Spirituality and Youth Militancy in the Niger Delta, Nigeria


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Department of International Relations


This study examines the role of spirituality in the struggle of Ijaw youth militias against the Nigerian state and the multinational oil companies operating in the region. Essentially, it seeks to demonstrate why youth militias which proliferated in all parts of pre-amnesty Niger Delta drew inspiration from the history of resistance to internal and external oppressors through the invocation of the Ijaw war god, Egbesu. In doing so, it lays bare the contradiction inherent in the projection by youth militias of Egbesu as a god of discipline, justice and liberation and the barefaced criminality and lawlessness perpetrated by youth militias across the region in the name of Egbesu. Among the ethnic minorities of the Delta region, the Ijaw represent a classic example of oil-producing communities that have had to fall back on the spiritual resources of their people in the course of their resistance against the Nigerian state and the oil companies. By examining the role of spirituality in the struggle against perceived oppression, the study highlights the place of spirituality in youth militancy in the Nigeria’s Niger Delta region