Semiotizing Inequities, Framing Grievances: A Discourse Ethnography of Igbo Secessionist Movement


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


English Studies


Since 1960, Nigeria has seen eras of ethnic crises, most of which grew from perceived inequities and quests for justice. In this study, I investigate how leaders of the Igbo-Biafran movement (past and present) harness rhetorical strategies and digitality to frame grievances and induce secessionist agitation. There is a knowledge gap in the linguistic historicizing of ethnic-based conflicts in Nigeria, much less the use of digital technologies in framing grievances and calling to arms. This is especially visible in Nigeria’s multi-ethnic ecology, where languages are crucial for ethno-mapping, ethnocentric appeals, and narratives of belonging. Drawing on critical discourse analysis, speech act theory, and cyberpragmatics, I illuminate the linguistic means for curating victimhood in Ojukwu’s war memoirs, and in digital discourses of the new Biafran movement—to show how the agency of online-offline discourses not merely constitutes a synergistic tool for visibilizing inequities but also for animating grievances and collective actions.