Accepted paper:

Sectarian purity, social exclusion and conflict in Nigerian cities


Peter-Jazzy Ezeh (University of Nigeria)

Paper short abstract:

In Nigeria urban settlements have grown directly from conflicts resulting from sectarian purity and social exclusion.Two of these new urban areas are direct results of efforts to resolve conflicts. The problem persists because no problem can be solved with the same knowledge that produced it.

Paper long abstract:

Theorists of urbanization anticipate certain commonalities among cities, some of which include secondary-group relationships and secularisation. The paper provides evidence that these factors are usually absent or are tenuous in urbanisation in south-eastern and north-western Nigeria. In-groups are, instead, defined in terms of a melange of religion and ethnicity. This conflation of religion and ethnicity leads to continual eruption of violence occasioning huge losses of life and property. Immigrants from the mostly Muslim northern provenance live in the suburbs called garki, and those from the south (mainly Christians) living in northern cities are in similar concentrations called sabon geri. New urban settlements have grown directly from the conflicts resulting from such social exclusion. I use examples from four cities to illustrate this. Two of those are the direct results of efforts to resolve the conflicts. I will suggest that the intractability of the problem is traceable to attempts to solve it using sectarian purity and social exclusion. A problem cannot be solved with the same knowledge that produced it. It seems in the Nigerian case that for the problem to be solved an ideology that de-emphasizes sectarian purity and social exclusion must be brought in. The paper is the result of a participant observation that I began in 2001 supported by readings of archival and library materials.

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Social Anthropology
Conflict urbanisation and urbanity in Africa