The Way We Lived – A Review of Chinua Achebe’s ‘There Was a Country’

AiW Guest: Pelu Awofeso

there-was-a-countryAfter the dust raised in Nigeria by its publication had settled, I finally read There Was a Country, Chinua Achebe’s last published book, which centres on the Nigeria-Biafra civil war and Achebe’s personal experiences of and participation in it. But that is not where the story ends, because the book is also as much about Achebe’s “coming of age” story as it is about Nigeria’s long spell with bad, visionless leadership. Page after page, the author takes the reader on a historical journey through Nigeria’s smelly underbelly, unfolding the dirty linens one by one and revealing in shocking detail where “the rain began to beat” his beloved country.

It is more or less like being shown CCTV footage of a series of crimes that could have been prevented. With There Was a Country, I felt like a teenager seated at the feet of an elder…

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