Film Reel – Biafra

 “Biafra was the world’s first televised famine…For a generation of Irish men and women, the word ‘Biafra’ conjures up a vivid image of missionary nuns, brothers and priests distributing food, administering medicine and bearing witness to the war’s impact among their local communities, and of the first days of Concern (originally Africa Concern)…”

– Kevin O’Sullivan, HistoryIreland.com

A two-day training course for Irish Concern volunteers travelling to the Yemen, Ethiopia and Bangladesh was opened by the Rev. Raymond Kennedy C.S.Sp., executive director, Concern on Friday 1 March 1974. Photo G36/838; © Concern Worldwide

Christian Igbo populations in Nigeria were forced to flee to eastern regions of the country by predominantly Muslim Hausa populations living in the north of Nigeria. In 1967, the Igbos established the Republic of Biafra, which comprised of several states of Nigeria. This led to a bloody civil war with the Nigerian government.

The human cost of the civil conflict was estimated at around a million deaths among those in Biafra.

This film reel contains actual footage exposing the realities of the conflict in Biafra, Nigeria, filmed by Fr. Mike Doheny, C.S.S.p. This was critical in raising awareness of the complex issues in Biafra, the experiences of the Nigerian people and instigating support from Ireland.

It was also important in initiating wider awareness of the issues facing the Developing World at that time and was instrumental in impacting on the humanitarian support for Biafra along with the subsequent establishment of Concern WorldWide.

For more, check out Kevin O’Sullivan’s opinion piece Biafra and the challenge of aid on RTÉ Brainstorm or the 52 minute Radharc episode ‘Night Flight to Uli‘ which looks at the activities of aid agencies in Biafra, broadcast on RTÉ One in May 1969 [via RTÉ Archives]

Mr Loughlin Kennedy, brother of Holy Ghost Father (now Spiritans) Fr Ray Kennedy briefing a group of Templeogue College schoolboys who have volunteered to work on the Biafra Famine Appeal. Photo: Concern Worldwide © [year unknown]

Source: Fr Mike Doheny

Year: Circa 1968-1974

Courtesy of Margaret Bluett © Kimmage Archives