War Stories a review
Gearing up to write this review, in the middle of December, I went to my cold and musty storage unit and pulled out yellowing files of my Biafra experience. Reading them for the first time in generations, I see I damn sure learned my chops to the point that I could read Shermans book knowledgeably and more or less objectively (I admit to some envy, yes). For example, in my files I found the following, dated October 24th, 1968:
Biafran Special Representative
Biafra House, Sao Tomé.
Today we are informed that Mr. Heberts clearance for Biafra has been obtained. Mr. Hebert would like to go in tonight to report to Dr. Middlecoop.
Axel V. Duch, Captain,
Chief of Operations, NORDCHURCHAID
Then this TELEX, sent about a week later from an RPCV relief co-worker in Sao Tomé (the tiny colonial Portuguese island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, whose airfield was the only port into Biafra) to UNICEF at the United Nations in New York:
HEBERT DEPORTED LISBON YESTERDAY STOP REMAINING VOLUNTEERS REQUEST RETURN TICKERTS IMMEDIATELY PLUS INFORMATION REGARDING POSSIBILITY TRANSFER LAGOS OPERATION STOP REPEAT STOP NEED OFFICIAL UNICEF INVOVLEMENT BIAFRA URGENTLY SIGNED DISGUSTED DAVIS.
Finally, this November 4 TELEX to George Orrick, UNICEF New York, from Mona Mollerup, NORDCHURCHAID [Danish NGO]:
DUTCH INFORM US THAT HEBERT WAS DEPORTED BY THE PORTUGUESE AUTHORITIES DUE TO DEMONSTRATIVE, INSULTING BEHAVIOR AND AN UNCOOPERATIVE ATTITUDE. THE OTHER FIVE ARE DOING AN EXCELLENT JOB ON THE WAREHOUSES AND THE GOVERNOR HAS EXPRESSED HIS APPRECIATION FOR THEIR EFFORTS. GREETINGS.
The last is not all that Ms. Mollerup said. From my previously unpublished notes: Tom Hebert is a mass murderer of children!
Well, thats a load off.
Looking back, my particular Biafra became the place my adult life really began. But for Nigeria, except as yet another failure, it has never meant much. On a 1978 visit to Nigerias eastern region with a State Department team, I met with a state governor who had been a high Biafran official during the war. Letting the others leave the room, I said, Hail Biafra! Stunned, looking to see if we were alone, he returned the salute, Hail Biafra! As we talked that afternoon, for us Biafra had become a melancholy thing, with little remaining impact few bad effects and no heritage. Just a slight perturbation a wobble in Nigerias orbit, the one degrading to a Brechtian (nihilistic expressive) 2002 Miss World finale, shortly before the federation of Nigeria crashes into the sun.
However poorly, in this Afterword I was writing memoir.
Tom Hebert, a writer and policy consultant, is the co-author with John Coyne of three books on innovative American training and education.
For several years, he was a training consultant and advisor to the U.S. Department of State and the government of Nigeria, he later wrote policy papers for a candidate for governor of California, and developed strategic plans for the Palouse region on the Washington-Idaho border. For most of the 80s, he was director of TVAs center for innovation. He was with the USO in Vietnam, and 1992-3 was director of USO Bahrain and mentioned in Navy Dispatches. In 1997-8, he was managing consultant to Chattanoogas Bessie Smith Hall.
Hebert is currently living on the Umatilla Indian Reservation just outside Pendleton, Oregon where he is consultant to the Confederated Tribes (the Cayuse, Walla Walla and Umatilla) on tribal horse programs. He can be reached at; firstname.lastname@example.org