Through the Lens of History: Biafra, Nigeria, the West and the World
By David Trask
Guilford Technical Community College
This unit creates the opportunity to analyze a single event in Nigerian history for the purpose of learning more about colonial and post-colonial Africa, the West and the world. This is achieved by starting with a single event and then expanding our inquiry to answer the questions raised by the attempt to grasp the meanings of this event of the late 1960s by moving further and further into the background of the era.
This unit presents a field of historical sources to enable students to examine the dynamic interactions which have helped shape post-colonial Africa by seeing how these dynamics worked out within Nigeria in the events associated with the Biafran secessionist movement of 1966-1970. At the same time this information gives students the opportunity to learn more about the meaning and impact of European ideas, interests and actions outside of Europe. Students are presented with historical sources arranged by topic and era; this information is accompanied by some questions and suggestions for dealing with these sources. In addition students will be asked to develop their own questions in order to mine these materials more fully and to determine relationships among the different readings. Although students could work through this material as individuals, one goal of this unit is to create the possibility for students to work collaboratively in teams.
The Annotated Bibliography was developed to supplement western civ and world civ courses with added sources while also giving students the opportunity to develop skills in historical thinking and historical methodology.
The Key Question: Why Study Biafra?
Before gong further we need to address a key question: Why Study about Biafra? The answers introduce current events in Nigeria and the concept of "historical lenses" as a way of understanding the past.
The following links connect to the historical substance of the unit. Although each of these chronological sections is of a different length, together they take you from the events themselves further and further into the past to find the material needed to explain the event. Each of the chronological sections is subdivided to facilitate collaborative learning and to create some themes for analysis.
The Republic of Biafra (1966–70)
The Colonial and Pre-Colonial Eras in Nigeria (1850–1945)
Slavery—The European Impact (pre-1850)
Pedagogy: Not for Teachers Only
This is an experiment on ways to do history in the electronic age. This technology promises that the user will be able to address an issue by working from the present back into the past, collaborate more easily with fellow students and faculty, deal with a wider range of sources than are available at many colleges, and stay away from learning packages with pre-determined outcomes. The following destinations spell out items of greater interest to instructors but also to students who want to know what instructors have been told.
These links represent resources to help you carry out the major work of this course. You may want to refer to them from time to time.
Biafra on the Internet: For a lot of valuable connections that add background to all parts of this project.
Background Readings: Here are a few of the books I used as background for developing this site.