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Legacies of Biafra: violence, identity and citizenship in Nigeria - introduction

Okonta, Ike and Meagher, Kate (2009) Legacies of Biafra: violence, identity and citizenship in Nigeria - introduction. Africa Development, 34 (1). pp. 1-8. ISSN 0850-3907

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Nearly forty years after the event, the Nigerian Civil War still conjures up powerful political images, within as well as outside Africa. Internationally, the ‘Biafran War’, as it was called, recalls accounts of ethnic conflict, starving children, and humanitarian intervention. Within Africa, it resonates with the devastating consequences of failed nationalism, but also with a tenacious demand for genuine citizenship and self-determination. In many ways, these images have remained as divergent as they are relevant to contemporary understandings of Africa. As a growing number of African countries have succumbed to civil war and foreign intervention, it is a good time to reflect on what was learned from the Biafran conflict, and what was left unaddressed to trouble the fortunes of future generations. The following collection of articles represents an interrogation of the contemporary legacies of the Biafran experience. They explore how the fault lines of the Nigerian Civil War have continued to shape political trajectories in Nigeria and in Africa more broadly. In many ways, the Biafran War was not just a Nigerian civil conflict; it was a resounding challenge to the dreams of African nationhood, sending out tremors that echoed not just across Africa, but around the world. The unsatisfactory resolution of issues of identity, citizenship, and democracy that arose from that conflict continues to reverberate in contemporary struggles in Nigeria and beyond.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
D History General and Old World > DT Africa
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2010 10:47
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2021 23:09

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