In reply to Nnamdi Azikiwe when he said “let’s forget our differences and move on”, Ahmadu Bello said, “No, instead let us understand our differences to be able to move on”. Even our founding fathers understood that we are not ‘One people, One nation’. And as such it is unfair for anyone to say Achebe should have told the Biafran story, painting Nigeria as being united and one when in truth, Nigeria has never been one.
Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their backgrounds, religion, beliefs, and customs. The Igbos in the Southeast lived in autonomous, democratically organized communities. Although we had Eze and monarchs, decisions in Igboland were made by a general assembly in which men and women participated. For the Hausa-Fulanis, political decisions were to be submitted to. They had contacts with the political system only through a village head designated by the Emir or one of his subordinates. The Yorubas had a similar setting with their Obas. We are all different.
Achebe was an Igbo man, he was right in the middle of the massacre, in the heat of the war. The war left the Igbos with about 100,000 overall military casualties and between 500,000 to 2 million Biafran civilians who died of starvation. The Biafran war wasn’t a story told to Achebe, he lived through the war. He told his life story.