Urban History

‘Ibadan – a model of historical facts’: militarism and civic culture in a Yoruba city

Ruth Watson a1
a1 St Antony's College, Oxford, OX2 6JF


The article focuses on an historical relationship between the political institution of chieftaincy and civic pride in Ibadan, a Yoruba city in south-western Nigeria. It examines this relationship against the scholarly model of ‘Yoruba urbanism’ and argues that this model is empirically and conceptually flawed. Drawing on oral and documentary historical sources, the article explores how a ‘civic Ibadan’ was made through practices of settlement, civil disorder and external warfare during the pre-colonial period. The analysis adds to recent debates about the concept of ‘historical materialism’ in the urban past.