The reviewer first encountered Forsyth as the novelist he subsequently became, enjoying his Day of the Jackal and other works of fiction. Then in his teens, he would note the Biafra Story as the single entry under non fiction. What was this
As Forsyth tells it,
Talk of secession was old hat in the Nigeria of the late 1960s, but until then it had always been the north that had talked about breaking away, usually – Forsyth has it – for tribal, religious or racist reasons, the later related to jealousy towards the commercially and otherwise successful Ibo people. The trouble was (and is – for the north is today again talking about breaking away) that
1966 was a bad year for
July 1966 was a particularly bad. Coup leader General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi was murdered by northern officers and replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Gowon, his chief of staff. Colonel Ojukwu, Ironsi`s governor for the south-east demurred in recognising Gowon`s rule, and so, in Forsyth`s telling the rest of
Gowon and his backers could not let this stand and fighting commenced on July 6, 1967 – a month after the end of the Arab-Israeli Six Day War. Conventional wisdom was that this war would be no longer and that the Biafrans would fold. This was not to be. The war dragged on for years, eventually petering out in January 1970, when the Biafrans, starved of food and arms and tired beyond endurance, surrendered.
Pen & Sword Military
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