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The importance of conflict resolution- A review of John Mozie & Co’s through the eyes of the child

Title: Through the Eyes of the Child

Author: John Mozie, Charles Spiropoulos, Edozie Ezeife

Pagination: 452

Publisher: Scribblecity Publications

Year of Publication: May 2021

All wars are bad for people who live through them especially children, the Nigerian civil war was no exception. The authors have put together a remarkable anthology that is pivotal to conversations about the children of war.

This anthology holds the experiences of twenty-five children who lived in the Biafran enclave during that war, and their stories are unique because they captured what they remembered of the war, and the effect it had on them.

The children aged between 3 and 15 during the war took readers through their journeys and their lives during the period July 1967 to January 1970, and captures their experiences in Biafra. Although they have all grown into adults, with families of their own, but the experiences of that event have stayed with them.

As wars spread across the world and the actors pursue the vigorous decimation of their enemies, we must be reminded that the most vulnerable victims of any war, the ones who pay the long and painful price of war, are the same people whose opinions are never sought when declarations of war are made: The children.

In Remembering Biafra, Nnaemeka Nnoli, remembers the severe scarcity of salt and how they gradually ran out of food, hunting bush rats and lizards out of hunger. Even these creatures became scarce as the war progressed.

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Arthur Harris-Eze in his piece, surviving the Civil War recounts how after a bout of measles his aunt lost her sight because she could not get the medical help she needed, nor could they get papers to get medical help abroad. He was fortunately spared the same fate.

In A Child in Biafra, Chief Nnamdi Ekenna captures recollections of starving children lying disoriented, either in a coma, or half-dead, by roadsides. He also remembers mystery arms that caught him as he missed his footing on a narrow bamboo bridge, saving him from certain death.

Such is the nature of war that he never got a chance to say thank you. Marcus Ukandu, in I lived to tell the story, talks about the gruesome sight of death and decomposition, as he was carried through a river bloated with bodies. Each one of them was someone’s loved one who never made it back.

Attracta Okeahialam-Abulu, in 36 Months of Terror, spoke about the horrors of the air raid that almost took her younger sister. She also wrote about her father’s escape from the executioner’s bullets. She wears the scars of those experiences to this day.

The authors hope to raise awareness of the effects of war on children and young people who have no vote, and no voice. As wars both at home and across the globe continue to claim the lives of children, the conversation now should be around sustainable peace and conflict resolution.

The book is a must-read for people concerned about the devastating impact of wars on children in general or with a particular interest in Nigerian history. The travails and privations of the war left a mark on the children who lived it and this book tells their story.

There is a certain uniqueness to this project because it is one of the few books written about the Nigerian civil war that is not colored by political or tribal prejudice. It does not seek to unravel the causes of the civil war, nor does it seek to offer a panacea for resolving the issues that led to war. All it does is follow each child, capture their perceptions of life in Biafra, and how they survived the event.