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THE YORUBA NATIONALIST MOVEMENTS, ETHNIC POLITICS AND VIOLENCE: AN ANALYSIS FROM HISTORICAL CONSCIOUSNESS AND SOCIO-POLITICAL SPACE IN SOUTH-WESTERN NIGERIA

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 Format: MS WORD ::   Chapters: 1-5 ::   Pages: 67 ::   Attributes: historical analysis ::   1,853 people found this useful

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Abstract

Since 1900, the Yoruba identity engaged the working of ethno-history in South-western Nigeria. This resulted in ethno-nationalist movements and ethnic politics, characterized by violence against the State and some other ethnic groups in Nigeria. Relying on mythology, traditions and subjective cultural pride, the Yoruba created history establishing a pan- Yoruba identity among different Yoruba sub-groups, use for the imagination of a nation. The people’s history and socio-political space in Nigeria were used by the Yoruba political elite, both during the colonial and post-colonial periods to negotiate more access to political and economic resources in the country. Like nationalism, ethno-nationalist movements and ethnic politics continue in South-western Nigeria without resulting to actual independent Yoruba nation as at 2009. Through ethnography, this paper examines the working of history, tradition and modernity on ethno-nationalism. It also argues that the Yoruba ethno- nationalist movements and ethnic politics are constructive agenda dated back to the pre- colonial period and continue to change in structure and function. Thus, the Yoruba ethno- nationalist movements and ethnic politics are adaptive and complex. They remain a challenge to State actions in Nigeria.

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND OF STUDY

This research work deals with ethnic-based nationalism (subsequently refers to as the Yoruba nationalist movements2), ethnic politics, and violence in the Yoruba land. The Yoruba people are located in the tropical region of South-western Nigeria. As early as the 1900s, the people had started the creation of ethnic-based nationalist movements, firstly, as a cultural project and by the 1940s, the Yoruba movements assumed a political dimension in the form of civic nationalism; and between the 1960s and 2009, it involved the use of violence. The first objective of this paper is to discuss the development of the Yoruba nationalist movements within the context of tradition, history and modernity. In the process, other themes such as the changing nature of the Yoruba (ethnic) nationalist movements, the use of violence in ethno- nationalist movements and effects of the Yoruba nationalist movements on the State3 actions in Nigeria are also examined.

Many scholarly works are available on the Yoruba identity and politics. Yet bearing in mind that group identity and socio-political formation that form the basis for nationalism and politics are complex and subject to change, more research is needed on the Yoruba identity and politics especially on how ethnic-based nationalists shape the Yoruba politics and how the Yoruba nationalist movements have impacted on Nigerian State both at the colonial and post- colonial periods. It is particularly so in realization of the ambiguity and controversies characterizing the Yoruba nationalist movements, and the changes which the movements experienced between the 1900s and 2009. Specifically, the Yoruba nationalism and politics changed not only in terms of its structure but also in its functions. Resting on historical consciousness of the people and the socio-political space in which the Yoruba people live in Nigeria- a number of pre-colonial independent kingdoms (sub-ethnic groups) that was colonized and formed into a British colonial territory with other ethnic groups around the River Niger area and since 1960 a member of about 270 ethnic groups forming a post-colonial State calls Nigeria- Yoruba nationalism is influenced by the changing nature of the society.

 

 
 


Formation of group identity and socio-political movements among the Yoruba people in the colonial period was different both in form and functions compared with what it was during the pre-colonial period. At the pre-colonial Yoruba society, the group consciousness was mainly created as historical link among the Yoruba people, mostly through the refugees and the Oyo migrants of the collapsed Old Oyo Kingdom, who invoked history to construct a

2 I refer to Yoruba nationalism as nationalist movements because it is still in progress and it has not led to the creation of an independent Yoruba State.

3 State with upper case ‘S’ as used in this paper implies the politically sovereign group of people within a  defined territory, while state with lower case ‘s’ implies the federating units of a State as practiced in Nigeria.

 

political hegemony linking several Yoruba sub-groups (Doortmont, 1989; Falola and Genova, 2006), with either the political cradle (Oyo) and/or the spiritual cradle (Ile-Ife) of the Yoruba people. Different Yoruba sub-groups used their sense of common identity as a group to establish cultural influence and political power. Each of these different Yoruba sub-groups claimed its distinct sub-group identity during the pre-colonial period. During the colonial time, the early Yoruba elite mainly Christian clergies created the idea of cultural nationalism in the form of pan-Yoruba identity initially constructed as a cultural work (Peel, 1989), which was later turned into a political project in the post-colonial era by the Yoruba colonial political elite---a transition that began shortly before the end of the British colonialism in Nigeria. It was the emphasis on its political imports that led the Yoruba politicians to develop the idea of political nationalism from the earlier cultural nationalism, which in turn embraced the use of violence directed against the Nigerian State and the Hausa/Fulani4 ethnic group and its political elite---whom the Yoruba politicians always perceived as causing socio-political marginalization against their ethnic group.

From 1964 to date (i.e. 2009), the Yoruba nationalist movements featured the use of violence. Up to the present period, the Yoruba of South-western Nigeria were involved in a number of political violence, often linked to the ethnic-based political relationship among many ethnic groups that characterised Nigerian politics. The notable examples of such violence in the Yoruba land included operation weti e (1964-1966), Àgbékòyà crisis5  (1968) in Ibadan, political violence caused by election rigging in the old Oyo and Ondo states in 1983 and the 1993 violence caused by the annulment of June 12, 1993 general elections. Many other crises in reactions to the Yoruba’s perceived marginalization in Nigeria were instigated by the O’odua People’s Congress (OPC)6 in Ibadan, Lagos, Sagamu, Osogbo and

 

 
 

 

4 Hausa/Fulani ethnic group, located in Northern Nigeria, is one of the three most populated and dominant ethnic groups in Nigeria, The two other ethnic groups are the Yoruba and the Igbo in the South-western and South- eastern Nigeria respectively. Since independence in 1960, these three ethnic groups have been involved in competition for political power.

5

Although Àgbékòyà Crisis was more of peasant/state agitation, but the undertone and the state perception was that it was an expression of Yoruba nationalism against the State.

6

The O’odua People’s Congress (OPC) is a militant pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation founded in 1994 by Fredrick Fasheun, a medical doctor and former presidential aspirant on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the 1993 general elections. He joined with a group of Yoruba intellectuals including Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, another medical doctor and human rights activist who became the national treasurer, and Gani Adams who was the head foot soldiers. According to a prominent OPC leader in Osogbo, “initially the major source of its resistance was the annulment of June 12 presidential elections, and the need for Yoruba unity as a prelude to an “Oduduwa Republic. Between 1995 and 2008 OPC had instigated many violent crises in almost all the major Yoruba towns and cities where their objects of attack were Hausa/Fulani and institutions of Federal Government in Yoruba land.

 

Ilorin among other Yoruba cities between 2002 and 2005. Other incidence of violence included election violence in Ekiti and Osun States following the 2007 general elections and the 2009 violent reactions in some towns and villages in Ekiti state due to the accusation of election frauds that characterized the re-run governorship election in the state. All the above cases of violence bore the expressions of certain Yoruba discontents against the Nigerian political and economic structures. The occurrence of this violence during the general elections in Nigeria suggests that a tight competition always exists in political power struggles among some ethnic groups that constitute the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM

Power struggle assumes different forms of conflicts, which democratic governance needs to manage through electoral principles and the rule of law. Rather, in the Nigerian case since 1960, when the country got its independence, many of its political elite have appropriated the gains of democracy to build ethnic-based political hegemony and caused violence whenever their political aspirations were frustrated. The Yoruba in particular often accused the Hausa/Fulani political elite of dominating political power at the federal level for a long time through which the Hausa/Fulani have caused the political marginalization of the Yoruba people. When their attempts to redress the situation through elective politics were frustrated by election riggings, the Yoruba political elite engaged in violent political struggles usually instigated by the Yoruba-based political parties and socio-cultural groups that constituted nationalist movements. As the political violence mostly occurred when Yoruba candidates were defeated in the presidential elections, it suggests that the Yoruba nationalists were agitating for more political power in Nigeria. Many of these crises have sent thousands of people to their deaths and seriously reduced the tempo of development not only in the Yoruba communities but also in the entire Nigeria. Infrastructural facilities are constantly under threat due to political violence. In the rest of this paper, I contextualized the terms that form the main thrust of this discussion and placed the analysis in theoretical perspectives. Other sections of the paper dealt with the research methodology and a brief history of Nigeria in relation to ethno-nationalist movements. Similarly, the paper discusses the interplay between history, tradition and modernity in the creation of nationalist movements, and subsequently discussed the implications of the Yoruba nationalist movements on the Nigerian State.

1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF STUDY

The main aim of the research work is to examine the Yoruba nationalist movement, ethnic politics and violence. Other specific objectives of the study are:

  1. to determine the relationship between historical consciousness and socio-political space in the south west Nigeria
  2. to examine the extent to which conflict has thrived in the south-western part of Nigeria
  3. to determine the causes of Yoruba nationalist movements in Nigeria
  4. to find a way out to conflict in the south-western part of Nigeria

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION

The study came up with research question so as to be able to ascertain the above stated objectives of the study. The research questions for the study are stated below as follows:

  1. What is the relationship between historical consciousness and socio-political space in the south west Nigeria?
  2. To what extent do conflict has thrived in the south-western part of Nigeria?
  3. What are the causes of Yoruba nationalist movements in Nigeria?

1.5 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

This research work adopted the position of Merriam (1988) also supported by Marshall and Rossman (1989) that collection of data and analysis in a qualitative research is a simultaneous process. And as Schatzman and Strauss (1973) contended, data analysis in qualitative research is mainly entail the classification of things, persons and events as well as the properties which characterizes them. Jacob (1987), however posits that in a typical qualitative research, the researcher all through the data analysis process, code their data by using as many categories as possible. Furthermore, patterns and themes are identified and described (Agar, 1996). As such, data analysis in this study will be organized categorically and chronologically. It shall be reviewed and coded continually. In aligning with the view of Merriam (1988), there shall be a chronicling of the list of major ideas that surface. The aim was to find out the interplay of interests driving the debate on climate change between environmentalists and nationalists in the globe and this approach provides a useful way of understanding this phenomenon. Therefore the major source of data was obtained through literature survey of books, reports of dailies and periodicals, government publications, conference papers and seminar reports among other. Descriptive analysis was employed to analyse the data gathered which was presented in a narrative

1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY

The study on Yoruba nationalist movement, ethnic politics and violence will be of immense benefit to the entire south-western Nigeria as the findings of the study will educate the entire south-western part of Nigeria on the ethnic politics, cause of violence and the dangers associated with nationalist movement.

1.7 SCOPE OF STUDY

The study on Yoruba nationalist movement, ethnic politics and violence will cover from 1900-2009


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Paper Information

Format:ms word
Chapter:1-5
Pages:67
Attribute:historical analysis
Price:₦3,000
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