Identity. The History of Identity

Essay, 2019
7 Pages



The Oxford dictionary defined the theme as the fact of being who or what a person or thing is. In the word of James .D. Fearon, he sees identity as a social category defined by membership rules and alleged characteristic attributes or expected behaviours.

In the opinion of Jenkins (1996.4) refers to it as the ways individuals or collectivities are distinguished in their social relationship with other individuals and collectivities. While Deng (1995:1) sees identity as what is used to describe the way individuals and groups define themselves and are defined by others on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, language and culture.

Also, according to Hogg and Abrams (1988:2) identity is people's concept of who they are, of what sort of people they are and how they relate to others. It can also be the state or fact of remaining the same one or ones as under varying aspects or conditions.


The history of identity can be viewed from the infant stage of our lives. A child is given an appellation called infant before the actual eight days of his or her naming. After the eight day of his or her ceremony he or she will not be referred to an infant again instead people will be calling the child by name given to him or her during the naming activities.

From the analysis above, one can hold on to the conviction that every man on earth has brought his or her identity from his creator before the input of our parents in this present day world. The name a child is given in the pre-civilization day has to do with the name of the ancestors. This tradition is commonly practiced in the African setting. Every man in the society where this customs is operated believes that by naming their children in line with the cultural customs of the family, such child will be cautioned about his activities in the society; so he or she will not like to spoil his name or identity of the family.

Interestingly, the indigenous name in any family is what is been used to identify such family in the society in every parts of the community. Whenever a person mentions his or her family name, it’s very easy for anybody to recognize the family or community that bears that name because of the ancestral affiliation of such name in Africa-Nigeria.


Indeed, the advent of civilization and religion in the modern day of our generation has brought about change in our identity. The society is now dancing to the rhythm of the civilization by changing from traditional name to religious name. Rather than naming a child with traditional name, parents prefer the religious names like Paul, John and academic names like

Success, Goodness e.t.c to the traditional religion. The reason for this is not farfetched; they believe that the power of success lies on the tongue and the name we bear. The belief of the people is that every man on earth has an invisible Angel that is controlling every names and wealth attach to everybody on earth in the realm of the spirit. Hence, the need of having a positive identity.


Based on the divergent view of the scholars’ perspectives of the subject matter, it is crucial for us to see identity as a concept of integrity value by individual in the society. The individual that cherish integrity always ensure that his identity is maintained. Therefore, he or she will never rubbish his or her personality. They ensure that they key into the saying: that good name is better than gold and silver. Based on this, they normally maintain their identity to the end. For instance people like President Muhammadu Buhari believes in his integrity and because of this single fact one can categorically say that his integrity pave way for him on the 23rd of March 2019 as he was declared the winner of the Presidential Election conducted in Nigeria by the Independent National Electoral Commission headed by Prof. Mahmud. Although his victory is being challenged in the law court by his opponent – Alhaji Atiku Abubakar – the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) but until court do otherwise, the status quo still remain.


Similarly, the concept can be viewed in the area of writing legacy in the society. In the literary world some writers believes that their identity need to be sustained in this planet forever after they have gone to their Creator. To maintain this tempo they make sure that literary craft is being produced on any issue affecting the society of which they belong, for the purpose of creating a better society for the current and yet unborn generation. People like Williams Shakespare, Aristotle, Napoleon Bonaparte and D.O.Fagunwa of Nigeria are typical example in these categories. Although they have gone to the other world but the identity of their personality are still speaking volume in the society today in terms of their literary work.


Furthermore, one can also see this subject matter as a concept of performance in term of leadership or governance. In every society there are two set of people living in such community: the first ones are the builders while the second groups are the destroyers. The builders value their identity and legacy they want to leave behind while they are out of this world. But the destroyers does not value their identity at all, for this reason whatever good work done by the builder the destroyer's plans is to destroy them totally because they do not value their identity. Our leaders in this current political dispensation have one time in the past enjoyed free education laid down by the founding fathers of this nation; people like (Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe and Tafawa Balewa) but today our educational system is more costly than expensive perfume in the world. The good foundation laid down by the builder has now been destroyed by the so called the destroyer-leaders. The reason for this is that the concept of good identity does not appeal to them. Their mind is been controlled by corruption therefore, the idea of living good legacy behind does not concern them.


However, the theme identity can be seen in term of cooperate organization. Majority of the Financial Institutions in the world value their identity very well. They strive very hard in their quest not to run afoul of the wrath of their customers in term of any litigation that can bring public disgrace to their services and entity. Therefore, whatever rift they think will cost their good reputation will be averted from the distance. They are doing this because of the value they attach to the importance of identity.


In another development, the concept is significant to the military profession. Whenever bandit impersonate any of the superior officer or the entire profession, it is the duty of the Public Relations Department to swing into action by giving the public information that will counter the erroneous impression the public may likely develop toward their identity .


Indeed, the globe is engulfed with the religion faith and every organizations in this category are competing among themselves in order to maintain their identity before the public. The entire world is been terrorized by the insurgency which people believe that they are affiliated with the Islamic religion. But be it as it may, the leader of the Muslim faith who believe strongly in the teaching of their founder for the purpose of creating peace are isolating themselves from the nefarious act of this insurgency because of the value of identity. They believe that their religion is of good faith hence there is no need for them to condemn the act of killing caused by this set of people called "Boko Haram".


In term of popularity, the concept of identity can be seen in term of fame among the celebrity in the society. To maintain their name majority of the celebrity tends to caution their activities in the society because of the good name they have built. Any public derogatory comment against them will be debunked by their personal manager. So, for this reason, they place premium on the concept of this theme therefore, they normally strive hard to maintain it to the end.


If one look at this subject of discussion from the philosophical point of view, one will discover that a speed limit is what is preventing a vehicle from over speeding. Likewise a person's name is the brake that's restricting him from spoiling his identity. The way you behave in the work place will be determining by the kind of comments people will make after you. This will go a long way in determining type of people that will be in your inner circle. It is because of this good identity we are saying that we should behave well today because:

" Ola Asake "Tomorrow is valuable

Olode efo The owner of vegetable

Omo oni’le iyan ri” A son of a pounded yam house we see ".


Invariably, identity can be seen as something that is worth dying for by every man. Your effort towards the appreciation of the concept in the above poem is what will make people to celebrate you in a grand style with good meal prepare with vegetable. After you have succeeded with your name in the society, then you will have confidence to eat your meal with a well prepared pounded yam before the general public. It sounds philosophical but the wise man will decode the message.


One can also behold identity as a concept of status. The position or achievement one attain in the society will go a long way in valuing his identity. People with academic repute like a Professor who has built an empire for himself will be guiding his name jealously from attracting cobweb. What they will be after will be how to reform their society through their work in order for their name to be written in the Guinness book of records.


To balance this write-up, one can see the concept of identity in the angle of dual behaviours. For instance, some people are known to be an angel in their compound during the day but in the night they turn to a Serpent in the high way road. They carry out nefarious attitude on the innocent people. These categories of people have sold their conscience to the Devil. The word identity is not in their Dictionary at all.

Historically, one will recall the era during which notorious armed robber called “Oyenusi” who was terrorizing the entire nation in the year ‘80s. Before an end came to him, you will discover that he does not place priority to this concept of identity at all, that was why he was doing such bastard activities. Because of this bad image he brought to their family, most of his siblings if not all have rebranded their family name in order to create another better future for their lives and the yet unborn generations.


Excerpt out of 7 pages


Identity. The History of Identity
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ISBN (eBook)
This is an essay on Identity. The content covered the definition, the origin of the concept, how to acquire and mentain identity and perhaps seek for the conclusion .
identity, history, civilization x integrity xwriting legacy x performance x business
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Olusegun Adeyemi Hosea (Author), 2019, Identity. The History of Identity, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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