The Journal of Modern African Studies

Identity and violence: the politics of youth in Ijebu-Remo, Nigeria 1

Insa Nolte a1
a1 Centre of West African Studies (CWAS), University of Birmingham.

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This article examines the politics of youth in Ijebu-Remo (henceforth Remo) from the 1950s to the present. The emergence of the politics of youth in the 1950s and 1960s drew on precolonial discourse and was closely associated with the emergence of Remo's anti-federal postcolonial political identity. Since Nigeria's political and economic decline in the mid-1980s, strong feelings of exclusion – strengthened further by the political sidelining of Yoruba-speaking politicians in national politics between 1993 and 1999 – have contributed to an increase of nationalist sentiment in Remo youth politics. This is enacted through secrecy, a reinvention and utilisation of ‘traditional’ cultural practice, and the growing definition of local identity through ethnic discourse. Traditionally, Remo youth and elite politics have legitimised and supported each other, but the cohesion between these groups has declined since the return to democracy in 1999. Rivalry and conflict over local and national resources have led to bitter intergroup fighting, and young men's strategies to combat social exclusion remain mostly individual.


1 Earlier versions of this paper were read by Lynne Brydon, Axel Harneit-Sievers, Tom McCaskie and Rita Nnodim, who all made very valuable comments and suggestions.