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Bight of Biafra

  (Redirected from Bight of Bonny)

The Bight of Biafra (also known as the Bight of Bonny) is a bight off the West African coast, in the easternmost part of the Gulf of Guinea.

Bight of Biafra
Bight of Bonny
Golfe du Biafra
Gulf of Guinea (English).jpg
Gulf of Guinea map showing the Bight of Biafra.
Coordinates 2°50′N 8°0′E / 2.833°N 8.000°E / 2.833; 8.000Coordinates: 2°50′N 8°0′E / 2.833°N 8.000°E / 2.833; 8.000
River sources Niger
Ocean/sea sources Gulf of Guinea
Atlantic Ocean
Basin countries Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon[1]
Max. length 300 km (190 mi)
Max. width 600 km (370 mi)
Islands Bioko

Contents

GeographyEdit

The Bight of Biafra, or Mafra (named after the town Mafra in southern Portugal), between Capes Formosa and Lopez, is the most eastern part of the Gulf of Guinea; it contains the islands Fernando Po [Equatorial Guinea], Prince’s and St Thomas’s. The name Biafra - as indicating the country - fell into disuse in the later part of the 19th century [2]

 
Early map of Africa depicting a region named Biafra in present day Cameroon

A 1710 map indicates that the region known as "Biafar" (Biafra) was located in present-day Cameroon

The Bight of Biafra extends east of the Bight of Benin from the River Delta of the Niger in the north until it reaches Cape Lopez in Gabon.[3] Besides the Niger River, other rivers reaching the bay are the Cross River, Wouri River, Calabar River, Ndian, Wouri, Sanaga, Nyong River, Ntem, Mbia, Mbini, Muni and Komo River.[1]

The main islands in the Bay are Bioko and Príncipe; other important islands are Ilhéu Bom Bom, Ilhéu Caroço, Elobey Grande and Elobey Chico.[1] Countries located at the Bight of Bonny are Nigeria (eastern coast), Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea (Bioko Island and Rio Muni), and Gabon (northern coast).

HistoryEdit

The Bight of Biafra accounted for 13% (1.6 million) of the total number of slaves exported from the Western African coast. The Bight of Benin to the west accounted for 17% while Central Africa to the south accounted for 48%.[4]

By the middle of the eighteenth century, Bonny had emerged as the major slave trading port on the Bight of Biafra outpacing the earlier dominant slave ports at Elem Kalabari (also known then as New Calabar) and Old Calabar. These 3 ports together accounted for over 90% of the slave trade emanating from the Bight of Biafra.[5][6]

Between 1525 and 1859, Britain dominated the slave trade from the Bight of Biafra accounting for over two-thirds of slaves exported to the New World.[7]

However, in 1807, Great Britain made illegal the international trade in slaves, and the Royal Navy was deployed to forcibly prevent slavers from the United States, France, Spain, Portugal, Holland, West Africa and Arabia from plying their trade.[8]

Earlier, in 1777, Portugal transferred control of Fernando Po and Annobon to Spanish suzerainty thus introducing Spain into the early colonial history of the Bight of Biafra.[9]

On 30 June 1849, Britain established its military influence over the Bight of Biafra by building a naval base and consulate on the island of Fernando Po,[10] under the authority of the British Consuls of the Bight of Benin:[11]

  • May 1852 - 1853 Louis Fraser
  • 1853 - April 1859 Benjamin Campbell
  • April 1859 - 1860 George Brand
  • 1860 - January 1861 Henry Hand
  • January 1861 - May 1861 Henry Grant Foote
  • May 1861 - 6 August 1861 William McCoskry (acting)

On 6 August 1861, the Bight of Biafra and the neighboring Bight of Benin (under its own British consuls) became a united British consulate, again under British consuls:

  • 1861 - December 1864 Richard Francis Burton
  • December 1864 - 1873 Charles Livingstone
  • 1873 - 1878 George Hartley
  • 1878 - 13 September 1879 David Hopkins
  • 13 September 1879 - 5 June 1885 Edward Hyde Hewett.

In 1967, the Eastern Region of Nigeria seceded from the Nigerian State and adopted the name of its coastline, the adjoining Bight of Biafra; becoming the newly independent Republic of Biafra. This independence was short-lived as the new state lost the ensuing Nigerian Civil War. In 1975, by decree, the Nigerian government changed the name of the Bight of Biafra to the Bight of Bonny.[12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c GoogleEarth
  2. ^ Hugh Chisholm; James Louis Garvin. The Encyclopædia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, literature & general information, Volumes 11-12. The Encyclopædia Britannica Company, ltd., 1926. p. 696. Retrieved 10 July 2017. 
  3. ^ "Benin, Bight of." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  4. ^ Toyin Falola; Raphael Chijioke Njoku. Igbo in the Atlantic World: African Origins and Diasporic Destinations. Indiana University Press, 2016. p. 82. ISBN 9780253022578. 
  5. ^ Paul E. Lovejoy. Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa. Cambridge University Press, 2011. p. 58. ISBN 9781139502771. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 
  6. ^ Toyin Falola; Raphael Chijioke Njoku. Igbo in the Atlantic World: African Origins and Diasporic Destinations. Indiana University Press, 2016. p. 83. ISBN 9780253022578. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 
  7. ^ Toyin Falola; Raphael Chijioke Njoku. Igbo in the Atlantic World: African Origins and Diasporic Destinations. Indiana University Press, 2016. p. 83. ISBN 9780253022578. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 
  8. ^ "African Slave Owners". BBC. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  9. ^ I. K. Sundiata. From Slaving to Neoslavery: The Bight of Biafra and Fernando Po in the Era of Abolition, 1827-1930. Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1996. p. 19. ISBN 9780299145101. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 
  10. ^ Stewart, John. The British Empire: An Encyclopedia of the Crown's Holdings, 1493 Through 1995. McFarland & Company, 1996. p. 250. ISBN 9780786401772. 
  11. ^ "Southern Nigeria Administrators". 
  12. ^ University of Ibadan. Dept. of Sociology. Nigerian Behavioral Sciences Journal, Volume 3, Issues 1-2. Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan, 1980. p. 11. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 

External linksEdit