Independence and the Biafran War
Following Nigeria’s independence from Britain six years earlier, 1966 saw a series of massacres against people of Igbo origin then living in northern Nigeria. September 1966 represented the height of the massacres with “conservative estimates” putting the casualties at between ten and thirty thousand for that month alone.
These events led to the mass movement of Igbo people and other Eastern Nigerians (estimated to total more than one million people) back to Eastern Nigeria. This was the precursor to Eastern Nigeria’s secession from Nigeria as the Republic of Biafra resulting in a brutal war with Nigeria (1967 – 1970), which Biafra lost. That war has left an indelible scar on the Biafran people. Millions died. Nigeria pursued an active policy of starving Biafra into submission. Images of that war of children starving to death continue to define post-colonial Africa.