Filed under: National Issues |

One of the world’s most acclaimed writers, Professor Chinua Achebe, whose long awaited book ‘There Was a Country: A personal history of Biafra’, came out last week in the United Kingdom and scheduled to enter Nigeria by the end of this month, has been receiving it hot from various corners where ever you can find a Yoruba person. A section of the book is said to have accused Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo of being tribalistic as well as genocidal. This has generated many responses, mostly negative, from various Yoruba leaders.

For the sake of those who will argue about the writer of this piece, let me clear the air, i am a bonafide Yoruba person, from Ogun State. I know that after reading this, a lot of Yoruba people will hate my guts and call me coward. But that will be immaterial. The only time we can speak of true unity is when we allow the truth to be told, at least for once in the history of this nation.

I will reiterate my statement once again here, there is nothing that these Yoruba leaders will say that will push aside the truth. Achebe, a well respected man, nationally and internationally has painstakingly shown how Chief Awolowo and others brutally committed genocide against the Igbo’s. After the Independence in 1960, the Igbos controlled the economy and occupied most of the top governmental/political positions. This particular situation threatened not just Awolowo but the Northern leaders as well. They thought that if not checked, they might never have a say in the polity of the nation. That, was where they were wrong. That singular perspective threw this nation to a difficult and perhaps unrecoverable state, till date.
Nigerian unity must start from genuine peace by healing the wounds of old. I have read many history books, as well as listened to the Biafra story from the mouth of a man who was before and after the war, my own father. What Prof. Achebe said concerning Chief Awolowo is not misleading, its the truth and no amount of public denigration of his new book and personality will reduce the man which he has already become.

Former Transport and Aviation Minister, Ebenezer Babatope, said “While Achebe is free to write on any topic that suits his fancy, he has no right whatsoever to irresponsibly  murder history by recklessly attacking a great leader like Papa Awolowo. Nigerians should expect detailed replies to Achebe nonsense after we have copies of the book in our hands. This is not the first time that Achebe will be publishing scathering attacks on Papa Awo. He did it in his book written about 30yrs ago titled ‘The trouble with Nigeria’. The battle against falsehood has started”.
It’s my believe that Mr Babatope never sat down to ask himself why it took Achebe more than four decades before publishing his personal overview on the issue. On a more realistic note, what contribution has Babatope made to the development of Nigeria, even while he was a Transport and Aviation Minister? You don’t just get up to defend wrong because the person involved is from your place. The story was clear, most Yorubas today are Muslim not because its there choice, but because they were too scared of speaking up like the Igbos did. Most of these so-called Yoruba leaders who are now talking, were and still are cowards, else where were they during that time? What effort did they make to stand on what was right?

Dr. Omolulu Olulonyo, former Oyo State Governor said “It is unfortunate that Professor Achebe could label Chief Awolowo as a tribalist. Both Awo and Zik were members of the Nigerian Youth Movement. He cannot begin now to blame Awolowo for the war. Awolowo did not start the war; rather he pleaded against it. The only thing that he said then was that if, by any error, the igbo were allowed to leave the federation, the Yoruba would also leave.

The civil war was started by the igbo. The igbo in the cause of the war, killed many Yoruba and Hausa/fulani leaders, including sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Chief Ladoke Akintola, Festus Okotie-Eboh and many officers, including Ademulegun, Maimalari, leaving out their own, like Micheal Okpara. Even while they were in government, (Ironsi’s government), the igbo spared no thought of freeing Awolowo who was then in prison. SO why should the man now labeled a tribalist?”

Dr. Olulonyo is misinterpreting history. This is why people hate each other, because their parents never told them the truth. The war was never started by the Igbos but rather by the Hausa/Fulani through Nigeria. The Igbo leaders (Ojukwu and others) then only asked their people to come where is safer for them, to avoid being killed by the Hausas. I advice Dr. Olulonyo to either go back to actual history or speak the truth.

The spokesperson of the Save Nigeria Group, Yinka Odumakin, stated that “it is unfortunate that a great man of letters of Achebe’s status has descended to the arena of Biafran propagandists who are always ready to sacrifice the truth to achieve emotional blackmail. He has betrayed his intellectual calling by joining the circulation of low quality rumours against Awo. I had looked forward to read the book, by now i doubt if i would pick up a copy even if dropped at my gate.”

I am sorry to say, but even in a thousand year to come, that book will never get to his office let alone his gate.

It is unfortunate that elders will speak in this manner. The tribalistic war in this country came as a result of the elders not telling us the truth. And, this is worst for children who don’t make personal research on issues that borders around the nations’ existence. The Igbos are against the Hausas, the Huasas against the Yorubas, the Yorubas against the Igbos, so it goes on, simply because nobody wants to say the truth and nobody wants to accept being wrong. The people that suffered  and are still suffering the war are the Igbos.

I look forward to reading the complete book.




  1. Mr Akintunde, you are one of those people who don’t know your left from your right. You are a disappointment to the Yoruba race. Is either you were paid to write up this piece or you are just been ignorant and foolish.

    The Igbo people started the war, and the war consumed them. Maybe the next will include none Igbo’s like you, idiot.

    October 7, 2012 at 12:55 am

  2. @op, the truth in all what achebe said is that two million ibo’s starved to death, if we start decimating the statement or arguing about it we woulf be here till kingdom comes, but saying awo hated the igbo’s is plain wrong, did he ever come out to say such or does the prof now read peoples’ mind albeit one that died 25 years ago? The ibo race has not recovered from the war and i sincerely pity them what i think the present day government should rather do is remember the dead setup a committee to teach our children the ills of war because over the internet the war has already started. Achebe should have stated facts rather than fiction. Yes ibo’s died, yes awo brought about the end to the war, but awo never hated any tribe. It is funny you bringing the issue of religion into this discussion which obviously shows your lack of understanding of your own people.
    All over the world in places where wars have been fought there has been a concerted efforts to make sure nothng of such happens again and awareness and truth is the key to all these. Achebe is wrong in calling awolowo an hatist and i believe he hasn’t gotten over the loss, i thought old age conquers all but unfortunately not this. I am sure when the government sheds more light on this period we all can look back and say no one wins a war only casualties are different. Nigeria of today is a testament of that war!

    October 8, 2012 at 7:18 am

    • There are many ways one can show they hate someone without even saying it. And for the record, he did showed it in different ways. Awolowo is a racist or tribalist as the case maybe.

      October 27, 2012 at 2:41 am