A postcolonial critique of religion and ethnicity in Southern Kaduna with specific reference to an online forum.
John, Sokfa Francis.
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Against the background of ethnic and religious relations and conflicts in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, this study examined the emerging social and cultural spaces on which religious and ethnic identities are contested, such as the internet; and the religious forms and ideological practices that are (re)produced and invoked on such spaces to create imaginations of identity and for othering. I employ postcolonial theory and research in digital religion to specifically examine a Southern Kaduna Online Forum and the prevailing representation on the forum. I analyze a two-year worth of Online Forum’s content (2013-2014), which I complemented with a self-administered online survey. The online survey results indicate that majority of respondents were relatively young (ages 20-40), male and Christians belonging to the several ethnicities of Southern Kaduna. Most respondents have been members of the Online Forum for over 2 years, and identified more universal goals as their motivations for joining, such as, to pursue Southern Kaduna interest, support state creation and to promote peace, although their visions of peace differ. In addition, respondents viewed strategies such as interfaith dialogue and prayer as less likely to bring about peace in Kaduna; while political solutions such as state creation and equal political representation were viewed as more likely to bring about peace. In my analysis of the Forum’s 2-year content, I identified key narratives through which Southern Kaduna Christian Self, Hausa-Fulani Muslim Other, and Religion are constructed and depicted by Online Forum users. Generally, Southern Kaduna Christians are imagined as marginalized, loyal, non-violent, and morally superior, while Hausa-Fulani Muslims are imagined as suspicious, inferior, aggressive and rigidly religious. Online Forum members further critically engage in conflicting representation of religion both as a problem to society which causes retrogression, and as an intrinsic part of society which cannot be particularly separated from politics. Among other things, I argue that Online representation emerges out of offline conflicts, and reflect varying degrees and intensity of offline conflicts. I further argue that Online Forum members are knowingly or unknowingly engaged in religious work through their participation in the online forum; producing rhetoric and epistemology through their active participation, and creating a digital archive of religion in Africa.