Imu Ahia /Ímù Ólú/Oru
How the Igbo Apprenticeship helped heal the wounds of Biafra.
In 1967 Nigeria declared war on the secessionist state of Biafra (formally Eastern Nigeria predominantly of the Igbo ethnic group, alongside many of their neighbours like the Ibibio, Efik and Ekoi).
What followed was one of Africa’s most brutal and genocidal conflicts where an estimated 1-3 million Biafrans died.
The carnage of the Biafran war left Igbo people socially and economically devastated whilst simultaneously fueling ethnic tensions which still plague Nigeria till this day.
Despite these major setbacks if you visit Nigeria today Igbo people are the economic heartbeat of Nigeria and are a visible (often dominating) presence in every major trading hub in Nigeria.
But how have Igbo people recovered from the devastation of Biafra in order to impose such an economic presence in modern Nigeria?
One of the answers is… Imu Ahia (The Igbo Apprenticeship system).
The Igbo apprenticeship system is a practice where an established Igbo businessman (occasionally women) foster a young person (often from a less privileged family) in order to train and rear them in the practical and economic elements of their trade.
5 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT THE BIAFRA-NIGERIA WAR
60s Rock-Legend Jimi Hendrix at the height of his career in 1968 performed at a Biafra war benefit show in Manhattan along with 60s folk singer Joan Baez. Both artists performed free of charge in order to raise money for refugees of the Biafra-Nigeria Civil war. Photo Joan Baez and Jimi Hendrix chat between acts at a Biafran Relief Benefit. https://www.theguardian.com
The Biafran side largely engineered and manufactured their own weaponry. They received only non-political Joint Church Aid assistance. Nigeria, on the other hand was aided by both Russia (then the Soviet Union), and the North-Atlantic Alliance (particularly Nigeria’s former colonial master, Britain)—as well as by much of Muslim North Africa, with Egyptian pilots flying Russian-made MIGs against the breakaway enclave which had no air force of its own.
During the war between 500,000 3,000,000 refugees fled the county.
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