Ethnicity, Inequality and the Tragedy of African Development: A Comparative Case Study of Nigeria and the South Sudan

Authors: Idowu, Ajibade Samuel; Oladiti, Abiodun Akeem; Adenuga, Adetoun Esther
Journal: Journal of Globalization Studies. Volume 10, Number 1 / May 2019


This paper provides theoretical insights on the behaviour of ethnicity in the developmental experience of two African countries, namely, Nigeria and South Sudan, which have been regarded as failed states not due to their heterogenic configurations but due to the adverse effects of ethnicity and inequality. This paper reinforces the argument that political and social instability are the major causes of African underdevelopment. It posits that ethnicity encapsulates these factors using the cases of Nigeria and South Sudan to offer germane examples of the hydra-headed effects of ethnicity. Since independence, the surge of inequality in Africa has been driven not by the revolution in technology but by ethnicity and its concomitants.
Africa is also the continent with the highest rate of poverty, illiteracy, and infant mortality. As palliatives, several development and international financial aid programmes have tried to address the issues of poverty and underdevelopment in Africa, Asia and Latin America. While these programs yielded results in some parts of the world, they were almost a failure in Africa. Indeed, ethnicity remains a source of conflict used by nationalist and political entrepreneurs to promote their ambitions at the expense of Africa's development. This paper established the relationship between ethnicity and development and its dimension on inequalities. It argued that ethnicity and inequality are complex social constructs, that have continually retarded Africa's development.

Keywords: ethnicity, development, inequalities, Nigeria, South Sudan.