In August 1968, TIME described Nigeria's bloody civil war as a conflict without "any solution short of wholesale slaughter." The cover that week featured a reluctant revolutionary named Odumegwu Ojukwu. Ojukwu, who died Nov. 26 at 78, was military governor of the country's oil-rich eastern region, home of the largely Christian Ibo tribe, when an Ibo-led coup overthrew Nigeria's government, leading to bloody pogroms against Ibos in the Muslim north. In response, Ojukwu led his region to secession, creating the short-lived Republic of Biafra. In the war that followed, a million people died, mostly from starvation; TIME described Ibo children with "distended bellies and matchstick limbs." Ojukwu fled in 1970; he later returned to a pardon and a country that still bears the scars of sectarian hatred.