Society of African Journal Editors

Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

African colonial boundaries and nation-building

Authors: Emmanuel M. Gbenenye

Journal: Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

This paper is an attempt to examine the consequences of the Berlin Colonial Conference of 1884-1885 as an artificial creation and indicate that this artificatility has created a number of problems that bedevil nation-building in Africa today. The paper has adopted qualitative content analysis of archival material, national dailies and some secondary sources. The first concern is the fact that some of these boundaries cut across pre-existing ethnic groups, states and kingdoms. This has caused widespread social disruption and displacement. Today, some of the Ewe live in Ghana, some in Togo and some in Benin Republic. The Somalia are shared among  Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The Senufo are found in Mali, Cote d’Ivoir and Burkina  Faso. The examples can be multiplied. The paper highlights the consequences of  this situation to include border disputes that have plagued the relationship between  some independent African states such as those between Sudan and Uganda,  between Somalia and Ethiopia, between Kenya and Somalia, between Ghana and  Togo, between Nigeria and Cameroon, in particular over the Bakassi Peninsula.  There is also the factor of France’s political and economic stranglehold, on her  former colonies in particular. The 1961 bilateral agreement between France and her  former colonies was to retain close military, economic and cultural ties. The aim of  France is to inhibit the growth and stability of the ECOWAS as a sub-regional  economic integration. The paper argues that this Francophone dichotomy is a  divisive tendency that contributes to territorial disputes, border skirmishes,   unguarded border posts and patrols, smugglings, the menace of refugees and illegal aliens on Nigeria. The case of Cameroon is more illustrative than that of other  Francophone states. It is our findings that because of the artificiality and arbitrary nature of these boundaries, each of the African nation states is made up of people of  diverse cultural backgrounds, traditions of origin and languages that pose the problem of nation-building in modern African states. Keywords : Berlin Colonial conference, artificial creation, widespread social  disruption and displacement, border disputes and problem of nation-building