Posts

Showing posts from September, 2019

‘Gone Like A Meteor’: Epitaph For The Lost Youth Of The Biafran War

Image
Young men training for the Biafran War. Image: Rolls Press Popper foto/Getty, August 1968

BY EMMANUEL IDUMA

In 1967, Nigeria had been an independent country for just seven years. The declaration of secession that year by an Igbo majority in the southeastern region of Nigeria, and the war that followed when the federal government decided to keep the country as one, was already the culmination of a bloody sequence of events. By May 1967, two coup d’états had taken place, and the Igbos of northern Nigeria had been killed in the tens of thousands.

The Biafran War, otherwise known as the Nigerian Civil War, lasted from July 6, 1967, until January 15, 1970. The men who led each side—Yakubu Gowon on the federal side and Chukwuemeka Ojukwu of Biafra—were in their mid-thirties. Boys, some barely teenagers, volunteered to fight for the breakaway Republic of Biafra. Many of the civilian casualties were children: in September 1968, the International Committee of the Red Cross estimated that almost …