Printer Friendly

Negotiating relationships in a mixed religious society: Islam among the Igbo of Southeast Nigeria.


The Igbo territory east of the River Niger is the major ethnic nation in Southeast Nigeria, the former Eastern Region. Located also within the region are the Efik, Ibibio, Ijaw, and a number of smaller ethnic communities. (1) Southeast Nigeria generally, and Igboland in particular, have been repeatedly described as a predominantly Christian region. (2) Only a few years back, a Catholic priest and scholar referred to Igboland as one of Africa's homogenous Christian regions. (3) The Igbo Christian identity at present does not derive from the total absence of other religious groups within it but the result of considerably few numbers of members of other faiths (indigenous Igbo religion, Eastern religions, and esoteric religions) vis-a-vis Christians in Igboland. While still retaining its profile as Nigeria's most populous Christian region, Igboland began after the Nigeria-Biafra war (the Nigerian civil war of 1967 to 1970) to manifest tendencies indicative of religious heterogeneity. Indeed, the Nigeria-Biafra war was an important catalyst in the development of an indigenous Muslim community in Igboland, having opened Igboland to a varied range of external influences especially those linked to religion. (4)

This paper considers an important issue relevant for understanding the development of Islam in Igboland since its emergence in the first quarter of the twentieth century: the nature of social interactions (actions, encounters, relations) between Muslims--both migrants and indigenes--and non-Muslims in Igboland. The paper begins with an examination of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in Igboland from the earliest indication of Islam in the area and proceeds to the nature of the relationship among the Igbo of different religious affiliations. In the process it shows the transformation of Igboland since after the Nigeria-Biafra war into a society embracing widely divergent religious philosophies.


Social interaction as used in this paper refers to the changing sequence of social actions between individuals or groups who modify their actions and reactions as a response to the actions of their interacting partner(s). In other words, they are incidents in which people attach meaning to the situation, interpret what they think others are meaning, and respond accordingly. This study utilizes individual and group narratives of daily encounters between members of different religious communities in Igboland. Integral to the discussion are the efforts at coexistence and the attempts to establish spheres of influence by Igbo indigenes differentiated by their religious identities. Archival records and oral data collected from February 2003 until June 2006 from Muslims and non-Muslims of Igbo and other ethnic groups played an important part in this construction. Few interviews were conducted after 2006. Over forty persons of Igbo and non-Igbo origins were interviewed. The majority of the interviewees had primary education. Quite an impressive number had post secondary school certificates. The few persons with no exposure to formal education had the privilege of Qur'anic education. Interviews were held privately at a convenient location to the interviewees. Follow up sessions were held in some cases to clarify issues. Interviewees freely used one of these three languages to share their knowledge: English. Pidgin English, and Igbo.


The Beginning of a Relationship

One parameter for determining group integration in a mixed society is by examining the nature of the interactions of the component units in their daily encounters. Muslims and non-Muslims in Igboland like Muslims and non- Muslims elsewhere are not monolithic communities that interact as blocs. (5) For well over a century the primary element defining and determining the Igbo traditional (conventional) practice was the Igbo religion, itself an important part of that traditional practice. It is often represented with the word omenani. The Igbo religious worldview set the precepts for interpersonal and communal relationships in pre-colonial Igbo towns and villages. It was within this structure that Christianity was introduced in Igboland in 1857. (6)

Following years of successful proselytization, the Igbo in greater numbers acceded to Christian teachings, partly or partially relinquishing their original belief systems and aspects of their conventional practices. Scholars such as Ekechi, Isichei, and Bersselaar (7) have detailed the contestations that ensued from the late nineteenth, to the early twentieth century, as members of these two religious constituencies--Igbo (traditional) religion and Christianity--sought a place for themselves in the homeland despite the goodwill displayed by traditionalists towards Christians and Christianity when the latter was introduced. (8) Christians sought the right to coexist with the traditionalists who were in the majority. The traditionalists, on their part, were determined to preserve the purity of their beliefs and preferred their members to be united under that banner. For about a century there were frictions but these were gradually decreasing in intensity, as Christianity was emerging dominant all over Igboland right into the middle of the twentieth century. With the Christian success, the traditionalists became a minority that nonetheless found some mutual grounds for cooperation with Christians in every day living as the latter borrowed or retained aspects of the social practices, including some religious practices, of the traditionalists. Hence from the early twentieth century the Igbo omenani alongside the Bible concurrently determined the worldview of Igbo Christians.


Just before the frictions triggered by the introduction of Christianity fizzled out, Islam emerged as yet a new religion in the Igbo horizon when the village of Amufie in Enugu Ezike in the old Nsukka Division in northern Igboland adopted a Muslim of Nupe origin known as Ibrahim Aduku. (9) This incident will be discussed later. Suffice to say that the journey of Islam into parts of Igboland was encased in frictions that were caused largely by cultural dissimilarities between the Igbo and Muslim migrants to Igboland. The earliest known cases of friction revolved around local displeasure with Muslim migrants from Northern Nigeria. The issue at stake was their involvement in the British conquest of Igboland. Groups of elephant hunters from Hausa and Nupeland (both in Northern Nigeria), Yorubaland (in Western Nigeria), and some Sierra Leoneans and Ghanaians, had operated at intervals in the jungles of Elele, Onitsha, Ogoja, Enugu, and Abakaliki between 1890 and 1910. (10) In Elele the hunters came at the invitation of the indigenes whose crops were routinely ruined by bands of elephants while in Abakaliki they were invited by Hausa soldiers quartered in the town. Abakaliki rural farmers nonetheless welcomed the hunters as elephants also damaged their crops. (11) By 1910 most hunters had returned home. Few, led by the popular hunter Diko from Kano, settled in the region. Diko was described by the British Resident of Ahoada Division as one of the Africans who took part in the military subjugation of Arochukwu, Bende, Ahoada, Aba, and parts of Ibibioland between 1901 and 1902. He also took part in the "Expedition of Gun Destruction," a colonial subjugation offensive by which the British relieved communities in Southeast Nigeria of their firearms or weapons after military conquest. (12) Dodo, a member of Diko's party, was credited with acting as a guide for the British expeditions to Allua, Igrita, Mbodo and Ebeda, all Ikwerre (Igbo) communities of Ahoada Division, now in Rivers State.

In addition to the involvement of former migrant hunters, the presence, also, of soldiers of Northern Nigerian origin in the 1901-1902 Aro expedition that was christened "a war to end all wars" is significant to our discussion. From the time colonial rule was established in Southern Nigeria, then a separate protectorate from Northern Nigeria, the colonial administrators depended on Hausa soldiers as well as on Yoruba soldiers to bring Igboland under British rule. (13) One would expect afterwards some interactional distance between the Muslim migrants, soldiers included, and the Igbo for the various expeditions had been instructed "to suppress barbarous native customs; to collect all rifles and cap-guns from natives." (14) Burning of houses, farms, barns, and seizure or killing of domestic animals characterized these expeditions. Ottenberg shows indeed that in Abakaliki there was very little contact between the Igbo indigenes and migrants from Northern Nigeria right up to 1960. (15)

Unlike the Nupe and some Hausa, the Igbo fished on a very moderate scale. Fishing was done in few communities such as Onitsha, Ossomari, and Oguta, which were situated along major rivers--the Niger and Oguta Lake. Various Igbo traditions showed that it was a taboo to fish in many villages because of the belief that the fish embodied the souls of the people's ancestors. C. K. Meek reported instances of keen resentment "frequently expressed against itinerant Hausa fishermen who disregarded the feelings of the local inhabitants in this matter." (16) Such disregard of local custom, which occurred at a time when indigenous converts to Christianity displayed similar insensitivity to traditional beliefs and totems became a sore point in the early stages of the Igbo--migrant Muslim relationship in Igboland. This particular grievance was cited among the factors that led to the (Aba) women's war of 1929. (17)

As these incidents were playing themselves out in Owerri and Ahoada Divisions in southern Igboland, a totally different scenario was emerging in northern Igboland with the arrival of Ibrahim Aduku. Aduku was a horse trader from Nupe in the defunct Sokoto Caliphate who first visited Amufie, one of the thirty-three villages of Enugu Ezike around 1909. His visit corresponded with the establishment of a British outpost in that community. Aduku on his part was fleeing British colonial subjugation of the Sokoto caliphate and its environs. Around 1918, Aduku became a citizen of Amufie at the insistence of the elders of that village. (18) Aduku's naturalization was called for by the elders of Amufie, who, out of suspicion over the intentions of the British conquerors, put him forward to represent the community in the newly established Native Court of Enugu Ezike instead of recommending one of their own. (19) Before the death of Aduku in 1931, there were mooted rumblings against his excesses which included acquiring other men's wives among his harem of about sixty women, majority of whom he married to strengthen his political ties. (20) The story of Aduku has become folklore in Amufie and its environs. Many myths have developed around him that allude to his political prowess and dominating personality. (21) An example is this extract from an interview with Adam Usman:
   In Enugu Ezike a northerner came and settled there. He was
   praying for people who had problems and things were
   working for those people ... One day, after he had gotten a
   large following, he decided to be an Eze.... That man was
   in Umuitodo. He became very influential. The elders heard
   that the man had become very influential in Umuitodo. They
   sent a message to him and asked him to leave the town. He
   said he would go nowhere. The people threatened that they
   will deal with him but he remained where he was. At that
   time in Enugu Ezike nobody knew about any army or about
   the white man's gun. Three days to the deadline given to
   him to vacate the town, this stranger went to Bida where the
   colonial contingent was based and brought two soldiers. On
   the last day he was given to leave, he sent two individuals to
   beg the people to come for a settlement of the quarrel
   between him and the community. The people killed one of
   his emissaries and sent back the other to tell him to leave the
   town if he did not want to be killed. He remained adamant.
   When the village warriors besieged him, his soldiers opened
   fire on them. Surprised at the superior weapons, the village
   warriors surrendered and left the man alone. He remained in
   the land and became the ruler of the town. He brought Islam
   to Enugu Ezike. His name was Aduku.... He took people's
   wives and they did nothing about it because they could not
   report to any higher authority ... (22)

The story of Aduku is told in greater detail elsewhere. (23) Two facts emerged from his biography that reflects on his profile as a mediator for Islam in Enugu Ezike. First, it took six years after the death of Aduku before the first indigenous Muslim (Garba Oheme) emerged in any of the thirty-three villages of Enugu Ezike or elsewhere in Igboland. Second, Garba Oheme's conversion to Islam in 1937 occurred in Calabar in the Efik homeland at the instance of an Hausa Muslim migrant. (24) According to Aduku's grandson, Hamza Aduku, majority of Aduku's descendants are Christians and not Muslims. (25) Since 1937, the Igbo have been converting to Islam. Majority of the early converts were from Enugu Ezike and its environs. By location these towns are the closest to North Central and Northern Nigeria.

On the eve of the Nigeria-Biafra war

By the time a distinct indigenous Muslim community emerged in and around Enugu Ezike in the 1950s and the group conversion to Islam in Enohia, Afikpo clan in Abakaliki Division occurred in 1958, Igbo religion and Christianity had managed to reasonably accommodate each other in Igboland. Islam took a long time to find a niche in Igboland. Its breakthrough came when Okpani Egwuani, later Ibrahim Nwagui of Enohia converted to Islam in the late 1940s in Senegal, and on his return to his village in 1958, led the group conversion to Islam of a quarter of Enohia. (26) In actual numbers Ottenberg who witnessed this event records that Enohia Muslim converts were not too many. Nwagui converted persons "who belonged to the related group of patrilineages of which he was a member, wives who had married into these groupings, and a few other Enohia persons." (27) This notwithstanding, Enohia was unmistakably the Igbo community with the highest concentration of Igbo converts to Islam on the eve of the Nigeria-Biafra war.

The Enohia group conversion generated its set of frictions among Igbo Muslims and non-Muslims of that community. When Nwagui attempted, through direct propagation, monetary gifts, and sheer force, to turn Enohia into a Muslim village, refractory voices were heard. Majority opposed Nwagui and his method of transforming the community, which included his destruction of communal shrines and sacred bushes. Dauda Arua described the situation as follows:
   Being a new religion, the environment was hostile to the
   propagation of Islam in Enohia. Majority of the people
   rejected Islam because it was against the religion of their
   ancestors and did not allow them to practice their culture
   fully. (28)

The conflicts that ensued from Nwagui's efforts to establish Islam in Enohia continued beyond 1958 and generated a series of court cases, with the police, the Afikpo Native Authority Court, and the Assistant District Officer all functioning in different capacities as conflict mediators. (29) In 1960 a major dispute erupted at the beginning of the traditional ceremonial season in Enohia. Non-Muslim members of the community sued Muslims for denying them freedom to prepare for their ceremony in the premises of the men's rest house, now used as a mosque by Muslims. In the ruling given by the Native Court, Muslims were fined the sum of fifty pounds for disrupting the peace and ordered to move their mosque away from the premises of the men's rest house. (30) In the following years tensions characterized Muslim--non-Muslim relations in Enohia. Muslims were barred from such social functions as selling in the main Afikpo market when their women violated traditional taboos surrounding trading at the village-group market; and their elders were also banned from sitting with other elders at meetings and other gatherings. (31) The women, in their defense, maintained that as Muslims they were no longer obligated to indigenous custom and therefore should not be bound by village taboos. In Enohia in particular, Christians and traditionalists acted in accord against Muslims in most of the cases. Where their interests differed like in the use of the men's rest house (for the masquerade festival), Christians gave their support to the traditionalists. (32)

Some of the gains Islam made in Igboland before the outbreak of the Nigeria-Biafra war in 1967 with respect to gaining converts were reversed through the anti-Islam policies of the Biafran government. (33) In 1969 Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu who led Biafra (former Eastern Region or Southeast Nigeria) in its war of separation from the Nigerian federation articulated the position of the Igbo, and Biafra, on Islam. The official communication on the war partly located it within a religious matrix, describing the civil war as a conflict against Muslim expansionism in Nigeria, more appropriately in Southeast Nigeria. Ojukwu declares:
   Our struggle has far-reaching significance ... We are the
   latest victims of a wicked collusion between the three
   traditional scourges of the black man--racism, Arab-Muslim
   expansionism and white economic imperialism ... Our
   Biafran ancestors remained immune from the Islamic
   contagion. From the middle years of the last century
   Christianity was established in our land. In this way we came
   to be predominantly Christian people ... (34)

From the time the Republic of Biafra was declared over the Eastern Region, the official policy of the Biafran government required all indigenous Muslims to revert either to their indigenous religion or Christianity. Muslim migrants were ordered out of the region and given a deadline within which they must have complied with the order. The estimated less than two hundred Igbo Muslims (35) were exposed to varying degrees of persecution during the war until rescued by the soldiers of the Nigerian army in the communities they recaptured from Biafran control. Others sneaked out of the region to escape the trauma. Instances of maltreatment recounted were varied. In general, indigenous Muslims were required to renounce Islam. Some had their property destroyed, while many were under surveillance. There were also occasional harassments: few reported physical abuse, and a mosque at Enugu Ezike was destroyed supposedly by the Biafran Civil Defense. Below are two independent narratives by Muslims who witnessed these incidents. The first was by an Igbo Muslim resident of Nsukka town, now a Chief Imam:
   I gave myself an Igbo name during the war. I answered
   Michael Eze. You will find it in my identity card ... During
   the war people knew that I was a Muslim. They also knew
   when I was praying with Hausa Muslims. Some started
   saying "Is this Hausa man still here; what is he still doing?"
   I had to explain that I was Igbo and Muslim and not an
   Hausa man as some misunderstood me to be. When they
   asked me my name, I told them Michael. I started from then
   to use that name. (36)

This second narrative describes events in Enugu Ezike before the outbreak of hostilities in 1967:
   In April, local authorities in Enugu Ezike summoned an
   elders' council to which Igbo Muslims from the different
   villages were invited. They were asked to renounce their
   faith and to take an oath at the ancestral shrine that they will
   no longer practice Islam. Some, out of fear of persecution
   renounced Islam, some ignored the briefings, and others left
   their villages for towns in Benue and Kogi States like
   Akpanya, Odoru, Ogugu, and Okpoo. Those who stayed
   behind lived in fear. Their communities rejected them, they
   were denied justice on civil or criminal cases, denied landed
   property and claims to debts owed them. There were also
   harassments by the Civil Defense. Igbo Muslims were
   seldom seen during the day in those days. (37)

Much effort was expended after the Nigeria-Biafra that ended in 1970 to reintroduce Islam in Igboland. Battered and impoverished from the thirty months' war, the Igbo were less dogmatic about their culture and religious pride. They recognized forthwith the splitting of the Southeast (Eastern Nigeria) by the federal government into the following three states: East Central State (for Igbo speaking areas east of the River Niger), Southeast State (for the Ibibio, Efik, and Ekoi), and Rivers State (for the Ijaw and marginal Igbo groups that have since denounced their Igbo identity). During the period of post-war rehabilitation, Islamic organizations from Northern and Western Nigeria and also from outside Nigeria began to formally extend their activities into Igboland. The first Muslim missionary enterprise occurred in Mbaise in 1972 and was the result of a partnership between some Hausa soldiers, two Saudi Arabian missionaries, and a couple of Igbo traders recently converted to Islam. The missionary project initiated by these Hausa soldiers in the Nigerian Army received financial support from the Nigerian Muslim Headquarters and the Saudi Arabian government. (38) The latter sponsored the construction of a mosque in Mbaise. The traditional ruler of Mbaise, through his representative, gave his perspective on what happened:
   We had a series of cabinet meetings when they came
   especially when they asked to buy land in our community so
   soon after the war. We realized that they were only
   interested in religion and we welcomed them. Their chief
   agent was Mallam Iwuala. They came soon after the war
   with much money. Seeing that hunger was thriving because
   of the just concluded war, people easily gave in ... (39)

A few other attempts were made to revive Islam in places where it was introduced before the war; namely, Enugu Ezike and its environs, Enohia, and Owerri. There were also attempts to extend it to new places. In 1976, Alhaji Abubakar Asabi from Sokoto State, a graduate of the University of Manchester, was a member of a small missionary team, all Hausa, which toured Onitsha, Enugu, Abakaliki, Umuahia, and Port Harcourt preaching Islam. (40) In 1982, a Saudi trained missionary of Ghanaian origin, Sheikh Idris Al-Hasaan, was sent to Enugu, the capital of East Central State, still on the same mission. According to Al-Hassan, besides the migrant Hausa Muslim community "who came for bread," there were less than ten "hidden" Igbo Muslims in the city of Enugu. (41) These converts eventually formed the core of the indigenous Muslim community in the city and together with Al-Hassan started the Islamic Centre at Enugu. By 1984, the indigenous Muslim population in Igboland stood at 3450 persons. (42) With the growing number of indigenous converts to Islam, the hostility towards Muslims began, in some places, to ease off. The situation remained unchanged for places with as yet no convert.

The general perception of Christian-Muslim relations in Africa suggests that Christian and Muslim relations have been more harmonious in the continent than elsewhere in the world. This success story, according to Lissi Rasmussen, derives its weight from the fact that many African families are multi-religious and that Muslims and non-Muslims remain strongly committed to their ethnic identities despite religious differences. (43) Lamin Sanneh, on his part, saw this harmony, and further possibilities of it in the future, as arising from the influence of the African culture on these religious groups and on their relations. He remarks:
   The fact is that Christian and Muslim Africa is for the most
   part enfolded within the larger setting of the old Africa, with
   its deep-rooted hospitality, tolerance, and generosity and it
   would be surprising if nothing of that admirable heritage did
   not survive in the new religions. (44)

This first part of our analysis looked on the individual convert or an emerging small group of converts vis-a-vis the larger society they belonged to. There is very little evidence of acceptance of the convert or his / her integration into the society. Rasmussen and Sanneh's thesis is not as yet true of the Igbo experience perhaps because Islam is still in its emerging state in this part of Africa. Nevertheless, Muslims in lgboland are optimistic that such a situation as described by Rasmussen will emerge by the time Islam would have gained a corresponding foothold, like Christianity, in lgboland. Al-Hassan stated it clearly:
   As my sister you go to church but I am a Muslim. There is
   no amount of pressure that will make me to plot against you....
   Secondly, if at all the Igbo will not embrace Islam en
   masse, they will build understanding, build tolerance, and
   that peaceful coexistence we are talking about will come. (45)

Juggling for a niche m the community

A somewhat different scenario emerges in the Muslim--non-Muslim relationship at the micro level. The Igbo experience from the 1980s onwards shows that there were moments of cooperation among members of these three religious communities wherever they co-existed and there were also times of dissonance. Both situations emerge in various instances of intermingling that occurred at different socio-political levels in different communities. To help with this examination, the organizational structure of the Igbo will be sketched using the works of Ekechi and Harneit-Seivers. (46) Igbo society has various hierarchical levels of social and political organization that become relevant in different circumstances from both the individual's perspective and in terms of socio-political organization and which can be grouped according to their functions.

The diversity and terminological inconsistencies observed from one part of Igboland to the other sometimes makes classification attempts beyond the level of the compound or family (ezi or area)--the basic socio-political unit that constitutes a clearly identifiable residential unit--a little confusing for some. At the family level the oldest male exercises authority on the basis of his position as the intermediary between the family and the ancestors. Basically, several families linked by relatively close kinship relationships form a village sub-section called a "quarter" or "ward" or a "kindred." The ward comprised of about a few hundred people, forms the primary and vital group "for the ordinary affairs of everyday life." (47) Each of these semi-autonomous villages has its own assembly or council whose members are family heads (elders, called oha in vernacular). Every member of the ward, including women and children, can attend the ward's meeting and air his or her view but generally the elders' opinions predominate. (48) Several wards form a village (mba or obodo), (49) which has up to a few thousand inhabitants. Several villages form a village group (obodo) (50) or town, each with a town council that is under the coordination or leadership of town elders (oha obodo). The village group, which today comprises of many thousand or even ten thousands of people, is identified as the highest coherent unit of Igbo social and territorial organization. (51) While much of Igboland has this structure of social organization, for groups in the old Nsukka Division the highest operational level is the village (obodo).

Most matters at the village and village group levels are addressed by their respective councils. General meetings of all sections of the village group were in the past infrequent and remain so presently. Despite the changes that occurred in the sociopolitical system of the Igbo during the colonial period, especially regarding the introduction of warrant chiefs and native courts, the organizational procedure outlined above has survived with few alterations. The obvious ones are the introduction of a "traditional" ruler at the level of the village group and chiefs at the village level.

For a case study of the integration of a marginal group within the mainstream, we will use the village of Obukpa in the old Nsukka Division. Islam was introduced in Obukpa sometime between the late 1930s and 1940s (52) Until 2003 all members of Obukpa village irrespective of religious persuasions intermingled in the public domain in accordance with communal arrangements deriving so much from the omenani, which were already in place. At the level of the ward, members related with each other with as little friction as possible, achieved more or less by avoidance. General meetings, which were the fora for discussing communal welfare, were open to all members--Christians and traditionalists, and Muslims. The only departure was in the manner of participation. Unlike the Christians and traditionalists who participated on individual basis, Muslim participation was through a representative. Muslim members did not directly attend general community meetings. Their representative did so on their behalf as well as on the behalf of the migrant Muslim community in the town. The precedence was set several decades earlier at the onset of the burgeoning migrant Muslim community when a representative was chosen to represent the migrant community and to act as their spokesperson in all matters involving them and their hosts. In most cases this representative was the leader of the migrant community. The present imam at Obukpa, an Igbo, explained the working of the general meeting and the participation of Obukpa Muslims:
   We have a representative who represents us. He is
   Mohammed Odo. The former representative, now late, was
   an indigene of Nupe. Now, Mohammed Odo represents
   Muslims at that meeting. (53)

Further enquiry revealed the reason for the casting of Obukpa Muslims within the community of migrants instead of among the hosts to which they belonged. It was the outcome of the clientele system introduced by migrant Muslims through whom they embraced Islam:
   If you observe, you will see that many Obukpa Muslims
   embraced Islam through Ochiaba, Mallam Shehu, and
   Mallam Ali. It was through these people that they joined
   Islam. If a convert comes from the community to any of
   these persons and requested to be taught Islam--because
   Ochiaba already had a portion of land assigned him by the
   community to settle in--they usually invited their converts
   to remain and live with them so that they can better learn by
   observation how they practiced Islam. That was why most of
   those early converts moved away from where the bulk of the
   community had their homes and lived with migrants.
   Personally, I am from Enugu Ezike but I followed the
   influence of Mohammadu Jiga Ochiaba and came here. I
   lived with him and from his house attended the Qur'anic
   school in Ibagwa. (54)

Mallams Ochiaba, Shehu, and Ali, all migrants to Obukpa from Nupe, who were identified with introducing Islam to the community, had started a clientele arrangement whereby their converts lived with them. Their profiles would suggest that they were Sufi followers whose settlement served as an integrative social device for converts. (55) Encouraging their converts to live with them became the strategy for integrating the converts into the wider Muslim community to facilitate a more successful transfer of knowledge about Islam and its practices to the converts. The Muslim migrant settlement in Obukpa expanded gradually over the decades incorporating within it indigenous Muslim converts. Indigenes and migrants became a group distinguishable from the rest of the community and were represented in the larger community by one of their choosing, always a migrant. The right of representation passed on to an Igbo in 1990 when the last migrant representative, Mohammed Ochiaba, passed away. Religion, while providing a common sense of purpose for its members, (56) can, as in this case, foster the emergence of an exclusive sub- community and one that can potentially engender division if not properly managed. Historically, a normal tendency of migrant communities deals with living apart from the main community or forming a community within a community. This tendency was not always determined by the migrants' ethnic unity. Economic and social considerations have on occasion led to such settlement patterns. Groups that have used this system have ranged from persons belonging to a specific ethnic community to a mixture of people of various ethnic backgrounds sharing something in common such as economic interest and this allows accommodation within the mini community formed. (57)

The experience of Obukpa, as a case study of the integration of a marginal group within the mainstream, is by no means uniform to all of Igboland or even northern Igboland as a whole. Neighboring Alor agu provides a different picture altogether. Here, lineage and village meetings are open to all members whose participation is determined on the basis of their association with the lineage and village and not on their religious identity. Alor agu Muslims have no need for a mediator or representative in their dealings with the rest of the community. All members were expected to attend communal meetings when scheduled and, until the time of this interview, they did so. (58) In 1981, the village of A lor agu built a town hall, the expenses of which were borne by all. The town hall has since remained an important symbol of communal unity in the town because of its strategic function of servicing the annual village gatherings at which projects and issues pertinent to the village are discussed and resolved.

The preference for urban areas in Nigeria since the 1960s has been responsible for the discrimination of the rural areas by various Nigerian governments. (59) Consequently, as urban centers were being developed the rural areas were ignored. After the Nigerian civil war, 1967 to 1970, successive governments have tried to address the problem of rural isolation through creation of more states in the expectation that the new states would trigger rural development. Doubtless, state creation, beyond the elevation of the state capital to an urban center, has not meaningfully reversed the neglect of the rural areas or the absence of infrastructures to boost the living standard and economic circumstances of Nigeria's rural population. The outcome for the Igbo has been the recourse to and dependence on town associations and regular annual village and town meetings as the vehicle for rural development. It is at these meetings that members of a community propose, deliberate, and decide on projects to execute that would enhance their living conditions. Projects agreed upon are accomplished by levied contributions of all adult members. Among the social amenities jointly provided in Alor agu by members of its component religious groups were a primary and a secondary school and the village borehole. (60) Lineage meetings in particular have served religious purposes as well. They have provided avenues for stating individual religious beliefs to members and sometimes for influencing actions or decisions along a desired direction. They have therefore given room on occasion for the integration of divergent opinions that derive from religious commitments and convictions, even though this cannot always be guaranteed. An example is this report of an Easter lineage meeting of 1981 from Ibrahim Okonkwo Eze:
   I told my relations that I would not like my money to be
   used for any other purpose besides what it was meant for. I
   mentioned specifically using it for wine or something like
   that; for instance, the traditionalists borrowing it to meet
   their needs and refund later. My relations promised that they
   would use the funds for what it was intended for and nothing
   more. They even gave it to one of us, a Muslim, to keep
   convincing us that it would not be spent on anything other
   than the building project we contributed it for. (61)

Conflicting views were on occasion expressed on issues brought before a village meeting. These should be understood as differences in subgroup presentations. In Enugu Ezike, for instance, Muslim interviewees reported that their members were not allowed to hold chieftaincy offices. (62) There was no overt legislation to that effect but a 1976 incident--involving the disqualification on the grounds of age of a Muslim candidate for the local chieftaincy position, Alhaji Saibou--was cited as evidence that such a ruling existed. Dauda Ojobe, a member of the selection committee, confirmed the committee's concerns over the candidate's religious identity and their conclusion that if selected "he would impose a jihad and shari'a laws on the community." (63) The timing of the incident and the invocation of a shari'a threat for disqualifying the Muslim candidate suggest some feelings of discomfort towards Muslim members of the community by non-Muslims. For one, the incidence preceded the constitutional debate of 1977 to 1978 on the setting up of a shari'a court of Appeal for Northern Nigeria, whose ripples were felt all over the country. Secondly, since the shari'a law had long been operational in Northern Nigeria, preceding colonial rule, there could have been no other logical reason for the disqualification except that the majority of the people were uncomfortable with Islam and its formal recognition in that community.

It would appear that there were other reasons for the social limitations Igbo Muslims experience in their village communities. In the case of Ibagwa, one of the oldest indigenous Muslims, Ahmed Omeje, had the opinion that Muslims have kept away from chieftaincy and other traditional positions because of the rituals required of an incumbent, which Muslims, as enjoined by the Qur'an, were not to take part in. To him "a Muslim will not wish to assume such an office because he will not comply with the traditional requirements for the office." (64) This view is no longer watertight for within the last three years, there has emerged a Muslim traditional ruler in Igboland--Eze Emetuma of Akabo autonomous community in Oguta, imo State. (65) What is obvious is that the frequency with which Igbo Muslims occupy political positions in their communities corresponds with their numbers. Non-Muslims have an advantage by virtue of the fact that they field far more candidates than Muslims.

The case of Oguta is unique in Igboland where it is still not common to have Muslim traditional chiefs in charge of entire communities. Notwithstanding, at the lower levels of the sociopolitical system Igbo Muslims occupy positions that are hereditary. Hence the oldest man in any ward in the villages of Nsukka Division naturally becomes the onyishi and represents his unit in the village council headed by the traditional ruler that coordinates all component units of that village. Such positions are only relinquished at will. In other places namely Awgu and Mbaise Muslims have served as lineage secretaries and held other positions including retaining membership in the traditional council after their conversion to Islam. (66)

While the Igbo in many localities admit their religious differences and engage in campaigns against each other's religions they have at the same time built a complex network of interactions that mutually tap the benefits of each sub-religious community. Christians make use of charms produced by Muslims with no intention of becoming Muslim. Similarly, Muslims request prayers from Christian confidants and friends during moments of intense challenges. (67) Muslims and Christians alike patronize non-Muslim and Muslim ritual specialists. This depends on what services and special abilities are found in the various sub-religious groups and who needs what from the other. When needs are very urgent or desperate, religious differences are ignored and help is sought from wherever it could be found. (68) This does not cancel out the fact that Christian parents shield their children from influences from Islam in the same way that Muslim parents do for their children from Christianity in particular. Adults regard themselves as more immune to new ideas, in this case religious ideas, than children. Two remarks suggestive of this are reproduced below. The first was by Sheikh Al-Hassan, the Saudi-trained missionary of Ghanaian origin, who has lived and worked in Igboland for over two decades but all this while he left his family in Kaduna in Northern Nigeria:
   I do not know if you have observed the pollution the world
   is talking about. The world is talking about environmental
   pollution. It is restricted to the material aspect. They do not
   care for the spiritual aspect. Children are our responsibility.
   if you expose them to an environment hostile to them it will
   affect them negatively. It is exactly because of this that I
   took pains to let my children have the better of two coins.
   Again, children are products of their environment.
   Environments have different theories and different practices
   and if you are in the minority it is challenging. Let them see
   believers who practice our convictions so that when I talk to
   them they will understand what I am talking about. (69)

The second remark was by the Christian female principal of an Islamic school whose children, at the time of interview, were attending a secular (government) school:
   My children do not school here. Religion is an issue. If they
   come here to study, automatically they will start from
   primary one to be taught about Islam and they may forget
   my own religion and their religious background. If I bring
   them here that means changing them automatically to
   Muslims, which I am not. (70)

Another factor affecting Muslim and non-Muslim relationships is the existence of mutual suspicion over the intentions of the other sub-religious community and the potential designs of the other for dominance in Igboland. Muslims, with reason, appear more vulnerable than non-Muslims. Speaking about the establishment of the Islamic school at Enugu, the Public Relations Officer mentioned the careful processes taken because they "did not want Christians to capitalize on [anything] and cause small trouble for us." (71) Name-calling is a prominent feature of the interactions of Christians and Muslims in Igboland. Muslims do not question Christians' numerical and influential advantage. Perhaps, it may be the reason why many Muslims accidentally or intentionally expend their energies criticizing Christianity and pointing out its flaws or supposed theological weaknesses in relation to Islam. Take for instance this explanation tendered for a few conversions to Islam in parts of Igboland:
   Some are tired of monotonous clapping, dancing, and noise
   making. Some find out that there are too many false
   prophets claiming the ability to perform one miracle or the
   other but when you go behind the curtain you discover that
   it is framed or pre-arranged... Christians have divorced God
   from the scheme of things and have replaced Him with Jesus
   Christ and the Holy Spirit. (72)

Poston cautions that attacks on Christian teachings such as the divinity, crucifixion, and the resurrection of Christ may cause some persons to forsake their beliefs, but may also serve to increase the interest of nominal Christians in the precepts of their faith and in so doing solidify their commitment to the Christian religion. (73) Poston's argument does not apply only to Christianity but extends also to the Igbo religion. Meanwhile, Christians are also not innocent of verbal attacks on Muslims. In Igboland, generally, their emphasis revolves on the Muslim worship pattern of prostration and the concept of the jihad. Poston's counsel therefore is relevant to Christians as well.

The pattern of interaction that has evolved at the family level indicates clear signs of religious diversification. Some degree of accommodation of all members is also emerging. (74) From families that were essentially traditionalists in the early twentieth century, they progressed to a mixture of traditionalists and Christians or purely Christians without traditionalists. Since after the Nigeria-Biafra war, there have been mixtures as diverse as the religions found within the specific community. The important additional element in most cases has been of Muslim members. Although early converts to Islam in northern Igboland had agreed with their spiritual mentors that they would not allow mixed marriages among their members and would only permit their children to marry persons of other faiths on the condition that the non-Muslim partner undertakes to convert to Islam, (75) quite a number of cases can be mentioned involving Muslim men with non-Muslim wives who never converted to Islam. Their population however clearly falls behind those who converted. The preponderance is found among the very well educated. Two life stories will illustrate this development. The first is the story of the barrister, Hamza Aduku, the grandson of Ibrahim Aduku the mediator of Islam in Amufie, Enugu Ezike. The second is about Dauda Ojobe, the local historian of Amufie.

Hamza had his Quranic education simultaneously with his primary education. Secular education took place during the day while the Quranic school was in the evenings. Born to Muslim parents, Hamza's upbringing followed the normal pattern for Muslim children. Thus, he learned to memorize the Quran under a mallam. He never deviated, according to him, from his Muslim heritage despite being educated from the primary to the university level in secular schools with strong Christian (Anglican) bias. In his narrative he explained how he was only able to make sense of Christian religious practice after taking a course on comparative religions at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
   I started my primary school at St Luke's here in Amufie. My
   secondary school was at an Anglican school and my High
   school was at the Methodist College, Uzuakoli. For my
   university studies, I went to England. Naturally, inside me I
   am a Muslim so going to church--I never understood what
   happened there though. When I was in England I had to take
   a course at the School of Oriental Studies, which was
   Comparative Religions, to give me greater depth into
   Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and other popular religions.
   It helped me understand Christianity. Now that we are
   talking about this, from my orientation, there is no
   difference. But during my tender years it didn't mean
   anything to me and I recall that each time what they did at St
   Luke's was that on Monday all who did not attend church
   were called out and given some cane lashes. I accepted that.
   The other issue was the introduction of singing... ! never
   liked singing and it is not part of Muslim worship... But
   again there is a twist to my experience. Like I said I have
   read so much on religion and for me, even though I am
   Muslim, I respect other people's faith. My wife is a
   Christian, I married her in the church and my children are
   baptized. On Sundays, they all go to church. (76)

Hamza Aduku is the only Muslim in his Christian-dominated family. He attends church programs with his family on special occasions while still maintaining his Muslim identity and practicing his faith. He ended the interview with the remark that Islam is the only religion for him and that "Christians themselves are practicing Muslims that are unaware that what they are doing is Islam." (77)

Dauda Ojobe fulfilled a father's wish and at the same time an Islamic religious injunction on multiple marriages. He married the full set of four women enjoined in Islam. Two were Igbo and two were non-Igbo. One of Dauda's non-Igbo wives was a Christian who converted to Islam after their marriage. The two Igbo wives remained non-Muslim, with one belonging to the Igbo religion and the other a Christian. The Igbo religion, Christianity, and Islam have members among the thirteen adult children of Dauda Ojobe. He summarized his story thus: "I have the three religions in my home. I gained more Christians than Muslims..." (78) Using the evidence from these histories, it would appear that where Muslim fathers relinquished the right of determination of the spiritual life of their families their children naturally followed their mother's religion. The stories are also indications of the diversification of religious membership in the family.

A family of five siblings, all married and with their own families, three Muslims and two Christians, presents another interesting case of the nature of interactions between family members belonging to different religions. The two Muslim brothers report:
   We relate well but we keep telling them to join us in Islam
   and they also keep telling us to join them in Christianity. But
   whenever there is a need in the family we solve it together.
   We make our contributions to the community as a family
   unit not minding that we are Muslims and they are
   Christians. For instance, if there is a burial in the family, we
   can eat together if the food is one Islam accepts. If it is not,
   we will not eat with them. When it is time to pray, they pray
   on their own and we pray on our own. (79)

Generally, much of the indigenous customs in Igboland are not observed by Igbo Muslims. Nevertheless, in the old Nsukka Division in particular, Igbo Muslims do not isolate themselves from those practices that have some parallels with their religious observations. One of such is the burial ceremony. Aspects of the Igbo burial process are unacceptable to Muslims in this area. The exception is the "burial feast," which is common in Nsukka communities whereby extended family members of the bereaved family send cooked meals to the family in mourning. Muslim husbands in Enugu Ezike and its surrounding area allow their wives to fulfill this obligation because "Islam does that, too," remarked the imam, Mallam Ibrahim Eze. (80)


This investigation has looked at different levels of interaction between Muslims (including migrants) and non-Muslims in Igboland. One can say that religious-induced tensions, which may not often be very obvious to a casual onlooker, appear more noticeable in the cities than in the villages. In the latter, the various levels of communal interactions and the closeness of life appear to provide avenues for cooperation along a wide range of issues especially after the initial shock of a member's conversion has worn off. The family unit, lineage, and village meetings allow for accommodation of the marginal member quite unlike in the cities where self-absorbed lifestyles have worn thin the bonds of communal existence. Muslims' numerical disadvantage continues to inform, as much as possible, the continuation of the strategy of close cooperation very necessary for accessing immediate assistance from their religious community. This goes together with selective withdrawal from the public space. Additionally, we see the potential for religion to engender division in a heterogeneous community by creating sub-categories that are defined on the basis of religious membership, which in some cases complicate ethnic and other categorizations.


Acknowledgements: The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa--CODESRIA, (2005-2006) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2006-2009) are acknowledged for funding this study.

(1.) In 1999 Igboland was named the southeast geopolitical zone comprising of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States. The restructuring of Nigeria into six geopolitical zones was designed to address lingering administrative and political irregularities in the country arising from the unequal and disputed colonial regional structure that defined Nigerian politics for over half a century. Under the current geopolitical zone structure, the Igbo communities of Ikwerre, Elele, and others in Rivers State; and Anioma in Delta State, now in the new south-south geopolitical zone are excluded from this discussion except where necessary.

(2.) I.R.A. Ozigbo, A History of Igboland in the 20th Century (Enugu: Snaap Press, 1999), p. 5; and, Simon Ottenberg, "Reflections on Igbo culture and society," (unpublished manuscript, 2006), pp. 9-10.

(3.) Columba Nnorom, "Islam in Igboland: Lessons in History." Paper presented at the conference on Igbo Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, April 1-2 (2003). The article is accessible on the web.

(4.) Egodi Uchendu, "Evidence for Islam in Southeast Nigeria," The Social Science Journal 47 (2010), pp. 175-76.

(5.) Benjamin Soares, "Introduction: Muslim-Christian Encounters in Africa," in B. J. Soares (ed.), Muslim-Christian Encounters in Africa (Leiden: BRILL, 2006), p. 2.

(6.) F.K. Ekechi, Missionary Enterprise and Rivalry in Igboland 18571914 (London: Frank Cass, 1971 ).

(7.) Ibid.; Elizabeth Isichei, "Seven Varieties of Ambiguity: Some patterns of Igbo Response to Christian Mission," Journal of Religion in Africa 3 (1970); Elizabeth Isichei, A History of Christianity in Africa: From Antiquity to the Present (Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World Press, 1995); and Dmitri van den Bersselaar, In search of Igbo Identity: Language, Culture and Politics in Nigeria, 1900-1966 (Leiden: Leiden University, 1998).

(8.) Desmond Forristal, The Second Burial of Bishop Shanahan (Dublin: Veritas Publications, 1990), pp. 103-104.

(9.) Uchendu, "Evidence for Islam in Southeast Nigeria," p. 182.

(10.) National Archives Enugu, AHODIST 14/1/436 (1935), "Status of Hausa Chiefs," paragraph 6; Simon Ottenberg, Framers and Townspeople in a Changing Nigeria: Abakaliki during Colonial Times (1905-1960) (Ibadan: Spectrum Books, 2005), pp. 62-64; and Alhaji Haruna Sule, Sarikin Hausawa of Enugu, interview, Enugu, May 2003.

(11.) Simon Ottenberg, Framers and Townspeople in a Changing Nigeria: Abakaliki during Colonial Times (1905-1960), p. 77.

(12.) National Archives Enugu, AHODIST 14/1/217 (1931), "A Report on the History and Organization of the Ikwerre People living in the Elelel and Nkarahia Native Court Areas: Ahoada Division."

(13.) I.R.A. Ozigbo, A History of Igboland in the 20th Century, pp. 33-38.

(14.) Ibid., p. 37.

(15.) Simon Ottenberg, Framers and Townspeople in a Changing Nigeria. Abakaliki during Colonial Times (1905-1960), p. 67.

(16.) C.K. Meek, Law and Authority in a Nigerian Tribe. A Study in Indirect Rule (London: Oxford University Press, 1937), p. 18.

(17.) Ibid.

(18.) Uchendu, "Evidence for Islam in Southeast Nigeria," p. 182.

(19.) National Archives Enugu/OP/1071/ONDIST 12/1/709/1934.

(20.) Interviews with Adam Usman, c. 45 years, Nsukka, May 2003 and Barrister Hamza Aduku, c. 50 years, Amufie, June 2003.

(21.) V.K. Johnsohn, an Assistant District Officer, described Aduku in his Intelligence Report as "an ambitious and powerful Nupe." See National Archives Enugu, OP/1071/ON DIST 12/1/709/1934.

(22.) Adam Usman, interview cited. Hamza Aduku, the grandson of Ibrahim Aduku, in a separate interview confirmed that his grandfather married numerous wives, having at least a wife "from each of the villages." (Barrister Hamza Aduku, interview cited.)

(23.) Egodi Uchendu, "'Evidence for Islam in Southeast Nigeria," pp. 179186.

(24.) Garba Oheme, b. 1908, interview, Amufie, June 2003.

(25.) Barrister Hamza Aduku, interview cited.

(26.) Simon Ottenberg, "A Moslem Igbo Village," Cahiers D'Etudes Africaines XI ( 1971 ), pp. 231-259.

(27.) Ibid., pp. 240-241.

(28.) Alhaji Dauda Arua, interview, Abakaliki, February 2006.

(29.) Simon Ottenberg, "A Moslem Igbo Village."

(30.) Simon Ottenberg, "A Moslem Igbo Village."

(31.) Alhaji Ahmed Onyema, c. 62 years, interview, Ezzamgbo, September 2003.

(32.) Alhaji Dauda Arua, interview cited.

(33.) Odumegwu Ojukwu, The Ahiara Declaration. The Principles of the Biafran Revolution (Umuahia: Government Printers, 1969).

(34.) Ibid.

(35.) Mallam Ahmed Omeje, b. 1936, interview, Ibagwa, May 2003.

(36.) Imam Ibrahim Eze, born 1938, Chief Imam Nsukka Town Central Mosque, interview, Nsukka, March 2003.

(37.) Garba Oheme, interview cited.

(38.) Information on Mbaise came from interviews conducted in February 2006 with the following: Mallam Isa Ekeji (b. 1938), Mallam Isa Ugiri

(b. 1926), Mallam O. Abdullahi (converted to Islam in 1977), and Mr. A. Ibe (converted to Islam in 1987).

(39.) Nze Desmond Njoku, b. 1927, interview, Mbaise, February 2006.

(40.) Alhaji Abubakar Asabi, b. 1954, Chairman, Rivers State Council of Imams and Scholars, interview, Port Harcourt, June 2009.

(41.) Sheikh Idriss Al-Hassan, b. 1957, Director of Islamic Centre, Enugu, interview, Enugu, May 2003.

(42.) This figure was compiled by Abdurrahman Doi with the aid of Islamic religious leaders in igboland. Abdurrahman Doi, Islam in Nigeria (Zaria: Gaskiya Press, 1984), p. 186.

(43.) Lissi Rasmussen, Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (London: British Academic Press, 1993), p. I.

(44.) Lamin Sanneh, Peity and Power: Muslims and Christians in West Africa (New York: Orbis Books, 1996), pp. 23-24.

(45.) Sheikh Idriss Al-Hassan, interview cited.

(46.) F.K. Ekechi, Tradition and Transformation in Eastern Nigeria: A Sociopolitical History of Owerri and its Hinterland, 1902-1947 (Kent: The Kent State University Press, 1989), pp. 142-46; Axel Harneit-Sievers, Making the Igbo 'Town ': Local Communities and the State in Southeastern Nigeria since the late 19th Century, Habilitationsschrift, Universitat Hannover, 2001, p. 44.

(47.) G.I. Jones, "Dual Organization in Ibo Social Structure," Africa 19 (1949), p. 151.

(48.) F.K. Ekechi, Tradition and Transformation in Eastern Nigeria: A Sociopolitical History of Owerri and its Hinterland, 1902-1947, p. 143.

(49.) M. Echeruo, Igbo-English Dictionary (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), p. 269.

(50.) The Igbo translation of "obodo" as town does not imply urban functionality, centrality, or infrastructure. See Harneit-Sievers, Making the Igbo 'Town ": Local Communities and the State in Southeastern Nigeria since the late 19th Century, p. 44.

(51.) G. I. Jones, "Igbo Land Tenure," Africa 19 (1949), p. 308; Harneit- Sievers, Making the Igbo 'Town,' p. 44.

(52.) Imam Hassan Ome, b. 1937, interview, Obukpa, May 2003.

(53.) Ibid.

(54.) Ibid.

(55.) Sheikh Adam Idoko, b. 1958, Chief Imam, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, mosque, interview, Nsukka, June 2003. And, Rasmussen, Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa, p. 21.

(56.) H.O. Danmole, "Religion and Politics in Colonial Northern Nigeria: The Case of Ilorin Emirate,'" The Journal of Religious History 16 (1990), p. 1.

(57.) In the same fashion as migrants from Northern Nigeria--Hausa, Nupe, and Kakanda, generations of migrant Igbo indigenes to other communities have been known to live apart from their hosts and the point of convergence was a unity that was based on shared social circumstances. See Ryan, "In My End is My Beginning," in Benjamin Soares, Muslim Christian Encounters in Africa, pp. 197-1985 Egodi Uchendu, "The growth of Anioma cities," in Toyin Falola and S. J. Salm (eds.), Nigerian Cities (Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World Press, 2003), pp. 153-182.

(58.) Alhaji Idris Okonkwo Eze, b. 1953, interview, Nsukka, May 2003.

(59.) Ousmane Kane, Muslim Modernity in Postcolonial Nigeria (Leiden: Brill, 2003), pp. 50-51.

(60.) Alhaji Ibrahim Okonkwo Eze, interviewed cited.

(61.) Ibid Alor-agu has a relatively considerable population of Muslims placed at around a hundred by Alhaji Eze. Although clearly outnumbered by non-Muslims, they are still a force to be reckoned with.

(62.) Mr. Adam Usman and Mrs. Asmau Shittu, interviews, Nsukka, May 2003.

(63.) Papa Dauda Ojobe, b. 1928, interview, Amufie, May 2003. This incident occurred three years previous to Dauda's conversion to Islam.

(64.) Mallam Ahmed Omeje, interview cited.

(65.) Engr. Yahaya Dutse, President, Association of Muslim Professionals, Rivers State, interview, Rivers State, May 2009; and His Royal Highness (Dr.) C. E. Emetuma of Akabo autonomous community, telephone conversation, April 2010.

(66.) Alhaji Musa Ani, b. 1955, interview, Enugu, May 2003 and Alhaji Isa Ugiri, interview cited.

(67.) Mallam Ibrahim Eze, interview cited.

(68.) Imam Hassan Ome, interview cited.

(69.) Sheikh Al-Hassan, interview cited. In a separate interview with Sheikh Adam Idoko, Chief Imam of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, mosque, he expressed similar views about his children. He also withdrew his children from their former schools and enrolled them in Federal Government Colleges and special Islamic institutions where they would be taught Islamic knowledge, which was not available in their former schools.

(70.) Mrs. C. Okolie, b. 1963, interview, Enugu, May 2003.

(71.) Alhaji Mutui Osuji, b. 1937, Public Relations Officer, Islamic Center, Enugu, interview, Enugu, May 2003.

(72.) Sheikh Al-Hassan, interview cited.

(73.) Larry Poston, Islamic Da'wah in the West: Muslim Missionary Activity and the Dynamics of Conversion to Islam (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 185.

(74.) This, again, cannot always be guaranteed. In many instances there are clear denunciation of the convert. Family members begin to accommodate and tolerate a convert after several attempts to win him back have failed.

(75.) Mallam ibrahim Eze (Obukpa) and Mallam Ahmed Omeje (Ibagwa), interviews cited.

(76.) Barrister Hamza Aduku, interview cited.

(77.) Ibid.

(78.) Papa Dauda Ojobe, interview cited.

(79.) Alhaji Idris Eze and Mallam Ibrahim Eze, interviews cited.

(80.) Mallam Ibrahim Eze, interview cited.

By Egodi Uchendu *

* Dr. Egodi Uchendu is a member of the faculty at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). She teaches in the Department of History and International Studies. She is the convener of a 2010 international conference in Nigeria titled: "Islam in Nigeria's Eastern Region & the Lake Chad Basin." All correspondences on this paper and other related issues should be directed to Dr. Uchendu at: or
COPYRIGHT 2011 Association of Third World Studies, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Uchendu, Egodi
Publication:Journal of Third World Studies
Article Type:Case study
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Sep 22, 2011
Previous Article:Between the devil and the deep blue sea: the displacement of ethnicity by corruption in Nigeria's electoral politics.
Next Article:The academic profession in the Third World: a comparative study.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters