Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, a millionaire’s son who led Nigeria’s breakaway republic of Biafra during the country’s civil war that left 1 million dead, died in a London hospital Saturday after a protracted illness following a stroke. He was 78.
The Biafran war brought the first televised images of skeletal, starving African children to the Western world, a sight repeated in the continent’s many conflicts since. Leaders said the war’s end would leave “No Victor, No Vanquished” — a claim that has yet to be fulfilled as ethnic and religious tensions still threaten the unity of the oil-rich nation more than 40 years later.
Maja Umeh, a spokesman for Nigeria’s Anambra state, confirmed Ojukwu’s death Saturday. Anambra state, in the heart of what used to be the breakaway republic, had provided financial support for Ojukwu during his hospital stay.
Ojukwu’s rise coincided with the fall of Nigeria’s First Republic, formed after Nigeria, a nation split between a predominantly Muslim north and a largely Christian south, gained its independence from Britain in 1960.