Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 575
‘‘Civil Peace’’ opens in eastern Nigeria after the civil war has ended. Jonathan Iwegbu considers himself and his family lucky. He, his wife, Maria, and three of their four children are alive. He even has maintained possession of his old bicycle, which he puts to use as a taxi. His taxi service allows him to make money, and within two weeks, he has earned £150.
Jonathan then travels to Enugu, the capital city, and finds to his great surprise and delight his house still standing, even though some nearby structures are reduced to a pile of rubble from the war. The house needs some repairs, so Jonathan immediately collects available materials: zinc, wood, and cardboard. He hires a carpenter to complete the work and soon moves his family back home.
The entire family works hard to earn money and rebuild their lives. The children pick mangoes and Maria makes akara balls to sell. After he finds that he cannot return to his job as a coal miner, Jonathan opens up a bar for the soldiers, which he runs out of his home. Jonathan is thankful that he has a home and a job, unlike many of his fellow ex-miners.
Jonathan's family does well, and then they get an added bonus when the government starts handing out egg-rashers—payments of twenty pounds in exchange for the Biafran money Nigerians turn over. Jonathan leaves the office with his money in his pocket, taking care so no thief should get it. At home that evening, Jonathan has trouble falling asleep. He finally does so, only to be awakened by violent pounding on the front door. He calls out to ask who is knocking, and the reply comes that thieves are here. Jonathan's family calls out for help from the police and the neighbors but no one comes. Eventually, they stop calling.
The thieves call out then, repeating the family's pleas for help. Jonathan and his family are in terror. The children and Maria are crying, Jonathan is groaning. The leader of the thieves speaks again, mockingly asking if he should call for the soldiers, but Jonathan says not to do so. Now the thief wants to get down to business. Jonathan asks what they want and tells them that he is a poor man who lost everything in the war. The thief demands £100, or else they will come inside the house. The voice trails off, and a volley of automatic rifle fire bursts through the air. Maria and the children start crying again. The leader tells them not to cry, that they just want some money and then they will go away.
Jonathan says that although he does not have £100 he does have twenty pounds from his egg-rasher. He swears that this is all the money he has, and the thief agrees to accept the money. Some of the thieves mumble that he has more money and they should come inside and look, but the leader tells them to shut up. Jonathan goes to get the twenty pounds out of his locked box to give to the thieves.
The next morning, the neighbors come over to commiserate with Jonathan, but he and his family are already setting about their day's work. Jonathan tells his sympathizers that the loss is nothing; the week before he did not have the egg-rasher money, and he does not depend on it. It has gone easily, as did many other things in the war.
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