Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 130


The English language as an instrument of exploitation in Colonial Nigeria: Instances from Icheoku

Diri I. Teilanyo
Department of English and Literature, Faculty of Arts, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 29 March 2011
  •  Published: 30 September 2011



Among the most important and lasting legacies left behind by the British in Nigeria is the English language. While English has been one of the most unifying factors in Nigeria and has been the means of socio-economic upliftment for many individuals, it has also served some selfish and exploitative purposes. This paper studies how the few Nigerians (and Africans) who had acquired English in the early times used it as an avenue of exploiting the populace who were totally ignorant of the language. Besides the general sociolinguistic study, concrete instances are drawn from the Court Clerk in the Nigeria television comedy series “Icheoku”, who uses his monopoly of the knowledge of English both to intimidate the local population and to deliberately misinterpret the District Officer’s statements and judgements/rulings to his own advantage. From this study, a statement is made on the value of (exclusive) bilingualism as a tool for survival in a society of unequals.


Key words: English, socio-economic status, exploitation, bilingualism, bombast.