A Study of Nationhood in Nigeria’s Independence Anniversary Discourses: Critical Discourse Approach

  This article is published by the Zamfara International Journal of Humanities.

Yunusa Ahmed, Ph.D *1 Ruth Ibbi, Ph.D*2

1, 2 Department of English,
1, 2 Gombe State University

1*         ahmedyunana@gmail.com 08032409760
2*         ruthibbi@gmail.com 08035757896

Abstract: Recent trends in decolonial approaches have led to a proliferation of studies on the impact of colonialism and its legacy: coloniality. Considerable literature has grown around the theme of decoloniality, there is a surprising paucity of research from a discourse analysis perspective in Nigeria that seeks to incorporate a decolonial framework in its analysis. This paper therefore sets out to foreground the relevance of decolonial analysis in interrogating colonial structures in Nigeria’s independence anniversary discourses. Drawing on decolonial concept of dismemberment and cultural discourse analysis. The paper argues that the articulation of nation and national identity in Nigeria’s political discourse is narrated through various hegemonic discursive practices that are historically rooted and socio-culturally located in the vast colonial linguistic landscaping. These linguistic landscaping (mapping, naming, and owning) have remained one of the most recurrent rhetorical tropes that keep the colonial traditions in Nigeria’s contemporary political discourse “alive and kicking.” Thus, there is always the need to engage deeply with decolonial methodologies as a significant analytical frame in the analysis of Nigerian political discourse..


Keywords: Discourse, Decolonial, Nationhood, Independence, Dismemberment



This paper analyses the different discursive means nationhood is constructed in Nigerian political discourse and how those discourses are relics of colonialism but


have sedimented over time into hegemonies. The paper adopts tools from critical discourse studies. The paper is neccesitated by the fact that previous studies on Nigerian political discourse do not tell us much about the simultaneous articulation of the discourse of nationhood and coloniality in the envisioning of Nigeria as a nation-state. Perhaps, because the analysts have applied imported theories and methods to local realities with little reflexivity and creativity of the inadequacy of such kinds of applications. In doing that they left intact “the relations of force in the ‘palaces’ of empire” (Cusicanqui 2019, p. 109). Even though they have produced a large body of work in articulation of an emancipatory discourses in a creative and novel way they have failed to address the fundamental issues of colonialism and this lacuna has instead “obscure[d] and renew[ed] the effective practices of colonization and subalternization” (Cusicanqui 2012, p. 112) and as such it rendered their emancipatory discourses weak.


This paper therefore using 2019 independence address of the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, critically engages with colonialism and coloniality and their intricate interconnection with dynamics of power and inequality in Nigerian political discourse. The paper is situated within the broader movement of critical discourse studies.


Literature Review

Critical Discourse Studies


The interest in the critical analysis of language began as a consequence of what has been called a linguistic turn in philosophy in the twentieth century, where significant interests were drawn to the study of language and its role in the representation of reality. The most significant thing that took place during that time, however, “was not the linguistic turn itself, rather the beginning of a thoroughgoing rethinking of certain epistemological difficulties which have troubled philosophers since Plato and Aristotle time.” (Dallmayr, 1984, p. 16). These epistemological problems centered on the challenge of understanding reality unmediated by language. The consensus among scholars across disciplines in the social sciences and humanities is that the relationship between language and the world is not merely referential but is shaped by the discursive representation of the world (van Dijk, 2005). The current interest in using linguistic analysis to reveal the structures of power in discourse started with critical linguists (see Fowler, Hodge, Kress, & Trew 1979). Although systemic functional linguistics paid much attention to the use of language in context, the ideological study of language started with the publication of Language as Ideology by Hodge and Kress, 1980.

The critical discourse studies movement has been influenced by earlier philosophical movements, such as the Frankfurt School, The Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham, and scholars such as M.A.K. Halliday and Michel Foucault, among others. These various influences provided a fertile ground for the offshoot of a network of scholars called Critical Discourse Studies (CDS) (Wodak and Meyers, 2016), which is “primarily interested in the way social power abuse, dominance, and inequality are enacted, reproduced, and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context” (van Dijk, 1993, p. 249). CDS as a network, therefore, aims at understanding how language enacts inequality and advocates for change based on its findings. According to Fairclough (2015), "CDA combines a critique of discourse and explanation of how it figures within and contributes to the existing social reality, as a basis for action to change that existing reality in particular respect” (p. 6, emphasis in the original). This combination of critique and explanation is central to CDS. It not only identifies various features and types of language use that are manipulative and hegemonic, but it further seeks to find answers to why discourse is the way it is, and ascertain its role in shaping the way people think of their society and themselves. The underlying assumption is that without a close and critical analysis of language, language would not readily yield its hegemonic and ideological undertones.


Since its inception, CDS have been infleunced largely by Western-centered form of analysis. Although, there has been calls that Political Discourse Analysis (PDA) must begin to move beyond the dominant Eurocentric Models to a truly transglobal academic enterprise (Dunmire 2012), yet the African perspective has not been articulated adeqautely. Thus, Drawing on Ngũgĩ’s (2009) decolonial concept of dismemberment and Shi-xu et al (2016) development discourse studies a branch of critical discourse studies approach the paper is geared towards de-centering the Eurocentric force of knowledge construction, and redirecting the lens towards Africa’s colonial/neocolonial experience, a continent that has been under-theorize as far as the global theorizing of discourse is concerned. The goal goes beyond demystifying Northern privilege, as Lazar (2020) observes, it rather sets out to contribute towards building a globally inclusive knowledge ecology. This inclusive knowledge ecology for an African perspective means bringing diverse voices into the global theorization of discourse especially voices of people from the Non-western contexts such as Nigeria and works towards re-inventing and re-discovering paradigms of research that are not culturally closed and exclusive.

Theoretical Framework 

This adopts a multidisciplianry approach. The paper borrows tools decolonial appraoch, particularly Ngugi’s (2009) concept of dismemberment and discourse analysis, Shi-xu’s et al (2016) cultural discourse analysis. 


In his book Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance, Ngugi (2009) pointed out that European contact with Africa was characterized by dismemberment. And this dismemberment is “an act of absolute social engineering” (p. 5). According to Ngugi (2009) One of the discursive ways the dismemberment of Africa was accomplished was through the vast project of linguistic landscaping. This linguistic landscaping appears to be the traditional Marxist’s “material base” where it serves as the central player in the successful dismemberment of Africa and its personhood and subsequent colonization. This linguistic landscaping happened in three successive stages: mapping, naming and owning. Ngugi’s three processes of linguistic landscaping (mapping, naming, and owning) serve as the analytical lens to which President Muhammadu Buhari’s independence speech and the articulation of nationhood are dissected. 

Cultural Discourse Analysis 

The paper also draws inspiration from Shi-xu et al (2016) as a theoretical-methodological framework that makes it possible to make a historical and comprehensive connection between the Africa’s past colonial processes and the present social processes. Shi-xu et al argues that the explorations of meaning produced by language use and communication in the South has been largely through lens of Euro-American orientation. Thus, “as a countervailing force to redress the human disorder set on by globalization of knowledge, they came up with a culturally conscious and critical tool that is appropriate for researching development from the point of view of Asian, African and Latin American scholarship. To overcome the tendencies of this analysis drifting towards Euro-American paradigm and orientation, I employ Shi-xu et al (2016) to be locally and cultural conscious and at the same time globally minded the different conversations taking at the global scale.




The data for this paper are two independence speeches delivered by President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari. The speeches are Buhari’s 2015 and 2019 addresses delivered to celebrate Nigeria’s 55th and 59th independence. Nigerian leaders in the past and currently have used different linguistic means at their disposal to construct this theme of unity and national progress. The full transcript of the speech was retrieved from the Vanguard Newspaper websites. Here is the link: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2019/10/full-speech-president-


buharis-independence-day-speech/ The analysis of the speeches are guided by Ngugi’s three successive stages of linguistic landscaping: mapping, naming and owning. The central theme the paper pursues is the construction of nation and national identity and how such construction can be traced to Nigeria’s vast linguistic landscaping. The transcription conventions for this paper is as follows: Buhari’s original speech in italicized font and the words emphasized are bold-faced. The excerpts are numbered in ascending order for easier identification.


Data Analysis


The construction of nation and national identity is analyzed within the methodological context of Ngugi’s dismemberment. The analysis is divided into three main sections that follows the three processes of linguistic landscaping: mapping, naming and owning as they are the various linguistic landscaping employed by the Europeans in the dismemberment of Africa and its continuous recolonization. The analysis however opens by identifying the dominant theme in the speech and its significance within the context of Nigeria’s political discourse.




Mapping as an ancient art coincided with the spread of European’s influence in modern history. Ngugi pointed out that mapping is the first stage of the dismemberment of African continent. It is followed by naming and then owning. Previous discourse analysts on the continent of Africa have not adequately explored the meaning potentials that are embedded in the discourse of mapping and how the discursive meaning played a significant role in the reengineering of the continent of Africa. Approaching mapping from a discourse perspective is to understand linguistic/semiotic resources of map as a tool in the discursive construction of false national consciousness. As Anderson (2007) infers, every discursive function represents the encoder’s illocutionary intentions. In this case, the illocutionary function of mapping is to create false national consciousness in the different Berlin created nations. Drawing on the traditional Marxist concept of false consciousness, national false consciousness is an expression of ideological creation of an appearance of a nation. This creation only supports the extension of the power of the repressive colonial system.


The discursive resources of maps therefore produce knowledge in specific ways, which in turn have certain effects. What this means is that it is reasonable to hypothesize links between meaning structures produced via colonial act of mapping with how African nation-states were identified and classified. For example, the mapping divided the world into two: North versus South. Mapping can therefore be conceptualized and then lexicalized as “good,” “civilized,” “developed,” and “right.” While the South (colony) is considered the margin/periphery. It is conceptualized and then lexicalized as the “evil” underdeveloped, backward and “remote to the center”.

This artificial creation between the center and the periphery logic found its place in Buhari’s narrative about Nigeria. For example, in the speech, Buhari construct a narrative of journey metaphor where Nigeria is moving to “progress.”


1.      We have all the attributes of a great nation. We are not there yet because the one important commodity we have been unable to exploit to the fullest is unity of purpose. This would have enabled us to achieve not only more orderly political evolution and integration but also continuity and economic progress.

2.      As Chilton (2004) noted, political concepts are usually conceptualized by journey metaphors, but the journey metaphor usually moves towards the deictic center, the self. However, in Buhari’s case, the center is related to other’s space. Hence, the spatial distance to getting there is between the speaker/listeners (Buhari and Nigerians) and the metropolitan center, Europe. Since the colonial mapping has metaphorically divided the world on the center-periphery schema and Nigeria belongs to the periphery, the desire is always to move to the center (Europe) or be like the center. This discourse of mapping has “effectively "produced" social subjectivities and mediates the subject's experience of reality [of Nigerians].” (Strickland 2012,


p.  48). Center-Periphery becomes the de facto standard for evaluating what is good and right and the desire of colonized nations to reach.


Mapping as a semiotic tool further constructs another field of discursive meaning. To map any place suggests that the place is unexplored. This means that Nigeria was not known to the world and did not exist until the Berlin Conference. Before the Berlin conference, Nigerian can be likened to “terra nullius” disrupting any history Nigeria could ever lay claim to. The material dimensions of this discursive representation as unexplored space means that the mappers are discoverers of new places. Lugard in his book asserted this false narrative. According to him “the penetration into the interior of Africa, on the other hand, may as truly be described as discovery as that of America by Columbus.” This rhetoric of discovery set a stage for Africa’s civilizing mission which started with the 1884 Berlin Conference where African states were transformed into colonial plantations but hidden under the guise of a civilizing mission.


As Lugard stated, Africa as the “Dark Continent” needed to be exposed to “modern civilization” (p. 2). Thus, the power to map was a powerful tool in the hands of imperial nations to control much of the world and to lay claim to it.


In order to be sanctioned as civilized therefore, the then newly independent African nations had to take up the Western sense of nationhood. Moreover, in their self-serving rhetoric, African elites continued with a narrative that alienated their people and promoted the created colonial boundaries that perpetuate the Berlin-based divisions, with the result that even people of the same language, culture, and history remain citizens of different nation-states. This is the case of Hausa in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Ghana as well as Ewe people in Ghana and Togo. One can therefore assert that President Muhammadu Buhari’s independence speech is a regurgitated vicious rhetorical cycle of self-serving ideas of nationhood hatched during the Berlin Conference. For example, Buhari in his speech made several use of the “we” and its possessive pronoun variant “our” in connection with “country” and nation” to activate tthe symbolic resonance of an existence of a nation-state, Nigeria, that people could identify with as “our country” or “our nation” as independent sovereign nation. The following excerpt indicates that: 

2.      a. 1st October each year is an opportunity for us to reflect and thank God for his endless blessings on our country. 

b. Rededicate ourselves to attaining the goals which we have set for ourselves: a united, prosperous and purposeful nation in the face of 21 century opportunities and challenges. 

c. This Change can only be delivered if we are united in purpose, as individuals and as a nation. We will not hesitate to take all necessary steps to tackle illegal smuggling, transshipment and other predatory trade practices that destroy jobs in our country. 

d. Fellow Nigerians, let me reiterate my call for unity across our dear nation.


In fact, the deictic use of “we” and “our” serve as persuasive devices, which could help, invite identification and solidarity with Nigeria both as a country and as a nation. The deictic expressions also have the potential to annex people into a particular in-group verbally (Nigeria) and distance any other person that is not a Nigerian, thereby constructing an image of people unified and nearer to each other. In other words, it is an attempt by Buhari to create a picture of what Anderson (2006) calls an "imagined community" in order to play down the “hatred and distrust” he referenced that people harbor against each other and which, according to him, “only leads to hostility and destruction.” The rhetorical goal could be seen as a strategy to appeal to solidarity, belonging, and bonding among Nigerians as it is illustrated here:


3.      Rather tread the path of peace and prosperity, as we continue to uphold and cherish our unity.


Notably, through the use of indexical “we” Buhari attempted to reify the existence of unified Nigeria while skillfully playing down the “hatred and distrust.” This discourse of sameness that featured prominently in Buhari’s speech ignoring the glaring ongoing movement, for example, of the secession of Igbo from Nigeria, led by Nnamdi Kanu raises an important question as: “who is in” and “who is out” in the discursive reification of one Nigeria. This rhetorical act of using pronominal choice of “we” and “our” to articulate the existence of a nation is a crossdressing that attempts to disguise and hide the elites agenda articulated in the exclusive elites’ “we” and “our.” It can therefore be concluded that this false inclusion is “a symbolic act, a performance of power intended to produce docile minds (Ngugi 2009, p. 4) in order to legitimize and consolidate the ruling elite’s power.


Moreover, the road to nationhood was made simple in Buhari’s speech. Buhari mentioned three goals that would help Nigeria attain nationhood: unity, prosperity, and purpose as it is stated here:

4.      Rededicate ourselves to attaining the goals which we have set for ourselves: a united, prosperous and purposeful nation in the face of 21 century opportunities and challenges.


The symbols of a genuine national consciousness cannot emerge out of a nation where people of different religious and cultural heritages have been brought together within borders drawn by heedless colonialists. To borrow from a famous Nigerian Supreme Court Judge: "You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there. It will collapse. For out of nothing, nothing can arise” (Lord Denning in Macfoy v. United African Company). This means that in as much as the three qualities (unity, prosperity, and purpose) Buhari mentioned are good, they are some of the common sense rhetoric sold to Nigerians “that make incongruities tolerable and allow for the reproduction of the colonial structures of oppression” (Cusicanqui 2012, p. 109). Thus, the articulation of nationhood through the pronominal choices are some of the inherited modernizing efforts that can only result “in successive waves of recolonization” (Cusicanqui 2012, p. 106).




Names are words by which an individual person, animal, place, or thing is being identified. The inquiry into names originated with the works of Ancient Greek grammarians and philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. Their ideas regarding names were represented by Stoic's distinction of names into what we normally teach in elementary grammar as proper and common nouns (Anderson 2007). Their ideas presented a beginning for the philosophical tradition of concern with names which ran shoulder to shoulder with the grammatical inquiry. However, the interest in names can be summarized into two: what is denoted by a name both in a speaker’s and hearer’s mind and in the real world and how does that process of denotation function. The act of naming can be both social and linguistic. Socially, it is through names representations and categorizations are made. Naming has the capacity to structure the social reality of people for centuries because it is through naming that people, objects, and things are perceived, identified, and understood. For the colonial world the process of naming is the necessary next step after mapping (Ngugi 2009) or what Columbus and Lugard would call “discovery.”


Linguistically, the colonial naming system does not simply identify a referent —a question of reference, not sense, but it pragmatically conveys indexical information and performs symbolic function of signifying hierarchical relations of power. The indexical material attached to the name “Nigeria” for instance, is the characterization of the referent. To name a referent means the referent is new or have never existed. As for human beings only infants are usually given names. Giving a name such as Nigeria suggests that Nigeria never existed but has been suddenly discovered by Europe and needed to be given a name by which it can be identified. Equally important is that by naming, Nigeria is positioned on a schema or trajectory of development and in this case Nigeria entered history only through its colonization by Europe.


Symbolically, Nigeria “evokes the symbolic debris of a certain non-’native,’ European, white colonial aura (Ochonu 2019, p. 8).There is no way to talk about the name “Nigeria” without invoking the figure of Flora Shaw and connected European memory. In the speech that I analyze, not only that Nigeria was mentioned several times, in the opening paragraph Buhari explicitly foregrounded Nigeria through the deictic element of “our,” as it can be seen below:


1.      Remember the sacrifices made by our Founders and great leaders past; by soldiers, by distinguished public servants; by traditional leaders, by our workers —-

sacrifices on which Nigeria has been built over the 59 years since Independence in 1960.


What this means is that whenever Buhari or any Nigerian leader invokes the name Nigeria, African memory is buried and European memory comes alive because the new colonial name does not point to any African memory of previous African identity. Shi-xu et al perfectly captured this linguistic dilemma of naming. According to them European names:


are all names and designations which have come to replace things which Africans knew, and had names for, long before the Western encounter. Since the advent of Western colonialism, this new nomenclature has effaced the linguistic and cultural ownership of these realities.” (67)


Thus “European memory becomes the new marker of geographical identity, covering up an older memory or, more strictly speaking, burying the native memory of place” (Ngugi 2009, p. 8). According to Ngugi (2009) the act of naming countries is a systematic erasure of the colonized memory of place and history. Thus, through the vast naming system, the identity of place becomes that of Europe. Unfortunately, all “these places had names before—names that pointed to other memories, older memories” (Ngugi 2009, p. 8). With European naming process, Ngugi (2009) asserted, the “inducement of amnesia among the colonized” (p. 12) was achieved and naming became a productive mechanism of colonization. Even today, years after achievement of political independence, Nigerian landscape is covered with European memories of places like Port Harcourt, Osborne and Bourdillon that “symbolize and constitute a link to the prestige and power of the white colonial officials.” (Ochonu 2019)


According to Ngugi, in their attempt “to remake the land and its peoples in his (sic) image, the conqueror acquires and asserts the right to name the land and its subjects, demanding that the subjugated accept the names and culture of the conqueror” (p. 9). This means that any serious analysis of political discourse of nationhood requires an interrogation of the concept “Nigeria” especially the process involved in naming it. For it is in the naming process as Ngugi strongly asserted that “the colonial process dislocates the traveler’s mind from the place he or she already knows to a foreign starting point even with the body still remaining in his or her homeland” (Ngugi 2014, p. 39). Already and unfortunately, Africa’s physical environment has been linguistically and definitionally considerably alienated its real self. In the words of Shi-xu (2016) their Africa’s landscape has been linguistically appropriated, redefined and redesignated in favor of Europeans environmental reality.


Without mincing words name as a linguistic unit is a colonial tool that facilitates the successful dismemberment of Africa. The loss of a name can be linked to the loss of one’s memory. As Ngugi stated, “the colonizing presence sought to induce a historical amnesia on the colonized by mutilating the memory of the colonized” through naming processes. The act of dismembering the colonized from memory through a vast system of naming means that name has a productive, not merely a referential function. Its reflective role is in ideology formation. African bodies are currently blanketed with European names that make it difficult to subvert the imposed European identity. Thus, until Africans themselves begin to name and rename their experiences and the phenomena of the world, many of their experiences will remain buried in the memory of the Europeans. Africans must begin to assume control of naming and create a world that best fit their local realities and experiences as a barrier to the European induced amnesia. However, Shi-xu (2016) lamented that even after colonial era, African elites have made attempts to change the inherited names but have largely proceeded to maintain them.




As Ngugi observes, the post-Berlin Conference transformed Africa into a colonial plantation owned by imperial powers. The “owners” of these plantations did not hesitate to stamp an enduring legacy on the colonizers memory. One of the ways this was achieved was through the medium of language. The European linguistic plantation was achieved through the deprivation of indigenous language by linguistic anglicization of African education. For even where people would want to reject this imposition “they are dislodged from the social body by the languages of their education and storage of knowledge”. This process constructed an elite who carried the weight of the colonizer’s memory and became the means by which the British own and keeps owning large number of countries in Africa. It should be clear that language as a communication system is not only a carrier of culture but a carrier of memory or what Fanon calls “bearing the weight of a civilization” (Fanon 1961, p. 27). To uphold this point, the two speeches I analyzed in this paper were both delivered in English. Ironically, the dominant theme in the speeches is the idea of nationhood. Although there are various articulations of this nationhood in the speeches, the use of English language as the sole medium of communication alone undercut any claim of nationhood.


 Understandably, the retention of English as the medium of official communication after independence is assumed to serve the social function of inter-ethnic communication or what I called the “myth of common language”, as it proved difficult for Nigeria to come up with a single indigenous national language that could serve the purpose of English without rancor and division. Today, even if one were to concede that the English language is used as a common language for inter-ethnic and inter-lingual communication, it has inevitably “contributed to perpetuating North-South inequalities and exploitation” (Phillipson 1992, p. 1). Hence, the cultural export of English should be critically interrogated in Nigeria’s political discourse, particularly in the discourses that make assertive claim about the existence of independent Nigeria as a nation like the one currently under study where the British still rules through language.


As Phillipson (1992) observes “whereas once Britannia ruled the waves, now it is English which rules them. British empire has given way to the English empire” (p. 1). For Buhari to choose English only in the midst of diverse languages to communicate, it linguistically and culturally alienates majority of Nigerians as records have shown that majority of Nigerians neither speak nor understand English (Kperogi 2015). In fact, Shi-xu et al (2016) categorically said that “nowhere in postcolonial Africa are the colonially inherited languages spoken by more than about 10 per cent of the populace” (p. 91).To make a good claim to nationhood by Buhari he should have adopted an indigenous language that would function as a national language (even if side-by-side English) and thereby serve as a cultural symbol around which the country may be united while enhancing the national identity. Or the speeches can be written in many of the major Nigerian languages to reflect linguistic sensitivity and promote linguistic pluralism. Although Nigeria's 1999 Constitution provides that deliberations in the legislatures can take place in indigenous languages, the provision has remained in abeyance because, without doubt, any legislator that chooses to use an indigenous language invites ridicule to themselves since English alone is elitist. As Shi-xu et al (2016) poignantly asserted English language is only “used by narrow elites, which are culturally caught up in the orbit of the cultures of their erstwhile colonial masters. The heritage these elites support and perpetuate is what has been handed down through the colonial encounter” (p. 91). Thus, the choice of English language hinders linguistic and cultural pluralism and more particularly endangers indigenous languages. As Ngugi (2009) affirms, the continuous retention and use of English would lead to linguifam. “Linguifam is to languages what famine is to the people who speak them— linguistic deprivation and, ultimately, starvation.” To starve or kill a language is to starve and kill a people’s memory bank. And it is equally true that to impose a language is to impose the weight of experience it carries and its conception of self and otherness”. The imposition of English language and its retention in Nigeria can be seen as an act of dismembering through language. “It is a double cultural decapitation: of a fraction of that class dismembered from social memory through ideology and of the class as a whole, dismembered through language” (Ngugi 2009, p. 28). The meaning of decolonization that led to the dozens of independent countries in the 50s and 60s meant fundamentally the “rejection of the civilization of the white man” (Betts 2012, p. 23). Language as one of the civilization of the white man must also be interrogated. As political discourse analysts from African contexts, we have to constantly remind ourselves that the status of political independence accorded to us was not deliberately decided upon by the colonizers, as such they would not give up entirely the desirability of imposing their own memory on us through language.




The discursive construction of nationhood in President Muhammadu Buhari’s speeches offered an interesting data for language analysts that point to the intricate interconnection between coloniality and complex dynamics of power that renders Anderson’s (2006) formulation of nation as “imagined community” inadequate. Approached from a decolonial perspective, the idea of a nation in postcolonial states is a false national consciousness that is constructed in the language of modernity. This is so because despite the different rhetoric of nationhood offered over time by Nigerian leaders, we have not witnessed any significant change. What we have seen rather is the curse of gatopardismo of “changing everything so that everything remains the same '' (Cusicanqui 2012, p. 101). Drawing from the argument above Fonkoue (2018) comments are instructive: “insofar as the nation-state in Africa is heir to the colonial state, it is ill equipped to forge a national sentiment” (p. 169) The solutions therefore lies beyond the recycled, same old colonial narratives of unity and progress to “an act of absolute social engineering” of the continent.


As political discourse analysts from the colonized world, our role should be in developing an alternative concept of analysis that clearly enunciate Africa’s local realities. Moreover, we must be aware that theories derived from the global North are also the product of their local context hence are not universally valid for all contexts. Finally, I strongly suggest that we explore and develop interest in locally produced knowledge and explanatory potential for Africa’s discourses. Employing Ngugi’s decolonial options and his concept of dismemberment is one step forward. For example, applying the concept of dismemberment to the concept of nationhood, I pointed out in the analysis that colonialism attacks and completely distorts a people’s relationship to their land, body and mind through the simple but complex system of linguistic landscaping. And with this dismemberment, the wholeness of the African personhood is destroyed. And “in as far as these conditions exist and persist they affirm a neo-colonial order in which the African as a historical and cultural product is silenced in favour of his




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