Becoming Nigerian

Emmanuel Johnson (Director), Godswill Ezeonyeka (Other), Aisha Houmadi (Other), Inemesit Inyang (Other), Lizzy Johnson (Other), Misal Eskender (Other)

Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchDigital or Visual Media


Becoming Nigerian explores the essence of the Nigerian identity and the desire of the Nigerian student abroad to find belonging. It is made up of five episodes: Essence, Honeymoon, Crisis, Adaptation and Homecoming. It is the film component of Emmanuel Johnson's autoethnographic PhD study which explores the question of what it means to be educated in Nigerian student experience. In response to the question of what it means to be educated in Nigerian student experience, the study concludes that, it means: to possess value and knowledge that legitimises the Nigerian identity. This understanding is guided by ideas of key scholars such as R.S. Peters (1966; 1967), Craft (1984) and Hirst and Peters (1970), who provide definitions of education which is explored in the thesis component of the study. This idea of value and knowledge that legitimises the Nigerian identity, is explored in part III of the thesis. The idea of ‘legitimacy’ is linked to an Ibibio phrase that is mentioned in one of the five episodes of the film series, called ‘aman isong’, which can be translated as ‘belonging to the land’. Thus, the idea of ‘belonging’ to one’s native land is indicative of a sense of belonging, which is found in the Nigerian identity. This study emphasises the importance of the Nigerian identity and argues that, an ‘education’ that does not help provide this sense of legitimacy, may not be an education at all for Nigerian students. Because a Nigerian awarded such education may struggle with feelings of loneliness, born from a lack of legitimacy of their Nigerian identity. Emmanuel uses participatory film in this study through a lens of autoethnography, which means personal experiences as researcher influence the narrative of the film series. The film series capture visual narratives of Nigerian student experience, to help viewers engage with study findings in a deep and immersive way. The film series are titled after the phrase ‘becoming Nigerian’, which is discussed in this thesis as a desire of Nigerian students to attain a sense of legitimacy in the world for their Nigerian identity.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputFilm
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2023


  • Nigerian Student Experience
  • Education
  • Autoethnography
  • Poetry
  • Documentary Film
  • Personal Experience
  • Lived Experience
  • Immigration
  • Alienation
  • Loneliness
  • Racism
  • Identity
  • Belonging
  • Ibibio
  • Participatory Film


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