The Biafran Army 1967-70

Build-Up and Downfall of the Secessionist Military

The Biafran Army 1967-70

Synonimous with the starvation that killed almost two million people, Biafra was a parastate that voted to secede from Nigeria in May 1967. Formally recognized by Gabon, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, and Zambia, and supported by France, Israel, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Rhodesia, and even the Vatican, Biafra's attempt to leave Nigeria resulted in the Nigerian Civil War, which was to last until January 1970. Although lacking official support from abroad, the Biafran authorities quickly built up a military. Their efforts to set up an air force, supported by numerous Europeans - were widely publicised. Indeed, Biafra-related adventures of Polish World War II ace Jan Zumbach, or the Swedish pilot Carl Gustaf von Rosen reached the status of legends before long. Far less is known about the Biafran Army and Navy, their capabilities and intentions, or the conduct of their combat operations. Indeed, the establishment of multiple commando units, and a special guerrilla outfit designed to emulate the Viet Cong, but especially the local manufacture of weapons - including armoured vehicles - remain largely unknown to the public. Based on years of thorough research, 'Biafran Army' is the first work ever to offer a comprehensive, in-depth study of the build-up, training, composition, equipment, and combat operations of all the three branches - the army, the air force, and the navy - of the secessionist military during the Nigerian Civil War. Illustrated by more than 120 rare photographs, maps, and colour profiles, this account provides a unique source of reference for enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Modern African Wars (5)

The Nigerian-Biafran War 1967–70

Modern African Wars (5)

With decades of research to draw from Philip Jowett explores this extraordinary David-and-Goliath conflict, where the rag-tag Igbo tribal army of secessionist Biafra faced off against the Nigerian Federal forces. It was an African war that captured the attention of the western media, with individual commanders such as Biafran leader Colonel Ojukwu and Federal Colonel Adekunle becoming familiar figures across the globe. The Nigerian forces easily outnumbered their opponents and benefitted from British and Soviet equipment, yet against all the odds the Biafrans held out for two and a half years, inflicting many setbacks on the Federal forces before their eventual surrender in 1970. Specially commissioned artwork and historical photos, including some from respected Italian war photographer Romano Ganoni, reflect the diverse array of uniforms and equipment on both sides, with images ranging from Sandhurst-educated officers in immaculate uniform to ragged militiamen armed with World War II kit.

The Biafran Humanitarian Crisis, 1967–1970

International Human Rights and Joint Church Aid

The Biafran Humanitarian Crisis, 1967–1970

This book focuses on the Biafran humanitarian crisis of 1967–1970 which generated a surge of human rights anxieties and attracted the attention of world humanitarian organizations. For the first time in recent history, different church groups and humanitarian activists around the world came together for the sole purpose of alleviating human suffering and saving lives regardless of theological differences, race, ethnic affiliation, nationality, and geographical distance. Despite their role in shaping the course and outcome of the conflict, most scholars of the Nigeria-Biafra War treat the humanitarian aspect of the war as a footnote, making it appear less important among other issues of interest in the conflict. Notable exceptions, however, include Joseph Thomson’s American Policy and African Famine, which focuses on American policy on the humanitarian aid, and Reverend Tony Byrne’s Airlift to Biafra. This study underlines that the international humanitarian aid largely contributed to the internationalization of the war. The efforts of the churches from thirty-three countries which remain virtually unexplored was not just the first of its kind in the developing world but also the largest civilian airlift in history. While the paucity of scholarship on the humanitarian aspect of the Biafra war could be attributed to the newness of this field of enquiry, the increase in conflicts in different parts of the world has just opened humanitarian aid studies as a new frontier in academic study. This book is a masterful example of scholarship in this newly emergent field.

Shadows

airlift and airwar in Biafra and Nigeria, 1967-1970

Shadows

The Nigerian Civil War pitted the mercenary-crewed Nigerian Air Force against the ill-equipped Biafran Air Force in one of the most intense conflicts ever to occur in Africa. Amazingly, the Biafrans held out, supported by a civilian relief airlift second only in size to the 1948 Berlin Airlift.

Biafra's War 1967-1970

A Tribal Conflict in Nigeria That Left a Million Dead

Biafra's War 1967-1970

Almost half a century has passed since the Nigerian Civil War ended. But memories die hard, because a million or more people perished in that internecine struggle, the majority women and children, who were starved to death. Biafra’s war was modern Africa’s first extended conflict. It lasted almost three years and was based largely on ethnic, by inference, tribal grounds. It involved, on the one side, a largely Christian or animist southeastern quadrant of Nigeria which called itself Biafra, pitted militarily against the country’s more populous and preponderant Islamic north. These divisions – almost always brutal – persist. Not a week goes by without reports coming in of Christian communities or individuals persecuted by Islamic zealots. It was also a conflict that saw significant Cold War involvement: the Soviets (and Britain) siding and supplying Federal Nigeria with weapons, aircraft and expertise and several Western states – Portugal, South Africa and France especially – providing clandestine help to the rebel state. For that reason alone, this book is an important contribution towards understanding Nigeria’s ethnic divisions, which are no better today than they were then. Biafra was the first of a series of religious wars that threaten to engulf much of Africa. Similar conflicts have recently taken place in the Ivory Coast, Kenya, Southern Sudan, the Central African Republic, Senegal (Cassamance), both Congo Republics and elsewhere. As the war progressed, Biafra also attracted mercenary involvement, many of whom arriving from the Congo which had already seen much turmoil. Western pilots were hired by Lagos and they flew the first Soviet MiG-17 jet fighters to have played an active role in a ‘Western’ war. Al Venter spent time covering this struggle. He left the rebel enclave in December 1969, only weeks before it ended and claims the distinction of being the only foreign correspondent to have been rocketed by both sides: first by Biafra’s tiny Swedish-built Minicon fighter planes while he was on a ship lying at anchor in Warri harbour and thereafter, by MiG jets flown by mercenaries. Among his colleagues inside the beleaguered territory were the celebrated Italian photographer Romano Cagnoni as well as Frederick Forsyth who originally reported for the BBC and then resigned because of the partisan, pro-Nigerian stance taken by Whitehall. He briefly shared quarters with French photographer Giles Caron who was later killed in Cambodia. Prior to that Venter had been working for John Holt in Lagos. It is interesting that his office at the time was at Ikeja International Airport (Murtala Muhammed today) where the second Nigerian army mutiny was plotted and from where it was launched. From this perspective he had a proverbial ‘ringside seat’ of the tribal divisions that followed as hostilities escalated. Venter took numerous photos while on this West African assignment, both in Nigeria while he was based there and later in Biafra itself. Others come from various sources, including some from the same mercenary pilots who originally targeted him from the air.

Biafra Genocide

Nigeria: Bloodletting and Mass Starvation, 1967–1970

Biafra Genocide

One of the great tragedies of Africa is not only the fact that a million people mostly civilians and a large proportion of them children died in one of Africas first post-independence wars, but that until it happened the world thought Nigeria was immune from the wasting disease of tribalism. It certainly was not because the Biafran War is still the most expansive tribal conflagration that the continent has experienced barring perhaps the ongoing Great Lakes conflict involving the forces of East and West, only this time, with the British siding with the Soviets.Worse, some of the religious differences that emerged before and after that dreadful carnage are still with us today. During the course of hostilities that lasted almost four years, a lot of other shortcomings surfaced in Africas most populous nation, including the kind of corruption that, until then, had always been linked to countries rich in oil. Disunity, incompetence and instability from which Nigeria never really recovered also emerged. Two bloody army coups followed after the rebels capitulated, together with an appalling series of massacres, mostly of southern Christians by Muslim northerners. Half a century later the slaughter continues.

The International Politics of the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970

The International Politics of the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970

Biafra's declaration of independence on May 30, 1967, precipitated a civil war with important implications for the territorial integrity of all newly independent African states. Allegations of genocide commanded the world's attention and brought forth unprecedented humanitarian intervention. This full account of the internationalization of that conflict draws on hitherto confidential records and more than two hundred interviews with foreign policymakers, including Yakubu Gowon and C. Odumegwu Ojukwu. Originally published in 1977. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

The Republic of Biafra: Once Upon a Time in Nigeria

My Story of the Biafra-Nigerian Civil War - a Struggle for Survival (1967-1970)

The Republic of Biafra: Once Upon a Time in Nigeria

Not quite four months after the Western Region's election of October 10, 1965, did the localized mayhem in that Region find its way furiously into the center of the nation on January 15, 1966! It was like a whirl-wind of nothing but anarchy and lawlessness. The serious aftermath of the marred and rigged election was that it acted as the last straw that broke the Carmel's back, providing immediate reason for the army to overthrow the government of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. Anarchy ensued; a counter coup led to the death of Major-General Ironsi. Callous barbarous massacre of thousands of easterners in the North followed. With their lives in jeopardy, easterners fled for safety to eastern region; refugee crisis followed. To guarantee their safety, easterners seceded from Nigeria and on May 30th 1967, formed an independent and sovereign nation of the Republic of Biafra. Determined to bring Easterners back, on July 6, 1967 Nigeria invaded Biafra; waged a gruesome thirty-month-civil war against Biafra. Nigeria blockaded Biafra on land, sea and air, to prevent food from entering Biafra. A malnutrition disease, Kwashiorkor that caused the deaths of thousands of Biafrans, followed. Nigeria bombed Biafran civilians, killing thousands. On January 12, 1970 the war ended leaving more than three million people dead in a war that was totally avoidable!