What is Biafra: A Brief History of the Republic of Biafra
Biafra is a republic that existed in the southeastern region of Nigeria from 1967 to 1970. It had a short life span due to a civil war, which was initiated by the Nigerian government. Biafra's independence was declared on May 30th, 1967 and it became an independent state under international law on August 4th, 1968. The name "Biafra" comes from the Bight of Biafra, where its coastline is located as well as its capital city Enugu. This blog post will provide readers with more information about what happened during this time period and why it has been relevant for years after its end.
Section 1: History of Biafra
When the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium of Nigeria and Congo (then Zaire) declared its independence from the British Empire, it did not initially have an African government or population in place. To create a form of government, the British created a cabinet position known as Prime Minister. The first African prime minister was Donald Zakaria Maimane who was born in Zimbabwe and whose father was a Luo from Kenya and mother was a Zulu. Many Africans did not want Maimane to be their first Prime Minister and some of his supporters started to question whether it was right for an African leader to assume the position.
The Anglo-Egyptian Condominium ended in 1960 and the British handed the country over to the newly formed Nigeria and Congo Republic.
Biafra's Declared Independence
On May 30th, 1967, Igbos from the southeast of Nigeria signed a declaration of independence from Nigeria, which was due to what they saw as ethnic, political and cultural injustices against them by Nigeria. They sought their independence, and it seemed as though the Nigerian government would comply by granting them this.
The Nigerian government refused to negotiate, and gave the Igbos three days to leave their current territory. The Nigerian army assaulted Igbos, such as the iconic Nzeogwu led the March on Umuahia, where the military killed between 30,000 and 50,000 of the population of an estimated 3 million people. The Nigerian government was heavily criticized by the international community for their actions.
The Nigerian Civil War
The Biafra War lasted from 1967 to 1970. During the first 6 months, it was very low-intensity as the two sides fought in the border regions and it was estimated that over half of the territory of Nigeria was under the control of the Nigerian government. The bulk of the fighting took place in the following 2 years.
The conflict was sparked after the formation of a Biafra government with wide-ranging powers and the right to nationalize Nigerian industries in February 1968. The United Kingdom (UK), Nigeria's then-imperial power, had just completed its withdrawal from the region and lost a large amount of power in the region. Shortly thereafter, on May 30, 1968, Biafran soldiers declared the independent republic of Biafra, naming Nnamdi Azikiwe as president.
The story of Biafra is the history of a country that existed for only about 20 months. It was a struggle for independence that resulted in the death of over a million people and the loss of many areas of Nigeria. Although it had a brief existence, it is important to the country's history, due to its long-lasting effects on the international community.
If you want more information about Biafra, check out my blog post, "A Brief History of Nigeria" which provides readers with many useful information about Nigeria.