Rethinking Pan-Africanism and Nationalism in Africa: The Dilemma of Nation-Building in Nigeria

Fred Ekpe F. Ayokhai, Peter Wilfred Naankiel


After over fifty years of independence, many African states are steeped in the crisis of nation-building. Many have either witnessed sectarian violent conflict or are currently going through one. This has impacted negatively on socio-economic development across the continent. With many African states either failing or at the verge of failing, the future of nation-building in Africa appears not only bleak but also gravitating towards a justification of the thesis of colonisation that Africans are incapable of developing state systems without the intervention of the outsider – the West. Some scholars have blamed territorial nationalism for the nation-building deficit in Africa. Nigeria, the most populous nation of blacks in the world, is a typical illustration of a state currently steeped in the crisis of nation-building in Africa. This study interrogates her nation-building experience with a view to locating the roots of the problem and suggesting possible ways of fixing it. It finds that at the heart of the crisis of nation-building is the absence of an enabling political ideology. The study argues that the ideologies of nationalism and Pan-Africanism are not necessarily antithetical but mutually reinforcing. Consequently, the failure of nation-building in Africa as illustrated by the existential reality of Nigeria is the failure to realize the complementarities of nationalism and Pan-Africanism as ideologies of nation-building. It is recommended therefore that Nigeria and other African states should adopt Pan-Africanism as their political ideology as a way out of the crisis of nation-building in the twenty-first century.

Keywords: Pan-Africanism, nationalism, ideology, nation-building, Nigeria, Africa

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3178 ISSN (Online)2225-0964

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