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Book chapter Book chapter
Title:A rebel youth? Social media, charismatic leadership, and 'radicalized' youth in the 2015 Biafra protests
Authors:Ligtvoet, IngeISNI
Oudenhuijsen, Loes
Book title:Biographies of Radicalization: Hidden Messages of Social Change
Editor:Bruijn, Mirjam de
City of publisher:Berlin
Publisher:De Gruyter Oldenbourg
Geographic term:Nigeria
social media
Abstract:Through ethnographic observations, using online as well as offline sources, we focus on the new Biafra protests between 2014 and 2016. This period was a peak in the quest for the rebirth of the autonomous Republic of Biafra, a concept which had lived on among a part of the Igbo population since the end of the Nigerian civil war in 1970 when Biafra was lost. In 2015 a series of events, including the arrest of Biafra activist Nnamdi Kanu, led to a massive online mobilization of Igbo youth frustrated with their marginal position within Nigerian society. Digital protests turned into regional meet-ups and street demonstrations across the globe. In subsequent months, bloody encounters between the Nigerian military and protesting Igbo youth left at least 150 protesters killed across the south-east of Nigeria. The chapter draws on personal observations and conversations of the two authors, who were present in Enugu in 2014 and at the end of 2015, respectively. It presents the stories of people they encountered and highlights the rapidly changing discourse and stance on Biafra in Enugu, nourished by social media and stirred by several key activists. These changes formed the background to the sudden rise of and support for radical pro-Biafra movements (MASSOB, IPOB) that had been in existence long before the time of the protests.