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Igbo caste practices: persistence and public attitudes in the media

Okwelume, Obinna Charles (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

For over a century, several minority caste groups have suffered discrimination in eastern Nigeria. They include former slaves and servant groups known as osu or ohu as well as other names and are generally referred to as caste groups. Forbidden to associate freely with the freeborn, these groups still maintain their stigma. The origins of the caste groups lie in the past. However, after 1900, they started to struggle for emancipation. Since then, discrimination against them has been abolished many times. Yet the practice remains persistent. At the same time, the discrimination against the caste groups continues to exercise the public and private imagination and it is depicted and discussed in various ways in the media, from newspapers to films and even in internet forums. Using oral sources and commentaries in the media, this thesis argues that Igbo socio-political life has continued to sustain this practice even as it pretends to reject it. The general attitude to discrimination against the caste groups has been that it is barbaric. Yet, the freeborn still find it difficult to embrace them. Reasons for this include a range of fears, but most importantly fear of social ostracism. The thesis argues that the media has engaged in the struggle to change the situation by providing a platform for debate about the practice. However, this has had little impact because of the nature of Igbo socio-political life.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Centre of West African Studies
Subjects:HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
HM Sociology
DT Africa
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1012
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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