Biafra: The Nigerian Civil War 1967 to 1970

The name Biafra remains inextricably associated with starving children, their bellies distended and their hair discolored by kwashiorkor, lending the first indications to an incredulous world of what post-independence Africa might look like. Biafra, however, was the name of a separatist entity that briefly existed between 1967 and 1970 as a breakaway partner in the post-independence Nigerian Federation. The war that followed the secession of Biafra is generally termed the Biafran War, but is perhaps more accurately termed the Nigerian Civil War, for that in effect was what it was. A more detailed overview of the Nigerian Civil War is available here.

Militarily The Nigerian Civil War was a lesson in command dilettantism and one of the earliest indications of the African tendency to place ethnic compatibility and political alignment ahead of military professionalism, and of course served clear notice of the African rules of warfare, where starvation became an established tactic of war. It also indicated quite clearly the inability and unwillingness of Britain as the ex-colonial power to intervene other than to provide arms and support to the federal forces despite the deeply questionable military tactics in use.

This book offers a general introduction and analysis of the Nigerian Civil War, from the earliest colonial involvement, through the main international deployments of West African Forces and the political and social background to the outbreak of hostilities in 1967. As such it will be a valuable tool for students of African military history, and African history in general, to gain a generalized sense of what took place before embarking on more detailed study. For those seeking to gain a clearer understanding of the dynamics of African mar and politics, this book places the episode in the wider regional and continental context with sufficient detail to point a clear picture of the dynamics.