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English lecturer curates art exhibition on impact of Nigerian Civil War

Dr Louisa Egbunike was the guest curator for Legacies of Biafra


An English lecturer from City, University of London has curated an art exhibition exploring the ongoing impact of the Nigerian Civil War.

Dr Louisa Egbunike was the guest curator for Legacies of Biafra, which commemorated the recent 50th anniversary of the beginning of the conflict.

The exhibition, which was part-funded by City, was held at The Brunei Gallery (SOAS University of London) and ran for two months.

It featured works predominantly from the artistic collective Nigeria Art Society UK (NASUK), as well as archival materials on the war, short films and oral narratives of people who lived through the conflict.

Dr Egbunike, of the Department of English at City, said: “This multi-media show explores the impact of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war locally and globally.

“It considers how the war – the first in post-independence Africa – influenced the perception of the continent internationally and shaped the social and political structures within Nigeria.

“The exhibition also looks at the legacies of the British colonial divide and rule policy, global media coverage of the conflict, ethnic tensions, distrust and enmity which culminated in the civil war.”

'Spirit of survival'

The Nigerian civil war was a conflict between the country’s government and the state of Biafra, which sought independence. It took place between July 1967 and January 1970.

The war was a watershed moment in contemporary African history, with its after effects visible in the country’s identity and fragile political establishment over the past 50 years.

Dr Egbunike says the exhibition created a space to consider how this period of Nigerian history resonates with and offers insight into contemporary conflicts in both Africa and the wider world.

She said: “Nigeria is a country that following this event has endured much change socially, culturally and economically.

“The outbreak of war signalled a sharp demise in the hopes and aspirations of independence, but the war also demonstrated the resilience, the spirit of survival and the capacity to overcome adversity of those who endured it.”

Among the exhibits was material from the personal archive of the late British-Nigerian writer Buchi Emecheta.

Artists included:

  • Ade Ogundimu
  • Chike Azuonye
  • Chinwe Chukuogo Roy, MBE
  • Hassan Aliyu
  • Imoesi Imhonigie
  • Obi Okigbo
  • Raymond Soko
  • Titus Agbara
  • Toni Ndikanwu
  • Chinwe Uwatse
  • Edosa Oguigo
  • Ndidi Dike
  • Ngozi Schommers
  • Onyema Offoedu-Okeke
  • Uzo Egonu
  • Obiora Udechukwu.

The exhibition was supported by: the Igbo Conference/the Igbo Studies Initiative; City, University of London; Centre of African Studies (CAS), SOAS; Nigeria Nostalgia Project; The Buchi Emecheta Foundation/Omenala Press and The Africa Centre.

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