The slowly simmering separatist movement in southeastern Nigeria’s region of Biafra does not achieve very much that is concrete nowadays—not after a crushing, near-genocidal defeat of their briefly independent state in 1970 pushed Igbo nationalism underground. But this week one Biafran pro-independence group scored a symbolic hit. There is now such thing as a Biafra license plate.
Not for cars, just for motorcycles—oddly enough. Over the weekend of February 8-9, the largest Biafran separatist group, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) unveiled a license-plate for motorbikes, to be used in Nigeria’s Enugu state, in what some claim as Biafran territory. Chief Larry Odimma, who represents MASSOB in Aba, in nearby Abia state, told the public in Nskukka, in Enugu, “I am here on the mandate of our [that is, MASSOB’s] leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, to launch this plate number, which is aimed at identifying Biafrans and forestalling criminal activities among people who hide under our name to perpetrate evil.”
|Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, head of MASSOB|
He added, “the national leadership of MASSOB applauds the freedom being enjoyed here in Enugu State unlike what we witness in places like Aba, Ontisha, and Umuahia, where our members are constantly harassed by security agents.”
|Igbos can never forget that the Nigerian military|
killed hundreds of thousands with a starvation blockade in the late 1960s.
|The Biafra Zionist Movement’s 2012 independence-day parade|
[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas. The book, which contains dozens of maps and over 500 flags, is now in the layout phase and should be on shelves, and available on Amazon, by early fall 2014. I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news. Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even though you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook.]