Emmanuel Iduma is the author of A Stranger’s Pose, which was longlisted for the 2019 Ondaatje Prize, and The Sound of Things to Come, a novel. He received an arts writing grant from the Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation, for his essays on Nigerian artists. He teaches at the School of Visual Arts, New York. (May 2019)

NYR DAILY

‘Gone Like a Meteor’: Epitaph for the Lost Youth of the Biafran War

Young soldiers training to fight for the Republic of Biafra in the Biafran War, Nigeria, August 1968

The books published about the Biafran War, by memoirists on either side, are written from the perspective of those who survived, and can manage to speak of its horrors. The dead, voiceless, keep to themselves. And what of the unborn? When I remember my uncle, it is to grieve for a man whom I never knew, forty years after his death. Youth is a meteor, gone in a flash. The tragedy of the deaths of the poet Christopher Okigbo and the photojournalist Priya Ramrakha is outbalanced by the longevity of their words and pictures. They survive through what they managed to wrest from the terrible war. My uncle wasn’t as fortunate. The details of his life are vague and imprecise, amounting to no more than an hour of talk when I sit with any relative.