Museums are regarded as buildings or institutions dedicated and set aside to the conservation, exhibition of objects having historical, cultural or artistic value. One of the amazing things about museums in Nigeria is that, it houses many historical artifacts which draw the attention of tourist and citizens alike. One of the very most important historical Museums in Nigeria is the National War Museum, Umuahia, Abia.
The God’s Own State is situated in the Eastern part of Nigeria. It’s state-capital is Umuahia and it is also the home of Aba, one of the major commercial cities with the highest population in Abia. Abia, Umuahia State during the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) was the second most powerful state moving the cause of a Biafran Country. It is, however,not surprising that after the fall of Enugu, Umuahia City becomes the capital of Biafra. Right after the war, there was need to perserve relics, warships, military aircrafts, armoured tanks, and “Ogbunigwe” (bombs produced locally by Biafra during the Nigera Civil War).
The National War Museum, Umuahia was established in 1985 and commissioned for the preservance of Nigerian war records. The museum’s location was chosen for two reasons; the first was the significance of the city as the second capital of ‘Biafra’. It was also chosen because Umuahia served as home to the Ojukwu Bunker which was a base for communication- it was where the bunker housing the famous shortwave radio “the Voice of Biafra” was transmitted from and strategic Biafran meetings were held. 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 museum has three galleries that cover traditional warfare, the armed forces and the Nigerian Civil War weapon galleries. One of the most attractive traditional Warfare relics housed is the Ogbunigwe. The first gallery display is the prehistoric war section where some of the weapons used in the pre-colonial civil disturbances, during communal and inter-tribal wars and the Nigerian Civil War are on display. They include: spears, shields, bows and arrows. Metal war vests that warriors used to protect themselves.
The next gallery section leads to the Nigerian Armed Forces gallery. There are the ceremonial uniforms on display. One may question the importance of this section, it’s purpose for being among the display in the War Museum. It is important for those unfamiliar with the military insignia, object, means that indicates and differentiate military rank. Following this section is the bunker house. At the entrance, there 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. Walking down the stairs to the Bunker house, pictures of protagonists of the war from both Nigerian and Biafran sides. The bunker was a perfect decoy and very difficult for any enemy aircraft to locate without any prior information. It is about 30 feet deep having wavelike hills. It is famous for housing the shortwave dio “the Voice of Biafra”. There is a transmission studio and a huge transmitter of Radio Biafra.
National War Museum, Umuahia is located such that it can be quite easy for tourists, as commercial vehicles, cabs and tricycles are popularly known as Keke napep are readily available to convey passengers to the museum at a low cost. The National War Museum is usually open between 10 am and 6 pm daily. Service fee for adults is N 100.00 (One Hundred Naira Only) while children are charged N 50.00 (Fifty Naira Only). Although, photography is not allowed inside the galleries of the museum but it is a sure stop for visiting.