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Ethnicity and religious violence in Nigeria

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Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies


Guruge, Ananda W. P.
Capitanio, Joshua
Long, Darui


In media reports and news about violence in Nigeria what is mostly heard about is religious violence. Most of the publications have focused mainly on the contributions of religious belief and practices on such acts of violence. The argument has been that religious zealots, bigots, extremists as well as fundamentalists have continued to wreak havoc in the country. True enough many acts of violence carried out in Nigeria are perpetrated under the umbrella of religion. But the problem is more complex than simply associating the violence with religion. In these discussions and write-ups about the causes of violence an important factor has often received little attention or left out completely. That factor is ethnicity. Religious differences and political differences, the struggle for oil revenue to mention but a few do cause violence in the country but not in the same magnitude as ethnicity. Nigeria is a multi-ethnic nation and the ethnic diversity has not been properly managed over the years. Ethnic differences contribute to violence in greater magnitude than often discussed.

There has been and will continue to be the urgent desire to proffer solutions to the incessant acts of violence in Nigeria in order to assist the nation move forward. These solutions will be difficult to figure out unless the major causation factors are discovered, discussed and addressed. This is why it is necessary to examine the struggle among the ethnic groups in the country as a necessary factor that causes violence. In the surface it might look like religious violence, but underneath the entire episode seems to lie a strong inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic connection. This dissertation promises to explore and analyze such ethnic perspectives to the religious violence. It examines also how the various causes of violence are somehow tied and/or connected to each other.

Degree Granter

University of the West



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