did. In fact, some Jews were in support of the British-backed plan to create a country for the Jews in Uganda instead of having them reclaim their homeland in Palestine. For Igbo people who faced persecution, pogroms and annihilation, Biafra was inevitable. Viability has never stopped anything that is inevitable.

Conveniently, Adam Nossiter did not dwell much on the role of the international players in Biafra. They, more than any other group, determine what becomes viable in conflicts like this. The Biafrans fought beyond the expectations often associated with heroes. The unusual marriage of external forces against Biafra was something no strategist could have imagined. The only other time in history that Britain and Soviet Union fought on one side was against Adolf Hitler.

Nossiter said there really was not a country but a stillborn. If Biafra was a stillborn, it must be the world most famous stillborn ever because most families I know do not remember their stillborns the way the Nigerian family remembers Biafra.

Biafra was a country. It may not have succeeded but it surely made its mark while it was there. And it is still a virtual home and a cloud country for the Igbo and all those who face persecution and pogroms.

Nossiter wrote: “Yet when Achebe praises Ojukwu’s “gift for oratory,” the colors in the new nation’s flag or the accomplished design of its new currency it is sharply at odds with the haunting images of the suffering engendered by the war: the famine, the bodies “rotting under the hot sun.” His nostalgia seems jarring and misplaced.”

It is easy to look back now and blame the people who tried to save themselves from extinction. There is no way of calculating the Igbo lives that Biafra saved. If after Biafra they are still killing Igbo people in Nigeria today, imagine what they would have done without Biafra. In fact, who knows if any Igbo would have been left without that drawn Biafran line?

Maybe the nostalgia that would be left would have been similar to that of the dinosaur. Writers would recall stories of dead bodies of Igbo people returning to the East from all over the country and the final wipe out.

“Like his nostalgia for Biafra, Achebe’s judgment on contemporary Nigeria seems excessive — more the products of a writer’s jaundiced backward glances than a coming to grips with the reality of what was and what is. Nigeria today is a seething caldron, maddening in its contradictions and capacity for self-destruction but full of promise too, in its immense energy and human resources.”

Really? Has this guy been to Nigeria? For over 50 years, Nigerians have been feeding on this promise of potentials. It has become a pie in the sky. Well, the hunger has not disappeared. In fact, stunted growth has become the outcome of that self-deceit. No nation can survive for long carrying on its back the “capacity for self-destruction.” Eventually, it will act it out. Then, nobody will fault those whose judgments are today considered “excessive.”

Unlike Nossiter, when it comes to judgment of Biafra, as much as I admire Wole Soyinka, I am not relying on him to tell me what happened in Biafra. I am relying on the one who was there- Chinua Achebe.

I hope Adam Nossiter will find the time to read Wole Soyinka’s new book, “Of Africa” He won’t like the judgment Soyinka delivered in the book. A judgment that made Adam Hochschild to declare in the same New York Times, “If I’m right about the inner conflict reflected in Soyinka’s contorted prose, one thing I wish I could say to him is that perhaps he takes Africa’s woes too much to heart.”

For some of us who have more than a working relationship with Africa, there is no taking Africa’s woes too much to heart. There is no judgment that is “excessive.” Adam Nossiter and Adam Hochschild can afford to look at 11% GDP and pat Africa on the back. Those of us who have families dying from poor roads, poor healthcare and poor nutrition because African leaders are sending most of that 11% growth in GDP back to Nossiter and Hochschild’s country expect more.

Americans did not live on a phantom promise that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Americans have seen that promise fulfilled again and again.

Africans, in general, and Nigerians, in particular, cannot live on a phantom promise that they have enormous human and material potentials. At some point, Africans will figure out that they are dying while they are expected to wait for this apparition of a promise. And that is when their patience will fade way.
I find it hard to believe that Adam Nossiter, someone who read Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country and had worked in West Africa, is still using Ibo instead of Igbo. No where in the book were the Igbo referred to as Ibo.

He wrote, “Seven years after Nigerian independence, the prosperous Ibos, dominant in the eastern part of the country and targets of persecution and pogroms, declared their independence.”

Like most of Nossiter’s arguments, the statement above scratched the surface of the matter. The Igbo prominent presence across Nigeria was why they became a target for persecution and pogroms. If the Igbo were confined in the east, they would not have become targets of persecution and pogroms. Before Nigeria came into being and the Igbo were compelled by that reality to embrace the rest of Nigeria, nobody was persecuting and killing the Igbo in their homeland.

Biafra in a way was the Igbo attempt to return to home base after the Nigerian experiment turned sour for them. And once again, Nigeria would not let the Igbo be. Now that was the crux of the matter. And it remains the central question in the Nigerian experiment. It is not a rumor for Nigerians, and, obviously, not a rumor for the Igbo.


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Send your rejoinder to the New York Times

I looked for an email address of this writer but did not find. It is crucial that you send your rejoinder to the New York Times as they have a wider audience including the American government that was complicit in the Biafran genocide. If this atrocity is to not repeat itself, idiots who write falsehoods should be vigorously challenged wherever they post their drivel.
Good write up.

@wahala, yanga is ready and able to squash your shit!!!

what a fucking retard...the "my brother's sister property is my property" syndrome. so what if rudolf is your kinsman, you tribalist. SR gave him an opportunity, asshole!!! for your information, the president is my sister's brother too. i don't go about flaunting it. the truth hurts like crazy...makes you want to slap your mama!!!

@ En : Inferiority Complex is your problem

You lack the self esteem to write your full name out of fear your race or enclave would be deciphered. Your ignorance is exposed in your narrow view that other tribes do not live in Igboland or elsewhere, that's your "level" of intelligence that prompted me to believe you live in the gutter. In your stupid rationale, everyone should live in their state of origin abi? Slimy fool, the world is a village. Quit making a public "Asch" of yourself with your näive and senseless assumption about survival, Nigeria survives because of the Ibo, and the fear of the Igbomanu remains a "wise counsel" even to aborigines like your worthless and lazy self. Rudolf Og. Okonkwo is my cousin, how many of your kin contribute to SR? Drunkards!

Hypocrites and cowards on Saharareporters 3

And still for the south-south, even if Nigeria disintegrates today, and you succeed in getting your so called Niger Delta republic, you would still have the Igbos to contend with. The Igbos are not going anywhere. They are not going to vacate the south east for you. They will continue to be your neighbors whether you want it or not.
That's the nightmare you will have to live with for all eternity.

Hypocrites and cowards on Saharareporters 2

But here they are on Saharareporters, telling the Igbos why 50,000 of their people had to die because some officers from their stock killed some other prominent people from another ethnic stock.
And to the so called Niger deltans, there was not so much as a whimper from you when Abacha murdered Ken Saro Wiwa and eight other Niger Deltans. We didn't see you go on a murdering spree, killing all the northerners living in the Niger Delta.

Hypocrites and cowards on Saharareporters 1

It's funny whenever I hear the Yorubas and the so called south-south say the Igbos got what they deserved for killing some prominent politicians in the North and west. It doesn't matter to them that the 1966 coup was hatched by some few Igbo officers and the majority of Igbos had no knowledge of it.
When Abacha started killing some prominent Yoruba politicians and activists during their 'June 12' crisis, you'd think these guys would 'put their money where their mouth is', and start killing the hausas living in the south west. Even when the winner of that election died under the watch of another northerner, they still were not balls enough to slaughter the northerners living in the south-west.

There will eventually be a country called BIAFRA!

Whether the antagonists of Biafra like it or not, there will one day still be a country called BIAFRA. Only fools look at the country presently called NIGERIA and believe it has come to be forever! Have you ever seen a country that cannot accurately conduct a census of the population? How can that country compbat crime and plan for development? A country in which the desert and arid North will continuously claim to have more population than the savannah South for POLITICAL expedience?

In Nigeria, there is no single FUNCTIONAL database, not even for election purposes. Nigeria is the ONLY country in the world that does not have fuunctional National Identification Card Database. How can such a country make progress? The country is stalled in its 18th century existence till date! The solution, there has to be a break-up of the ethnic nation states for growth and progress to happen. Otherwise, we will be fooling ourselves while the rest of the world leaves us behind.


WTF!!! AN IGBO POGROM???? like the jewish pogrom? not surprised as i've heard many igbos refer themselves as jews. jewish wannabes. you canker worms have no right to a pogrom. the witnesses of the war are still very much alive and there are archived records of the war. one of your commentators even bragged about a "brave fight of the ibos" and you want to claim a pogrom in the annals of nigerian history? just like phillip emegwa(LIE)(don't care to check the spelling)lied on his accomplishments. he invented the computer. next an ibo was the first to land on the surface of the moon. your lies are your lies, the truth is ours to keep. you people are about to perpetrate the biggest 419 on the annals of nigerian history. 'igbo pogrom?' more like a deliberate attempt to draw sympathy and parallel the jewish margilization. maybe the US will give you guys financial aid as they do israel...know knows. something for about ibolocaust for holocaust. anu mkpi!!!

@wahala. U are actually in

@wahala. U are actually in the gutter! Why are the Igbo running away from their enclave? For survival! QED! If their enclave is developed, they won't be in Lagos, Ibadan, Warri, PH, Kaduna, Kano, etc. Or even such towns as Nguru, Offa, Minna, etc.


why use the meaning of the word so loosely? you debase the meaning of the word and the memory of those who truly suffered unprovoked attacks. the ibos fired the first shot and now want to claim victimhood??? you guys fought to the end and were crushed and you want to claim victimhood? a bunch of lies...LIES...LIES...LIES!!! be a man about hostory and stop this self pity..everybody-hates-the-ibos syndrome. you declared statehood, had an army, had your own money, cut out territories, fought and killed your enemies and yet talk about POGROM???...for that drooling dog licking and sucking his own dick...goodluck to you. REALLY!!! congratulations for been a higher mind. didn't know licking yourself can earn an award.

Who first fired the trigger?

Who first fired the trigger? Why do igbos always narrate the half truth thinking that everybody must believe in it. While I strongly condemnt the progrom but we must aknowledge the culpability of igbos in eliminating the leadership of other regions and leaving theirs intact. Its a sheer hypocrisy to skip what happened in jan 1966 n continue telling us igbos were massacred.

@ Ola : Respect !!

@Ola : Granted you erred with your previous "general statements" regarding the Ibos, I'm sure you were not forced to retract your comments. Throwing tantrums is human, but realising one's mistake and taking responsibility for it is the difference between 'learned' and 'enlightened' and I respect that in you. Yorubas are not only mostly educated, they're enlightened folks. Thanx for proving that with your lastest comment. Your futuristic publication can twist history all you want, readers will judge your essay for what it's worth. Respect !

@ En :Quit thinking in the gutter, Ibo enclaves are better developed than wherever you're from.

@ knives & guns... I'm not for your "butchery" and would prefer no blood is spilled. But if push comes to shove, my people have the 'war records' to prove our bravery. The topic is History of the Pogrom and I did not read much from you on the thema. So, you can go play with your bones instead of attacking a superior mind. Drooling Dog!

@ Ola, No worries!!! Talk is better than blowing my black axx up

Ola, you are the bigger man. You are right!!! We often took too much for granted. I salute you.

Ola, we are truly on the same path, I know that to be true. Your culture and mine, believe in the power of knowledge, freedom of speech, religion and, association. We love your great sons and daughters like Soyinka, Fela RIP, Gani RIP, Solarin RIP, Sunny Ade, Shegu Odegbami etc. No worries!!! Talk is better than blowing my black axx up. Cheers!!

@wahala...stick to the topic at hand...

@wahala...stick to the topic at hand...stay focused. why is that so hard for you to do? only when you are loosing do you change the topic. stay focused. there other targets on this forum besides @ Ola...the knives are ready and the guns ready to blaze. let the butchery begin. stay focused. the blood spilled might be yours...fool!

Trash! Tales by sunlight. The

Trash! Tales by sunlight. The typical tribal ranting of the Igbo man. The igbos started tribalism in Nigeria by the establishment of the Igbo State Union in 1947. Till today, they are so shortsighted that they think they are "developing" other regions by being economic immigrants. Please go back to your enclave and develop yourselves and your region. Don't run away from your land; go and develop it!


I would like to say that in making general statements about Igbos in my previous comments..I may have erred against there are many good Igbo men and women in Nigeria and around the world..going about their legitimate business..and should not be generalised with the bad and tribalistic ones...thus I give all credence and respect to such wonderful Igbo men and women..and to those of us who have inter-married with each other...

Go On With One Nigeria

Where is(was) the one Nigeria? Has Nigeria become more than a "mere geographical expression"? Has the "mistake of 1914" being corrected? Why do we have indigene and settler wars today? What is the problem in Southern Kaduna? Jos? Across the north? There too many non-knowledgeable people in this country..Igbos should leave lagos for you..I dey laff.(Ask your state governor if that's a wise suggestion..I know he's smarter than you). Nigerians lost their chance to renegotiate their country in 1967..wonder if that chance will ever come back. Ndo nu

Evil Nigerians

Nigerians have a stupid habit of justifying evil when it happens to some other person and screaming their lungs out when they're directly affected. So every Igbo person should be killed because some Igbo military officers conspired with a Yoruba man to kill mostly non-Igbo politicians? Nigerians are lazy cowards that envy people that stood up for something. Bloody lost your chance to renegotiate your country in 1967 and now you're crying about Boko Haram..Una never see something

@ Ola, please answer this question!!!!!

“If Okonkwo wanted Igbos to be left alone they should have stuck to their ancestral lands and not take what doesn't belong to them out of greed”

Please answer this question!!! The Biafrans were defeated by your federal Nigeria troop hands down right? Why didn’t the federal troop ordered the defeated dead meat Biafrans to stay put only on their ancestor’s land, keep their Biafra surrender ragtag flag to themselves and run your Biafran shit republic as you wish? Of cause, Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani, Ijaw, Benin, Ogonni, etc. will have great love and peace for ever and ever. Ken S., Abiola, Dele Giwa, Gideon Okra, all will still be alive today. My friend, take emotion out of this debate. Nigeria is just a collection of tribes with NO COMMON GOAL


I have said this before and will say it again the true test of Biafra and its viability would best be served by the efficacy of the eastern states in the present day. To quantify, the Biafran insurgency, justified by right over wrong, in part, albeit politically and militarily inexpedient, failed Yet the vindication must rest irrevocably with an Utopian African state that states empirically: what we started in SELF INFLICTED excessiveness has now metamorphosed into comparative excellence against all African states in our state of freedom. Anything else is emotive and self serving and trans generationally inhibiting, diminutive and damaging. That Biafra failed, in addition to the reason raised, was also dominated by ‘ndigo’s sabi all’ and quintessential tribalism. .......where, pedantically, they will only patronise their own in states where they are guests regardless, with anti nationalistic atavistic fervour.

@ Ola : Ever heard of "The Brass Region" ?

@ Ola...oloshi !
Before your much taunted publication, do some research on whose enclave was the old Brass Region of Nigeria. Who was Ojukwu's 2nd. in Command? Who commanded the pogromists' army unit that massacred innocent civilians at Asaba, how did he end up? Who was Jasper Adaka Boro, how did he end up? Who administered "Abandoned Property" for the collaborators of SS, how did he end up? What happened to Prof. Wole Soyinka during the war, where did he end up? Today, what is Soyinka's position on the history of that war? Did Awo own-up to his evil policies? With Awo's twenty-pounds, on average, which state in Nigeria has the most millionairs per sq. mile today?

@ Ola...oko-oko !!
You see, talk is free. Noise is annoying ! Wallahi, Insha Allah, God will keep you long enough to mess up by attacking the Ibos. Fantasies are sweet dreams, Nigeria is a nightmare! You're a primitive and dirty hypocrit. Oko-oko !!!

Is nd enjoying their oil wealth.

Is Niger Delta people enjoying their oil wealth now?

@Ola : Your tirade gives you off as a bigot

@ Ola : I'm certainly not looking forward to whatever rubbish you're conjuring up in your infested mind. Attacking superior authors based ethnicity sells you as bigoted, racist. Ibos are everywhere you go in bcos they're de.tribalized, hard working people who contribute to the local economy. Your insane mind doesn't even know it was Effiong who surrendered on behalf of Biafra, that the name "Biafra" originated from a ND chap, etc. Whatever trash you write, I hope SR doesn't publish it. Sucker, it was a 'World War on Biafra' with foes coming together to defeat the Ibos using unconventional (& illegal) tactics of starvation. Looking at Nigeria today, has it been worth fighting for? On average, are your brethren better off than the Ibos? Fool, even Gowon, Danjuma, IBB, OBJ and the weeping Gen. Buhari are ashamed of Naija. Stop clouding your senses with warped ideas of a nation, Nigeria was a mistake, is a farce that will never work. Aschlekker!!

To Many Fools Around

I can now see that this forum is fast becoming the den of fools.

If most Nigerians are now doubtful of our Nationhood, does it not simply say that those who tried to secede were right?

But there are too many fools in this forum to think beyond tribalism - the very reason this country cannot be one.

Rudolf !!! I am proud of you!!!

Through the thread of discussion, I can't see anything but so much illiteracy shouting themselves deaf.

It is clear that many people hardly understood the subjects of contention.

Even the CIA, Obasanjo, Gowon and too many Nigerians have said that our nationhood is under threat. And now session is openly discussed.

We have suicide bombers, kidnappers, and secessionists. So who cannot see where the country is heading.

The only thing wrong is that it was said by a reknown Igbo author. Chikena!

I pity this country.

As for some who say all sorts of nonsense about Igbos, when the next war comes, it will be their turn. We are on the sidelines laughing at the Beroms, the Ijaws, the Niger Deltans and co. When it happens again, the will smell like Warsaw.

Long live Biafra!!!

Viva la republica!!!


Ola!!! Am sure you are one smelling Yoruba idiot. I have many like you in my office, they never use roll-ons. Am sure you are more informed than the likes of Soyinka whose every story of event tally's with the truth .

I think you just need a clean bath with a good sponge, maybe that will clean up your brains a little, for starters.

Oye ofe mmanu


@Ola, You people's unrelenting efforts to draw a big dividing line between the Igbo and their southerly and eastern neighbours are hinged on same crave for oil revenues. Mind you, when Biafra seceded, oil was never a factor for big money. Mind you, before the coup of 19666 which you people now claim to have led to the pogrom killing of about 50,000 southeasteners, people of old southeast region had on several occasions been massacred in the north. Your lot make Biafra an only Igbo affair just to get the uninitiated to your warped senses.
Ola, your lot have been on the bitter receiving end from those you helped win Biafra back to Nigeria. Your distaste for Igbo has made you lose a lot in Nigeria. For now, your good aspirations for Nigeria can never be met, even if oil flows like a sea in the whole of ex-Biafra territory. So it's not worth it to go on spinning your Divide and Rule yarn in your article for baseline intelligence people of your sort to cheer.

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