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Nigerian-Biafran War

The Nigerian-Biafran War was the first television war in history. Real-time footage brought the true magnitude of the immense horror and carnage of human conflict to the sitting rooms and parlors of ordinary people. As a foreign policy tool, Biafra welcomed international press to cover and record footage of the conditions within the republic in order to garner international empathy and moral support for its cause. In various cities around the world pro-Biafra demonstrations and rallies broke out as populations called their governments to assume their moral responsibilities and obligations with respect to the conflict. In London, and throughout the United Kingdom, students, sympathizers, and ordinary civilians took to the streets and protested against Parliament’s expenditure of millions of pounds on Nigerian arms and armaments destined to kill Biafrans, despite Britain’s pressing domestic financial obligations. In the racially-charged United States, the issue of the nation’s foreign policy towards Biafra and Nigeria and the State Department’s stance on their conflict was a major deciding factor in the 1968 presidential elections. Richard Nixon, the newly-elected American president, was so disgusted by images of swollen-bellied Biafran babies, that he telephoned the State Department and ordered them to establish a committee to send aid to Biafra, saying “get those nigger babies off my TV set.” Although the plight of starving Biafrans continued to draw crowds in New York, D.C., and Chicago, the United States government, after careful deliberation, declared that a united Nigeria was in its best long-term interests. Surprisingly, the majority of humanitarian aid sent to Biafra, although American, came from private organizations and not the US government. Nixon’s government eventually declared that its priorities lay in its war in southeast Asia—essentially, bombing Vietnamese peasants was more important than feeding starving Biafrans. #igbohistory #BiafranAwarenessMonth


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