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Vol. 5 No.1: June 2017

Metaphoric Representations of Refugees in the Print Media Reports on the Bakassi Peninsula Border Conflict

  • Ebuka Igwebuike
June 13, 2017


Metaphor, a significant linguistic resource for representing events, people and their actions in conflict situations, is capable of revealing ideological positioning and inclinations of news reporters. This paper therefore examines strategic deployment of metaphors by selected Nigerian newspapers in representing refugees and their actions in the Bakassi Peninsula border conflict with a view to uncovering underlying ideologies in the representations. Using insights from Charteris-Black’s (2004) Critical Metaphor Theory and Lakoff and Johnson’s (1980) Conceptual Theory of Metaphor, the study analyses instances of conceptual metaphors in the news reports on the border conflict from two Nigerian national newspapers, namely The Punch and The Guardian, published between August 2008 and August 2009. The findings reveal that metaphors of disease, dangerous water, natural disasters and confusion are deployed to conceptualise refugees as threats, impending danger and agents of chaos and social disorder at their resettlement camps. The underlying ideologies are altruism, social justice and humanitarianism. The paper concludes that tact is essential in the choice of metaphors, especially in conflict news reporting, as metaphoric representations are capable of escalating or reducing conflict situations.