We are all casualties of war -By Godspower Godwin

Filed under: National Issues |

Biafran prisoners and civilians wait at the federal camp of Nakurdi

 

In the novels; Heroes and Innocent Victims, it is glaring that we are being warned of the aftermaths of wars and the disaster we create for ourselves. It is known that when the bells of wars are rung, the elders will warn of their consequences.

Many may misinterpret it to mean cowardice like the Umuofians in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Festus Iyayi and Abubakar Gimba (authors of Heroes and Innocent Victims respectively) experiences of the civil war make them theorise that though wars are sometimes necessary, they shouldn’t be at the expense of the innocent.

These prolific authors and the likes of Simon Betterton, Adelard Lambert, and Sherrie Thompson know that wars are vicious. The Yoruba say that one only knows the beginning of war and not the end of war.

These literary gurus who with their creative minds desire nothing but a better society where all will be abreast of the consequences of certain actions we take.

Warriors do not feign ignorance of the traumatic and psychological problems they leave behind after every war. Experiencing the Nigerian Civil War became a fertile ground for Iyayi, Gimba and J.P. Clark-Bekederemo to have a grand reputation in the literary world. These writers from that experience have a voice to advocate for peace. They believe that we are the architects of our own doing.

In their views, a society which does not consider her citizens before taking any drastic actions which may jeopardise their existence is carnivorous, beastly, and chameleonic in nature. They condemn insidious acts towards the citizenry and advocate for a rethink of our inhuman nature. To them, those singing the songs of war are vultures seeking for whom to devour.

In Heroes, Iyayi frowns on the image of war and warns that those clamouring for wars should know that heroism is a deceptive language. The true heroes are masked. They are always victims of the episodes.

Iyayi notes that the blood-thirsty generals and political propagandists who politicise the lives of their nations are beasts. Why should there be wars when dialogue is the end of resolutions of every matter? Why bear guns to waste human lives when voices of peace can be louder than the sounds of guns? Since matters can end in dialogue, why don’t we embrace this potent means to solve our problems?

War will only aggravate issues and kill us all by turning our beautiful society into hell and graveyards. The sound of guns may be musical but what could be more musical than the sound of peace? War is only a demon. It feasts on blood and carcasses of the living. Peace celebrates the unity of agreement to live in harmony. Let us bury our differences. Let’s hold on to peace where tranquility and harmony thrive. Let us speak in a voice that is louder than the voice of war.

Let us tell ourselves that we can conquer the demon and chain it. It will only take a moment of reflection on reality to overcome the war monster and put it where it belongs. Let us say yes to peace and progress. Though we may be a nation with diverse ethnic, religious and social backgrounds, we can put our differences aside.

Two voices in a time like this speak to us but the one we listen to will finally carry the day. There is the voice of peace and of war. The voice of war is disastrous, deadly, starving, retrogressing and sorrowful.

This is what J. P. Clark in his poem, “The Casualties” emphasises. He stresses that the casualties of war are not just the dead or the bereaved.

He opines that we are all casualties of war. He writes, “We are all casualties.” He paints the reality that those alive should know what war entails. But if we allow a repeat of war in Nigeria, we would be doomed. We have to be cautious in politics, religion and others. We shouldn’t put the nation in turmoil as a result of our selfish interests; be it religious, political or economic.

Though the voice of peace which preaches tranquility, harmony, unity and love may not be loud, it is useful in advancing the country. Why don’t we forgo differences and work for the betterment of Nigeria?

The voice of peace is ready to stabilise the country and solve our differences if we listen to it.

Is there anything that cannot be resolved with peace? There seems to be none. Most often, couples feud but they will reconcile when they allow peace to reign.

I encourage us to embrace peace and follow the path of togetherness to solve our problems. Poetry is the answer to our problems if we can accept its rules and employ them to confront our realities. Our great nation can be great again and develop beyond measures.

I urge the executive, legislative and judiciary to work in unity to end the aged-long menace of Boko Haram, kidnapping, ethnic and tribal sentiments that have eaten deep into our fabric.

Chinua Achebe in There was a country: A Personal History of Biafra (2012), meditates on the freedom of Igbo and “the Biafran nation” from the tribal and ethnic sentiments that have continued to plague Nigeria since her independence from her colonial masters in 1960.

Shortly after independence, the “tribal sentiments” that the nation smuggled into her affairs plunged her into the civil war in 1967. A war which many analysts have said could have been avoided. The war was caused by an attempt by the Biafrans to have an independent state.

Achebe being an Igbo himself used the memoir to tell the world his dream of freedom for the Igbo. Today, that notion has metamorphosed into hate speech from different ethnic groups. The Arewa youths are agitating for one thing or the other and the Niger Delta militants are pressing for resource control.

This development shows that that there is a problem that the Federal Government needs to address. The earlier we get solutions to the problems, the better for us all. The solution to this problem is not only for the government. It is for us all to contribute our quota to the development of the country. Let us be the solution Nigeria needs.

Godwin, an educational consultant, sent this piece from Lagos.

 

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