Fifty years ago, Nigeria endured a period of violent disturbance leading to the breakaway of the Eastern Region under the name Biafra. The resulting conflict (1967-70) aroused shock and protests around the world because of mass starvation in the war zone. While Britain supplied arms to the federal
Nigerian government, and France to the Biafrans, relief agencies with contributions from countless individuals organized a memorable airlift of food and medicine to the Biafrans’ Uli airstrip.
Jonathan Derrick, then a journalist for the London weekly West Africa, followed these events closely and
recorded the war in the magazine’s news pages, right up to the federal forces’ final victory and the remarkable reconciliation between supporters of Biafra–predominantly Igbo–and other Nigerians. He later worked for some years in Nigeria, and has studied much of the material published on the war
Here, he recounts the history of the conflict as documented in West Africa, referring to later literature on and analysis of the events, which inspired passion at the time and have provoked debate ever since. His account deals with myths, misapprehensions and controversies surrounding the conflict, while recalling the tragic facts of a grim episode in African history.