Nigeria’s Continuing Agony (RELS 348)

In this article, “Boko Haram: How a Militant Islamist Group Emerged in Nigeria”, on the website of the Gatestone Institute, March 11, 2015, Femi Owolade talks about the reasons behind the emergence of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Boko Haram is an Islamic militant group in Nigeria that opposes western culture.

One question the author asks in this article is about the true motive behind Boko Haram activities within Nigeria. He discusses the history of Boko Haram, explaining the divide between northern and southern Nigeria due to British colonial movements. The British rule had influenced the locals through western teachings and caused a rift between the north and south Nigeria due to uneven treatment. The British civilized the northern Nigerians because they were more united than the south, which consisted of small ethnic groups. The founder of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf saw an opportunity at that time and turned the locals against the British by blaming them for the corrupted government. The article goes on to explain the increase of violent activities by Boko Haram after the appointment of President Jonathan who had been criticized to favor the ethnic groups in Southern Nigeria. Concluding the article, the author states that he believes that the Boko Haram didn’t just emerge as a response to the north – south divide, but rather due to the continuous influence of British colonization within Nigeria.

Looking at the history of Boko haram through this article, I agree with the fact that Boko Haram is not just a direct result of corrupted government or feud between north – south. It’s rather a result of ongoing socioeconomic underdevelopment in Nigeria. Based on our class discussion, about the North Atlantic slave trade activities, one must ask if slave trade and colonialism from Europe are the root causes of emergence of Boko Haram and Nigeria’s underdevelopment today. After reading this article, I think that the colonialism in Africa had drained Nigeria of its resources and people because the slaves had never received reasonable compensation for their work. The human needs theory of social conflicts, explains that all humans have basic needs that they seek to fulfill and failure to meet these needs could lead to the outbreak of violent conflict and that is exactly what we have seen throughout Nigeria’s history. As Dr.Hexham stated in class, In contrary to the Greek and Roman empires who rose to high position within the society, the Atlantic slaves were never able to build themselves out of the slavery or gain freedom even after they earned enough money. I believe that the poverty and brutality of Atlantic slave trade had a direct impact on Nigeria causing groups like Boko Haram to rise. British colonialism has impacted the country’s ability to engage in widespread trade or other activities that would have promoted economic development. Nigeria has faced a prolonged period of instability and violence — and not solely because of Boko Haram but also due to the poverty and lack of development from the era of colonialism.

MK #uwreligion


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