THE NIGERIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY
Volume 6, No. 1, 2008
Anthropological Responsibility in Nigeria
This paper participates in the crucial debate on the end of anthropology with particular reference to Nigeria. It takes the view that social anthropology predates colonialism which system nevertheless gave the discipline a slanted impetus of an exploitative and utilitarian nature. Under the colonial system, social anthropologists, mostly foreigners, were requested and/or funded to provide utilizable data on various indigenous systems in Nigeria. This led to a type of academic scramble in which social anthropological carved out “territories” for themselves through a glorification of the exclusive symbols and relationships which they found and through some grand theories based on these. The colonial indirect rule system tended to consolidate the sociocultural units marked out by these anthropological and quasi anthropological investigations. One major drawback of most of the early anthropological monographs in Nigeria is the general absence of the analysis of inter ethnic linkage relationships for clues to socio-cultural differences-reduction so that anthropology provides weak or no answer to the problem of increased ethnicity resulting from increased individual and group interaction in the emergent dynamic Nigerian society. This lack of knowledge of cultural and systemic convergence may, in part, be attributed to the theoretical orientation of social anthropology and to its preoccupation with smallscale and isolated total-system studies, presented in an ethnographic presence. Such anthropology and such theoretical kit and perspectives now have their limitations in any serious studies geared towards national integration and development. Thus, in order not to kill itself in Nigeria, social anthropology has to be macrosociological, refraining centrally from concern with some exotic micro-system or some zoo custom or joking relationship unless the relevance of this can be shown in the solutions to the problem of the Nigerian national political and economic development and integration. Formerly independent indigenous states and other anthropological preserves are now inescapably encapsulated as continuing but constrained systems in Nigeria. This continuing coexistence guarantees a place for social anthropology; the relevance of this place depends on anthropological contributions to national integration and to political and economic development.
Keywords: anthropology, ethnicity, national integration, political development, Okpe