Nigeria is the Texas of Africa: it’s big and loud and brash, a place of huge potential, untapped talent, murderous conflict and petroleum riches. It also has a singular capacity for irony and self-reflection that is both cultural habit and survival tactic. It is difficult and often dangerous to get by in Nigeria unless you are a fortunate member of the infinitesimally small and mostly corrupt oil-fed elite. Acute awareness of your surroundings is a necessity; along with it goes another Nigerian trait, thinking and dreaming big.And then of the Biafran War and Achebe's role in that:
All these characteristics were in play when the nightmare for weak nation-states became reality in 1967. Seven years after Nigerian independence, the prosperous Ibos, dominant in the eastern part of the country and targets of persecution and pogroms, declared their independence. Led by the charismatic Oxford-educated, Shakespeare-loving Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu, the fledgling nation called itself the Republic of Biafra. Achebe, an Ibo himself and the new country’s pre-eminent intellectual, a product of Nigeria’s finest English-style schools and author of “Things Fall Apart” — soon went to work at Biafra’s Ministry of Information, serving as special envoy and chairman of a committee charged with writing a constitution for the new country.My view is that any book that reminds us of the history and the trajectory of Nigeria is important because of the country's already enormous size and high rate of population growth. It dominates the demography of Africa and certainly dominates the economy and politics of West Africa. The more we know, the better we will be able to cope.