OJD:- Boy Soldier- Tales from the war
45 years have gone by, bt those tragic events still don’t die. Guns, bombs, dead sons, hunger, starvation in a war of divided nations. This is the tale of an accidental “boy soldier”…
’67 it was, sad morning with chilling sounds of the new khaki junta, filled the air. “Who was he?” He has be young, we thought. That uncircumcised mallam couldn’t lead us, No! We just couldn’t accept that. Thompson had failed but why did this “boy” have to replace him?
“Mother, we can’t live here, we have to go!” I meant those words but mother laughed, “We are the best African country, the Brits love us my child” she said. If only mother knew what those “albino skinned” Brits had in mind.
Two years later and I’m Manning a war cannon, guarding ammunition of 12,000 men soldiers…. How did I end up like this, what is my story? I was only 10 at d tym. T.Vs showed white kids running in the mud and playing all day, building castles with sand and wet Clay. Was I any different, why did I have a gun and not a toy, why was there no fun or a glimpse of joy? Here I was on the side of the sun, fighting for liberation in the face of genocide.
We fought different wars during that time; war against man and hunger’s icy hand. With every raid, hungry dead bodies laid. It was all falling apart, eyes began to roll, tongues began to wag, we were loosing it, until… Shots! Mutiny was heard, and the bad eggs began to go, heads began to roll, making eyes forfeit the role. The kids began to learn, Anatomy became fun, the smell of death filtered into every nose, we all knew what it was. It was hurting to see that kids had varied ribs nd socket sizes at the point of death. We could hear bones cracking, hearts faintly pumping, lives quaking, but we signed up for freedom and not the sufferings.
Hope! Hope!! Hope?!!!
Hope came with a “brilliant” Ikemba strategy, he knew about our hunger, he read meaning into our varied heart beats, “He” came up with a brilliant plan that could tame a wild beast and help kill 2 birds with one hit. We felt like children again, he pumped life into us. Our task was simple, “go into the naija camp like little cry babies in guise of refugees, steal supplies and Intel… Bust out”. We loved the idea of having good food again. 2, 3 days passed nd we felt at home, not wanting to return. We finally agreed on d fifth day to return, after risking a surprise attack from our troops. November 26th, 1968, 3:43am – My custom London-made time-peice clutched tight to my chest – all thirteen of us including Chibunna, the cripple, were escaping with all we needed, including ammunition. “Stop!” Where are you going”, we froze still as the chilling voice of a Naija guard, halted us in our tracks. The questions came in quick succession, but answers lingered. Then… With the same rapid speed and elements of surprise, like a modern day mayweather strike, came a stealth blow that changed my life.
I had never been to the war front before. We only heard tales of bloody killings coming back to the fort. The uniform made me feel like I was fearless bt underneath, my cowardice could care less. Mine was at rock bottom, I couldn’t fear less, guess I was careless to wear a war dress. I felt I could fight but I almost wet my pants that night, or maybe I did but couldn’t see without a glimmer of light. Chibuzor, 10, charged with live bullet, at the head of this ‘innocent’ soldier, sunk it hard into him with force that triggered its explosion. It looked worse than the T.V depiction.
I woke up back in the Biafran camp under the piercing eyes of soldiers. “Well done Ifeanyi, those were some brave actions from you guys, well done indeed”. I had never been praised by the general himself. Hearing Ikemba hail us was elating. But… That sad event made me rethink my decision, I couldn’t do it, mother’ll be ashamed of me, Father’ll turn in his grave. No! This was wrong, it had to stop, but..