May 30, 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the legendary Republic of Biafra. Learn what states it consisted of, what states exist in its place today, and some facts about the republic.
Map of Biafra republic
In the official document called ‘Introducing the Republic of Biafra’, the borders were described rather loosely. It stated that the republic stretched from the lower reaches of the Niger Delta on the West to the Obudu plateau on the East. From North to South, it laid between the 7th parallel north and the Bight of Biafra. During its brief existence, Biafra covered 77,306 square kilometers (29,848 square miles) of land.
As you can see from the map above, the territory of the republic was divided into 25 states (provinces):
✦ Ikot Ekpene
The capital of the Republic of Biafra was Owerri.
READ ALSO: Bight of Biafra history
Today, in place of the Republic of Biafra you can find such Nigerian states as Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Delta and Rivers.
Although, there is some controversy over the fact whether the territory of today’s Delta state has actually belonged to Biafra. Some go as far as to say that Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa and Cross River have never been a part of it either.
Right before the brief existence of the republic, Nigeria went from being divided into four main regions (Northern, Western, Mid-Western and Eastern) to being divided into twelve. As events that followed happened so quickly, it is hard to say whether the Mid-Western state, which then became Bendel, and after that — Edo and Delta, has ever been a part of Biafra. This topic remains controversial to this day.
Did you know?
The republic declared its independence from Nigeria on May 30, 1967. It existed until January 15, 1970. Even during that brief time, two presidents had led, Odumegwu Ojukwu and Philip Effiong. The latter was a president for only four days.
Its name is derived from the Bight of Biafra, which is located on the south of the republic. The literal meaning is unknown.
The ancient maps of Africa from as early as 1584 briefly mentioned Biafra. Although, back then, it was ‘Biafar’, and it was approximately where today’s Cameroon is.
The secession of Biafra led to the bloodiest war in the history of Nigeria (Biafran war), which took the lives of (estimated) 3 million people.
50 years has gone by and the secession movement is still alive. A lot of people consider themselves Biafrans, and there are groups like Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra and Indigenous People of Biafra that still tries to revive the Republic of Biafra today.
READ ALSO: Biafran Currency Notes