Cyprian Ekwensi: From Children's Author To Freedom Fighter.
After receiving the arbitrum airdrop some days back. I thought of what to write today and felt like sharing some of my thoughts on Cyprian Ekwensi.
Time to jump right into it
While growing up, I knew Cyrian Ekwensi as an author who wrote stories and books for children. His book "The Drummer Boy" was his most popular work during my childhood and was one of the first books I read while in primary school. I liked the book for its simplicity and interesting story, so also did my peers. In retrospect, I recall enjoy reading the book and knowing the writer, Cyprian Ekwensi as an author and nothing more.
However, my perception of Cyprian Ekwensi changed when I was doing research on the Nigerian civil war. Recently, I was watching videos about the war's history on YouTube and stumbled upon an interview that Cyprian Ekwensi granted to a foreign journalist during the war. I became intensely interested in watching the interview because I was amazed to discover that one of my favorite childhood authors was actively involved in one of the most historic events in my country, and I was curious to find out his role in the war.
Nigerian troops during the civil war
As I watched the video of the interview, I learned that Cyprian Ekwensi was the Spokesperson and Chief of the External Publicity Bureau of Biafra, the secessionist state that fought against the Nigerian military government during the war. Before the war, Ekwensi was a Director at Nigeria's Ministry of Information and had previously served as Head of Features at the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC). He was a high-ranking official in the Nigerian civil service but had to relinquish his position because of the attacks and extermination of people of his ethnicity (Igbos) that preceded the civil war.
Biafran soldiers line up for inspection by their leader
Ekwensi recounted to the foreign journalist during his interview that the targeting and killing of Igbos like himself by the Nigerian military compelled him to leave the south west of Nigeria where he resided and worked, for his native town in the Eastern region of the country. This period was a defining moment in his life as he chose to defend and fight for the survival and freedom of his people, the Igbos. He also revealed in the interview that before the outbreak of the civil war, many Nigerians had a premonition of a devastating event taking place in the county because of prior ominous events such as the contentious population census and controversial general elections that were conducted. He further went on to lament about how the Nigerian military government isolated Biafra during the war and made attempts to smear the reputation of secessionist state in the international community.
After watching Ekwensi's interview on YouTube I came across another one he granted after the war. The Nigerian military government emerged victorious at the end of the war and prevented the secession of Biafra. The region occupied by the failed secessionist state was reintegrated into Nigeria amid reconciliations and redevelopment of the region by the Nigerian military government. The region was significantly impoverished by the war and the people had to start their lives anew. Prominent figures like Ekwensi who championed the secession of Biafra were deprived of the privileges they had before the war by the Nigerian military government. Ekwensi, formerly a Director at Nigeria's Ministry of Information, became a petty trader that sells plastic bottles to earn a living during this period. When asked about his change of fortunes by the journalist in the second interview, Ekwensi responded by saying that the economic hardship that surfaced after the war made it difficult for people to earn a living and that everyone had to settle for any job that puts food on their table.
He further went on to say that his present means of livelihood is a testament of the tenacity and courage of people of his ethnicity (Igbos) who make the best out of any circumstance in which they find themselves. Ekwensi attributed his ethics and belief in the dignity of labour to the cultural values and principles of the Igbos. He also stated that anyone can get knocked down by the challenges of life but what matters is how they react to them. I was impressed by Ekwensi's response during the interview as he portrayed himself as a modest man with strong moral principles and values.
I got to know more about the author, Cyprian Ekwensi by chance but I am glad I did. This man whose books helped to stimulate and nurture the interests of children in reading was not only a writer but a pharmacist, broadcaster, journalist and freedom fighter. He was like a cat with nine lives! He made meaningful contributions to society with his pen and his deeds. He stood by his convictions and did not lose his dignity in defeat. He is an exemplary individual who is worthy of emulation.
Thanks for reading,
See you on the next one guys.
all necessary image source added in photo captions
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Thank you for sharing this. Very educative.
Thanks for stopping by
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