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Nigeria: Independence Movements

Republic of Biafra, Republic of Benin

Last modified: 2011-06-10 by phil nelson
Keywords: biafra | benin | nigeria | africa | sun |
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Republic of Biafra

[Flag of Biafra] image by Željko Heimer

On May 29, 1967 Lt. Col. Emeka Ojukwu, the military governor of the eastern region emerged as the leader of Igbo secessionist sentiment, declared the independence of the eastern region as the "Republic of Biafra." The ensuing Nigerian Civil War resulted in over 30,000 deaths before ending in the defeat of Biafra in 1970.
Jens Pattke, 8 July 2006

From Barraclough's "Flags of the World:"

"The Republic of Biafra formed in Eastern Nigeria on 30 May 1967 had a flag of red, black and green, horizontally, with a rising sun from the Coat of Arms (of the old Eastern Province) in gold in the centre. This became obsolete when the Republic ceased to exist on 15 January 1970."

Don Hagemann 28 November 1995

Recent newspaper reports tell about plans for relaunching Biafra and it flag. A flag hoisting ceremony is announced for 27 May
Jan Oskar Engene, 13 April 2000

Alternative Design

[Flag of Biafra] image by Rob Raeside

The eleven rays of the sun represented the eleven provinces of Biafra. The lowest rays were usually more or less horizontal and the remaining rays spread evenly. The rays were normally long and slender, and usually slightly wavy.
Leif Hellström

I have in my possession a 12-inch LP entitled "This is Biafra," issued during the war by the Biafran Students Association in New York City. The cover design is a large picture of the Biafran flag, quite similar to the first image. There is also a picture in the book "The Nigerian Civil War" by John de St Jorre, of Ojkwu witting in front of a Biafran flag. Although the flag is partially obscured, it seems similar to the first image. The flag in this picture was obviously 'thrown together' and not professionally made. This 'makeshift' quality was typical of much of the Biafran experiment and may account for the several slightly different versions of the flag extant.
John Beadle, 12 April 1999

With reference to my earlier comments on the Biafran flag, I enclose a couple of scans which help illustrate how the sun in the flag usually looked. Although neither example is from a proper national flag (one shows a couple of uniform patches, and the other a unit flag), to the best of my knowledge they are representative of how the sun was presented on the flag and elsewhere. Note the slightly wavy rays, of unequal length and width.

[Biafra Military Patches]Military Patches

[Biafra Military Flag]Military Flag
Leif Hellström, 23 April 1999

The 27 April 2000 of Courrier International (#495) includes the translation of an interview given by Ralph Uwazuruike to the Nigerian weekly magazine Tempo.

Uwazuruike is the leader of the MASSOB, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra. The MASSOB has defined a program with 25 steps to achieve the independence of Biafra by non-violence. The third step will occur on 27 May 2000, with the proclamation of independence of Biafra. The proclamation is intended to inform the world, not to create a really independent state (which has actually no police, no army, no paramilitary troops). Proclamation of independence will be symbolized by hoisting the flag.

According to the daily Nigerian newspaper Vanguard, also quoted in Courrier International, the governors of the four South-East states of Nigeria have called for a constitutional reform and the establishmenbt of a confederation. This claim is the consequance of the proclamation of sharia (Islamic law) in the northern state of Zamfara, and may constitute the first step towards the secession of the South-East of Nigeria.

According to "Leadership" (Abuja), 5 June 2008, the flag issue has recently resurfaced:

Delta State police command has warned members of MASSOB in the state to desist from hoisting the Biafran flag or be prepared to face the wrath of the law.

Mr. Charles Muka, the Delta State police Public Relations Officer, said that MASSOB was an illegal association.

The public relations officer said that the acting commissioner of police, Mr. Jacob Oshomogho, had ordered the arrest and prosecution of anyone caught with the flag.

It was gathered that some flags suspected to be that of Biafra were seen hoisted at the summit junction, Coker area and Umuagu in the state capital, Asaba.


Some Nigerians who refused to disclose their identity said that security men should act fast before the situation leads to a crisis. They attributed the hoisting of the flags to ignorance on the part of some members of the association.

Ivan Sache, 30 April 2000; 6 June 2008

[Biafra variation] image by Jorge Candeias, 3 August 2005

This is a variation of the flag of Biafra. The flag above is used in a number of places, the sun-symbol as being composed of two separate elements, the half-sun above and a narrow rectangle below. However, some images of this symbol show it a bit differently, with three elements, as a half ring separates the sun proper from its rays. Several examples of this design can be seen at Biafranet together with other examples with the solid sun. Since Biafranet is as Biafran as webpages get, I suppose that the two versions are used interchangeably.
Jorge Candeias, 3 August 2005

Republic of Benin

[Flag of Rep. of Benin, 1967] image by Ivan Sache

Republic of Benin (19 September 1967 until 20 September-1967): secession by Mid Western State.
Jens Pattke, 8 July 2006, text amended by James Dignan, September 2008

Flag of the so-called Republic of Benin established in mid-west Nigeria in 1967.
Stuart Notholt, 30 June 1996

The flag was the same as Biafra's but the red is changed to black (and then the black is 2/3 of the flag). The Republic of Benin survived only hours. The capital was taken by Biafran forces in the day and was recovered by the Nigerian federal troups in the night. The nominal territory of the republic (in fact under Biafran control) was recovered later.
Jaume Ollé, 20 January 1997