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Posted by on 09/04/2021

Araba Let's Separate: The Story of the Nigerian Civil War

The title Araba, a word meaning "Let's Separate" or "Let's Dissolve," refers to the Nigerian Civil War which began in 1966 and continued for nearly four years. The word was first used by rioters at a demonstration in the early stages of the civil war, in an attempt to signal their dissatisfaction with attempts to unify Nigeria under what was known as "Decree Number 34."

Professor Mshelia has fashioned the events of that period into a something of a historical novel, mixing in fictional characters, and in some cases battles and confrontations, with the historical characters and actions that were a part of that war. In Preface One to the book, Professor Mshelia states that he took this approach as "an attempt to present history in a fictional form for an easy and interesting reading for the general public."

However, it is frequently difficult to determine what is not historical fact and what is fiction. Given his statement that the book contains fictional elements, this would normally not appear to be a problem, however, in this instance it sometimes results in confusing the reader. This is not helped by the fact that Professor Mshelia frequently addresses the reader with sentences beginning with "my readers" or "my dear readers," leading one to feel they are being lectured on the subject, rather than reading a somewhat fictional recounting of the events of the Nigerian Civil War.

That's not to say that Araba doesn't make for an interesting read. Prior to reading this book, I was completely unaware of the events recounted in the book. And as someone who enjoys history, I'm somewhat ashamed to say that, although I'm certainly not alone among Westerners in that regard.

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