With Biafra on the front burner and the unity of Nigeria dominating news in the past week, the topic of secession and independence has, again, gained new relevance across the country, even the continent.
The issues that have motivated the calls for Biafra - institutional tribalism, percieved victimization, resource control and power struggles - are not uniquely Nigerian. Across Africa, many groups and regions are driving and fighting for secession and self-actualisation.
Here are five secessionist movements around Africa.
(1) Zanzibar's Civil United Front: The beautiful holiday destination is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometres (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba Island.
Most of the citizens work in tourism and are of the Swahili tribe. Under the UK’s Zanzibar Act of 1963, the island was self-governed for less than a year. In 1964, it was merged with Tanganyika, to create Tanzania.
Since then, its mostly Swahili people have pushed for self-actualization. The push for secession has been non-violent, led by the strongest political party in the area, the Civil United Front.
Founded in 1982, the party holds 42 seats in Tanzania’s national assembly as it hopes to find a diplomatic solution to its demands.
(2) Western Sahara's Polisario Front: Western Sahara is a disputed territory in the Maghreb region of North Africa, partially controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and partially Moroccan-occupied.
The major ethnic group of Western Sahara are the Sahrawis, a nomadic or Bedouin ethnic group speaking the Hassānīya dialect of Arabic. For decades, they have demanded autonomy from Morocco, which controls the area mostly through force.
The Polisario Front, founded in 1973 by Sahrawi students, is a Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement aiming to end Moroccan presence in the Western Sahara.
Although the group is illegal according to Moroccan laws, it still has the support of many foreign nations. Most African Union member countries support the autonomy of Western Shara, most notably Algeria, which has expelled many Moroccans for this reason.
(3) Mali's National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) (Azawad): Founded in 2011, the MNLA, formerly the National Movement of Azawad (MNA), is a political and military organisation based in Azawad in northern Mali.
Its ranks are mostly made up of ethnic Tuareg, some of whom are believed to have fought in the Libyan army during that country’s 2011 Civil war.
The MNLA launched its campaign to take three regions from Mali and create the independent Tuareg state of Azawad. The calls for such a state date back to 1916.
The MNLA was most successful in 2012 when after fierce fighting with the Malian army, it controlled nearly two-thirds of Northern Mali. The group’s charge has also been hindered by its disputes with other rebel groups as well as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
(4) Angola's Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC): The FLEC is a guerrilla and political movement fighting for the independence of the Angolan province of Cabinda, particularly the area covered by the former kingdoms of Kakongo, Loango and N’Goyo.
In 1963, three organizations — the Movement for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (MLEC), Action Committee of the Cabinda National Union (CAUNC), and the Mayombe National Alliance (ALLIAMA) — merged to form the FLEC.
The group has made its demands known by launching isolated, often extreme attacks. In 2010, the team bus of the Togolese National football team was attacked by an offshoot of the group while it travelled through Cabinda.
The group has also kidnapped expatriates in the region. France has faced criticism for its implied support of some of the major players in the FLEC.
(5) Senegal's Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC): Founded in 1982, the group is the main separatist movement demanding the autonomy of the Casamance region and its indigenous Jola people of Senegal.
It was supported by Guinea-Bissau President João Bernardo Vieira until he was overthrown in 1999. Its armed wing was formed in 1985 and is called Atika (Diola for “Warrior”).
Before his death, the group's leader, Father Augustin Diamacoune Senghor, signed a peace agreement with the government of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.
However, several factions of the MFDC refused to participate in the peace deal and continued their fighting. This division has deeply divided Casamance’s independence movement.