In recent times, there has been a renewed agitation for the Republic of Biafra by members of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
Nearly 50 years after the Biafran War (6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970) which almost destroyed the unity of Nigeria, its agitators have refused to give up the struggle.
This struggle by some Igbo people to secede from Nigeria started when on May 30, 1967, late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, a military officer and politician announced a breakaway of the Eastern Region under the new name Republic of Biafra.
This subsequently sparked the Nigerian civil war also known as the Biafran war. The war was between the then Eastern Region of Nigeria and the rest of the country. The war was fought to reunify the country.
Below are some thing you should know about Biafra and the Biafran war.
1. Meaning of Biafra
Little is known about the literal meaning of the word Biafra. The word Biafra most likely derives from the subgroup Biafar or Biafada of the Tenda ethnic group who reside primarily in Guinea-Bissau. The word Biafar thus appears to have been a common word in the Portuguese language back in the 16th century. Biafra, a secessionist state in south eastern Nigeria is believed to have taken its name from the Bight of Biafra (the Atlantic bay to its south).
2. What caused the war
According to local and foreign war historians the immediate causes of the Nigeria civil war in 1966 included: a military coup (carried out by Maj. Nzeogwu which led to the death of Tafawa Belewa, etc), a counter-coup (led by Gowon, which led to the brutal murder of Aguiyi Ironsi, Fajuyi, etc) and the 1966 anti-Igbo pogrom in the north (persecution of Igbo people living in Northern Nigeria).
3. Over one million people died in the war
The war which lasted for 30 months took the lives of more than one million people. Some died in the battle while others were lost majorly through famine, and hunger. There were over 50,000 casualties of soldiers both from Biafran side and the Nigerian military.
4. The Biafran money