By Taryn Galbreath
Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The author of Escape From Nigeria: A Memior of Faith, Love and War is coming to the Park Forest Public Library.
Starvation, diseases, and genocidal massacres claimed the lives of millions during the Nigerian-Biafran War (July 1967-January 1970).
Yet one young mother, with six small children, survived through a series of miracles, to reunite in the U.S. with a husband who for nearly three years did not know if his family was alive or dead.
“It was like a dream, but then it was true,” Mrs. Angelina Ihejirika, 89-year-old mother of veteran Chicago Sun-Times reporter Maudlyne Ihejirika, says in an interview 50 years later.
“When Nigeria brought the war to Biafra, they were bombing us everyday. My husband had been studying in the U.S. when the war broke out, severing all outside communication. Every morning I would first of all get the children and put them in the bunker that I dug, then search for food. I didn’t know how long we were going to live.”
Mrs. Ihejirika’s harrowing tale of surviving the war that claimed the lives of at least two million Biafrans — ranked fifth on the list of worst crimes against humanity of the 20th century — is recounted in her daughter’s book, “Escape From Nigeria: A Memoir of Faith, Love and War.”
The impact of that war still reverberates, against a current global refugee crisis triggered by the largest number of forcibly displaced people worldwide since World War II.
Mother and daughter will share their story at 3 p.m. Nov. 13, in a Book Talk sponsored by the Park Forest Public Library, 400 Lakewood Blvd, in Park Forest. Hosted by NBC5-Chicago’s Pam Oliver, the event is free and open to the public.
The book is available at voiceofawoman.info
It recounts how an Irish missionary nun set off a chain of miracles in 1968, by helping Angelina smuggle a letter through two European countries into Sierra Leone, where she believed her husband, Christopher, was studying, only to find he’d traveled to the U.S.
The letter journeyed halfway around the world to find Christopher at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where five American couples would band together in a Herculean effort to locate the family amidst a raging war, and smuggle them to the U.S. on the last missionary flight out of Biafra.
The refugee family of seven disembarked at O’Hare airport on June 9, 1969, to a horde of TV and newspaper reporters and cameras. One of the children was the award-winning Sun-Times reporter of 25 years, a frequent contributor on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight: Week In Review,” FOX “Good Day Chicago,” and NPR’s “The Barber Shop Show.” She has appeared as a political analyst on CNN, ABC, CBS and WBEZ, and currently writes the Chicago Chronicles column Sundays in the Chicago Sun-Times.
“When my husband’s letter came, saying he was working with Americans to ‘see if we can bring you and the children out,’ it was the most joyful day,” Angelina recalls.
For more information: Park Forest Library, 708-748-3731. Refreshments will be served.
This article was submitted by a member of the community.
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