Colonial Legacy, Elite Dissension and the Making of Genocide: The Story of Biafra
Published on: Jan 10, 2007


1 Major Abubakar  A. Atofarati “The Nigerian Civil War: Causes, Strategies, and Lessons,” Report, US Marine Command & Staff College (Academic Year 1991/92).     

2 Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe attributes similar intention to the shadowy conspiratory group – “The Kaduna Mafia,” whom he claims was behind the killings. The group intended by the killings to (a) expel Ibos in the civil service from their posts and Ibo industrialists and business from their enterprises, (b) destroy Ibo political influences, (c) achieve the secession of the “north” from Nigeria. See Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, The Biafran War: Nigeria and the Aftermath (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990) page 64.

3 Dr. Mensah, Report of the International Commission of Jurists, 1969.

4 Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), page 39.

5 Okwudibia Nnoli, Ethnic Politics in Nigeria (Fourth Dimension Publishers, 1978), pages 115-116

6 Nigeria is a nation-state of over two hundred and fifty ethnic nationalities who are different either in culture or language but also share many similarities arising from different degrees of interaction before and after the advent of colonialism. For general readings on the cultures of the peoples of Nigeria, see C.K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1925); P.A. Talbot, The Peoples of Southern Nigeria (London: Oxford University Press, 1926); Michael Crowther, The History of Nigeria; Kenneth Onwuka Dike, Trade and Politics in Niger Delta, 1830-1885: An Introduction to the Economic and Political History of Nigeria (Clarendon Press, 1956).

7 The Minority Commission Report, 1958

8 Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1951). Arendt argues “Not only did loss of national rights in all instances entail loss of human rights; the restoration of human rights, as the recent example of the State of Israel proves, has been achieved so far only through the restoration or establishment of national rights,” page 299.

9 Quoted by Dr. Philip Emeagwali, “After the Biafran War Was Over”. See pages 15-6.

10 Decree No.8 of 1967 vests in the Supreme Military Council the legislative and executive powers which are exercised with the concurrence of the regional military governors on issues like trade, industry, Armed Forces, the police, and the territorial integrity of the regions. The London-based West Africa magazine of March 28, 1967 described the decree as entrenching a “pseudo- confederacy.” See Nnamdi Azikiwe, Origins of the Nigerian Civil War (Apapa: Nigerian National Press, 1969), pages 8-9.

11 Azikiwe, page 8

12 Saro-Wiwa, On a Darkling Plain: An Account of the Nigerian Civil War (London: Saros International Publishers, 1989), page 83. 

13 “The issues in this war were relegated to the background and the human and humanitarian aspects came to the fore. Most of them were genuine in their contributions were used to purchase arms and ammunition which prolonged the war and thereby increased and heightened the sufferings of those who were dying.”  Abubakar Atofarati

14 Apart from Azikiwe, another Ibo was the Vice-President of the two other major parties and one of them, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, became the Vice-President from 1979 to 1983 under the ticket of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).

15 For a recent book dealing with ethnic violence and treating the role of charismatic leaders and elite manipulation in exhorting to violence see Monica Duffy Toft, The Geography of Ethnic Violence (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003).

16 A full transcript of the meeting of the committee with Ojukwu can be found in Awolowo, Awo on Nigerian Civil War (Lagos: John West Publication, 1981).

17 Peace Proposals for Ending the Nigerian Civil War (London: Colusco Limited, 1969), page 22.

18 Published as Peace Proposals for Ending the Nigerian Civil War, 1969 supra.

19 For samplers, see Francis Deng, et al., Sovereignty as Responsibility: Conflict Management in Africa (Washington D.C.: Brookings, 1996); Obiora Okafor, “After Martyrdom: International Law, Sub-state Groups and the Construction of Legitimate Statehood in Africa,” Harvard International Law Journal Vol. 41 No.2 Spring 2000; Deng & Lyon “Promoting Responsible Sovereignty in Africa” in Deng and Lyon (eds.), African Reckoning: A Quest for Good Governance (Washington D.C.: Brookings, 1998).

20 See C. O. C. Amate, Inside the OAU: Pan-Africanism in Practice (London: Macmillan, 1986) for a detailed study of the record of the OAU in settling disputes internal disputes and conflicts in African countries.

21 Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Peace Proposasl for Ending the Nigerian Civil War (London: Colusco Limited, 1969), pages 6-7.

22 Cited in Azikiwe, Peace Proposals for Ending the Nigerian Civil War page 4

23 Azikiwe, page 8

24 Atofarati comments that the great publicity given to the war and the images of Biafran starving children and ruined villages by Markpress elicited strong humanitarian feelings which drove the humanitarian intervention on behalf of Biafra. See Atofarati, page 31

25 Chinua Achebe, Girls at War and Other Story (London: Heinemann, 1971)