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American Author of Nigerian descent, Dr. Ngozi M. Obi is a woman on a mission. The clinical pharmacist whose book, Land Of The Rising Sun paid homage to the Biafran war experience is currently on a quest to chart a new course on how to heal the wounds of the civil war. Why is she so much confident in her abilities to make a difference in Nigeria? She goes with the flow and tells it like it is.

 

The Inspiration Behind Land Of The Rising Sun.
I've always wanted to write a book about Biafra because I grew up hearing both of my parents, who were in the war, talk about what they went through. I was really motivated to write the book in 2017 at the fiftieth anniversary of the war as I started to hear that there was a renewed agitation for Biafra and all the negative things that were being said about Igbos. I wanted to remind the world of what happened to the Igbos during the war and still happens today that makes them feel marginalized enough to seek their own country. I also wanted to make sure the Igbos really understood what they were asking for and if they were willing to sacrifice for it by reminding them of what their predecessors went through during the war. This is more than carrying placards, walking around and shouting “Give us Biafra”

My Take on the agitation for separatist state for the people of Southeastern Nigeria
Ultimately, what we seek is peace so I would hope that my book will serve as a warning to make sure Nigerians avoid fighting another civil war rather than add to the agitation. Let me be clear, I'm not agitating for or against Biafra by writing this book. I'm simply trying to highlight the issues that plagued Nigeria and led to the civil war in the sixties. Most of these issues have remained unresolved till this day. If something isn't done, then it may lead to another war. Igbos shouldn't have to live as second-class citizens in their own nation. I believe it was Wole Soyinka who said that if Barak Obama was an Igbo man in Nigeria, he could never aspire to be the president of his nation. What a sad statement and that's only the tip of the iceberg. Ensure things are equal enough for Igbos and make them feel like they belong in their own country. If things can't be worked out and Biafra is to become a nation, then let them go peacefully.

Emotional scars from the civil war
Everyone who was alive during the civil war, including my father who fought in the war, and gave you the historical facts that formed part of the book bemoans it 'til today. These people went through hell and lived to tell about it. A lot of Igbos left the country because of the shame that resulted as a loss of the war. The Biafran war was to Igbos what the Vietnam war was to Americans. American soldiers came home to great ridicule after the Vietnam war. Now imagine that same ridicule from the very people you fought to separate from but still have to live amongst. Yes, there are a still a lot of emotional scars and the wound is daily reopened because of the way things are in Nigeria.

What the government should do to heal the wounds of Biafra
The government should first of all acknowledge that the Biafran war actually occurred instead of merely sweeping it under the rug. I can't tell you how many Nigerians there are, particularly those born after the war, that have no idea of how brutal it was.

They don't teach this history in schools but just as the subject of slavery is a difficult but important subject in American history so the Biafran war is in Nigerian History. You can't heal what you don't acknowledge. The next step is to engage the Igbos in dialogue and really hear what their issues are and device a plan to fix them instead of dismissing the Igbos as mere thugs. Some of the issues the government can start with include bringing meaningful development to the Southeastern part of Nigeria and including them in national appointments. One token appointment here and there isn't enough for one of the three largest tribes in the country. They need to be included in governing their own nation.

The first time I heard about Biafra

I don't remember an exact date but I can't remember my parents not talking about their wartime experience. It was always a topic of discussion in our home and peaked my curiosity even at a young age to read more about it. What affected me the most is the Kwashiorkor children who became the unlikely faces of the war. Their pictures haunted me and I often wondered if that would have happened to me had I been born during the Nigerian-Biafran war.

How I felt writing the book
Writing Land of the Rising Sun brought out a lot of emotions for me. The subject of war alone is hard enough to write about. Couple that with having lost my mom years before the book was written. It was a rough emotional journey to say the least because the stories used to craft the fictional portion of the book are actual narrations of her Biafran wartime experience as a young impressionable nurse. I just wrote a back story to tie it all together in a continuous flow.

I wish she was here to read it. I think she would be proud and maybe even cry, so yeah, writing the book was quite emotional for me.

Why the Igbos must be unified
They would truly be a force to be reckoned with if they could put aside all the variant Igbo culture factions and realize they are one people and act like it. This subject of disunity is truly my biggest fear. If they can't get along in Nigeria, now, what will they do in Biafra? Psalm 133: 1-3 essentially says “It is good for Brethren to dwell together in unity for there God commands His blessings”. This is also relevant for Nigerians as a whole. It is also important to note that unity doesn't always mean total agreement. It's okay to peacefully disagree at times.

What I want to tell Nigerians
The one thing I would tell Nigerians is to change their value system and become their brother's keeper. . Part of what plagues the Nigerian from the average man on the street to Aso rock is the failure to see beyond themselves and their needs. It's also the basis for creating a culture of corruption in the country. If you can truly see beyond yourself and realize that your fellow man is also a human being who is entitled to live in our world freely, it will make you think twice before you do anything that will harm them physically, financially or otherwise. It takes reevaluating individual value systems and making changes where needed. This alone will also rid the country of the corruption that they're desperately trying to fight at the surface. Tackle the foundation and what's on the surface will change too.

Was the war avoidable?
Perhaps, especially if the tribes had stuck to their agreement on having stronger regional governments. But everything happens for a reason and because of it I think the Igbo man is wiser though there are negative stigmas associated with losing the war.

Formal presentation of the book in Nigeria

I've actually done quite a few presentations of my book in the United States but the subject of Biafra is more of a Nigerian issue at the moment, than for the United States. My goal in doing a presentation of this book in Nigeria is to start a much-needed healing process for the Igbos that will go a long way in restoring dignity to them. I hope it will also bring peace to the nation as a whole, especially as the upcoming elections loom.

Land Of The rising Sun circulation in Nigeria
I'm not sure who all have heard about the book in Nigeria. I've heard things here and there but hopefully, this will increase reader circulation. I know this is an important subject that requires all of our attention to create a permanent solution. Right now, the books can be ordered through amazon and other online retailers.

How writing has affected my life
I believe words have power and I've always been fascinated with books. From the curious George series of books as a tot to Charlotte's web, the Laura Ingalls wilder series of books and required reading like Pride and Prejudice as I got older. The natural progression would be to become a writer even though it wasn't my initial profession because as a good daughter to African parents becoming a doctor of some sort took precedence. I did find my way back to books in the form of writing and it has allowed me forge into territories that would otherwise be unknown to me. Saving lives one word at a time is our brand motto and that's exactly what writing has allowed me to do.

The theme of virginity in my books, particularly the love series
Sex is a beautiful part of love when done in the proper environment. God actually created it to be the glue in marriage. Unfortunately, our sex crazed society has told us that its okay to give your body to anyone who wants it. I wanted this theme to be a light in what has become the societal norm or misnomer, if you will. It's alright to wait and only give yourself to the person you marry. You don't have to give into societal pressures just because everyone else is doing it. Dare to be different and reap the physical and emotional benefits.


The me-too movement and feminism
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The simple definition of a feminist is one who is pro progress and equal rights for women. In that regard, I'm definitely a feminist. I fear though, that we've taken feminism to an extreme where being a feminist now means we are against men. I don't think this should be the case because we need men just as much as they need us. There needs to be mutual respect between genders and equality, which will limit predatory behavior of SOME MEN.

The experience that made me decide to become a writer
I've always loved books but we all know that in the African culture, one isn't necessarily seen as accomplished unless you're a lawyer, doctor of some sort or an engineer. I loved math in school but engineering was too technical and law was too abstract. I was good in the sciences so I found myself in the medical field as a Pharmacist. But when something is really part of your destiny, you naturally gravitate back to it. My journey as a writer began in response to my search for a genre of books with an inspirational message that seamlessly tackle the complexity of life's concepts with ease. I searched but couldn't necessarily find exactly what I was looking for. I'm not saying it isn't out there. I just couldn't find it. I like to say it happened that way to prompt me to start writing. After all, necessity is the mother of invention. I also found that delving into writing served as an escape and a way to deal with my late mother's illness and subsequent passing by allowing me to tap into my vivid imagination and create tangible characters that most people can easily relate to.

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