The brutal deaths of over a million people in Nigeria as a result of the civil war (Biafra War) which ended about 50 years ago are a scar on the nation’s history.
The war over the breakaway state of Biafra is generally regarded as an unfortunate occurrence best forgotten, but for the Igbo people who fought for secession, it remains a scar for a lifetime.
And in 1967, following the coup d’etat which led to about a million Igbos returning to the south-east Nigeria, the Republic of Biafra seceded with 33-year-old military officer Odumegwu Emeka Ojukwu.
Nigerian government declared war and after 30 months of fighting, Biafra surrendered. On 15 January 1970, the conflict officially ended.
Decades after the war, many Nigerians of Igbo origin grew up on stories from people who lived through the war.
Growing up as son to a biafran soldier, I can remember vividly how my father narrated the story of the intense hunger that forced Biafran soldiers to eat frog, mice, lizard . There was severe starvation due to food supply being cut off to the eastern states. People became hungry, children became malnourished.
While Nigerians where equipped with well trained military, most Biafran soldiers had just 2 days military training, popular physics lecturer at UNN and witness said:
When the war started, there was not a single weapon. Anywhere throughout Biafra. No gun, no bomb, no nothing.
As the war got a lot severe, Biafrans was forced to invention and the most notable Biafran product was the “ogbunigwe”, a weapons launcher of remarkable and devastating effect which influenced the outcome of many battles in Biafra’s favour, according to historical reports.
The Igbo faced some disastrous economical consequences as the Biafran currency that people had accumulated became worthless.
Many Igbo still feel left out in Nigerian politics, as since the civil war no-one from the ethnic group has become president.
The increased cries of marginalization have led in recent years to the emergence of Igbo groups agitating once again for secession, particularly the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), formed by the United Kingdom based British-Nigeria – Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.