Biafra: When I Turned 30
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I never understood why he waited till I was 30 before telling me stories of the war, maybe he wanted me to be a bit mature. To be honest that would not have been a surprise because many of the stories he told were heart-wrenching and cringe worthy. Such as the stories of the pogrom where people were slaughtered en-masse and their dead bodies loaded onto trains and sent into villages in the East or the time when a Young Doctor arrived home from work only to be sprayed to death by the random bullets of the Russian MIG planes. I always wondered how he remembered the exact type of air-craft that was attacking them, but as more stories unfolded, I began to realize that airplanes and sporadic shooting had begun a daily part of life in the East. Much like NEPA taking light is routine, aircraft’s spraying villages and cities with bullets was normal.
So normal was the occurrence that it led to some funny stories. I remember the story about a church marriage. The couple had just made their wedding vows and topped it off with the classic phrase “for better for worse” when a Russian MIG airplane probably sent by God to test their faith…began spraying church. By the time the commotion had subsided, the church was in tatters. And the newly wedded couple? The groom had completely disappeared, leaving his wife behind in the church. I guess for better or worse did not include 100’s of bullets falling from the sky.
Now it was agreed that in the advent of an attack on Port-Harcourt, that all the refinery engineers and technicians would meet up in the Imo city of Owerrinta (which means small Owerri). These arrangements were made because engineers and technicians were prized assets in the war. So their movement and security was paid special attention. At Owerrinta they met with the local Nigerian engineers from the Shell production companies. These were the people responsible for providing the oil that the refinery processed. All of them were eventually moved to Uzoakoli secondary school, where a quasi-research team from Shell Nigeria and BP Nigeria had already began building a refinery.
(Now at this point I interrupt my Dad, to ensure that he knows what he is saying…cause I did not believe it was possible to build a refinery under those circumstances, it was a war, and they had only been taught about how a refinery worked but not to build it!)
But my Dad insisted that they did actually build a refinery, they were able to build it from salvaged parts from the old refinery and scrap metals that were welded together.
The first refinery had already been built before my Dad’s team had got there, but still they had a chance to influence the design of the refinery as they had first hand knowledge on how a refinery was operated. The new refinery was eventually completed and they were able to independently get it functioning and refining oil…
Excerpt from my latest book “Our Dangerous Addiction To Intelligence” coming sooon…I swear…real soon…definitely will be out before NEPA stops taking light in your House =D
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