Republic of Biafra

Republic of Biafra
Unrecognized state

1967 – 1970

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Flag of Biafra

Flag

Motto
Peace, Unity, Freedom
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Location of Biafra
Map of Biafra inside Nigeria
CapitalEnugu
Language(s)English
GovernmentUnrecognized state }}
PresidentChukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu
Historical eraCold War
 - EstablishedMay 30, 1967
 - DisestablishedJanuary 15, 1970
Population
 - 1967 est.13,500,000 
CurrencyBiafran pound




The Republic of Biafra was a short-lived secessionist state in southern Nigeria. It existed from May 30, 1967 to January 15, 1970. The country was named after the Bight of Biafra, the bay of the Atlantic to its south.[1]

Biafra was recognized by a small number of countries during its existence: Gabon, Haiti, Côte d'Ivoire, Tanzania and Zambia. Despite a lack of official recognition, other nations provided assistance to Biafra. France, Rhodesia and South Africa provided covert military assistance. The aid of Portugal proved to be crucial to the republic's survival. Portugal's São Tomé and Príncipe, a pair of islands south of Biafra, became a center of humanitarian relief efforts; Biafran currency was printed in Lisbon, which was also the location of Biafra's major overseas office. Israel also gave Biafra arms that it captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, although that same conflict ruled out further assistance. In contrast, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union provided military support for Nigeria,[2] and the war of Biafran secession ended in a humanitarian catastrophe as Nigerian blockades stopped supplies from entering the region. Hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of people died in the resulting famine.

History

In January 1966, a coup d'etat in the Nigerian government was attempted, initiated by Igbo[3] officers, which was bloody and short-lived. Since mostly Igbo officers in the Nigerian army survived, in the months of May and September 1966, Igbo migrants living in northern Nigeria were the targets of mass killings.Most of Nigeria's Igbo people, who were then estimated at 7 million, lived in what was then the Eastern Region, which had as military governor the Igbo Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.[4] He declared the region an independent state with a capital at Enugu.

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Currency of Biafra (£1 denomination)
Nigeria responded initially with an economic blockade and brought military force to bear starting on June 5, 1967. In the ensuing civil war, raids were made by Biafran troops west into Nigeria in July and August. Nigerian troops soon recovered, however, advancing into Biafra and forcing the repeated transfer of the Biafran capital from Enugu to Aba and then Umuahia by the end of the year, and to Owerri in 1969.
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The independent state of the Republic of Biafra in June 1967.
By 1970, Biafra had been ravaged by war and was in great need of food supplies. Nigeria banned all Red Cross aid in 1969, though it partially relented two weeks later after widespread international criticism, allowing limited, pre-inspected airlifts of food and other supplies.[5] Amid economic and military collapse, Ojukwu fled the country and the rest of the republic's territory was re-incorporated into Nigeria. Many people died in the conflict, mostly through starvation and illness. The number of deaths is often cited at one million.[6]

Nigeria later renamed the Bight of Biafra as the Bight of Bonny.

An excerpt from the last wartime speech of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, head of the Biafran state, follows:

In the three years of war, necessity gave birth to invention. During those three years, we built bombs, we built rockets, we designed and built our own delivery systems. We guided our rockets, we guided them far, and we guided them accurately. For three years, blockaded without hope of imports, we maintained engines, machines, and technical equipment. The state extracted and refined petrol, individuals refined petrol in their back gardens, we built and maintained airports, we maintained them under heavy bombardment. We spoke to the world through a telecommunications system engineered by local ingenuity. The world heard us and spoke back to us. We built armoured cars and tanks. We modified aircraft from trainer to fighters, from passenger aircraft to bombers. In three years of freedom, we had broken the technological barrier. In three years, we became the most civilized, the most technologically advanced black people on earth.

[7]

Legacy

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A child suffering the effects of severe hunger and malnutrition. Pictures of the famine caused by Nigerian blockade garnered sympathy for the Biafrans worldwide.
The international humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders came out of the suffering in Biafra. During the crisis, French medical volunteers, in addition to Biafran health workers and hospitals, were subjected to attacks by the Nigerian army, and witnessed civilians being murdered and starved by the blockading forces. French doctor Bernard Kouchner also witnessed these events, particularly the huge number of starving children, and when he returned to France, he publicly criticised the Nigerian government and the Red Cross for their seemingly complicit behaviour. With the help of other French doctors, Kouchner put Biafra in the media spotlight and called for an international response to the situation. These doctors, led by Kouchner, concluded that a new aid organisation was needed that would ignore political/religious boundaries and prioritise the welfare of victims.[8]

On 29 May 2000, the Lagos Guardian newspaper reported that President Olusegun Obasanjo commuted to retirement the dismissal of all military persons who fought for the breakaway state of Biafra during Nigeria's 1967-1970 civil war. In a national broadcast, he said the decision was based on the belief that "justice must at all times be tempered with mercy". It is also thought, that during the previous year, there had been a public resurgence of pro-Biafra sentiment among a section of the Igbo, who claimed that in the Nigerian federation, they have been marginalised.[1]

Violence between Christians and Muslims (usually Igbo Christians and Hausa or Fulani Muslims) has been incessant since the end of the civil war in 1970.

In July 2006 the Center for World Indigenous Studies reported that government sanctioned killings were taking place in the southeastern city of Onitsha, because of a shoot-to-kill policy directed toward Biafran loyalists, particularly members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).[9]

Meaning of the word "Biafra" and location of Biafra

Little is known about the literal meaning of the word Biafra. Manuel Alvares (1526-1583) in his work Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone", writes about the "Biafar heathen" in chapter 13. The word Biafar thus appears to have been a common word in the Portuguese language back in the 16th century.

Historical maps of Biafra

Ancient maps on Africa from the 15th-19th centuries reveal some interesting information about Biafra:
  1. The original word used by European travellers was not Biafra but Biafara, Biafar and sometimes also Biafares.
  2. The exact original region of Biafra is not restricted to Eastern Nigeria alone. According to the maps, European travellers used the word Biafara to describe the entire region east of the River Niger going down to the Mount Cameroun region, thus including Cameroun and a large area around Gabon.


Maps indicating the word Biafara (sometimes also Biafares or Biafar) with corresponding year: Maps from the 19th century indicating Biafra as the region around today's Cameroon:

See also

  • Auberon Waugh, who named one of his children "Biafra Waugh" in 1968
  • Manillas - An early form of coinage from this area
  • Nigerian Civil War
  • Radio Northsea International - media reports and publications suggest that the financing of this radio ship was derived from income earned by its Swiss owners for their logistic support provided to the government of Biafra. See also Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial and section 'Accused': "In the run-up to the trial, the Prosecution had considered bringing charges against Swiss businessman, Edwin Bollier, of the electronics firm Mebo Ag. But the Prosecution decided that, unless evidence to incriminate Bollier were to be adduced during the trial, he would not be included as a co-conspirator in causing the bombing."

References

1. ^ Room, Adrian (2006). Placenames of the World: Origins and Meanings of the Names for 6,600 Countries, Cities, Territories, Natural Features and Historic Sites. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0786422483. 
2. ^ "Biafra," Encyclopedia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Accessed 20 November 2006.
3. ^ The Igbo were referred to as Ibo at the time of the conflict.
4. ^ Hanbury, Prof H G (January 1967). "OE News - News from All Quarters". The Epsomian XCVII (1): 35. Retrieved on 2007-08-26. “Colonel C O Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Region, Nigeria was vigorously commended in The Daily Telegraph, by Prof J G Hanbury, QC, for his refusal to go to Lagos for a constitutional conference, at the risk of probable assassination. Prof Hanbury considers that as 'an intensely patriotic Nigerian,' Col Ojukwu 'will spare no effort to hold the federation together,' but if there is no way open except secession 'he will take steps to placate the minority in Rivers and Calabar provinces and may hope to carry the East to new prosperity' 
5. ^ "1969: Nigeria bans Red Cross aid to Biafra," BBC. Accessed November 20 2006.
6. ^ "Biafra: Thirty years on," BBC. 13 January, 2000. Accessed November 20 2006.
7. ^ "The Promise that was and still is Biafra." U. O. May 11, 1995. Accessed November 20 2006.
8. ^ Bortolotti, Dan (2004). Hope in Hell: Inside the World of Doctors Without Borders, Firefly Books. ISBN 1-55297-865-6.
9. ^ Emerging Genocide in Nigeria, Chronicles of brutality in Nigeria 2000-2006

Additional reading

Nonfiction

Articles

Books

  • Requiem Biafra by Joe Achuzia, ISBN 978-156-256-0. (1986)
  • The Biafra Story by Frederick Forsyth, ISBN 0-85052-854-2. (1969)
  • Biafra: A People Betrayed by Kurt Vonnegut, from Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons, ISBN 0-385-33381-1. (1974)
  • Surviving in Biafra: The Story of the Nigerian Civil War by Alfred Obiora Uzokwe, ISBN 0-595-26366-6. (2003)
  • The Banknotes of Biafra by Peter Symes [Printed privately] (2000) http://www.pjsymes.com.au
  • The Last Adventurer by Rolf Steiner.

Fiction

  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a novel in which life in East Nigeria for the Igbo people is juxtaposed with their life during war torn Biafra. ISBN 978-0-00-720028-3. (2006)
  • The Ship's Cat by Jock Brandis, a fictional account of the Oxfam Air Relief flights that penetrated the military blockade around Biafra.
  • "Any Human Heart" by William Boyd includes a section describing Nigerian life and the collapse of the Biafran republic
  • "Sugar Baby" by Chinua Achebe is a short story that takes place in Biafra
"Destination Biafra" by Buchi Emecheta a novel set during the Biafran War "Estragement" by Elechi Amadi a novel about the aftermath of the Biafran War

Music

  • Roland_the_Headless_Thompson_Gunner by Warren Zevon, 1978
  • ''San Francisco punk band Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra takes his stage name from the republic.

External links

Motto
"Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress"
Anthem
"Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria's Call Obey"


Capital Abuja

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19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1930s  1940s  1950s  - 1960s -  1970s  1980s  1990s
1964 1965 1966 - 1967 - 1968 1969 1970

Year 1967 (MCMLXVII
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19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1940s  1950s  1960s  - 1970s -  1980s  1990s  2000s
1967 1968 1969 - 1970 - 1971 1972 1973

Year 1970 (MCMLXX
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Motto
"Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress"
Anthem
"Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria's Call Obey"


Capital Abuja

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The flag of the now-defunct Republic of Biafra consists of a horizontal tricolor of red, black, and green, charged with a golden rising sun over a golden bar; the sun has eleven rays, representing the eleven provinces of Biafra.
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Coat of arms elements
A motto (from Italian) is a phrase or a short list of words meant formally to describe the general motivation or intention of an entity, social group, or organization.
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Throughout the world there are many cities that were once national capitals but no longer have that status because the country ceased to exist, the capital was moved, or the capital city was renamed. This is a list of such cities, sorted by country and then by date.
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Enugu is the capital city of Enugu State, Nigeria. It has a population of 688,862 (2007 estimate). The people of Enugu belong largely to the Igbo ethnic group, which is one of the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria.
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English}}} 
Writing system: Latin (English variant) 
Official status
Official language of: 53 countries
Regulated by: no official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1: en
ISO 639-2: eng
ISO 639-3: eng  
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government is a body that has the power to make and the authority to enforce rules and laws within a civil, corporate, religious, academic, or other organization or group.[1]
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Diplomatic recognition is a political act by which one state acknowledges an act or status of another state or government, thereby according it legitimacy and expressing its intent to bring into force the domestic and international legal consequences of recognition.
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Presidents
Name Took office Left office
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu 30 May 1967 8 January 1970
Philip Effiong 8 January 1970 12 January 1970

See also

  • Biafra
  • Nigeria
  • History of Nigeria
  • Nigerian Civil War
  • Lists of Incumbents

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General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu "Emeka" Ojukwu, Ikemba Nnewi (born November 4, 1933) was the leader of the secessionist state of Biafra in Nigeria (1967–1970), during the Nigerian Civil War, and previously Military Governor of the Eastern Region of Nigeria.
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The Cold War was the period of conflict, tension and competition between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies from the mid-1940s until the early 1990s.
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May 30 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.

Events


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January 15 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.

Events

  • 588 BC - Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem under Zedekiah's reign.

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list of countries ordered according to population. The list includes and ranks sovereign states and self-governing dependent territories. Figures are based on the most recent estimate or projection by the national census authority where available and generally rounded off.
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currency is a unit of exchange, facilitating the transfer of goods and/or services. It is one form of money, where money is anything that serves as a medium of exchange, a store of value, and a standard of value. A currency is the dominant medium of exchange.
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Biafran pound

£1 banknote 1968

User(s) Biafra

Subunit
1/20 shilling
1/240 penny

Symbol £
shilling s
penny d

Plural  

penny pence

Coins'' 3d, 6d, 1/-, 2/6

Banknotes'' 5/-, 10/-, £1, £5, £10
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Secession (derived from the Latin term secessio) is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or political entity. It is not to be confused with succession, the act of following in order or sequence.
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Motto
"Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress"
Anthem
"Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria's Call Obey"


Capital Abuja

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May 30 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.

Events


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19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1930s  1940s  1950s  - 1960s -  1970s  1980s  1990s
1964 1965 1966 - 1967 - 1968 1969 1970

Year 1967 (MCMLXVII
..... Click the link for more information.
January 15 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.

Events

  • 588 BC - Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem under Zedekiah's reign.

..... Click the link for more information.
19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1940s  1950s  1960s  - 1970s -  1980s  1990s  2000s
1967 1968 1969 - 1970 - 1971 1972 1973

Year 1970 (MCMLXX
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Bight of Bonny (also known as the Bight of Biafra) is a bight off the West African coast, in the easternmost part (beyond the Bight of Benin to the West) part of the Gulf of Guinea. It extends from the river delta of the Niger in the north till Cape Lopez in Gabon.
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Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions; with a total area of about 106.4 million square kilometres (41.1 million square miles), it covers approximately one-fifth of the Earth's surface.
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Anthem
La Concorde


Capital
(and largest city) Libreville

Official languages French
Demonym Gabonese
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Motto
"L'Union Fait La Force"   (French)
"Unity makes Strength"
Anthem
La Dessalinienne
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Motto
"Unity, Discipline and Labour"   (translation)
Anthem
L'Abidjanaise
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