Renowned Nigerian author Chinua Achebe has published his long-awaited memoir, There Was a Country, about the brutal three-year Biafran war. He acted as roving cultural ambassador for Biafra when the south-eastern area tried to split from Nigeria in 1967.

Prof Achebe has remained silent about his war experience for more than 40 years.

The memoir is published in the UK on Thursday and is due to be released in Nigeria shortly and in the US on 11 October.

As one of Africa’s best known authors, Mr Achebe’s debut 1958 novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ has sold more than 10 million copies and published in numerous languages all over the world.

Birth pangs’

The prize-winning 81-year-old author and academic has written more than 20 works – some fiercely critical of politicians and a failure of leadership in Nigeria.

But he has never addressed the atrocities of the Biafran war, in which he was caught up with his young family – except occasionally in his poetry.

More than one million people died during the conflict in fighting and from famine – photographs of starving children from Biafra became synonymous in the media with the conflict.

“There Was a Country is a distillation of vivid observation and considered research and reflection,” Mr Achebe’s UK publisher Allen Lane says.

“It relates Nigeria’s birth pangs in the context of Achebe’s own development as a man and a writer, and examines the role of the artist in times of war.”

Prof Achebe has lived in the US since he suffered a car accident in 1990, which left him paralysed and in a wheelchair.

The memoir is already published in the UK, and is due to be released in Nigeria shortly and in the US on 11 October, AFP news agency reports.


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