The Nigerian National War Museum in Umuahia established in 1985 showcases the military history of Nigeria with relics from the Biafra-Nigerian Civil War.
It has a collection of armour tanks, AFLs, ships, and aircraft all traditional and modern Biafra warfare. These relics are preserved and maintained by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM).
The Nigerian-Biafran war, also known as the Nigerian civil war, was a political conflict caused by the attempted secession of the Southeastern provinces of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra. The war, which started on July 6, 1967, came to an end on January 15, 1970.
While the civil war lasted, various sophisticated weapons were used. Some of these deadly weapons were fabricated due to the exigencies of the war. Outside the appurtenances of war, civilians were also involved in the process of not just fighting, but psyching up the minds of the people to forge ahead despite the deprivations that came with war. Different media of mass communication were used.
The war was a watershed in the history of Nigeria as a country. The experience, many agree, is such that makes the resort to arms and war as a means of conflict resolution not an attractive option.
It is in this spirit that the Nigerian War Museum, Umuahia was established. The museum’s location was chosen because it was where the bunker housing the famous shortwave radio “the Voice of Biafra” was transmitted from. Voice of Biafra was the mouth-piece for Biafra during the war.
The National War Museum has the highest collection of the Nigerian civil war weapons that are no longer in use. The weapons are from both the Nigerian military and the defunct Republic of Biafra.
The place has become a tourist site that attracts hundreds of people daily. They come from within and outside the country to see the war artifacts on display. To some, it is to relive the period of the war through items on display, while to others, it is for study purposes. There are yet others who come simply for curiosity.
The museum has three galleries that covers traditional warfare, the armed forces, and the Nigerian Civil War weapon galleries. War relics housed in the museum include weapons used during the pre-colonial civil disturbances, warfare materials used during communal and inter-tribal wars, and those of the Nigerian Civil War.
On display are spears, shields, bows, and arrows. Metal war vests that warriors used to protect themselves are also on display.
The end of the old war weapons section leads to the Nigerian Armed Forces gallery. There are the ceremonial uniforms of the army officers. Pictures of some past military leaders are also on display.
For those unfamiliar with the military insignia that differentiates the ranks in the military, this gallery offers tutorials. From this section, one then walks to the gate of the bunker that houses the Radio Biafra of the defunct Biafran Republic.
Just at the entrance is the Biafran flag: red, black, and green with the rising sun in the middle. There are also black and white pictures of the Nigerian leaders that were victims of the war, starting with the January 15, 1966 coup of Kaduna Nzeogwu.
The bunker is about 30 feet deep and on both sides of the step as one walks down are pictures of protagonists of the war from both Nigerian and Biafran sides of the divide. Inside the bunker are the transmission studio and the huge transmitter of Radio Biafra.
The bunker was a perfect decoy and very difficult for any enemy aircraft to locate without any prior information, especially with the undulating hills in the area. The bunker has two stairways for entrance and exit. The tour of this section of the museum is arranged in a way that the tourist would water through the main entrance to the bunker and exit through the back.
Scattered on the expansive premises of the war museum are different obsolete military weapons. Looking at them in their obsolete state, one wonders how many lives some of these weapons must have terminated.
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