Before the beginning of what is called Nigeria today, was a Kingdom and the Kingdom was within the continent of Africa and the Kingdom was Biafra and It was a light to the people. Anthropology (the study of humankind everywhere, throughout time, seeks to produce reliable knowledge about people and their behaviour, both about what makes them different and what they share in common) with empirical evidence has shown that the kingdom of Biafra (with various artifacts in British, French, Portuguese, German and Belgian museums) existed several centuries before the coming of the white man.
French palaeontologists working in the Chad Basin have dated their Igbo earliest known ancestors to 7BC. The global significance of Benin Kingdom however lies in its court art, especially her famous sculptures. The splendid terracotta, ivory and brass, statuary sculptures of the Benin are among the glories of human creativity. Some scholars trace the artistic and technical lineage of these masterpieces to the sculptures of the NOK culture of an Ancient West Africa.
Similar sculptures have been found both in the North and Niger Delta. Recently, excavations of the Niger, at Igbo-Ukwu have unearthed stunning terra-cottas and bronzes that belong to the same general artistic culture and dated as early as the ninth century. These artifacts to the high cultural levels of traditional African societies, a kudo to the Kingdom of Biafra.
History ( a chronological record of significant past events, as affecting a nation, people, persons or institution, often including an explanation of their causes) has shown that the first Europeans to make their appearance in today’s Nigeria were travellers and explorers, whose tales brought slave traders in their wake. Starting around 1450 with Portuguese, they bought slaves from the native African Kings of the coast for resale. After the Portuguese came the French, Dutch, Danes, Swedes, Germans, Spaniards and the British.
It is worthy to note that these European nations were neither here for the development of Africa nor for a genuine bilateral trade but for exploitation. For their selfish economic cum political interest. These European nations had names for segments of the coastland;
The Grain Coast or the Pepple Coast,
The Ivory Coast,
The Gold Coast and
The Slave Coast identifying the main exports that could be extracted by the ship.
While European slavers made private fortunes, several Kingdoms and empires founded on the African side were already existing and the new ones emerged. These Kingdom and empires to mention but a few within West Africa are:
1. The Kingdom of Ghana which existed as early as 400- 600BC with its capital at Kumbi Saleh.
2. The Empire of Mali, under the Keita dynasty rose to its binnacle under two kings – Sundiata (1230- 1255AD) and Mansa Musa (1312- 1337AD)
3. The Senghai Empire under the greatest Sunni rule, Sonni Ali (1575-1610)
4. The Kanem and Kanem-Bornu Empire under king Mai Dunama Dibbalemi (1221-1259AD) and Idris Alawma (1575-1610).
5. The Benin Kingdom under Oba Ewuare (1440-1475) and lastly the ill-fated Oba Ovaremi that was forced out of Benin by the British.
6. The old Oyo Empire and others within the Yoruba land. Oranmiyan the 7th grandson, discovered Oyo and was its first Alafin (1388-1438).
The Indigenous People of Biafra and their empire existed as shown in the Ancient Map of Africa 1492-1843. This was in the Pristine past before the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914. Portuguese travellers used the word Biafra to describe the entire region of the lower Niger (the entire former Eastern region of Nigeria) and Eastwards up to the Cameroon mountains and down to the Eastern Coastal tribes part of Cameroon, Garbon and Central Africa.
Other nations had diplomatic dealings with Biafra including Britain. The British Consul of the Bight of Biafra from 30th June, 1849-10th June, 1854 was John Beecroft, with its Headquarters in Fernado Po now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea.
One could not be a Consul in a country and lived in another- Fernado Po. Thus Equatorial Guinea was part of the Kingdom of Biafra. Ironically, there is no history of the Kingdom of Biafra in any history or government textbook both in our secondary and tertiary institutions,
unlike other Kingdoms in West Africa that existed same time and later.
Was this a cleverly mapped out plan to obliterate or rather expunge the history of this empire and its indigenous people by the British?
In many history textbooks now in circulation in Africa, the people of the Kingdom of Biafra; the Igbos, Ibibios, Efiks, Ijaws, Anangs, Igbankes, Idomas, Igalas,
in Nigeria, the Bantu, Kirdi, Nigritic, Fulani, Highlanders in Cameroon, Bantu, Fang, Eshira, Babounou, Bateke in Gabon and the Bay, Banda, Mandjia, Sara, Mboum, M’Baka, Yakoma in Central Africa Republic were mentioned, these are indigenous people. The million dollar question then is what happened to the Kingdom in which these tribes were subjects or citizens?
How come the people or indigenes are still alive but no record of their Pristine Kingdom of Biafra can be found in Africa?
History has it that a Roman General Sciopio Africanus defeated Hannibal, the son of Hamilcar Baker in the battle of Zama in 202BC.
Cathage (in present Libya) was set ablaze by Roman soldiers and completely destroyed. It is still clear on the pages of history about the Cathagenian Generals and their exploits, their leaders and the first and second Wars. Cathage was later renamed colonial Junonial by Rome.
The Kingdom of Biafra existed much later than Cathage (1492-1843) as shown by the Ancient Map of Africa. Why were the leaders of this Kingdom not mentioned in our history books?
One might want to know, under whose leadership was John Beecroft, the then British Consul represented his country?
Is this another case of the “Atlantis” the missing continent?
In 1807 the British outlawed slave trade. For the rest of the half of that century, British Naval commanders supervised the coastal trading to ensure that the ban was effective. Gradually other commodities were added; Palm Oil, Timber, Ivory, Cocoa, Pepper, Palm Kernel and others.
The penetration by Europeans into the interior of West African nations was discouraged by the Coastal Kings. These European traders saw little reason in continuing to pay money to the potentates and urged for permission to press inland and deal directly with the producers. This caused great friction with some Coastal Kings; Jaja of Opobo, Oba Ovaremi of Benin and the interior Gwamachi of Kantagora to mention but a few.
To be continued…