Nigerian Civil war and Igbo Nationalism

by Dr. Johannes Harnischfeger, Frankfurt University

Dr. Johannes Harnischfeger studied Literature, Philosophy, Social Anthropology and Political Science. He taught at five African universities, among them - from 1993 to 1996 - at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He wrote on the Sharia crisis and other ethno-religious conflicts, on Igbo traditional religion and African folktales.

Dr. Johannes Harnischfeger presented a paper on Nigerian Civil war and Igbo Nationalism Monday, March 26, 2012.


MASSOB separatism emerged in response to the Sharia clashes in northern Nigeria. Moreover, it was inspired by the partial success of ethno-nationalist movements in Yorubaland and the Niger Delta.
What makes Igbo nationalism unique, however, is the trauma of Biafra. The pogroms of 1966 and the hunger blockade of the war years have been interpreted by Uwazuruike, Ojukwu and other Igbo politicians as an attempt to wipe out the whole Igbo population.
The assumption that the Igbo are living "in the midst of enemies", just like the Biblical and the modern-day Jews, makes it difficult for them to develop relationships of trust with other African peoples. Yet the Igbo have to forge long-term political alliances with those ethnic groups they are forced to live with, because they are trapped in Nigeria.

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