With the death of C. Odumegwu Ojukwu, the leader of the breakaway Biafra Republic, I decided to talk about another chapter of the ‘françafrique’ book, i.e. the Biafran war. At first everybody thought that it was just a Nigerian war, but it is more than that. It is also a war about France’s position in Nigeria, and their support of the Biafra military, as well as their manipulation of the media. How the word ‘genocide’ was used to influence public opinion… Jacques Foccart himself happily admitted choosing that word so as to get the attention of President de Gaulle and the French media. Sadly this war, which lasted from 1967 to 1970, cost many Nigerian lives, for the French and European oil greed. Interesting how history repeats itself as in Sudan vs. South Sudan today!
The other day, I was talking to a Nigerian friend of mine, who did not even know that the French had played a major role in that war… see how we (Africans) barely know our history? He was telling me about the Igbo, Haussa, and Yoruba, and forgot that the French were the ones supplying guns to the Biafrans for the war… He did not even know that most of the Biafran leaders who ran away sought refuge in Côte d’Ivoire… why? why not Ghana, Benin, or Cameroon? why a French-speaking country further away? Again the French influence. Somebody told me that Cameroon refused to help because then president Ahmadou Ahidjo in support of his Northern brothers refused to help supply guns… maybe, but why didn’t Ghana do it? or neighboring Benin? Why was the help coming from Gabon, who apparently had no interest in the story? well, because one of the biggest French military base in Africa was in Gabon (and Ivory Coast), and probably because a president in his right-mind would not accept that his territory be used to create war in someone else’s country, and also because someone like Kwame Nkrumah could already see the French connection in the deal.
The Biafran war is similar to the Angolan or Mozambique wars or so many other wars in Africa, where many of the strings were pulled by external forces while the African puppets danced on the scene and got killed from the ignorance, and greed of their own leaders. Please watch this great documentary which sheds some light on the Biafran war, another chapter of the great françafrique. It is so interesting how Corsica has been wanting their independence from France for ages, but is still not independent to this day. Look at the United States of America, 50 states, as big as a continent,… but an entire country! Why not in Africa? in Africa, division rather than union is encouraged!
The New York Times wrote an article on Colonel Ojukwu, the one who proclaimed the Biafran republic. A beautiful article by Dr. S. Okechukwu Mezu talks of this Nigerian/Biafran leader. As for the Biafran war, check out: AfricaMasterWeb, ICE Case studies, there are many books written on the Biafra republic and the entire history (you can check out some books on Amazon) I read Half of a Yellow Sun, but I believe that there are better ones on the Biafran war out there (feel free to share if you know of really good ones)… there is a nice article titled Biafra war memories no victor no vanquished, and My memories of the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War