The Portrayal of Islam in Some Early Nigerian Newspapers (1880-1910)

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Salahudeen Yusuf

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Abstract

The history of Islam in part of what is known today as Nigeria dates
to about the loth Century. Christianity dates to the late 18th Century. By
the middle of the 19th Century, when Nigerian newspapers began to appear
on the streets of Nigeria, both religions had won so many followers and extended
to so many places in Nigeria that very few areas were untouched by
their influence. The impact of both religions on their adherents not only determined
their spiritual life, but influenced their social and political lives as
well. It therefore became inevitable that both religions receive coverage from
most of the newspapers of the time. How the newspapers as media of information
and communication reported issues about the two religions is the
theme of this paper.
Rationale for the Study
The purpose of this study is to highlight the context in which such early
newspapers operated and the factors that dictated their performance. This
is because it is assumed that when a society faces external threat to its territory,
culture, and independence, all hands (the press inclusive) ought to
be on deck to resist the threat with all might. Were newspapers used as verbal
artillery and how did they present each religion? It is also assumed that
in a multireligious society a true press should be objective and serve as a
vanguard in the promotion of the interest of the people in general and not
create or foster an atmosphere of religious conflict. The study also aims at
finding out whether the papers promoted intellectual honesty and fostered
the spirit of unity particularly when the society was faced with the encroachment
of the British who posed a threat to their freedom, culture, economy ...

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