Calls for a separate state called Biafra in the east of Nigeria have been given fresh momentum in recent months after calls by activists and large protests. But how widespread is the support for Biafra in Nigeria?
The new Biafra movement is being spearheaded by the organisation “Indigenous People of Biafra” or IPOB, led by activist Nnamdi Kanu.
BattaBox heads to Ladipo market in Lagos – the land of the Igbo people in Lagos – to ask if people think Nnamdi Kanu is justified in his calls for a new Biafra.
“I believe Nnamdi Kanu is doing the right thing, at the right time. I feel this because we know we are cheated by the Nigerian government,” says on Igbo marketer.
“It’s the right thing because we are just like a slave – we are Israelites, we are not Nigerians, we need to divide,” says another man.
Photo of Nnamdi Kanu released from prison on bail on health grounds and with strict conditions.
Nnamdi Kanu is a British-Nigerian political activist and the director of a London-based radio station Radio Biafra. However, the cause he promotes is not new.
Biafra, officially the Republic of Biafra, is one of the first major secessionist movements in post-colonial Africa. Biafra compromises the Eastern, majority Igbo regions of eastern Nigerian and took its name from the Bight of Biafra. The secessionist movement and Nigeria’s attempt to stop it led to the Nigeria-Biafra war from 1967-1970, in which an estimated 1 million people died in fighting and starvation.
Photo of Biafra troops fighting against the Nigerian Federal Government.
The end of the Nigerian Civil War and the surrender was managed under the motto: “No-victor, No-vanquished.” This ensured there were no official recriminations, and although the violent eruption was not forgotten, it was largely ignored in the official history of Nigeria. And, slowly, as the older generations who remember the horrors of the civil war die, and a younger generation who are brought up on the myths of the war face new economic and political challenges in Nigeria – the symbolism of Biafra has taken on new meaning.
“Nnamdi Kanu has just come to rescue Biafra from the bondage they are in the hands of Nigeria,” says on marketer in Lagos.
“Biafra is because of marginalisation, the Ibgo youths feel abandoned by Nigeria,” explains one market trader.
Everyone BattaBox asked in Ladipo market supported the call for a separate state of Biafra.
The Nigerians government has so far resorted to a mixture of tactics, from harassment and intimidation, to political acquiescence to calm the agitation. However, as the Nigerian economy deteriorates, so calls for Biafra get louder.
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