Integrity Research Journals

ISSN: 2811-2407
Model: Open Access/Peer Reviewed
DOI: 10.31248/IJAH
Start Year: 2020

The language factor in the politics of ethnic identity among the West Niger Igbo of Nigeria   |   Article Number: 0060EC391   |   Vol.4 (2) - April 2023

Received Date: 27 December 2022   |   Accepted Date: 21 February 2023  |   Published Date: 30 April 2023

Author:  Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe

Keywords: Nigeria., African languages, ethnic identity, ethnic politics, Igbo language, Igboland

The West Niger Igbo forms one of the six sub-cultural groups of Igboland. The other five sub-groups include: Northern, Southern, Northeastern, or what Afigbo called Ogu-Ukwu, Southeastern or Cross River, and Riverain. In fact substantial parts of West Niger, Northern, and Southern sub-groups constitute the Riverain sub-group. Although all the six sub-groups have cultural interfaces at their borderlands with neighbouring ethnic groups which often generate multi-cultural identity characteristics, yet in most cases Igbo remains the major spoken language. Under such circumstances there has always been the question of identity definition founded on the three ethno-historical variables of origin, culture, and language. And among the six sub-groups there is nowhere this question of identity definition runs higher than among the West Niger Igbo. This question has often been centred on which among the three variables forms the fundamental basis of identity definition. In other words, what defines a man as an Igbo by ethnic classification? In this paper, we have decided to look into this fundamental question of identity definition among the West Niger Igbo in the midst of denials and counter-denials of Igbo identity by some members of the sub-group. It is expected that the work will go a long way in resolving some fundamental aspects of this intractable controversy. In pursuing this objective, the work adopts historical methodology constructed on diachronic approach within the circles of linguistic and ethnographical sources.

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