EXPLANATION OF INTER-GROUP RELATIONS AND FACTORS WHICH ENCOURAGED INTERGROUP RELATIONS IN NIGERIA

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INTRODUCTION

Nigeria is a country which consist of several minor and major ethnic groups ,which came into existence with different social,political,cultural and economic formation. However,during the period of colonialism and amalgamation,the distinct groups were merged together to form a nation in 1914 at the instance of the British colonialists.

Intergroup relations can be defined as the Relationships or interactions between two or more different social  and linguistic ethnic groups. Such interaction could be engendered by marriage,trade,migration,war and conquest. Interactions could also be through Diplomacy or quest for economic power. The interactions and relations between social groups is as old as when men began to organize themselves into separate territory based on political society. It is necessary to start with the histories of individual groups ,but we need to lay greater stress on the intergroup relationships,to compare developments within the various groups ,and to relate developments in each group to the emerging Nigeria pattern .Each of the groups faced reality of the need for co-existence with neighbouring communities. This was the scenario with the various groups in pre-colonial Nigeria. Geography,economic exchanges,communication,social and political needs as well as disputes and conquest made various ethnic groups like the Yoruba ,Hausa Igbo and some minor groups to engage in interactions with one another.

FACTORS WHICH ENCOURAGED INTERGROUP RELATIONS IN NIGERIA

Geography

The geographical environment of Nigeria have not Prevented human movement and interactions across them despite the natural barriers such as the mountains,rivers,Forest and desert in the country. The intergroup relations might have been made possible in Nigeria,even in pre-historic time by the dessications of the sahara dessert which encouraged migration of southward people towards the forest zone. The unity of river system,such as:Niger,Benue, and their tributaries as well as massive Delta which spread out into creeks and lagoon might have provided routes across the Northern and Southern of Nigeria. This river inter-link enabled people from distinct places to mix and interact together especially for commercial reason.

TRADE

Commercial transactions or activities ,importing and exporting or trade by barter of goods or items was another factor that encouraged intergroup relations in Nigeria.The minor and major groups engaged in trading activities with one another.Economic interaction came ,due to need of necessity ,since ,no community is sufficient of her needs.The Yoruba community engaged in commercial transactions and Interactions with the Hausa community who were known as far distant traders.They exchanged items like:skin,cows, horses and some leather works for kolanut and some other agricultural products of the Yoruba communities .Some Hausa traders settled in Yoruba communities while some Yorubas settled in some hausa states ,e.g, Kano as early as 18th century. More so, one of the places Oyo imported slaves was Nupe,they were many in  Yoruba land because of their knowledge to cater for horses. In addition, Nupe traders brought Shea butter,cereals,bangles,strawhats to Yoruba land in exchange for Yams ,palmkernel and oil.

MARRIAGE:

Marriage was another factor which fostered intergroup relations,in that, inter-ethic marriage took place to strengthen the bonds between communities.For instance, there were inter-marriage between the itshekiri and Urhobo in the water front camps established in some Urhobo communities, for the purpose of collecting palmoil, and this reduced tension between the two groups. Traders also get married to women in the communities of their trade routes. In some cases ,monarchs from different communities exchanged their daughters in marriage with one another in order to cement a strong bonds between their communities.

DIPLOMACY

In order to maintain peace and order and as a means of facilitating or building relations between them, Diplomatic ties was adopted in various communities. Diplomacy is the process through which empires,kingdoms or  communities communicate with one another through official agents .For instance,the Yoruba sent gift to their Nupe and Edo neighbor. This could indicate an expression of reconsideration, reconciliation of the other superior position, the sending of gifts was also used to solicit support or neutrality against other state. Signing of treaties was another act of diplomacy common among groups. they engaged in peaceful negotiation after war in order to bring about understanding or to normalize relations. State also had diplomats who negotiated during various event. These agents served as ambassadors, messengers, and linguists. In some Igbo land ,the priest served as an  ambassador who negotiated to bring  wars to an end .In Oyo empire ,the palace official called illaris served as the palace messengers to other communities.An illari always had a part of his hair shaved,when on an errand for the king ,the illaris usually dressed in a special way with badges on their cloths. Moreover ,they travelled with credentials such as baton,whistle,and fan embroidered in red and green .The messengers travelled with these credentials so that there would be free movement through other territories. In some cases ,they were sent in pair in order to maintain accuracy and security of the messages they had memorized.

RELIGION

Religion was another factor which encouraged relationships among distinct groups. Mutual understanding of brotherhood usually exist among the people who share the same religion belief,irrespective of their tribes. Many communities also shared same belief.
In traditional religion which entailed the worship of deities like sango,Ogun,Oya,Ala etc.for instance, both Oyo and Nupe kingdoms shared same belief in and worship of sango deity(The thunder god)

NOTE: Inter- group relations,led to the development of traditional high ways ,old routes became funtional while new ones were created .For instance, there was a route from kano Hausaland to Badagry  in Yoruba land. Waterways were developed and made more functional.The development of trade route was the the growth of markets. Old markets were expanded to accommodate different kinds of trade items while new ones came into existence.

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