Yoruba Elites and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria

Yoruba Elites and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria : Obafemi Awolowo and Corporate Agency

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Yoruba Elites and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria investigates the dynamics and challenges of ethnicity and elite politics in Nigeria, Africa's largest democracy. Wale Adebanwi demonstrates how the corporate agency of the elite transformed the modern history and politics of one of Africa's largest ethnic groups, the Yoruba. The argument is organized around the ideas and cultural representations of Obafemi Awolowo, the central signifier of modern Yoruba culture. Through the narration and analysis of material, non-material and interactional phenomena - such as political party and ethnic group organization, cultural politics, democratic struggle, personal ambitions, group solidarity, death, memory and commemoration - this book examines the foundations of the legitimacy of the Yoruba political elite. Using historical sociology and ethnographic research, Adebanwi takes readers into the hitherto unexplored undercurrents of one of the most powerful and progressive elite groups in Africa, tracing its internal and external struggles for power.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 19 b/w illus. 3 maps
  • 1139899546
  • 9781139899543

Review quote

'This book is a very useful addition to the literature on politics in ethnically diverse and sharply divided plural societies like Nigeria. It is recommended to social science students, professional ethnographers, and scholars with interest in the politics of developing societies.' John Olushola Magbadelo, African Studies Quarterly 'Adebanwi does a great job of problematizing the intersections and constitutive interactions of structure, agency, and culture ... He has advanced a beautifully written and powerfully argued addition to studies of ethnicity, elite politics, agency and political legitimacy.' Moses E. Ochonu, International Journal of African Historical Studies 'The stress of the book on the intersectionality of ethnicity and elite politics is itself a major achievement. If other writers have characterized ethnicity and elite politics as negative, Adebanwi sees them as transformational, with enormous capacity to generate robust discussions, active political participation, and brilliant political calculations.' Toyin Falola, Africa 'Wale Adebanwi has written a complex but indispensable book ... The significance of his book extends beyond Nigeria to understanding leadership, identity and politics in the post-colonial world.' Richard Joseph, Journal of Modern African Studies 'Adebanwi's book presents fresh perspectives in comprehensible language on subjects ranging from political sociology, political processes, ethnicity and ethnic politics, democratization and ethnography. Each chapter like a plot unravels how ambition constitutes the greatest threat to peace as stated in the epigram ... the book remains an excellent attestation to the ten-year period used in putting it together and can as well be regarded as a political history of the Yoruba.' Gbemisola Animasawun, Nations and Nationalism 'Rather than providing more narratives of Awolow-'s biography, Adebanwi uses elitism and agency to explore political profiles in Nigerian colonial and postcolonial politics. Long-term fieldwork and engaging methodology result in an amazingly dense description of Awolow- as an agent of political modernity in Yoruba society. Thus this book will spark interest. ... Adebanwi's book is a good and classic work that problematizes elitism and agency in 20th-century Yoruba politics. It successfully illuminates Yoruba influences on 21st-century Nigerian politics. Thus I can recommend it.' Aderemi Suleiman Ajala, American Anthropologistshow more

About Wale Adebanwi

Wale Adebanwi is Associate Professor in the Program in African American and African Studies at the University of California, Davis.show more

Table of contents

Introduction; Part I: 1. Elite agency: the making of the modern progenitor; 2. The secular ancestor: the political life of a dead leader; Part II: 3. The politics of heritage: (re)constitution, conservation and corporateness in Yoruba politics; 4. The mantle of Awo: the politics of succession; 5. Reconciliation and retrenchment; 6. How (not) to be a proper Yoruba; 7. Seizing the heritage: playing proper Yoruba in an age of uncertainty; Conclusion: corporate agency and ethnic politics.show more