Nigeria and the 'making' of combative identities

Muhammad Dan Suleiman*, Benjamin Maiangwa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The contemporary Nigerian state continues to be entrapped by a ferocious web of identity politics. Since ethno-religious fault lines were created and empowered by the colonial project, and despite the utilization of various socio-historical and political arrangements in post-independence Nigeria, the country is still cast under the shadows of the intransigencies associated with combative identity crisis. This article brings a fresh perspective on this subject, by drawing concurrently from three theoretical frameworks–‘Invention of Tradition’ by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, ‘Imagined Communities’ by Benedict Anderson, and crucially, “native-settler” as political identities by scholars like Mahmood Mamdani. Consequently, the article posits that identity formation in Nigeria has traveled the trajectories of the ‘invented,’ and the ‘imagined,’ culminating into the ‘made.’ The article employs a decolonial framework to argue for a renewed and progressive approach to national identity formation in Nigeria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-277
Number of pages18
JournalAfrican Identities
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017


  • colonial legacies
  • combative identities
  • decoloniality
  • ethnopolitics
  • Nigeria


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