Education, Ethnicity and National Integration in the History of Nigeria: Continuing Problems of Africa's Colonial Legacy

By Davis, Thomas J.; Kalu-Nwiwu, Azubike | The Journal of Negro History, Winter 2001 | Go to article overview

Education, Ethnicity and National Integration in the History of Nigeria: Continuing Problems of Africa's Colonial Legacy


Davis, Thomas J., Kalu-Nwiwu, Azubike, The Journal of Negro History


Nation-building is no simple process. History has demonstrated the difficult, complex, and varied developments needed to unite a people under a government and to create among them a stable cultural, economic, political, and social community. The process has been especially strenuous where the people to be united have included diverse, large groups distinguished by their own customs, language, or separate identity. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, several of the nations that achieved independence during the decolonization of the 1950s and 1960s have continued to be beset by problems of integrating ethnic groups within the nation--as illustrated by the experience of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in West Africa.

The colonial legacy of patently artificial borders drawn for the convenience of European conference tables bequeathed to many newly independent African nations a motley mix of people, each with their own separate ethnic loyalties and traditions. Nigeria's population well illustrates the diverse ethnicity encompassed within sub-Saharan nations that followed in the wake of Ghana's independence in 1957. Nigeria has a multitude of distinct ethnic and linguistic groups. The ethnic contentions among the largest of those groups--the Yoruba, Ibo, and Hausa-Fulani--have littered the pages of the new nation's history. (1)

When Nigeria achieved independence from Great Britain in October 1960, like most other countries decolonized in Africa, it was a nation in name only. It existed as a political and legal entity, not as an effective and emotive identity. It was not a nation in the sense of community and common character. It was a state encompassing many ethnic nations, each claiming their own separate heritage, language, and culture. (2)

At independence, Nigeria's peoples for the most part had not yet come to think of themselves as Nigerians. Ethnic loyalty took precedence over national identity. The nation's people identified themselves primarily as Hausa-Fulani, Ibo, or Yoruba, for example. Their identity as Nigerians lay in the shadow of their tribal and parochial allegiances. (3)

Historical hostilities and rivalries among many of the peoples agglomerated within Nigeria accounted for some of the conflicted sense of common national identity. The colonial legacy contributed significantly, however, to furthering the collision of loyalties in the new nation. For instance, the structure of British colonial administration of the artificially drawn territory restricted development of a national consciousness within the broad expanse of Nigeria's borders. (4)

Britain's practice of indirect rule in colonial Nigeria perpetuated separate ethnic and local identities. By using traditional native institutions and tractable tribal chieftains as their functionaries in exercising the doctrine of indirect rule that colonial administrator Frederick Lugard fashioned, the British sheltered the parochial political patterns of many ethnic groups. Particularly in the north, where Hausa-Fulani tribal leaders resisted European education, indirect rule contributed to the persistence of isolated tribal identity. (5)

British regional government further compounded the persistence of separateness. Although united under a governor, colonial administration from 1906 to 1922 divided Nigeria into the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, which included Lagos, and the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria. That administration was further fragmented into the Northern, Eastern, and Western Regions maintained from 1922 to 1957, with the Federal Territory of Lagos created in 1954. These regions became essentially self-governing in 1960 at the time of Nigeria's independence as a tenuous federation. (6)

The colonial structure maintained ethnic isolation and reinforced it with regionalism--a situation inherited by the independent nation. With the larger ethnic groups dominating the separate political regions, the colonial experience provided little basis for fusing ethnic groups in any common sense of nationalism. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Education, Ethnicity and National Integration in the History of Nigeria: Continuing Problems of Africa's Colonial Legacy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.