Sunday, August 19, 2012

Biafra in Tanzania's Imagination - And Vice Versa

After reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel Half of a Yellow Sun I wrote:  I have just finished reading your novel on Biafra this evening. Congratulation for a work well done. I am very much interested in the way Tanzania and Nyerere were/are perceived by the 'Biafrans'. Could you kindly share with me the imagination behind that story of  a 'Tanzania Bar' in your novel. 

When I finally met her, she pointed out that indeed Tanzania mattered a lot in the Biafran imagination. A lot of places and things were named Tanzania after Nyerere announced his country's controversial support for Biafra's secession. The stance was eloquently presented in a small booklet entitled 'The Nigeria-Biafra Crisis' by Julius K. Nyerere (4 September 1969). As I have noted in an article on African Unity at What Cost? his assertion remained Pan-Africanist as they were Anti-Imperialist. For him, in as much Tanzania wanted to see a federated Nigeria as a step towards a united Africa, it was not ready to support a war to keep Biafrans as part of Nigeria even against their will as that would be tantamount to letting a potential great exemplar of African unity become an African imperial power.

Interestingly, Biafra also became part of the Tanzanian imagination. A whole residential area was renamed Kinondoni Biafra. Maggid Mjengwa has given great publicity to this childhood neighborhood of his. The University of Dar es  Salaam, the then celebrated hub of revolutionary ideas and intellectual ferment, was not left behind. It even named one of its residences Biafra Flat.


Zavara December 21, 2012 at 6:13 PM  

Hakika kaka. Hata miye nliwaza kumwandikia yule binti. Unajua Uwanja wa Biafra ndio eneo linatumika kwa shughuli nyingi na maonyesho ya sanaa na kijamii. Eneo la wazi hili hadi leo lipo na si' watu wengi Bongo wanalitambua asili yake. Kitabu cha dada Ngozi kimenipa mwanga mwingi wa siasa za Afrika zama zile na naona inafaa kuandika zaidi hadithi na ngano za zamani hasa kuhusu uhuru wetu, Afrika Mashariki inahitaji sana hii. Chambi we kama mwandishi nakupa changamoto tujenge zaidi ili uandike kuhusu Uhuru wa Tanganyika. Pamoja

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