The iconic Flag of the Republic of Biafra (1967–1970), sometimes regarded as the ethnic flag of the Igbo.
A series of ethnic clashes between Northern Muslims and the Igbo (and other peoples) of Eastern Nigeria living in Northern Nigeria took place between 1966 and 1967. This was followed by the assassination of the Nigerian military head of state General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi by elements in the army and by the failure of peace talks between the military government that deposed Ironsi and the regional government of Eastern Nigeria at the Aburi Talks in Ghana in 1967.
These events led to a regional council of the peoples of Eastern Nigeria deciding that the region should secede and proclaim the Republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967.General Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was then authorized by the council to make this declaration and subsequently became the Head of state of the new republic. The war, which came to be known as the Nigerian Civil War or the Nigerian-Biafran War, lasted from July 6, 1967, until January 15, 1970, after which the federal government reabsorbed Biafra into Nigeria.
Several million Eastern Nigerians, especially Igbo, are believed to have died between the pogroms and the end of the civil war. In their brief struggle for self-determination, the people of Biafra earned the respect of figures such as Jean Paul Sartre and John Lennon, of the Beatle fame, who returned his British honor, MBE, partly in protest against British collusion in the Nigeria-Biafra war.
In July 2007, the former leader of Biafra, General Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, renewed calls for the secession of the Biafran state as a sovereign entity. "The only alternative is a separate existence, What upsets the Igbo population is we are not equally Nigerian as the others", General Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, July 2007.
After the Nigerian–Biafran War, Igboland was devastated. Many hospitals, schools, and homes had been completely destroyed in the war by the Nigeria forces. In addition to the loss of their savings, many Igbo people found themselves discriminated against by other ethnic groups and the new non-Igbo federal government. In desperation, some Igbo subgroups, such as the Ikwerre, started disassociating themselves with the larger Igbo population after the war and this was encouraged and rewarded immensely by the central government as a means of curbing a future Biafra. The post-war era saw the changing of names of both people and places to non-Igbo sounding words such as the changing of the name of the town of Igbuzo to the Anglicized Ibusa.
Due to the discrimination, many Igbo had trouble finding employment, and the Igbo became one of the poorest ethnic groups in Nigeria during the early 1970s and thousands of them, especially the middle class migrated enmass, especially to the United States for better life. Igboland was gradually rebuilt over a period of twenty years through well orchestrated age group organizations, Town Union organizations and community clubs nd mandatory community levies and the economy was again prospering.
This led to new factories being set up in southern Nigerian cities like Nnewi, Aba, Onitsha, Owerri and Asaba.
Very few Igbo people eventually took government positions, although many were engaged in private business and constituted and still constitute the bulk of Nigerian informal economy. And still control an estimated 70% of Nigerian micro economic wealth. Recently, there has been a wave of Igbo immigration to other African countries, Europe, and the Americas.