How Africa Would Look Like if its Borders Were Defined By Ethnicity and Language. By George Peter Murdock,1959
jinternational what do you think of this map? Just looking at Egypt this makes no sense to me at all.
I’m so confused. I’m not an expert on Egypt or anything but this looks like nonsense to me? I assume if it’s all as weird as Egypt it’s all wrong.
Uhh so according to the Wiki on the dude who made this:
“In 1959, despite having no professional experience in Africa, Murdock published Africa: Its peoples and their culture history”
LOL. WHY WOULD THIS BE CONSIDERED A REAL SOURCE? A WHITE DUDE WITH NO EXPERIENCE IN AFRICA MADE THIS.
This map is hugely flawed. Maps like these inexplicably erase millions of people with no rhyme or reason, and classify them incorrectly. See this is a problem with western thought in general, they have to put things in neat little categories. Some things won’t fit and some things can’t be easily classified. It’s more nuanced than that. This kind of classification is what makes people misidentify their neighbors, kinfolk and themselves for generations.
If you look at the southern most region of Nigeria, this is classified as ‘Ijaw’. Ijaw classification is here to stay as it is nomenclature. However, what many people (including Nigerians btw) don’t understand is that Ijaw isn’t an actual single ethnic group nor is it a language. Things like this is why people refer to Ijaw as such, including Nigerians themselves. Ijaw is a catch all term of a diverse group of people and languages, some of who are not linguistically or culturally related. White colonialists and ethnographers made these classifications.
Ijaw is a classification, a collection of many different ethnic groups if you will. People under the Ijaw umbrella reach as far away as Yorubaland. Groups like the Apoi and Arogbo are in Ondo state and they even speak Yoruba. They have little in common with say a Kalabari person in Rivers State, an Ogbe person in Delta State (not to be confused with the Ogbe community in Imo State who are Igbo) or a Nembe person in Bayelsa State, even though they all fall under the Ijaw umbrella. Of course, people close to each other will have kinship as well as cultural and linguistic ties. An Apoi or Arogbo person will not be able to speak the same language a Kalabari person speaks. All these people are classified as “Ijaw”. Now, multiply this by dozens of groups who are all in the Ijaw umbrella.
There are languages like Izon that are understood by different ethnic groups (primarily in Bayelsa), but outside of that and perhaps the Kalabari speaking people in the periphery of places like Okrika, Opobo, Bonny and other small areas that may have local dialects that are intelligible among each other (they speak Kalabari), everyone else in what is considered Ijaw land is speaking their own languages. In deeper mangrove areas of the Niger Delta, particularly in Rivers State, people are isolated and separated from each other. They have their own separate customs and languages. This is why that region has such a diverse group of people and languages. More than anywhere else in Nigeria. There are still many towns and communities that are only accessible by boat. You cannot go to Ikuru town (named after John Ikuru) if you don’t have a boat. If you don’t have a boat or access to a boat, you’re not leaving town.
Also, within Ijaw land are many groups that don’t fall under the Ijaw umbrella. A map like the above ignores them entirely. We’re talking millions of people here. Would you ignore a city like Chicago on a map of the US? No one would. That’s millions of people. Yet here we are with this map that ignores millions. Two of the groups in Ijaw land that are not under the Ijaw umbrella that come to mind are the Ogoni and the Ikwerre. The Ogoni are important to Rivers State and the Niger Delta. It was the Ogoni (Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni Nine) that brought to light what was going on in the Niger Delta at the hands of Shell and other western multinationals. Without them, people outside of the Niger Delta would not know about the human rights abuses and exploitation carried out by and at the behest of western multinationals. The Ikwerre people are also important. They populate large swaths of Port Harcourt and they are not in any way under the Ijaw umbrella. They are closer to the Igbo linguistically and culturally, although many of them see themselves as completely distinct and separate from Igbo, which they kind of are, but they all have Igbo surnames. I like to think of them as Igbo people in denial. If you’re Ikwerre, please don’t send me hate mail, just say “Igbo Kwenu” 3 times. Come home…lol
My father’s people, the Andoni/Obolo are under the Ijaw umbrella (there is pushback from this by some). They speak a language called Obolo. Obolo is distinct from the other languages spoken in Ijaw land as it is an amalgamation of different languages. The Andoni people are also split in two. They are in Rivers State (Ijaw land), which can be thought of as Western Obolo. Then there is Eastern Obolo which is in Akwa Ibom State. There is no difference between the groups, they’re just split based on how the states were carved. They are the same people, with families across etc. Now, based on the map above, Eastern Obolo people are not in Ijaw land, even though there is absolutely no difference between them and their kin in Rivers State. They are literally the same people and in many instances, the same families. Furthermore, the Obolo language my father’s people speak is spoken in some parts of Ibibioland like Ibeno. These people all speak Obolo and are Obolo people in custom and tradition. As an aside, many Andoni/Obolo people in Rivers State speak Igbo fluently, or understand it conversationally. This is due to proximity, trade and intermarriage with Ndoki Igbos in present day Abia State. The Obolo language has influences from the Igbos and they can communicate with each other without issues. An Obolo speaker will not understand a Buseni person from Bayelsa State, even though they are both classified as Ijaw.
What I’m saying is that this classification is still based on an outsider’s interpretation and understanding. I cannot speak for all other groups, but a lot of the classification of people as Ijaw came after the British carried out punitive expeditions in the area. People know about the punitive expedition of Benin in 1897, what they don’t know is that the Brits did similar further south. They killed my father’s people, took their artworks and carvings, and destroyed their shrines and places of worship. They were not christians at the time, so they were considered “heathens”. The Brits also split the Andoni/Obolo people into different parts, which is why some are in present day Akwa Ibom, while others are in Rivers State. Many of the knowledgeable people died and in some cases were killed by the Brits during punitive expeditions, during indigenous resistance struggles and as a way to have control. So what you have here is a hodgepodge collection of white man facts and classification that although gets a lot of things wrong, it gets enough right to seem credible. So an Andoni/Obolo that is classified as an Ijaw has more in common culturally and linguistically with an Igbo and Ibibio, than a group classified as Ijaw in Ondo who are speaking Yoruba. It also ignores people within what is classified as Ijaw land that outnumber most Ijaw communities i.e. Ogoni and Ikwerre. I only addressed the southern portion of Nigeria, because that is what I know well. If I noticed that, I can imagine the same thing applies for the rest of the map.
Speaking outside of what I intimately know, Hausaland is in Northern Nigeria. Nigeria might have the largest amount of Hausa people numerically, but across the border in Niger, Hausa people make up over 50% of the population. They form the majority there. Why isn’t part of Niger considered Hausaland based on this rudimentary map? Hausa people are far and wide. They are the largest ethnic group in West Africa!
One wonders how much damage not just maps like these have caused, but the classification of African people made by white men have done over the years. Can it even be measured? Africans themselves take these classifications to heart. Talk to the surviving elders to get the truth if you can. Forget about maps and classifications made by white men. The more I read from these so called educated white men, the more it becomes obvious that they know little compared to the village elder who didn’t even finish primary school. They don’t know you more than your people do.