Proto-Nationalism, Instrumentalism and the Liberian Civil War: Challenges for Economic Development
Ilemobola Peter Olanrewaju1*, Femi Omotoso2, Joshua Olaniyi Alabi3, Olaniyi Trust Ayodele4
1Mr., Covenant University, Nigeria, email@example.com
2Prof. Dr., Ekiti State University, Nigeria, firstname.lastname@example.org
3Dr., Covenant University, Nigeria, email@example.com
4Mr., Covenant University, Nigeria, firstname.lastname@example.org
Studies on the causes of the ethno-political rivalries that climaxed into the Liberian twin civil wars in 1989 and 1999 have continued to ignore the manifestations of proto-nationalism, which have been tightly knitted with the socio-political fabric of the country since its establishment in 1847. This paper argues that merely blaming identity politics, citizenship contests, group hegemony and/or ethnicity as causal factors for the wars is absolutely superficial. But it is the thesis of this paper that the lack of a feeling of nationalism and the viciously calculated manipulations of historic social differences by political elites to achieve selfish politico-economic power and affluence are the root causes of the wars. Thus, this paper undertakes a critical reflection on the precursors to the civil wars. Anchoring on the instrumentalist theory, with heavy reliance on secondary data, the study examines how political elites deliberately take advantage of the ethnic cleavages and the magnificent inter-group animosity to fulfil their self-serving political ambitions with implications for economic development. Also, the study employs the grievance and greed based explanations on the inevitability of the Liberia civil wars and the Hobbesian nature of the Liberian economic environment. The paper submits that the Liberian society lacked the sense of true nationalism and that proto-nationalists are the major causes of the economic collapse that the county continues to grapple with today.
Keywords: Conflict, ethnicity, identity politics, insecurity, political elites, proto-nationalism, rebellion, violence.
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