ASAUK Biennial Conference 2008
'The Presence of the Past? Africa in the 21st Century'
Date and Time 13th September, 2008 at 09:00
Chair: Rita Abrahamsen (Aberystwyth)
Inter-Ethnic Hostilities and the Challenge of conflict Transformation in Africa: Interrogating the potentials of de-partitioning thesis
Africa would continue to face dilemmas of protracted inter-ethnic contestations and the challenge of nation-building for its paucity of effective conflict transformative strategies required for achieving sustainable peace and stability. This projection is informed by the ease of transition from one severe crisis to the other in the continent which brings to sharp focus the fragility, incompetent character, and the ineptitude of post-colonial states in Africa to amicably manage internal conflicts to achieve peace. Vulnerability to conflicts arising from their fragility is as a result of the illogical colonial partitioning and architecturing, which arbitrarily amalgamated the varied ethnic nationalities into one political unit devoid of the desired naturally-induced inter-identity harmonious relations. Consequently, the ensued multi-cultural and multi-linguistic backgrounds of the states have become very hard to manage and be converted to national integration and unity, and thereby constantly generate inter-ethno-religious hostilities. The incessant inter-ethnic hostilities and the adverse impact on regional peace, security, stability and sustainable development have ignited the idea of reversing the colonial partitioning and adopting de-partitioning of the hitherto multi-ethnic African states as an alternative conflict management strategy for achieving peace. The central theoretical debate and problematiques that confront this study therefore are that: How far can the revisionist de-partitioning thesis help resolve the historical and protracted inter-ethnic divisions in Africa? Is returning Africa to the pre-colonial geo-political status quo ante entirely feasible and viable? What is the implication of such proposition in international law and the contemporary globalized world?
Ethnicism, Social Conflict and Nation Building in Africa: the experience of Southern Nigeria
This essay is a discourse on social conflicts inherent in African nation building with special reference to southern Nigeria. What I intend to in this work, is an attempt to employ the methodology of critical analysis to examine the phenomenon of social conflict that invariably engenders social schism in southern Nigerian social and political development. The main thesis of my argument, the basic element of analysis, the heart of the matter of this essay is that most social conflicts especially among the ethnic nationalities are the phenomenon of façade democracy in practice in Nigeria. The argument here is that most ethnic agitation, political unrest and cleavages arise as a result of the improper adherence to the principles and practice of democracy, peace-building and conflict resolution. These conflicts could be resolved or addressed if the ruled and the rulers make conscious efforts to ensure proper democratic practice and the rule of law. It is only then that the present Nigerian State can emerge from the present state of violence, conflict and insecurity which has implications on their bodies and borders in a global age.
Dr Austin N. Nosike, a leading African Scholar and Human Rights Activist is President, Development Africa Consortium, Port Harcourt-Nigeria and Editor, African Journal of Development Studies. Since the 1990s, Dr Nosike has held several teaching, research and consulting positions including serving as Consultant to the African Union Commission, Addis Ababa. He has over 40 publications and received several prizes, fellowships and honours.email:email@example.com
Theorizing the Cultural Politics of Narratives of conflicts in the discourse of Nigeria’s Ethnic political conflicts
Narratives about ethnic conflicts are dynamic conversations that create individual and collective meanings. They have political implications as well as cultural significance, identity as well as historical imaginaries through which the individual and the group appropriate symbols and erect simple memorials. While the stories continue to recreate shocking experiences of the past in the present, people at the same time employ them to develop new ways of ethnic knowledge and behaviour and as part of an adaptive strategy to remember who they are and in establishing their own identity. In turn this not only leads to ethnic (mis)information but also potentially expand the space of social violence. Exploring the theoretical ramifications of these, the study analyzes how such stories structurally configure ethnic selfhood and ethnic otherness, and establish collective self-affirmation, common experience and transform protracted conflicts. Specifically, it draws from discourse and phenomenological inquiries to contend with the discontinuous effects of popular stories of conflicts in the aggravation and transformation of protracted ethno-political conflicts in Nigeria. The study is framed in terms of how the discourse and phenomenality of song-tales, folklore, metaphors, anecdotes, proverbs, folkhumour and ballads provide “conflict categories” and “violence machines” in Nigeria’s perennial problem of ethnic violence. The study reads the genres as texts. It argues that they constitute critical arsenal in the exacerbation of conflicts as they perform images, meanings and consciousness that shape and sharpen ethnic subjectivity and which involve profound subtleties that lead almost immediately to the complex role of language, memory and identity in Nigeria’s ethnic conflict experiences.