Pita Ogaba Agbese
Africa Today. Vol. 43, No. 2, Conflict and Conflict Resolution in Africa (Apr. - Jun., 1996), pp. 139-156

Ethnic Conflicts and Hometown Associations: An Analysis of the Experience of the Agila Development Association

This paper shows that ethnicity may not always be invoked when two or more ethnic groups are involved in a conflict. Using land disputes between the Igbo and Idoma of Nigeria as an example, the paper demonstrates that a conflict between two ethnic groups is not necessarily depicted as an ethnic conflict even when the conflict ostensibly appears to be rooted in ethnicity.

In addition, the way the conflict is explained by the contesting groups represents a conscious political choice. Political leaders may choose to depict a conflict between two culturally distinct groups in ethnic terms, or they may choose several alternative bases. 

The essay analyses the role of hometown associations in political conflicts. It focuses on the case of the Agila Development Association (ADA), formed in Zaria in 1964, which rejected the ethnic label in depicting conflicts over a disputed piece of land between the Igbo and the people of Agila, who are Idoma-speaking.

The paper demonstrates that the leaders of the ADA deliberately chose to characterize the conflict in nonethnic terms to enhance the probability of a victory over the Igbo. Data were collected in Nigeria in 1993 and 1994.

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