Biafra: Ethnic and Political Identity Construction During the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970)



Akinsitan, Olufemi

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Ethnic identity was defined “as a constructed expression, communicated through textual description, symbols, public displays, rituals, and other practices, which is intended to act or differentiate a group from other groups.”(Buadaeng, 2009) Baudaeng wrote about the Karen people in Burma (Myanmar) and how they constructed their identity. Like Nigeria, Burma was a former British colony and a multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation. According to him, an ethnic group usually share common language, historical origin, cultural characteristics, and geographic territory. In the case of Nigeria, ethnic identity includes common languages, religion (Christianity. Islam and traditional religion), common cultures (mode of dressing, rituals, festivals, ceremonies etc.) and geographical contiguity. Although the major and minor ethnic groups in Nigeria have lived side by side for decades, they maintain distinct and varied identities. Even with inter-tribal wars and Jihad, the minority tribes were able to survive and retain their identities. The aim of this study is to examine how the various ethnic groups in Nigeria (especially the major ones) construct identities and create boundaries.



Hausa-Fulani, Nigeria, Biafra, Ibo, Yoruba, Nigerian Civil War, Ethnicity and Identity Construction