Biafra was the epicenter of one of the largest African conflicts of the twentieth century, but tension remains high even today. The clash between the population – who was fighting for self-determination of the independent Republic of Biafra – and the Nigerian central government arose from the desire to found a nation which first broke the artificial boundaries established in the era of colonialism
The Biafran war – Contemporary to the war in Vietnam, the case of Biafra had a considerable media coverage, such as to attract the attention of many activists, especially in the US, asking for intervention to put an end to an inhuman situation comparable to the brutality lived in Europe during the Second World war.
There is a talk of a budget that has more victims – nearly three million – the carnage took place in Rwanda in April 1994, but, still, the international community does not recognize as genocide. Nevertheless, it should be noted that this was not only an ethnic-tribal conflict for independence from Nigeria but also a fight for the division of natural resources in the area.
The war caused the first rift Nigerian national unity in several states. At independence from Britain (1960), Nigeria was the merger of three regions: one to the north and two in the South. It was in those years that the Chief of Staff, General Gowon, in an attempt to break the Biafra itself divided the Southeast into three states.
This was followed by the division of Nigeria into 12 federal states, now become 36. Even today, each state claiming its autonomy from the center, not only for ethnic, tribal, cultural, linguistic and religious, but also to have control of natural resources. So, what looked like a closed chapter in the history of Nigeria is slowly reopening. In addition, it is believed that the existence of the terrorist group Boko Haram and pro-Yankee policy of President Muhammadu Buhari do not favor a peaceful coexistence between groups.
THE ORIGIN OF THE CONFLICT – To explain the reasons for the start of the Biafra crisis in three circumstances : Biafra is a southeastern region of Nigeria, inhabited mainly by the Igbo ethnic group , modernized and economically independent, predominantly Christian religion.
The region is the richest area of the country, as well as one in which concentrates the majority of mineral resources (gas, coal, iron, lead, zinc), without considering that the amount of oil present represent at least two-thirds of the total Nigerian oil. Even before the declaration of independence in May 1967, the Igbo were victims of a massacre in the north of Nigeria, poor area, predominantly Muslim and inhabited by ethnic groups Hausa- Fulani.
That said, the facts that led to the outbreak of war They must be sought in January 1966, when on the basis of an accusation of electoral fraud, some Nigerian army units carried out a coup against the central government in Lagos. At first, the incident was happily welcomed by the population, he hoped to obtain equality between tribal groups and an equitable distribution of natural resources in the country’s management.
However, that expectation was made void by the fact that the majority of the leaders of the Igbo ethnic group they belonged revolution and the victims were almost all ethnic Hausa. Hence the reversal of the situation, which led to the killing and dispersal of a million people Igbo ethnic group in the North. Nigeria soon fell into a bloody civil war.
WAR AND HUMANITARIAN CRISIS – May 30, 1967, Colonel Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu declared the independence of the Republic of Biafra in Enugu capital if including the oil wealth of the region of the Niger Delta . At that point, the central government has decided to stop by every means available to the secession, is to isolate the Biafran area with an economic embargo narrow, causing hunger, poverty, and epidemics such as to cause the death of millions of people, the majority of children .
The figures still are not precise, but in three years of conflict are estimated to nearly three million people belonging to ethnic Igbo. The images of malnourished children went around the world and numerous international volunteers moved, challenged the economic blockade organizing humanitarian flights to bring aid to the people of Biafra .
The countries that most helped the people of Biafra were France, South Africa and Israel . Remarkable was then the support of Portugal , which in its colony of Sao Tome and Principe established a collection center for vital humanitarian aid for the distribution of a wide support. Among other things, it was the experience that the volunteer in Biafra Bernard Kouchner founded Doctors Without Borders. On the opposite side of the grid, the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and Egypt supported the action of the central government.
Failed attempts at a diplomatic solution, the conflict ended entirely in favor of Nigeria January 15, 1970 . The people of Biafra suffered, despite the end of the fighting, more reprisals by the central government: the blocking of bank accounts, serious discrimination in ‘public and private employment, the administration’s reliance of some cities a majority Igbo to rival ethnic groups.
THE ISSUES OF TODAY Biafra – Fifty years after the conflict the unrest between ethnic groups still exist, and the Nigerian reality is always very complicated. Today the country is going through a period of acute tension. First, mainly because of the crisis that erupted with the rise of the terrorist group Boko Haram jihadist , whose main objective is to establish a caliphate in Africa which includes the Sharia on the whole territory.
It is noted that, since 2000, in Nigeria, Islamic law is already in effect in 12 states (of total 36), particularly among the populations of the Northern ethnic groups. In this context, the accentuation of the religious factor, which always sees Nigeria divided between the Muslim north and the Christian south, it coincides with the usual competition for power and the sharing of natural resources.
Second, alternating military and civilian governments, coups and corruption over the years have generated political instability ; this does is feed the contrasts among the numerous tribes (almost 250). In essence, the Biafran war, while it was resolved successfully for the central government, on the other hand, has never calmed the anxieties of the Christian religion populations, let alone Igbo former Biafra.
The governments that have followed, in fact, have repeatedly suffocated the grievances of the movements for self-determination of Biafra ( Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign States of Biafran , Biafran Zionist Movement , Indigenous Peoples of Biafra ).
Not least the newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari , who had already ruled Nigeria from December 1983 to July 1985 following a coup. Buhari seems to be accused by his people to prefer a line that is conducive to ethnic groups in the north of the country and that he excluded from his political design integration ethnicity Igbo from any kind of management position. In addition, incidents such as the arrest of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu (October 2015) , leader of the group Indigenous People of Biafra and former director of Radio Biafra London-based, just overload the voltage.
A NEW CRISIS ON THE HORIZON? – In conclusion, if the amplified feedback over time and the feelings of the Biafran people will not be taken into account, Nigeria may soon fall into the outbreak of another crisis .
Certainly, the government is committed to the destruction of Boko Haram, whose leader seems, however, to have given up, but the events that denounce the marginalization of the people of Biafra should at least listen. From the point of view of the central government, however, satisfy the separatist will of Biafra would legitimize as many desires of autonomy throughout the country , an event that upset the geographical, political, economic, social, cultural and human partnership of the entire African continent .
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