On the margins of my happy childhood, there was a shadow: the Biafran war. I was born seven years after it ended, and did not experience any material deprivations—I had a bicycle, dolls, books—but my family was scarred by it. In 1967, after massacres in northern Nigeria that targeted southeastern Igbo people, the southeast seceded and formed an independent nation called Biafra. Nigeria went to war to prevent the secession. By the time that Biafra was defeated, in 1970, at least a million people were dead, including my grandfathers—proud, titled Igbo men who were buried in the unmarked graves of refugee camps.
Read more: Hiding From Our Past : The New Yorker.