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Saturday, 17 March 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Children of the Fallen Sun

Author:Chike Nathan Okechukwu
Publisher:Africagenda
Reviewers: Paul Ukpabio and Adeyera D. Samuel
Pagination:432
Chike Nathan Okechukwu
War is a terrible situation that only leads to uncountable loss of lives, properties, economic goods, lifestyles, dignity, human respect, common basic rights and other numerous important matters in life. 

In war, all could be totally lost and accepted as an effect of war. The great effects of wars are felt while the war is taking place but an even greater effect is more felt after the war, when those involved begin to count their losses. And that is even if they can recover their sanity or mind. The world was at a time at war, it is still subtly at war and who knows, the world will still be at a continuous subtle war in one part of the globe or the other.

Enter the book: Children of the Fallen Sun.

The World War 1 and World War 2 today remains the greatest war in terms of lives lost, costs incurred for weapons and loss of properties worth huge amounts of money. The World War 2 alone claimed a total of 60.7 - 84.6 million lives according to Wikipedia (an online archive). In the aftermath of these wars, nations came together to proffer a way forward out this man-made threat. Nations decided to come together to form League of Nations which today is known as united Nations.

Nigeria as a country has had its fair share of war since gaining independence from the colonial masters. Nigerians who traveled abroad came back home armed with a wealth of knowledge to fight for independence. This they did successfully without any bloodbath. One begins to wonder how Nigeria was able to wrestle for power forself-governance from its former colonial master without bloodshed! Yet, upon gaining this most vital independence, the country turns around to find itself terribly unable to control its own affairs without ethnic clashes, bloodshed, military take overs, bloodbaths and afterwards, a full blown civil war.

“Children of the Fallen Sun” is a great masterpiece by Chike Nathan Okechukwu, who surprisingly studied surgery and nephrology in England but whose pen dances and swaggers like that of a potential Nobel laureate stretched out to re-visit the early independence years and then the Nigerian-Biafran civil war, to curry answers to the various answered and unanswered questions. He must be commended for painting a fertile picture of war and its effect on innocent children who know nothing about the ignorance and decision of their fathers and leaders.

 “They forced disparate peoples with little or no cultural similarities to suddenly get thrown together under the same banner as a country. On departure after Nigeria’s independence, to ensure control from afar, the British (they) intentionally left behind suspicion and distrust: the standard divide-and–rule tactic. So began the classic Markov chain."


Michael, the main character in the book, explained what caused the war. The British according to Michael was to be blamed for the war.

In this novel, one gets a solid reason as to why some nations choose to form alliance with a warring country. It is a rich account of the subtle underdealings that takes place during war time among the leaders of the warring parties and even the intrigues that play out in the real life theatre of wars. The Eastern state of Nigeria under the leadership of Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu had declared itself to be a sovereign state and it was to be referred to as “The Republic of Biafra” a decision that was not welcomed by the Military Head of State Gen. Jack Gowon. After numerous meetings as to the way forward, no agreement was reached and war was to become the only solution.

Chike explains through this novel how the British government was only interested in the newly discovered oil in the eastern part of the country Nigeria, and were thus willing to do all in their capacity to secure this prospect by supporting the Nigerian Federation Army which was under the command of young Gen. Jack Gowon who was just in his early thirties.

From the title, the book tells a tale of adventurous children - Michael and Chindu who were very close childhood friends and were often referred to as “partners in crime”. The war was taking its toll on the inexperienced and outnumbered soldiers of Biafra. Almost a majority of the personnel taken to fight the war had been lost. The need to reinforce with more soldiers rose; children whose ages were above eleven years were expected to join the Boys’ Company of the Republic of Biafra to save their land from the enemy.

As was the nature of the adventurous children, they lied about their age so theycould get admitted to serve in the war without the knowledge of their mothers who were taking care of them while their fathers went to war.  They ended up serving those who fought the war, and eventually, some of them took part in the war and were thus exposed to witness or participate in the fighting and killings that did occur as a resultof the war. It was a 

great damage to their psyche. A damage that remained permanent in their memory, causing them different psychological trauma later in life. Making it difficult to readjust to a newer life even many years after the war.

‘Children of the Fallen Sun’ examines the great effect of post war on both the soldiers involved and the communities. The social and psychological disorder of war, brought into the life of Micheal a major character in the novel, with resultant recurring nightmares and problems adjusting back to life, which can be associated with the same experience post-war trauma soldiers and war casualties face while trying to lead a normal live.

This again is another well detailed book of history any Nigerian child or youth who cares to know about the Nigerian civil war should read. In simple, clear cut language, Chike Nathan Okechukwu has touched a part of war most contemporary writers ignore, which makes this book stand out from most other war stories. He has carefully dealt with the struggles of soldiers who go to war to defend their land and end up not being able to defend themselves from the aftermath.This is not just a book for a Nigerian audience but the world at large to see, read and choose to seek peace rather than war because, the gain is inconsequential to the loss. And also teaches that even after a fiery war, nothing changes that were expected to change, in terms of the issues that led to the war itself. The book also raises the question of whether the Nigerian civil war was really worth it.

Available in bookstores all over Abuja. Check out Salamanders, Pen & Pages, etc. Coming soon to Lagos stores and Amazon /Barnes & Noble online...📚📖

AUTHOR'S BIO


Dr. Chike Nathan Okechukwu is a Nigerian-born physician who earned his medical degree at the esteemed University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in eastern Nigeria.   He relocated to the United Kingdom where he underwent postgraduate residency training in surgery, earning the prestigious qualification of Fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. 

He subsequently emigrated to the United States of America where he completed further training in the field of Nephrology and kidney transplantation.

He is currently a practicing Nephrologist, dedicated to treatment and care of patients with kidney diseases.  In his spare time, he enjoys reading historical fiction and writing poetry, and is very interested in world politics particularly as it pertains to social justice, economic fairness, and human rights, especially in Africa.

He lives in Pennsylvania, USA with his wife and their three children.

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