NORTHERN IDENTITY AND THE POLITICS OF CULTURE IN NIGERIA 1945-1966

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NORTHERN IDENTITY AND THE POLITICS OF CULTURE IN NIGERIA 1945-1966

Abstract:

The thesis begins with a review of the literature on Nigerian nationalism, in which it is argued that we can also speak of something called ‘Northern nationalism’, despite the rarity of demands for separate statehood. The period of study is defined by political events – the end of the Second World War and the military coup of January 1966 – because Northern identity was fundamentally a political phenomenon, conditioned by the important events of the day. It was, however, expressed in cultural terms. The events described by the thesis can, it is argued, be divided into three loosely overlapping periods. In the first (c. 1945-1953), Northern identity was in a fluid state, lacking definition. In the second (c. 1953-1962), Northern nationalists asserted the primacy of Nigeria’s regional boundaries over any other demands for loyalty. This was largely in reaction to an older One-Nigeria nationalism, articulated by southern intellectuals. In the third period (c. 1962 1964), Northern nationalism became more assertive and confident, dominating the Federation. 3 After a prologue discussing education, religion and journalism, this study re-examines the genesis of political parties in Northern Nigeria after the Second World War, before tracing the development of Northern nationalism during the period of legal and administrative reform prior to independence. It is argued that Northern identity was a composite of existing identities, which were themselves undergoing constant reinterpretation. Yet this amalgam was centred on loyalty to the emirates and a very broad conception of Hausa identity, generating contradictions for Northerners who did not share these markers. Such contradictions are discussed with reference to three specific areas: Bida town, Idoma Division and the Northern Cameroons. The thesis then looks at the development of a body of symbols that reinforced Northern identity and underlined regional autonomy, before discussing attitudes in the press, towards the end of the First Republic.

NORTHERN IDENTITY AND THE POLITICS OF CULTURE IN NIGERIA 1945-1966

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