FEATURE ARTICLE

Augustine C. OhanweTuesday, October 9, 2012
chyinaho@yahoo.com


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”THERE WAS A COUNTRY” AND ITS CRITICS (POEM)

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emember: There is no way
you can dissect the subject of putrefaction
and that of obnoxious miasma graphically
without provoking the hormone
that produces nausea.

Achebe knew,
before he organised his memoirs
and put his pen to paper,
the storm-in-a tea cup his book would raise.
And that tectonic plates would collide,
provoking sea beds to split.
He knew our nation will wobble,
unleashing an earthquake of criticisms.

But criticism is necessary,
it has a function, and must be tolerated.
Yet it’s better to say nothing
than to advance monstrous absurdity;
with intent to distort facts and misconstrue motives;
avoiding root causes of the conflict
and prefer to pry the book’s excerpts with screw driver.

The fact remains
that the author did open the Pandora box
and split the beans
beyond what some would want to know
about the dark chapter of our civil war,
Did he not make us see beyond the smoky façade of ”truth”?

Truth is indeed the daughter of time.

Each line he penned oozes with personal grief
and laments about the massacre of the innocents –
the bombing of schools, markets and churches.

Now, tell me whose heart would not stop beating
when one's eyes feast on kids
bedraggled from malnutrition and neglect,
with big heads, sunken eyes and protruding bellies;
their ribs standing out like bow;
emaciated laps and tiny legs too weak
to carry their body frames
and hands unable to swat a fly
while vultures on standby waited for the last expiration.
Those kids were acorns that could have made mighty oaks
but perished with their talents not harnessed.
The book blames those behind the hideous crime.

Equity demands
that the atrocities of the civil war
should be revisited and rectified.
Attempt to push Achebe into a corner
is neither a non starter nor a salutary option.
He is too big to be placed between a nutcracker.
His remarks on the war atrocities
deserves our nation’s reflection
as to right the wrong to a people
and lessen the burden of guilt on the perpetrators.

Not yet too late
to go to reverse gear
and take a retrospective glance into the archive
where the past is buried in a shallow grave
with its limb protruding.

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