Language as Tool of Exclusion and Dominance of Southeast Nigeria’s Indigenous Peoples: A Historical Perspective

Reference work entry


The use of language as a tool of exclusion and dominance among the indigenous peoples of Nigeria has contributed to the decline or extinction of some Nigerian languages. This chapter describes an investigation on the extent of this phenomenon as it concerns the Igbo language spoken mainly in southeast Nigeria. Data collection is carried out using personal interviews with veteran educationists, library/museum research, and archives of ministries and personal experiences of the author. Descriptive and inferential methods as well as the UNESCO guidelines in delineating endangered languages are applied in the data analysis. In the findings, the colonialists made the mastery of English language a standard for advancement to administrative (white collar) jobs and consequently social elevation. Under this condition, Igbo language and every aspect of life and culture of the Igbo people became less fashionable, inferior, retrogressive, and symbolic of poverty. The Igbo, by nature, are very receptive of innovations and embraced the learning of English, the white man’s language and way of life. English language, therefore, became a tool for excluding and dominating the Igbo people and their language to the extent that the Igbo lost interest in their own language. Thus, the English language was used as a tool for excluding the Igbo from their heritage as a people and dominating them, their language and culture, resulting in the present state of decline of the Igbo language.


Language Dominance Exclusion Decline Igbo language Igbo people 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ebonyi State UniversityAbakalikiNigeria

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