Research Article

‘Without Women, Nothing Can Succeed’: Yoruba Women in The Oodua People's Congress (OPC), Nigeria

Insa Nolte


This article examines the role of women in the politics of the Oodua People's Congress (OPC), a militant ethno-nationalist movement of the Yoruba people in south-west Nigeria. Women's inclusion in the organizational structure and their typical roles within the OPC, the article suggests, expand the political agency of women but at the same time ensure that their contributions are contained within the OPC's overall politics. Women play important roles within the OPC, primarily by enabling and supporting the vigilante activities of male OPC members. In the provision of this support, women overwhelmingly draw on the knowledge and powers associated with typically female life experiences. As a result, women's interests are represented within the overall agenda of the OPC, but on the basis of complementary rather than egalitarian gender roles.


Cet article examine le rôle des femmes dans la politique de l'OPC (Oodua People's Congress), mouvement ethnonationaliste militant du peuple Yoruba, dans le Sud-Ouest du Nigeria. Il suggère que l'inclusion des femmes dans la structure organisationnelle et leurs rôles typiques au sein de l'OPC étendent l'action politique des femmes mais, dans le même temps, font en sorte que leurs contributions sont contenues dans la politique générale de l'OPC. Les femmes jouent des rôles importants au sein de l'OPC, principalement en facilitant et en soutenant les activités de vigilantisme des membres masculins de l'OPC. Dans l'exercice de ce soutien, les femmes mettent surtout à profit un savoir et des pouvoirs associés à des expériences de vie typiquement féminines. C'est pourquoi les intérêts des femmes sont représentés dans le programme général de l'OPC, mais sur la base de rôles de genre complémentaires plutôt qu'égalitaires.

(Online publication May 19 2011)

Insa Nolte is a lecturer at the Centre of West African Studies at the University of Birmingham. Her research interests include Yoruba history and politics, and especially the relationship between local and ethno-nationalist politics and the state. She is presently writing a monograph on the history of Ijebu-Remo, which also investigates the role of the Nigerian nationalist leader Obafemi Awolowo in local politics. Her recent publications include: ‘Ethnic vigilantes and the state: the Oodua People's Congress in southwest Nigeria’, International Relations 21 (1) (2007), and ‘Identity and violence: the politics of youth in Ijebu-Remo, Nigeria’, Journal of Modern African Studies 42 (1) (2004).