A Biafra supporter wears shoes with the colours of the Biafra flag. Photo: Getty Images.

In September Nigeria’s military launched Operation Python Dance II, its second military exercise in South East Nigeria this year. It was carried out with the intention of quashing any calls for secession in a region with a long history of antagonism with the central Nigerian state. The stakes are high. An attempt in the 1960s to proclaim an independent Republic of Biafra in the same region resulted in the 1967–70 Nigerian Civil War in which 3 million people were killed and millions were displaced.

The desire for independence among Igbo people of South East Nigeria is fuelled by a feeling of marginalization, and historical grievances against a state that they say doesn’t represent them.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nigerians Are Better Together

Forty-six years ago this month, Nigeria’s civil war came to an end with the surrender of the secessionist Republic of Biafra. The two and a half years of fighting took some two million lives, but when the bitter conflict ended the triumphant Nigerian government proclaimed, “No Victor, No Vanquished.” Nevertheless, the discontent of the ethnic Igbo people of southeast Nigeria lingers on.

In 1999, a group known as the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra emerged, seeking through protests and political agitation to re-establish an independent nation. In recent years it has been overshadowed by another group, the Indigenous People of Biafra, which also calls for independence, by violence if necessary.…  Seguir leyendo »

Facing Down Nigeria’s Ghosts

Before my grandmother died in 2010, she gave each of her 17 grandchildren a crisp one-pound note. It was an unceremonious gift, without lectures or reminiscing. She opened my hands and firmly pressed the bill into my palm. “You must keep this,” she said, before following up in Igbo: “Inugo?” Do you hear me? “Yes, Grandma,” I responded. “Thank you.”

Later, in another room, I looked at the note more closely. The bill was beautiful, with its antiquated font and soft, mint-green coloring with brown highlights.

One side had a palm tree standing tall in the center, bordered by intricate calligraphy.…  Seguir leyendo »