oa Africa Insight - Ethnic Conflict Management in Nigeria

Volume 32, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



From Chiapas to Chechnya, from India to Indonesia and from Algeria and Angola to Afghanistan, the world is witnessing a return to the ""cult of origins"" where difference often means destruction, destitution, despair and death. This was most graphically illustrated in the killing fields of Rwanda in 1994 where almost one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Ironically, the Rwandan genocide took place at a time when South Africans were freeing themselves from the last vestiges of apartheid and where differences were exalted in the notion of a ""rainbow nation"". This irony, however, underscores an underlying truism: that the politics of identity can be both benign and malign. It is natural for people to associate with each other. One way in which people associate is through ethnic groups. These groups provide people with a sense of belonging and identity and can thus playa vital role in modern society where many people feel lonely and alienated. However, ethnic groups can be a source of division and strong ethnic identities have frequently led to conflict and bloodshed. Nigerian society has seen many upheavals over the past century and ethnic identification and ethnic conflict have been causes as well as outcomes of much of the uncertainty and instability in Nigeria.

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