Tick Tock… Tick Tock…. Tick Tock….
Funny how she thought of time when that was the last thing she had. Her blood dripped from the open wound in her abdomen. Making a dull thud every time it hit the dirty carton containing first aid equipment on the floor of the plane. They were still being pelted with bullets as they tried to land. The “clank” from the bullets ricocheting off the plane plus the rhythmic thud from her blood and the ticking in her head made her last thoughts, of music…….
13th August, 1966
He was a member of the 3rd Battalion serving in the Northern region. He was from the East but that had never been a problem till now. In his hand he held the paper that was about to change his life. He was being ordered to return to the Eastern region to serve in the 1st Battalion there. He wasn’t particularly happy about it but it was an order.“Sergeant Nnamdi, your attention is required at the Brigadier General’s office.” “Yes Sir” replied Nnamdi.
She held a copy of the 30th September, 1966 issue of The Daily Times. On page three, the broadcast by the Head of State, Lt Col Yakubu Gowon, to the people of the North yesterday had been highlighted. It read, “I receive complaints daily that up till now, Easterners living in the North are being killed and molested and their property looted. It appears that it is going beyond reason and is now at a point of recklessness and irresponsibility”. Two pages away were pictures of the headless bodies and heads of Easterners that had been sent back on trains to the East. She felt so sad. What was Nigeria turning into. One would have thought that with independence would come peace, prosperity, unity and love but that wasn’t the case. For a while, she reminisced about what had been before 1960……..
The ride back to the East was not in the least bit comfortable but then he hadn’t expected it to be. Seated by his side were his fellow Easterners who like him, had been sent back to their home region for fear of their safety. Banners could be seen at different points that read “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done” and “Go On With One Nigeria”. He noticed the latter was coined from the Head of State’s name, GOWON. He knew he would do anything for his people but he hoped it wouldn’t come to that…..
The East and the North began a virulent(WAR?) of words through their radios and newspapers. Early in 1967, a peace negotiating meeting of the Supreme Military Council of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Eastern Region Military Governor, Lt. Col. Ojukwu was called under the auspices of Gen. Ankrah of Ghana in Aburi, Ghana. As it turned out, all the other members of the council except Ojukwu were either too trusting, too naive or too ill – prepared for the meeting. Therefore Ojukwu scored a vital goal in his ambition – (www.africamasterweb.com)
May 27th 1967, the 12 states were created. Nnamdi was now serving in the 1st Battalion in Enugu. Word had arrived that they were to form two new battalions- the 9th and 14th because of the amount of weapons they had received. He was being trained to make bullets. The amount of ammunition they had locally made in addition to those they had received from different countries made him know they were preparing for something huge.
The month of June was used by both sides to prepare for war. Each side increased its military arsenal and moved troops to the border watching and waiting until the crack of the first bullet at the dawn of 6 July 1967 from the Federal side. The war had started and the dawn of a new history of Nigeria – (www.africamasterweb.com)
She stood in line waiting to register with the Red Cross. Lagos was relatively peaceful when compared with some parts of the country. Nevertheless, she had taken a vow back in medical school to heal and she was going to do just that. The Red Cross was posting people to different parts of the Eastern region. Enugu, Anambra….. “What’s your name miss?” “Joy” she replied. “Are you aware of all the risks involved in signing up to go to the East?” “Yes ma’am” she replied. After looking through her credentials, she was given a badge. Volunteers were always welcome. Those with medical degrees like her were sent into the field right away while those without were put through some form of training.
Enugu had fallen and with it, many of its comrades. The rest of Nigeria was winning the war. They had lost all their airports and were now using an abandoned straight road in Uli, Anambra as an airstrip. The people were suffering but they knew they had to fight for their survival.
She was being led to the CARITAS plane along with a couple of the trained volunteers. The plane belonged to the Catholic foundation. It was small and had no doors. At a peaceful time, the missing doors would have been a cause for concern but at this time, such concerns seemed highly irrelevant. The plane took off. Destination, Anambra.
A peoples army called, the Biafra Militia, was formed. Local leaders and ex – servicemen trained young men and women in the use of whatever weapon the indivIduals had.
He and a couple of men from what was known as the Biafra Militia manned the one airstrip they had left. Needless to say, it didn’t look good from where he stood. The men he was with had no military training and were youths who had volunteered to serve their region. They were short on men so they weren’t exactly picky. One of them spotted the plane before he did and started firing. Instructions were not to let any unauthorized planes land. Seeing as they had not been informed about any planes for that day, this was immediately filed under unauthorized. The rest of the group joined in. Firing like crazed men. No one returned fire from the plane. He yelled for them to stop but none of them did.
The plane eventually landed on the strip but not before two of the Red Cross volunteers had lost their lives. Joy died from the bullet in her abdomen and Nnamdi dug the hole they buried her in.
The Nigerian civil war, popularly known all over the world as the “Biafran War” was fought from 2 July 1967 to 15 January 1970. The war was between the then Eastern Region of Nigeria and the rest of the country. The Eastern Region declared itself an independent state which was regarded as an act of secession by the Federal Military Government of Nigeria. The war was fought to reunify the country – (www.africamasterweb.com).
Joy and Nnamdi got their destiny’s decided for them ’cause of the ambitions of certain people in power at the time. I see a similar scenario in the Nigeria of today where the word democracy is but a joke. We need a change. Where will you be come April? Will you be found with the thousands trying to take their destiny in their hands by saying enough is enough with their votes or will you lie on your couch watching Spartacus?
DO YOUR PART.