Waltz after the Biafran war death Symphony (Lillian Ekwosi-Egbulem)
January 17, 1970 was not an ordinary day in Orsu-Iheteukwa, a then Biafrian village. It
was a day that villagers woke up full of expectancy. The evening before this
unforgettable day, unconfirmed rumors that the civil war that ravaged Nigeria for three years had come
to an end, filtered in from all sides. The war was between the poor petroleum producing states and the
rich petroleum merchant states. The rich merchant states fought with sophisticated weapons purchased
with resources derived from the poor oil producing states, while their counterpart fought with crude
weapons such as “Ogbunigbe” (a home-made bomb).
So, the next morning when the rumors were confirmed, there was an uneasy calmness at first followed
immediately by a rapture of excitement. The calmness was an aftermath of the sudden absence of the
sound of machine guns, bombs and the wailing of wounded soldiers and civilians, as well as those who
lost their relatives.
Prior to this memorable day, there used to be frequent air raids that filled the air with loud sound of
death tunes and symphony. In fact, the only music people were accustomed to was that of the enemy’s
bullets zipping through the air and creating death orchestra. The music usually changed to a faster tune
when the bombs started coming down. There was never a quiet moment. The only serene moment was
at night but even then, the silence of the night was occasionally broken by the sobbing of the bereaved
who were too scared to mourn their loved ones by day.
The overwhelming reality of this day came as a great shock. The war was over! The fact that the
Biafrians lost the battle did not matter. At that point, what really mattered was the peace and calmness
that filled the air and made it look like the air was going to burst. Suddenly, the calmness became so
frightening that people started whispering to each other to ensure that they were still alive. In between
came the questioning session. “Was the war really over”…., Orsu- Ihiteukwa villagers wondered. At this
particular juncture everyone seemed to have an answer to this unusual situation and was eager to
proffer it. Villagers started talking, gathering together in groups and discussing the unfolding event.
Then came the realization that there had not been a single gunshot or bombing throughout the day.
Teenagers and fearless young men who could no longer contain themselves filled the air with their
spontaneous songs full of meanings, stories and emotions. Unexpectedly, the whole village was agog
with singing, shouting and jubilation and no one, not even the bereaved and the wounded could contain
The irony of this day was that everyone woke up and tried to find a meaning to the unusual calmness
which eventually culminated into a day full of excitement. They had no idea that after the excitement
and exhaustion, they would have to deal with a more meaningful reality. Finally, they could only lie
down and dream of a new day, where wounded Biafrans would waltz back to life dancing to a real
musical symphony instead of death orchestra played by bombs and zipping bullets; …………..a new
dawn. Watch the dawn at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11399157