HURIWA Defends Achebe on Latest Book

A Democracy inclined civil society group-HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA [HURIWA] has carpeted Mr. Ayo Opadokun, Chief Ebenezer Babatope and other self acclaimed ETHNIC Yoruba leaders over their umbrage at the internationally reputable writer and novelist Professor Chinua Achebe following his claim in a yet -to- be released book- ‘There was a Country’ in which he accused the war time military Dictator General Yakubu Gowon and the then Finance Minister under the General Gowon’s junta the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo of acts that could be categorized as war crime against the civilian populace of the defunct Bafran Republic.

The Guardian of the United Kingdom had in an excerpt of the essay contained in Achebe’s latest work, ‘There was a Country’, quoted the author to have written thus; “It is my impression that Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his Yoruba people. There is,on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those aspirations. However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbo at the time as the obstacles to that goal, and when the opportunity arose with the Nigeria-Biafra war, his ambition drove him into a frenzy to go every length to achieve his dreams. In the Biafran case, it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation eliminating over two million people, mainly members of future generations.”

HURIWA defended Achebe’s claim that certain policies introduced by the then military junta foisted starvation on the civilian populace in the now defunct Biafran Republic which actually led to the untimely demise of hundreds of thousands of children from ‘KWASHIOKOR’ even as the Rights group called on the Federal Government to invite the United Nations experts to probe the implementation of some of these draconian national policies by the then military regime to determine the extent of war crime committed by the actors on both sides of the divide.

Reacting to the gale of poitically motivated responses which greeted the publication by some British Newspapers including The Guardian of the United Kingdom of some excerpts from the yet to be released war time memoirs of Professor Achebe, the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA rose from a meeting of the national hierarchy of the organization at the weekend and tasked those they identified as Ethnic champions to stop spreading ethnic sentiments of hatred and ideology devoid of concrete superior facts than those said to have being dsclosed by Professor Achebe in the yet -to -be published work but to also publish their own version of the war- time stories if they have other contrary opinions than those encompassed in the intellectual and historical body of work done by the World acclaim Novelist and University Teacher.

HURIWA in the statement endorsed jointly by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Officer Miss Zainab Yusuf, stated that those they identified as some self acclaimed Yoruba leaders like Ayo Opadokun and Ebenezer Babatope have thrown cautions to the dogs by branding the facts contained in the new book as the rehash of the ‘hatred’ of the yoruba race by Professor Chinua Achebe even as Chief Babatope who admitted ignorance of the contents of the yet to be released intellectual work asserted that he was awaiting the formal release so as to digest the contents and react appropriatelly. Ayo Opadokun, the politician who reacted angrily to the yet to be released Achebe’s book was quoted in the media to have asked thus; “What he [ACHEBE] expected Awo to do was to have folded his arms to allow the Igbo race led by Zik to preside over the affairs of the Yoruba nation…”

HURIWA which announced that it would buy and distribute hundreds of copies of the latest Professor Achebe’s war memoir ‘There was a Country’ to senior high schools across the Country whenever the books are released this month stated that Professor Achebe has the constitutionally protected fundamental human rights of freedom of expression and the intellctual liberty to have written the historical facts known to him as one of the participants of the thirty months civil war just as the Rights group dismissed the reactions of the Ethnic leaders as ‘politically-motivated’, ‘lazy’ and at best ‘anti-intellectualism’ which are by and large responsible for the poor reading culture in Nigeria.

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