Sojam Publish


The Nigerian Civil War found him on the Biafran side of the divide.

He was living in a small bungalow which was provided by his employers in a housing estate in which many other workers lived. It was a farm settlement.

Onitsha., a big commercial town had been captured by the invading Federal Government troops. This led to the exodus of all its inhabitants including his parents who lived and did business in that town. Consequently, the little town where he lived was flooded by some refugees who had fled from Onitsha when the Federal soldiers attacked the town. His parents escaped from Onitsha to his home town which was then peaceful, and in fact it never experienced the civil war like others who had to flee from their villages.

His father also had a flourishing Supermarket in another town , Awka, the Capital of Anambra State of Nigeria. Itwas being run by two of his servants, while he managed the business at Onitsha.

While the war raged, Awka, as well as Nkwelle, the little farm settlement town where he was posted to work, were peaceful and had not experienced the relocations and noise of bombardments and shooting experienced by other areas. The two towns were yet peaceful and their inhabitants went about their normal businesses, and did not live in fear like other towns nearer the war zones.

One day, without any cause or provocation, he decided to go to Awka and evacuate his father’s property and goods at the Supermarket. He applied to the Transport Department of his office for a big truck for use. He paid the necessary fees and a truck was assigned to him.

He then took the vehicle to Awka and simply ordered his father’s servants to stop sales and load everything in that shop into the truck. They could not understand why he gave them that order. They told him that Awka was very peaceful, and there was no threat of invasion by the Federal Government Soldiers. In fact, the war was going on in a town about sixty kilometres away. In spite of all their dissuasions, he still maintained that they should pack everything into the vehicle. They gave up and obeyed, and the vehicle was loaded with everything in that shop and they left for his hometown.

On  arrival, his parents were startled. They said that they never heard that the war had reached Awka. He explained to them that Awka was still peaceful but he was moved by his spirit to hurry to Awka without any further delay and evacuate everything and everyone there to safety. He also told them how some people tried to stop the evacuation at Awka, accusing him of causing unnecessary panic among the people
who might begin to feel insecure at a time the town was yet peaceful and had no threats of invasion whatsoever. He told them how his spirit was firm and made up and how he ignored everyone trying to dissuade him from leaving the town.

Before they finished evacuating the goods from the vehicle, it was late to travel back to Nkwelle. He then urged the driver to sleep over and wait till the next morning for departure.

After breakfast the next day, they  travelled back to his .station with the truck to return it to the Transport Department.

As they arrived Awka on their way home, thousands of people with their luggage lined the roads in great panic and anxiety to flee the town. They pleaded with them to help take them away from the town which had suddenly come under siege by the Federal Government troops soon after they left the previous day. Mortar bombs fired from nearby villages and towns had started falling on the out-skirts of Awka, and this was
what sparked off the mass exodus of its inhabitants which they had arrived to witness.

Those who saw them the previous day loading the goods into this truck must invariably conclude that someone leaked some secret information to him to do what he did before it would be too late. Yet the truth remains that nobody told him anything. His spirit simply sensed danger and urged him to hurry to Awka and evacuate his father’s property to the safety of their home in the village. The items so evacuated from Awka were what sustained his parents during the whole length of the war, for their house had become a supermarket where people came
to buy items when everything had virtually disappeared from all markets in Biafra due to the biting effects of the civil war. To effectively and successfully prosecute the war, the Federal government blockaded Biafra so much that all trading came to a halt. Nothing was brought in and nothing could be taken out of Biafra. Consumable and non  consumable items in all markets gradually depleted and soon completely disappeared. It was at this time that his father began to sell what he evacuated from his Awka Supermarket. People came from distant places to their home in the village to buy commodities ,all of which had become very scarce. His father, more or less, became like Joseph in the Bible who sold corn in Egypt to people from other parts of the world.

Soon, they got back to his station at Nkwelle and, he returned the truck to the Transport officer who signed him off.

Two days later he decided to abandon his job and his house quietly to go and stay with his parents at home. This time, he did not remove anything from his house as he would not want anyone to know that he was fleeing the place. He went to the shop where he often bought items on credit and asked the owner to check what he was owing. He did, and he paid off all he was owing. He then packed some of his valuables in a box and left. He only told his neighbour and a few close friends that he wanted to go home to see his parents, but he knew he was not going to come back to that place again until the war was over.

Two days after he had left, Nkwelle was attacked, and everybody fled in a hurry. The town had fallen, and it was later learnt that the estate where he lived became a camp for the Federal government soldiers.

At the end of the 30 months long civil war, people started going back to their places of work. At that housing estate, it was reported that the soldiers who occupied the estate during the war looted the properties of everybody before leaving.

The news of the massive looting of houses at the estate reached him in the village, and that made him not to be in a hurry to go back when others were rushing back. The flight from Nkwelle was so sudden that nobody was able to remove anything from his residence before running away from the advancing soldiers. He also heard that many concluded that he must be one of the secret informants of the Federal government soldiers because of the way he left; just two days before a surprise invasion came upon the estate. He heard that some called him a saboteur who was secretly on the side of the invading troops, while pretending to be on the Biafran side. But the truth remains that he had no contact nor knew anything about the Federal government troops. His God simply directed all what he did and the time he did them,
because He wanted to shield him away from the war, and did not want him to lose much or suffer much.

One day, his neighbour at the estate who was like a brother to him, decided to come to his village to see if he survived the war. He had gone back to the estate like others, and had re-possessed his flat.

One of his siblings came into his room and informed him that he had a visitor. He casually walked up, expecting to meet one of his village friends. Behold! Standing before him was his bosom friend, John. With a loud shout, he ran up to him and they embraced each other, as they realized that God had spared the lives of both of them during that terrible war.

John told him that virtually everyone had returned to the estate to repossess his empty home. He narrated how all the homes were completely looted, but to everyone’s surprise ,this mysterious man’s  home was just as he left it. He said that his house had become a sort of pilgrimage centre, because not only was everything in the house found in tact and not tampered with, the entire house itself was so neat and so well kept that it seemed as if it was not part of the ravaged estate they had returned  to witness.

John revealed that they had been informed by the villagers around that the estate was used as the Army camp during the whole length of the war and that the  captain commanding the soldiers chose to live in his house. So, the house was kept clean by his retinue of servants. At the end of the war, this captain simply left with his bag leaving all his belongings intact, while his boys in the other houses looted everything while leaving. The news from his friend brought great jubilation in his family and he wasted no time in travelling back to Nkwelle to see things for himself.

On arrival at the station, everything was just as John had reported. All his things were intact,. The clothes he left behind were all there. In fact, nothing was removed from the house. Even his rug carpet appeared cleaner than it was when he left; an indication that the captain must have washed it shortly before the war ended.

His next move was to hire a big vehicle to evacuate everything and take them home because he knew he would not be going back there to live since he was making plans then to seek admission into the University to further his studies without any further delay.

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