While watching the music video Classic Man, there was a scene where Jidenna and Roman GianArthur were in a barber shop. While in the barbershop, there was a sign that was hung on the wall that had the statement “I am a man”. When I saw this sign, I realized that the sign had significance to the civil rights movement in the United States. This “I am a man” sign was from a protest that was held in 1968 when black sanitation workers went on strike to protest the neglect and abuse of its black employees (Conover, 2018). This strike caught the attention of many prolific black leaders of the time including Martin Luther King Jr. and this strike was able to demand safer conditions and better wages for the employees. From looking at the significance of the “I am a man” sign and how black Americans fought for their equality, I wanted to see if the people of Nigeria used similar methods of dealing with oppression. What I found was not what I was expecting.
While I was researching how Nigerians fought against oppression during and after the colonial era, I came across an article that discussed how different ethnicities in Nigeria oppressed and fought each other through battles and even wars to get their demands (Agbiboa & Okem, 2011). This was a big curve ball to me because I was intending on finding articles about how the people of Nigeria came together to fight off the oppression of the Europeans. Clearly, this lead me to the question of why they were fighting themselves and not the Europeans. After reading more of the article, I found out that the “themselves” I was talking about included over 250 distinct ethnic groups, some of which were rivals (Agbiboa & Okem, 2011). After Nigeria got its independence from Britain in 1960, tensions rose in Nigeria that led to a civil war in 1967. This was because of regional differences arising in the country and certain areas of Nigeria tried to take advantage of other areas. For example, the federal government was dominated numerically by the citizens in northern Nigeria and they had intervened with elections in western Nigeria (Agbiboa & Okem, 2011). These actions had led to two military coups in 1966 (Agbiboa & Okem, 2011).
From reading in the article about how different these ethnicities were from one another, I thought it was crazy to have them all formed into one nation. But the reason the nation came about was because of the Geneva Convention and the European nations carving up Africa into colonies. Reading more into this article, I found out that specifically for Nigeria, there was a policy called the amalgamation policy that had a goal of joining the colonies of Britain into one nation (Agbiboa & Okem, 2011). The three colonies were all of separate ethnicities and they would able been able to be functional nations on their own but the amalgamation policy forced the colonies to integrate into one nation. This would be like combining Canada, the United States of America, and Mexico all into one country, there were different ways things were ran in these colonies and integrating them into one nation would not end well. That is exactly what happened in Nigeria because it led to many battles and corrupted leaders in a nation that should have not have existed. The British did a great job in getting out of the mess they had created because they were able to be on the outside looking in on the tension and violence that had emerged in Nigeria.
Agbiboa, Daniel Egiegba, and Andrew Emmanuel Okem. “Unholy Trinity: Assessing the Impact
of Ethnicity and Religion on National Identity in Nigeria.” Peace Research, vol. 43, no. 2,
2011, pp. 98–125. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/44779895.
Conover, Ted. “The Strike That Brought MLK to Memphis.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian
Institution, Jan. 2018, www.smithsonianmag.com/.