BOOK REVIEW: How and why the Yoruba fought and lost the Biafra-Nigeria civil war

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AUTHOR: Jimanze Ego-Alowes

Reviewer: Charles Ike-Okoh

PAGES: 220

PUBLISHEERS: The Stone Press

The portrayal of the characters and events in this book and in each of the three engrossing sections is correspondingly provocative

MON, OCTOBER 24 2016-The preface to this great book is strange but compelling. First, it follows a surface element that distracts-death, then delves into particles that focus on the right to write, the excuse to subject and questions intellectual contributions to national issues and then defends the place of scholars in creating the soil upon which millionaires thrive– more like an architectural folly.

But that was a masterpiece or a game plan, which says simply, hold your breath.

Ego-Alowes burst suddenly into life as if reading your minds with a response that keeps you still gripped, and in a flowery language that seem to casually express the rude rich and rare approach to a narrative yet to unfold.

“What I have I tried to do with this book is to search for and invent new perspectives, and new knowledge….so, more than with fictions I have enriched the world the best I can,” he wrote revealing for the first time-early too-his intentions to touch on the rousing, yet untold irritating story of a people still engrossed in trying to understand why they lost a war not theirs to fight.

The portrayal of the characters and events in this book and in each of the three engrossing sections is correspondingly provocative. Ego-Alowes engages in a duel with those who may think he is babblesome but always comes away with clearest examples of unsettling truth in the spectacle that was the Nigerian civil war and the canvassing of Yoruba supremacy by some of the most notable figures of the Igbo tribe, the role of the British in the saga and the repudiation of the Aburi accord as well as what Ego-Alowes describes as the “the greatest evil’ that blights Nigeria today-Boko Haram, resurgent Biafra, Niger Delta Avengers-all, he successfully argued are traceable to General Yakubu Gowan’s singular repudiation of the Aburi round-table and thus civilisation.

It is a terrific story and Ego-Alowes, the experienced author he is, tell it well.

He is stronger on the facts and deploys what seems like a deliberate guile to get the reader attached and convinced of the facts.

Whether by intention or the urge to reveal, Ego-Alowes investigated the Yoruba alliance with the North in the war they lost and how the British forced the alliance. He wrote: “Now if the British did not force the alliance of the Yoruba and the North, then it follows that the nature, ways and means of the alliance was not clearly explained to the Yoruba and that they never cared to understand, not just what is stated or not stated but its implications. So far, the British have proven to be a devious people in dealing with others, especially the non-white populations of the world.”

“Regardless, if the Yoruba by majority of votes or the forceful and charismatic character of their leaders threw in the lots with the North, as they have maintained post-war, then it amounts to self-chosen strategy of defeat.”

Still there are enough colourful argument and anecdote to make for an absorbing read. He seemingly presented a thousand and one proofs that the Yoruba were defeated or were neither part of the architects of, nor were they even consulted in the purposed creation of a failure against them, and that marginalizes them, as he wrote.

This is about the fourth book by the author which he displays that sparkling and infectiously good-natured-text, vivacious, witty and romping. It is not a fiction. It is about attitude, progress, truth and reconciliation. He pieced the facts referencing international occurrences similar to the Yoruba situation as well as comments in national newspapers that reflects the dilemma the country face in trying to accept how deeply divided it is and deeply difficult it is to unmask the thin line that is still surprisingly holding up despite the intense pressure.

As Ego-Alowes book unfolds you are convinced he needed more than a prompting to accomplish this: The Igbo protagonists portrayed in the book are either astute or stupid. The British are irritably beguiling in their deception of the Yoruba.

Ego-Alowes sketches in what appears a conniving anxious court, the fragile relationship between the three major ethnic tribes in the country, years after the deadly war. But the broad intellectual style brings limitations: we never get close enough to understand what makes this intriguing story line tick and why he choose to serve it.

But this is still a delightful, glorious read with a very serious undertow.

 

 

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