Genocide, Oppression, Ambivalence: Online Narratives of Identity and Religion in Postcolonial Nigeria1

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Sokfa F John


Digital media platforms have emerged as important socio-cultural sites that enable the engagement of historical and contemporary contestations around religion and identity against the background of ethnoreligious conflicts and social tensions in Nigeria. The post-election violence of 2011 and subsequent mass killings of mostly Christians in rural Southern Kaduna saw the emergence of several online groups and practices contesting these, and other forms of oppression and violence (real or imagined) in Southern Kaduna. This article details a study that applied a postcolonial perspective to analyse the content of one such online forum. It identified two dominant narratives on the forum. In the first, users represent Southern Kaduna Christians as oppressed and experiencing genocide; and in the second, forum users reveal an ambivalence of admiration and revulsion in the ways they construct the identity, religion and privileges of Hausa-Fulani Muslims, viewed as the oppressor. The study also shows that forum users were more likely to be critical of religion during conversations about preferences regarding political candidates and elections. I argue, among other things, that the self-descriptions of Southern Kaduna people as oppressed and endangered, are more than mere descriptions of experiences but can also be viewed as forms of identity. Thus, to better understand peoples such as Southern Kaduna and their experiences in the context of social conflicts, their identities need to be analyzed beyond the usual limited focus on religion and ethnicity.


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How to Cite
John, S. (2018). Genocide, Oppression, Ambivalence: Online Narratives of Identity and Religion in Postcolonial Nigeria1. Alternation Journal, (23), 34-59. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Sokfa F John, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Adjunct Lecturer
Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary