Linguistic Expression of Religious Identity and Ideology in Selected Postcolonial Nigerian Literature

Ikenna Kamalu, Isaac Tamunobelema


One of the greatest threats to national development and the rights of individuals and groups in Nigeria and some parts of Africa is the growing increase in religious fundamentalism by major religious in the continent. The worsening economic fortunes of many African countries, poor and corrupt leadership, increase in ethnic nationalism, oppression of the minority by dominant powers and ideologies and the quest for freedom, external influences from extremist (Islamic & Christian) groups among others have been suggested as likely causes of religious fundamentalism in Africa. The postcolonial Nigerian nation has suffered calamitous losses from religious conflicts. Consequently, some of Nigeria’s 21st Century writers have tried in their works to present a situation in which groups use language to construct individual and collective identity and ideology, legitimize their actions, and justify acts of violence against others. The grammatical resource of mood and transitivity employed by the writers enables us to access and appraise individual and group experiences, and intergroup relations in social interactions. The resources of language enable us to perceive how individuals and groups relate to each other in social activities and implicitly or explicitly sustain ideologies that support the structures of oppression and violence. Therefore, working within the tenets of critical stylistics and critical discourse analysis (CDA), this study aims at exposing the motives that underlie the expression of religious identity and ideology in Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus (PH henceforth), Chidubem Iweka’s The Ancient Curse (TAC henceforth), and Uwem Akpan’s Say You’re One of Them (SYOT henceforth) and their implications for national stability and development. The data reveal how the sociopolitical climate in postcolonial Nigeria breeds a culture of hatred, intolerance, violence, exclusion, and curtailment of individual and group rights in the name of religion, and how these acts are expressed in diverse discourse-grammatical patterns.


Religion; Identity; Ideology; Violence; Postcolonial Nigerian literature

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