IAAJAH - IGWEBUIKE: An African Journal of Arts and Humanities
Vol. 8 No. 3, 2022
COLONIALISM, URBANIZATION AND THE PAN-IGBO CONSCIOUSNESS AND IDENTITY IN NIGERIA, 1900-1960
Nwachukwu J. Obiakor & Kingsley Okwudili Ibeh

ABSTRACT

Scholarly works abound on the life and history of the Igbo people of Nigeria. The major point of convergence of most of these historical literatures is their espousal of the resilience and I-can-do spirit of the Igbo, as well as the Igbo manís proclivity to have a say in what concerns him. The ontological basis for these traits could be found in the republican worldview of the Igbo, which hallows independence, hard work and egalitarianism. On the other hand, there are aspects of Igbo history where ethnographers and historians hold divergent views and which have thus divided them. The first is the issue of the historical origin of the Igbo and the other wherein this work anchors itself is the evolution of pan Igbo identity or Igbo ethnicity: did pan-Igboism or Pan-Igbo idea predate colonial rule or was it necessitated by the socio-economic novelties consequent upon the colonial rule? While few scholars staunchly hold that pan-Igboism existed long before European incursion; some others differ, and argue that the pan Igbo idea or panIgboism itself came only in the face of European domination and thus, pan-igboism is as colonial a product as the nation Nigeria. The later claim seem more convincing to any historian who is at home with the pre-colonial socio-political system of the Igbo, which has the village as the highest unit and each of this villages was as independent, autonomous and sovereign as any of those Central European polities created by the Westphalia treaty of January 30,1648. However, it could be observed that Igbo ethnicity did not totally and directly evolve in the face of European domination. It was rather spurred by the colonially motivated inter-ethnic rivalry that characterized the colonial urban centers from the 1930ís. Thus, the study concludes that while the colonial urban centers were the loci of the development of Igbo ethnicity, inter-ethnic rivalry resulting from the heterogeneity of urban centres in colonial Nigeria was its raison d'etre.

Keywords: Colonialism, Urbanization, Ethnic Identity, Primordalism, Consciousness
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