Ethnicity in Africa: Euphemism for Political Pluralism

International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS) | Volume II, Issue X, October 2018 | ISSN 2454–6186

Ethnicity in Africa: Euphemism for Political Pluralism

Yahaya Yakubu

 Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Dept. of Political Science & Int’l Relations, Nile University of Nigeria

Abstract: – Contrary to orthodox understanding which presupposes ethnicity as the bane of the instabilities that defines contemporary African. This study examines the existence of plausible properties of pluralism inherent in ethnic heterogeneity. Upon analyzing primary data using the online data analysis tool by Afrobarometer and reviewing relevant literature; the study argue the lacuna created by the in-existence of an organised and proficient civil society, resonates the reach of ethnicity in the region. Furthermore, it is of the opinion that ethnicity is not only existential; it constitutes the thorn of individual and group identity in contemporary African states. In its capacity, ethnicity remains of the most effective social mobility and collective action mechanism in contemporary Africa. The study concludes by arguing ethnicity as not problematic, rather it is problematized by ethnic entrepreneurs.

Keywords: Ethnicity, Identity, Political Pluralism, Civil Society and Biafran Agitators.


Being the second largest continent in the contemporary world, Africa remains of the most heterogeneous societies. Stretching from the Mediterranean in the North, Atlantic in the South, the continent houses a population size of an estimated 500 million inhabitants, which according to Africa Holocaust is made up of about three thousand ethnic groups and home to over thousand spoken dialects. Owing to the societal pervasion inherent in colonial imperialism, the underlying ethnic groups were coercively amalgamated in an arbitrarily fashion, accounting for the emergence of modern states in the African continent. Consequentially, the inability to integrate competing ethnic groups has resulted in civil unrest and a myriad of social instabilities. In several instances ethnicity has fuelled political secessions, sustained societal disintegration, as it has also produced a society marred by an unending plethora of dual identity crisis.

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