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'Emeka' by Fredrick Forsyth

Emeka is the biography of Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, general and leader of the nation of Biafra, written by English author, Fredrick Forsyth.

Forsyth takes us through the childhood, young adulthood, military life and eventual exile of the famous Ojukwu; taking us through the turmoil and series of unfortunate events which led to the Biafra secession from Nigeria, and eventual war, in 1967. We see Ojukwu as a lively young man, humourous and good-natured; we see him as a disciplined military officer, as a man determined to carve a path for himself despite his father’s wealth and affluence. I found myself liking Ojukwu, admiring his patriotism and his love for Nigeria.

Ordinarily, non-fiction literature is not my niche, so it took me a little while to get into the swing of the book. More than that, however, I found Forsyth’s narrative one-sided, where he sang the praises of Ojukwu while painting the Nigerian side with disdain and harsh criticisms. While the book gave me an insight into Ojukwu’s life, strengths and victories in a way I never knew existed, I could not help but find it a biased account of events. Of course, it is not far-fetched to imagine that the subject of a biography would want to paint him/herself in the most favourable light, but one could tell that Forsyth's friendship with Ojukwu tainted the work significantly. For example, the last chapter of the book (Chapter 18) is entirely dedicated to Forsyth telling us about the greatness of Ojukwu, whom he believes "has qualities that set him aside, not simply within a personal relationship, but among other men, and most of all among other Africans" (p.138).

It’s a 5.5 out of 10 for me.

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