The Nigerian civil war popularly known as the Biafran war was between the Igbos and the government of Nigeria between 1967 and 1970. According to history, the leadership of the old eastern region felt that they could not continue to coexist with the rest of Nigeria because of the ill treatment meted out to its people by northern military men.
During the war, many Igbo people fled their homes for safety, many were killed, some got lost and were not found, some starved to death while some were lucky to stay alive through it all.
Like many other survivors, Karen’s mother rarely talked about her childhood in Nigeria because of the trauma she suffered, but she shared it with her daughter when she wanted to write a graduate school paper on the Biafra war.
The article titled, “After my trip to Nigeria, I hoped to help my mother heal her scars of war,” talked about what Karen’s mother and her family experienced during the war.
Karen’s mother was 14 when the Biafran war started. She fled with her family to Ghana to escape the violence of Nigeria’s civil conflict.
“You know, Karen, we had such a nice life before the war. Grandpa J. was part of the colonial finance ministry, so he was respected. We were like, what you might say, middle class. We had just bought a new house and we were moving our things in, and then the war. . . .” Karen’s mother said.
“Everything was taken from us. We had to run and only take what we could carry. We had to run to forest areas to hide from shellings. . . . Some people had no food, eating lizards in the bushes!”
There was food and water shortages; her classmates were killed in bomb raids and they had to leave their loyal dog behind. For Karen’s mother, the most painful part of moving from place to place during the war was that she could not go to school.
For almost two years they went from town to town, living in abandoned homes. Finally, in 1968, they were able to get a Red Cross evacuation flight to Ghana. Karen’s grandparents and relatives still live there.
Since Karen’s mother left Nigeria, she has never visited. She doesn’t think she ever will, “What home would I return to? I’ve learned that my home is wherever my family is,” Karen’s mother said.