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04.11.2017 | Ausgabe 3-4/2017 Open Access

The Review of Black Political Economy 3-4/2017

Nationalism and Nationalist Agitation in Africa: the Nigerian Trajectory

The Review of Black Political Economy > Ausgabe 3-4/2017
Olusola Olasupo, Isaac Olayide Oladeji, E. O. C. Ijeoma


The need to reclaim African territory – economically, socially, and politically – from imperialism and colonialism united Africans, especially after the Second World War, in pressing for the independence of African nations from colonialism is imperative. This period marked the emergence of Nationalism or Nationalist Movements in Africa. Nationalism presupposes African unity against European domination and rule in Africa or the creation in Africa united ‘nation-states’ as well as their economic and political transformation. Using the Nigerian case as analytical compass, this paper interrogates the concepts of Nationalism and Nationalist Agitations in Africa, especially during the colonial and the postcolonial periods. The paper employs historical and descriptive approaches and relies solely on secondary sources of data. The paper notes that, while all the ethnic-nationalities in Nigeria united against colonial rule and fought for its independence, sooner after independence in October 1960, the country began to divide against itself along ethno-religious-cultural cleavages. This division culminated in the Civil War fought between 1967 and 1970 and the continuous agitations by various ethnic-nationalities that make up the country either for more relevance within the larger Nigerian State or for outright abrogation of the State and creation of ‘our own state’. These agitations are captured by the concept of Self Determination. The paper therefore concludes that there has been serious transformation in the meaning of Nationalism from what it used to mean under colonialism and presently under postcolonial state. The paper notes that this transformation is due in part to the colonial origin of the state itself and the insincerity of the postcolonial African leaders to make the state a ‘nation-state’. To reawaken the Nigerianness nay Africanness nationalism, the paper recommends a political structure, which allows each ethnic-nationality some latitude of self-rule/governance in the likes of genuine federalism. Also there is need for spirited efforts at engendering good, transparent and fair governance, which will rapidly take many Africans out of the mouldy pond of poverty. This, we hope, will not only results in development of the states, but also transfer loyalties of the critical mass of the populace away from their micro ethnic-nationalities back to the state and strengthens the state against centrifugal forces.

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