Biafra Renaissance in Communities in South-Eastern Nigeria

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Scholastica ATATA, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
Ayokunle OMOBOWALE, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, Nigeria
More than four decades after the cessation of the Nigerian Civil War, there has been a resurgence of Biafran consciousness and agitation for a return of the defunct Republic of Biafra among the people in South-Eastern Nigeria. The end of the Nigerian Civil War only signalled a long silence by Biafran ‘secessionist-activists’, but it did not signify an end to the appeal of Biafran ideology to the succeeding generations. With the re-introduction of multi-party democracy in 1999 and the emergence of the Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) in the year 2000, the hitherto comatose Biafra consciousness and agitation have once again been reactivated. It is important to note that, within the last fifteen years, the idea of ‘Biafra’ has once again gained social value among the Igbo people in South-Eastern Nigeria. Biafran agitation and its popularity have continued to foster repeated open and violent confrontations between members of Biafra activists, their supporters and coercive forces of the Nigerian state. This study, with particular focus on the violent agitation, examines the context of Biafra renaissance in South-Eastern Nigeria. Using social identity theory, we illustrate how group formation gives an individual a sense of identity and how people tend to ally with their in-group identity against another out-group in relation to group cohesion and violence in explaining the social context of Biafra resurgence. Using qualitative methods and exploratory research design, the study was conducted in three communities in South-Eastern Nigeria where Biafran activism and activities are prevalent -Onitsha, Aba and Okigwe. The interviewees were selected using purposive and snowballing methods while data were collected using both secondary and primary sources. This study presents the sociological underpinnings of the context of the violent Biafra activism and activities in South-Eastern Nigeria.