Lwati: A Journal of Contemporary Research

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War as a humanitarian and environmental tragedy: an eco-critical reinterpretation of Buchi Emecheta’s Destination Biafra

Onyekachi Eni


While the prevalence of conflict remains a recurrent feature of social relations, the incidence of war is both an index of the failure of discourse and the manifestation of mankind’s self-destructive impulse. This paper interrogates the chemistry of war using the historical reality of the Nigerian civil war (1967 - 1970). With Buchi Emecheta’s Destination Biafra as its navigational compass, this paper examines the impact of war as a multi-dimensional tragedy. The paper contends that in addition to the socio-political problems which gave rise to the war in question, the Nigerian Civil War crisis were underpinned by economic factors with far reaching environmental consequences. It has been further contended in this paper that the intimations of socio-political victimization which constituted the primary drivers of the Nigeria-Biafra war were accentuated by the latent struggle for the control of the hydrocarbon deposits in the Biafran region of the country. Using eco-criticism as its theoretical framework and re-interpretational point of departure, this paper posits that the casualties of the war were (and are not) limited to wanton blood spillage and allied humanitarian disasters but also that they find expression in sundry environmental degradation which cumulatively threaten human existence. The paper recommends, among others, the sensitization of the citizenry to the imperatives of socio-political and environmental justice and the inculcation of the ideals of sustainable development in the populace.

Keywords: Eco-criticism, environment, war, exploitation, conflict

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