IGBOLAND is a novel of passion and conflict set in Nigeria during the late 1960s Biafran War. Lydia is a young English woman, married to Clem. Their first real home together is in the West African bushland, where Clem will be doing missionary work in the Igbo village of Ngkaluku. Their marriage is under pressure as Lydia begins to wonder why she has travelled so far away from home. Here is an extract from the opening chapter of IGBOLAND:
An intense migraine slowly took control of my entire being and I couldn’t be bothered to find the aspirins. I drifted in and out of consciousness only vaguely aware of the voices on the radio until Clem abruptly prodded my shoulder.
‘Lydia, you need to hear this.’ He turned up the radio.
‘…the Nigerian Federal Government has declared that the country is officially in a state of civil war. Major hostilities continue in the border regions, as the federal troops continue to advance southwards. Clashes have occurred in towns such as Kano, Kaduna, Oturkpo and Enugu between Northern Muslims and the Igbos in the Southeast. Southern rebels are seeking to gain independence from the Nigerian federal government with the aim of creating their own republic of Biafra. Yakubu Gowon, the head of state declared that Nigeria would stay united, whilst the Igbo military leader, Colonel Ojukwu, has promised to ‘Fight fire with fire’…’
That night I kept restlessly waking at every sudden noise of train on track. Each sound conjured vivid and irrationally frightening images in my mind as I lay there paralysed and half strangled by the twisted, damp sheets pinning me down. Once my eyes got used to the dark I could see various creatures scuttling across the ceiling. One large hissing lizard stayed close to where the mosquito net connected to the ceiling and I prayed that it wouldn’t find a hole to creep through and end up on my face or my pillow. The thought stopped me sleeping for many hours.
Eventually I drifted off but then was rudely woken up by a hand pinching my bosom and Clem snuggling up behind me, naked and clearly aroused. I turned with a heavy sigh, met by his stale breath. I was going to give an excuse but instead I just lay there inertly, waiting for him to speak, but as usual he said nothing; just groped me imploringly. I didn’t respond which I knew would annoy him. Then I gave another sigh to imply my fatigue. He released me, jerked back impatiently and turned his back to me in a huff. I slipped out of the bunk and self-consciously dressed as quickly as I could.
Then I sat in the chair next to the bed from sheer exhaustion of moving in the morning heat. In the corner of my eye I caught a quick movement and turned my head to see a lizard scamper up the wall – perhaps the same one that kept me awake last night. In the light of day it seemed smaller and quite friendly with its strikingly blue body and its bright red head and tail. It suddenly twisted its head round with a flick, hissed loudly and I heard a crunching sound as its head moved up and down. Clearly visible, sticking out of its mouth was a pair of wings and the dangling legs of some kind of flying insect.
‘Ah, he’s an agama lizard,’ Clem announced, suddenly sitting up in my bed.
‘How do you know it’s a he?’ I asked with a slight irritation.
‘Because the females are plain and less colourful,’ he said. ‘Often the way in nature, my dear.’
‘God moving in mysterious ways, I suppose?’ I ventured, looking away.
‘Sorry?’ Clem asked, as he stretched unselfconsciously. I didn’t reply as his mind was clearly elsewhere.