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Meet The Nigerian Separatists Who Have Been Inspired By Brexit
It’s a fair bet most people aren’t looking to Britain for political mentorship right now – after all, even leading supporters of the so-called "Brexit" are now backpedaling on key pledges.
But as the “Leave” camp racked up votes last week, it had fans cheering in an unusual place: In Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, pockets of separatists hoped the results rolling in from its former colonizer could be replicated at home.
Among them was Chris Nnoli, who identifies as part of a movement which wants to carve an independent state called Biafra in Nigeria's southeast.
From 1967 – 1970, secessionists' doomed attempt to carve a sovereign state of Biafra left almost 1 million dead, largely through starvation after the rebel leaders closed the borders.
The Biafran movement has largely simmered in the background since the 70s, but flared up again recently under President Muhammadu Buhari.
Brexit has sparked calls for similar referendums from other European countries, but most probably didn’t imagine a group of west Africans latching on, too.
The Biafrans who want to split with Nigeria have even launched a new campaign pushing for a referendum of their own:
And the Brexit celebrations weren’t just in Nigeria. In Maryland, in his home cluttered with rare surviving memorabilia from Biafra, including stamps and currency, Ukaegbu Ukaegbu’s phone started ringing as the results came in.
For now, despite a set of extremely vocal supporters, the movement remains on the fringe.
And as for following the U.K.’s move, there’s still some confusion over the official name – was it #BiafrExit or #BiaExit or even #BiafraExit?