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INTRODUCTION

The word “ethnic” can be taken to mean not more than what a sociologist has defined, in relation to Nigeria, as consisting of interacting members, who define themselves as belonging to a named or labeled social group with whose interest they identify and which manifest certain aspects of a unique culture, while constituting part of a wider society (O. A. Sanda, 1976). Thus we find that ethnicism implies a language indigenous to the ethnic group. Ethnic literature would therefore mean the literature of a cultural group which is identified with, among other things, one language.

Ethnicity is an important feature of human identity that manifests differently in different societies. It reflects diversity in the Society whose internal harmony and stability defends on how ethnic diversity is accommodated in a pluralistic frame work of the state and society. “Ethnic group,” “nation,” and “state” compose a constellation of related yet discrete phenomena which are all-too-often confused or conflated. Ethnic group and nation are often used synonymously, and nation and state are often used synonymously, which is not only empirically wrong but leads to the logical conclusion that ethnic group is synonymous with state, which is absurd. In fact, not all ethnic groups are nations but some are; not all ethnic groups or nations have or want states, but some do. George DeVos defines ethnicity as the “subjective symbolic or emblematic use of any aspect of culture [by a group], in order to differentiate themselves from other groups” (George DeVos, 1975).

That the Nigeria state as a composition of so many identities is not a coincidence, rather it is as a result of its historical construction by the colonial master. Although, the Nigerian nationalist were pessimistic on the foundation on which the Nigerian state was built. The fact that Nigerians were forcefully integrated by the British against their wish and the lack of understanding of identities by the different ethnic groups further confirms this pessimism. According to Arazeen and Saka (2007), the union of ethnic groups in Nigeria through the 1914 amalgamation was a marriage of inconveniency because the whole process was conceived and executed without due respect to and for social-cultural and political differences embedded in the political, economic and social structures of the wedded couple.

The Emergence of Ethnic and National Literature in Nigeria

The history of ethnic conflict in Nigeria can be traced back to the colonial and post-colonial era. Ojo (2014) posited that the colonial tripartite division of Nigeria prevented a Nigerian nationalistic movement, manipulating geographical boundaries to reinforce separation between ethnic groups and transforming ethnicity into an identity by which to gain political power; this structure along with other administrative decisions emphasized ethnic nationalism and regional politics,

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