Two Patterns of Migration (Nigeria and the United States): Race, Ethnicity, and the Politics of Immigration

By Onwubu, Emeka | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

Two Patterns of Migration (Nigeria and the United States): Race, Ethnicity, and the Politics of Immigration


Onwubu, Emeka, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Introduction

The investigation of contemporary patterns of migration undertaken here, assumes a rather limited focus on two modern societies that are at once alike in their heterogeneous configurations, and radically dissimilar in their social composition and orientations. The one is identified with the so-called "Third World"; the other, with the self-designated "Developed World", to wit: Nigeria and the United States of America, respectively. By coincidence, the former is the writer's country of birth; the latter, his adopted country of citizenship (1).

Two variants are identified for analytical purposes, to wit: internal migration (or what I had designated in an earlier study as the "Igbo Diaspora) (2) in the case of Nigeria; and [initially primarily] seasonal labour migration (in the case of the United States).

British colonialism in the African continent, it could be argued, was a logical outcome of the termination of the anti-slavery crusade that it had spearheaded. The subsequent Nigerian nationality (3) may be viewed as the final denouement of that great crusade. It was--and still remains--an impressive colossus erected upon a fragile foundation, the structural integrity of which had been compromised from the inception by a virtually total absence of internal ethnic coherence. Nigerian nationalism, as such, had been still-born; and all attempts at resuscitation and resurrection have been, and will continue to be, vitiated by the internal dynamics of enduring inter-ethnic antagonisms, mediated by deep-rooted ethnic identity and loyalty. Consequently, a truly authentic Nigerian nationalism has hitherto never really taken root in that West-African societal congeries.

The weakness of Nigerian nationality, ironically, devolves upon the strength and solidity of its fractious, ethnic components. Nigerian nationalism, as such, is at once indigenous and fragmented.

Modern United States of America was founded, in the first instance, upon land acquisition and appropriations of dubious legality. Its subsequent augmentation (and development by accretion) devolved upon abrasive territorial expropriation. American (4) Nationalism, as such, is essentially received nationalism because introduced to, and associated with, a societal congeries of non-indigenous peoples--hereafter referred to as interloper nationalism.

The strength and solidity of American nationalism, ironically, flows from the fragility of each of the composite congeries. The otherwise centrifugally aligned composite states appear to affirm their common bond in a strong America nationality. It seems appropriate to proceed, at this juncture, with the explication of some central concepts and usages that will feature in the present undertaking.

Conceptual Framework

By an ethnic community here, it will be understood to mean a cultural-linguistic community associated with an indigenous cultural rubric, centered on an indigenous language.

To be indigenous to a specific locale, a community shall have, it is proposed, been continuously associated with that place for at least a millenniums (5) (more or less). (6)

By an Internal (Diasporan) Migration we shall mean that occurring among, and confined to, people(s) within a national societal congeries, and from one composite community to another, whether permanent or temporary. In other words, we define internal (indigenous) migration as an intra-national diasporic migration.

Finally, we shall understand by a nation, a politically defined societal congeries that has been accepted and recognized as such, by the international community.

The Nature of Migration

The history of migration is, in fact, coterminous with the history of human society itself. We take it to be a given, that members of a human community will continue to live in a specific locale if they are, in fact, completely happy and satisfied with their life and activities in the said locale. …

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