Nigeria: Braiding Paths of Progress Through Historical Memory

opinion

"Igbo Collective Memory of the Nigeria-Biafra War" is a resolute, human look into a painful time in the country's history. This dissertation is not only a proud achievement of an already massively accomplished woman, but when it is published in book form, it will help provide a human lens to the stories of warfare we often hear.

A former writer-producer with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), who was also a broadcast regulator at the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Florence Nwando Onwusi Didigu, can now put 'Howard University PhD recipient' on her list of accomplishments.

On April 26, Didigu defended her dissertation for the Howard University's Communication, Culture and Media Studies programme. The dissertation, which would also become a book later this year, is entitled, "Igbo Collective Memory of the Nigeria-Biafra War (1967-1970): Reclaiming Forgotten Women's Voices and Building Peace Through a Gendered Lens."

The dissertation is an unflinching look at the women who survived one of the worst atrocities in Nigeria's history; a look that Didigu understands well, as a survivor of the war.

The emotional weight of the war remains fresh in Didigu's mind, as she states, "The day the Nigeria-Biafra War ended, I, like everyone was wallowing in anxiety and fear about what would happen to us as the vanquished. A very optimistic gentleman came over to me and asked: 'Why are you so sad; can't you see you have survived this terrible war?' I stood up, even though the Nigerian Airforce was on its last bombing raid, and leaped up in the air in mad glee, repeating to myself and others: 'Yes, I have survived, I am a survivor!' This powerful survival instinct in me, which I call daring, and God's help, are what made me overcome all personal challenges during my doctoral program and get to where I am today."

This survival instinct that Didigu references has remained a factor in her life, not only through her experience with the war, but in the multiple hardships she has forged through. These have included dealing with the loss of both of her parents while in her second year in Howard, for which she returned to Nigeria to see them buried, as well as her own physical battles with shingles, which paralysed the right side of her face and resulted in the temporary loss of her voice.

Didigu's work in shining a light on women's experience in the Nigeria-Biafra war cannot be understated. Not only has she done a tremendous service in making sure that one of the worse human rights atrocities in Nigeria's history is never forgotten, she has also given a feminist insight into the tribulations this added to the women who experienced it.

True to her spirit as a survivor, Didigu has been able to overcome these setbacks and her endurance remains inspiring. As Didigu's advisor, Carolyn Byerly, notes: "she embodies endurance and intellectual determination."

Didigu's accomplishment in acquiring her PhD cannot be overemphasised. Being able to acquire a College Bachelor's Degree is a proud achievement itself. Then being able to acquire a higher degree, especially a PhD, is a task that requires massive diligence and tenacity. Her attainment of this degree, in spite of various personal struggles, is not only a wonderful victory for her, but also a sign of the endless possibilities that are still achievable, even in hard times.

Didigu's work in shining a light on women's experience in the Nigeria-Biafra war cannot be understated. Not only has she done a tremendous service in making sure that one of the worse human rights atrocities in Nigeria's history is never forgotten, she has also given a feminist insight into the tribulations this added to the women who experienced it. Says Carolyn Byerly, "Didigu delved inside the most painful period of her life to find the focus of her research on women, war and peace."

"Igbo Collective Memory of the Nigeria-Biafra War" is a resolute, human look into a painful time in the country's history. This dissertation is not only a proud achievement of an already massively accomplished woman, but when it is published in book form, it will help provide a human lens to the stories of warfare we often hear. A lens that should make one consider further the impact of these actions.

Aramide Olorunyomi is a budding film maker and student at Howard University in Washington DC.

More From: Premium Times

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.