Legacies of Biafra showpiece to feature at Oldham's Black History Month celebrations

Date published: 11 October 2021

As part of Oldham Council’s celebration of Black History Month, Gallery Oldham is hosting the multi-media show Legacies of Biafra.

The exhibition will feature artwork, which explores the on-going impact of war locally and globally, considering how the first civil war in post-independence Africa has influenced the perception of the continent internationally, as well as reshaping the social and political structures within Nigeria.

The exhibition, which should have been on show last year but had to be cancelled due to coronavirus, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Nigeria - Biafra civil war and explore 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.

The exhibition features works predominantly from the artistic collective Nigeria Art Society UK (NASUK), which will be exhibited alongside archival materials on the war, oral narratives of those who lived through the war and a selection of short films.

In an exploration of Britain and Biafra, the exhibition will showcase material from the personal archive of the late British-Nigerian writer Buchi Emecheta, which sheds light on the experience of watching war in one’s homeland unfold through the lens of the international media. 

The Biafra civil war was a watershed moment in contemporary African history with its after effects still visible in the country’s identity and fragile polity over the past 50 years.

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. 

The exhibition provides a timely reflection on the ongoing impact of the war.

Whilst it highlights the conditions that led to the outbreak of war, the exhibition also creates a space to consider how this period in recent history resonates with and offers insight into contemporary conflicts in both Africa and the wider world.

Artists included are: Ade Ogundimu; Amifel Cliff-Eribo; Chike Azuonye; Chinwe Chukuogo Roy, MBE; Hassan Aliyu; Imoesi Imhonigie; Obi Okigbo; Obiora Udechukwu; Raymond Soko; Titus Agbara; Toni Ndikanwu, Chinwe Uwatse; Edosa Oguigo; Onyema Offoedu-Okeke and Uzo Egonu.

The exhibition - which takes place between October 23 and February 25, 2022 - is supported by: the Igbo Conference/the Igbo Studies Initiative; Durham University; The Buchi Emecheta Foundation/Omenala Press; Child Migrant Stories.

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