Managing Ethnicities in Institutions of Close Contact: An Interpretative Study of Kano Markets Nigeria

By Zacchaeus O. Ogunnika.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Open Markets form a major part of commercial activity in indigenous urban settings in Nigeria. The Nigerian ethnic groups have their most intimate and closest interactions in the urban markets. This follows the fact that interaction in the markets is compulsory to their daily lives and is almost ethnic-free because of its economic importance. This fact is well highlighted in Kano. Since the 10th century A.D Kano’s popularity has been based on its markets which attracted traders from as far away as Egypt and the Sudan as well as from the rest of Africa. It is impossible to comprehend life in Kano without understanding its markets. Almost all Nigerian ethnic group members actively participate in the activities carried out in these markets. Apart from its commercial function, the market serve as communication medium between the strangers and their native homes. Traders who reside in other parts of Nigeria come to the Kano markets to trade. They mostly stay for a few days bringing with them messages from the families and friends of strangers sojourning in Kano, and take back with them gifts and messages to the strangers’ families. Most of Kano’s riots originate in its markets because information travel very quickly within the market, consequently, any report of a minor wrongdoing by a member of one ethnic group to a member of an opposing ethnic group can start a riot. To prevent the outbreak of inter-ethnic violence, the traders in the market have developed rules of conduct which always guide their actions when buying and selling. These rules of conduct can be seen in informal associations, called “market groups” and are facilitated by a system of inter-ethnic communication called the “market language.”

Keywords: Ethnicity, Nigeria, Kano, Interpretative, Actor’s Approach, Market Group, Market Language, Mechanism of Tension Management, Institution of Close Contact, Kano Markets

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp.151-160. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 589.243KB).

Dr. Zacchaeus O. Ogunnika

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Social Work and Criminal Justice, Virginia State University, Petersburg, Virginia, USA

Dr Zacchaeus O. Ogunnika recived the sociology degree at the University of Lagos, Nigeria and obtained the MA in Sociology at New York University,USA. His Ph.D was obtained at the New School for Social Research under professors Stanford Lyman and Arthur Vidich. The new School for social research introduced him to the critical theory of society which made him to become a believer in creating a nexus between theory and practice. Like earlier theorists, he is trying to create a link and block the chasis between nomothetic and ideographic approaches in socio cultural sciences. He believes in one world Sociology not from the positivistic tradition but from the concept of meaning in the fashion of the Nigerian professor A. Akiwowo. Ogunnika has published extensively in the areas of Race and Ethnicity, Theory, Methods,Development and Organizations. He is married with children.


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