© Don McCullin, ca. 1968, A mother and child in Biafra

In 1967, the Igbo unilaterally declared their independence from Nigeria. Leading them quixotically was Col. Emeka Ojukwu, who recently died at the age of 78.

The Biafran struggle, for all its lofty goals, was a conflict which should have lasted only weeks, given the overwhelming superiority of the Nigerian federal army and the fact that international governments — seeing the rebellion as a first major challenge to post-colonial borders throughout Africa — weighed in heavily against the rebels. That it lasted for two and a half years was largely due to Ojukwu’s single-mindedness.

Before the Biafrans would capitulate, the Nigerian blockade of Biafra led to a famine and the conflict became imprinted on the international consciousness and conscience, thanks to a handful of British television reports and photographers. By October 1968 several thousand Biafrans, many of them children, were reported to be dying every day. (read more)

Find an interview with Don McCullin here.

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