Becoming Educated
: An Autoethnography of Nigerian Student Experience Involving Participatory Film

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This autoethnographic PhD explores the question of what it means to be educated in Nigerian student experience. It is comprised of a written thesis and a participatory film series. The thesis consists of three parts, which provide an introduction to the study, a literature review section, the presentation of my film series in embedded links, and a discussion of my study findings and research question. 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 I explore in the thesis. 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. I emphasise the importance of the Nigerian identity, and argue 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. I use 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 of this study engage with my study findings in a deep and immersive way. The film series are titled after the phrase ‘becoming Nigerian’, which I discuss in this thesis as a desire of Nigerian students to attain a sense of legitimacy in the world for their Nigerian identity. In addition to ideas on becoming, I discuss faith as a source of belonging and ‘mobile home’ for Nigerian students. This idea of faith as belonging and mobile home emerges in my study during a process of literature review, and interview discussions with Nigerian students. Past studies on Nigerian student experience in the UK, help to affirm my argument that faith is relied on for belonging by some Nigerian students (Eze 2014; Oluwaseun 2015; Nsiah 2017). I use autoethnography at all points of this study, to self-reflect and explore personal experiences and feelings of myself and participants. I use non-traditional modes of knowledge and philosophy to explore complex ideas and provide concise conclusions. These modes include film, music and proverbs.
Date of Award9 Feb 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorKatherine Wimpenny (Supervisor), Ken Fero (Supervisor), Alun DeWinter (Supervisor) & Fred Mudhai (Supervisor)


  • autoethnographic
  • student experience
  • Nigerian
  • identity
  • film
  • music

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