A new multimedia exhibition curated by Dr Louisa Uchum Egbunike commemorates the 50th anniversary of the end of the Nigeria-Biafra war (1967-1970), and examines the legacies of Biafra by showcasing works from the artistic collective Nigeria Art Society UK (NASUK).
Whilst Nigeria gained its independence from Britain in 1960, Britain’s ‘divide and rule’ approach to governing Nigeria led to ongoing tensions in the country. The violence resulted in the south-eastern part of Nigeria declaring itself independent, and in 1967 the new nation of Biafra was born. War broke out between the two countries, and after close to three years, Biafra fell. The war left Nigeria forever changed.
Legacies of Biafra runs at Gallery Oldham from 23rd October 2021 to 26th February 2022. The exhibition reflects on the ongoing impact of one of the first civil wars in post-independence Africa, including how it has influenced the perception of the continent internationally as well as social and political structures within Nigeria. It explores the human impact of war (particularly on children and refugees) and avenues towards healing and recovery.
Alongside artworks, there are books and magazines from the period, oral accounts from those affected by the war, and a selection of short films and music from that era.
Dr Egbunike's recent scholarship, which informs her curatorship of this exhibition, centres on the legacies of the Nigeria-Biafra war. She is currently spearheading a multifaceted project, which has included an international conference, a touring art exhibition and a documentary film series.
The following video from the launch event features exhibiting artists Obi Okigbo and Chike Azuonye in conversation with Dr Egbunike. They discuss art as a form of catharsis; memory of the Nigeria-Biafra war and the relationship between poetry and their artistic practice.