COLD WAR 1945 – 1991 BIAFRA GENOCIDE, NIGERIA: BLOODLETTING AND MASS STARVATION, 1967 – 1970 - Al J Venter

  • Nnaemeka Uwakwe Itiri PhD, Department of History and War Studies, Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna

Abstract

The book begins with an introduction in which the author recounts the colonial history. He maintains that the average Nigerian does not like to be reminded of the fact that, until 1960, Nigeria was ruled from London. The author acknowledges the progress made by Nigeria in infrastructure –schools, clinics, hospitals, administrative centres, rail links - which made him compare Nigeria (as the “African pearl”) with India, which he describes as the “jewel in the British Crown”. The author identifies the bloody counter-coup of July 1966 as a major event which led to the Biafran Warfollowing hostilities that led to the death of people of Southern Nigerian origin, the majority of whom were from the Igbo tribe. In the process, the Nigerian Civil War started and marked “one of the first times Western countries were awakened and deeply affronted by the level of the suffering and the scale of the atrocities played out in this corner of the African continent” (p. 11). Perhaps, this justifies Venter’s choice of the title of the book. In his opinion, the efforts made by “friends of Biafra” to send relief materials to the “beleaguered state” did not meet the aims as most ofthe relief aircraft were used for ‘arms smuggling’. Hence, “most of the people who died in the war either starved to death or were debilitated that their frail bodies were unable to counter infection or disease” (p. 15). This lends credence to the position of RN Ogbudinkpa, in The economics of the Nigerian Civil War and its prospects for national development (Enugu: Fourth Dimension Press, 1985), where he insists that many people died in the war as a result of starvation and not military activities.  However, despite the difficulties associated with wartime environments, Venter, likemost journalists who covered the war, was in Biafra until the end of the war.
Published
2020-01-23
Section
Book Reviews