The publication of Chinua Achebe’s long-awaited memoir about Nigeria’s 30-month civil war, from 1967-1970, comes at a time when many Nigerians are wondering (and worrying) whether their country (Africa’s most populous) is on the verge of another civil. The first, the subject Achebe’s book, pitted the country’s ethnic groups against one an0ther and led Achebe’s own Igbo group to secede (unsuccessfully). The next civil war, Nigerians fear, might pit Muslims against non-Muslims. Partly because Islam takes many forms in social and political domains within Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, the entire subject of Muslim-Christian relations is complex and challenging. But the persistence of Boko Haram’s violent campaign against ordinary Nigerians concerns US policymakers. The hope is that the Nigerian state will organize itself to manage better the Islamic grievances. In recent years, the Nigerian government has mis-handled several opportunities to undercut Boko Haram. The reconciliation with anti-government forces in the Delta (notably, the Ijaw) seems to offer one path that has yet been traveled with Boko Haram. That might no longer be possible, given the level of violence, however. Hence, the emergence of the option no one seems to want: splitting Nigeria along religious lines.
Nov 12 2012
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