This paper examines the phenomenon of inter-group relations amongst the Yoruba and Hausa communities in Agege, Lagos, Nigeria. Historically, Nigerian ethnic groups had achieved a high level of integration prior to the colonial conquest. Long distance trade, migratory movements and socio-economic inter-group relations had helped made ethnic and cultural integration an integral part in the evolution of modern Nigeria. In this paper, an attempt was made to scrutinize some popular, but defective, assertions relating to inter-group relations, ethnicity and national integration in such multi-cultural societies as Nigeria. The paper seeks to validate the claim that the concepts of ‘indigene’/’non-indigene’ and ‘son of the soil’/’settler’ were, until recently, insignificant in the intergroup relations amongst Nigeria’s diverse ethnic communities. This was in contrast to the prominence now given to the ‘politics of belonging’ in the Nigerian national discourse, in which the gap between the ‘native/son of the soil’ and ‘stranger/settler’ is becoming wider by the day. The situation has degenerated into conflicts or threats by such natives to send away strangers who, like in the case of Agege, are second or even third generation descendants of pioneer Hausa migrants. The study equally confirms the assertion that the indigene/non-indigene dichotomy has posed greater challenges to the cohesion of Nigerian state and its citizens. Finally, the paper is part of the outcome of intensive fieldwork and interviews carried out by the author between 2006 and 2008 in the course of writing a Doctoral Thesis on ‘The Hausa Community in Lagos, 1861 – 2007’.
Key words: Migration, settlement, trade, Inter-group relations, integration.
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