Colonial Impact on the Socio-Communicative Functions of Arabic Language in Nigeria: An Overview

Alfa Muhammed Salisu, Abdullahi Salisu Abdullahi


Before the advent of the colonialist in Nigeria, Arabic language was used as the official language of communication and of daily intercourse. Historical records also confirmed that for about three centuries between 17th and 19th centuries Arabic documents remained the only source of information for European writers on western and central Sudan. A large number of these scholarly works were written by native West African authors in Arabic language, or in their native languages using Arabic scripts. However, the scramble for West African countries by the Europeans in the 19th century brought about the occupation of the areas by the imperialists. This led to change in socio –cultural life of the people of the regions including the Muslims, which in turn has a spillover effect on the communicative functions of Arabic language. Thus, this paper intends to trace a brief history of Arabic in Nigeria, its functions as the language of communication and its subsequent subversion by the European colonialist. Special attention is giving to the present status of Arabic language in Nigeria and the subsequent implications.


Colonial impact; Arabic Language; West African; Nigeria

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