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September 12, 1968 – Newsfront – Eastern Educational Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
September 12, 1968 – News about Vietnam – news about the Election and the usual charges and counter-charges along with political wrangling – news about Biafra and what would become the state of inhumanity in 1968.
In Vietnam it was about body-bags and body counts. American casualties for the week amounted to 175 with over 1400 wounded bringing to the total of the war so far at 27,704 killed, 203,188 wounded. And there looked like no end in sight.
Vice-Presidential candidate Spiro Agnew was being chided by members of his own party when he claimed Democratic Presidential Candidate Hubert Humphrey was “squishy soft” on Communism. Even GOP leadership thought the sentiment was a low blow – Agnew immediately backpedaled, saying he would never take the “low road” in campaigning. Meanwhile, Independent candidate George Wallace claimed “things would get straightened out” if Police ran the country for two years. And Hubert Humphrey called for “togetherness” in America.
And then there was the matter of Biafra or the Nigeria-Biafra War also known as the Biafran War. It was a civil war fought between the government of Nigeria and the Republic of Biafra, a secessionist state which had declared its independence from Nigeria in 1967. Nigeria was led by General Yakubu Gowon, while Biafra was led by Lt. Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu. Biafra represented the nationalist aspirations of the Igbo ethnic group, whose leadership felt they could no longer coexist with the federal government dominated by the interests of the Muslim Hausa-Fulanis of northern Nigeria. The conflict resulted from political, economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions which preceded Britain’s formal decolonization of Nigeria from 1960 to 1963. Immediate causes of the war in 1966 included ethno-religious violence and anti-Igbo pogroms in Northern Nigeria, a military coup, a counter-coup and persecution of Igbo living in Northern Nigeria. Control over the lucrative oil production in the Niger Delta also played a vital strategic role.
Within a year, the Federal Government troops surrounded Biafra, captured coastal oil facilities and the city of Port Harcourt. A blockade was imposed as a deliberate policy during the ensuing stalemate which led to mass starvation. During the two and half years of the war (from 1967-1970), there were about 100,000 overall military casualties, while between 500,000 and 2 million Biafran civilians died of starvation.
In mid-1968, images of malnourished and starving Biafran children saturated the mass media of Western countries. The plight of the starving Biafrans became a cause célèbre in foreign countries, enabling a significant rise in the funding and prominence of international non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The United Kingdom and the Soviet Union were the main supporters of the Nigerian government, while France, Israel and some other countries supported Biafra.
And that’s just a sample of what went on this September 12, 1968 as presented by Newsfront from the Eastern Educational Network.
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