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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 41, Issue 2, 2020

Issue cover
Cover Caption: Chike Azuonye, Exodus, 2017. Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Front Matter

Table of Contents


Part I—Essays

Space and Colonial Alterity: Interrogating British Residential Segregation in Nigeria, 1899-1919

The policy of segregation is undoubtedly a resented feature of colonial rule in Africa. However, discussions of the residential racial segregation policy of the British colonial administration in Africa invariably focus on “settler colonies” of South, Central, and East Africa. British colonial West Africa hardly features in such discussions since it is widely believed that these areas, which had no large-scale European settler populations, had no experience relevant to any meaningful discussion of multi-racial colonial relationships. Some studies even deny the existence of racially segregated areas in places other than the settler colonies. Despite evidence that residential racial segregation formed one of the principles that facilitated the implementation of British colonial policy in Nigeria, the Nigerian experience has not been given a fully coherent treatment. This paper examines Nigeria’s experience of officially directed residential segregation. It argues that while residential segregation policies were justified along policies related to health, sanitation, and disease prevention, the motive also derived from the demonstration of racial supremacy and civilization, which was the ideological justification for empires in Africa. It also argues that Lugard may have been impacted by the execution of this policy in India, where he left to become Governor of Nigeria in 1913. While the settler colonies had important dimensions in this inter-racial relationship, colonial Nigeria was not spared the experience of such racially motivated segregation, as the indigenes took to petitions and other means to protest this racial policy. Although Nigeria cannot claim the same intensity of deprivation as was associated with this policy in many British colonies, the pattern that emerged endured throughout the colonial and postcolonial periods.

The Vitality of Yoruba Culture in the Americas

How did Africans create homes for themselves and maintain ancestral practices after being forcefully taken across the Middle Passage as enslaved people into various regions of the New and Old Worlds? In the Americas, they found themselves in a place clearly distinct from African cultural and geographical landscapes and were forced to adapt to strange climates and contend with alien cultures unfamiliar to those of their homeland. Rather than being completely steamrolled by colonial pressure, however, Africans of various ethnicities actively contended with the diverse influences of the colonial context. Such practices have, in turn, shaped the continued cultural diversity of the Americas to this day. This paper explores the diffusion and vitality of Yoruba culture, in particular throughout the nineteenth century in Brazil, Haiti, Cuba, and Trinidad and Tobago, where Yoruba forms of religion, Roman Catholic sensibilities, and indigenous cosmographies formed hybridized spiritualties and worldviews. This paper interprets historical evidence alongside secondary sources and contemporary cases in order to evaluate how the conjunctural forces brought about by slavery, colonialism, and inter-culturation occasioned the formation of Yoruba Atlantic and Afro-Latinx religions such as Candomble, Santeria, and Voodoo, as well as Orisha practices. This paper also examines how such spiritualties and worldviews have contributed to the complex social and cultural composition of the Americas in the modern world. It pays special attention to the conflictual and creative energies surrounding cultural diffusion and cross-cultural migration. Although various African ethnicities were brought across the Atlantic, Yoruba cultural practices have survived with a sustained intensity.

The Tragedy of The Girl-Child: A Feminist Reading of Ngozi Omeje’s The Conquered Maiden and Amma Darko’s Faceless

This paper is a critical interrogation of Ngozi Omeje’s The Conquered Maiden and Amma Darko’s Faceless from the feminist ideological perspective. While Ngozi Omeje looks at the place of the girl-child from the Igbo’s cultural world view using the platform of the theater, Amma Darko explores the predicament and the subjugation of the girl-child from the Ghanaian socio-cultural perspective using the novel as her medium. This paper examines the predicaments and the socio-cultural prejudice against the girl-child in the patriarchal society of Nigeria and in matriarchal Ghanaian society. The theoretical framework of the paper is based on the feminist sociological theory that re-examines and compares the treatment of women vis-a-vis men in society. This theory also evaluates issues of bias, prejudice and discrimination against women, and by implication the girl-child, to determine whether or not women have been fairly or justly treated in society. This paper establishes, based on visual and non-visual signifiers in the texts, that the girl-child is a victim of discrimination in both Nigerian and Ghanaian societies. Both texts confirm the hostility of society towards the girl-child, and its preference for the men who are seen to be more reliable and dependable, and who are believed to be the carriers and preservers of the seed of progeny. This paper analyzes the writers’ condemnation of these prejudicial, discriminatory and hostile behavioral attitudes against the girl-child. Both texts are thus interpreted as a biting satire against gender discrimination in African societies.

A Marxian Analysis on The Bond Between Capitalism and the Oppression of Nigerian Women Since Colonial Times

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there have been several attempts to diminish the significance of Marxism in academia. It is clear that, despite the large body of work on the dialectics of the subjugation and challenges of women today, only an inconsequential fraction of research examines the contribution of the capitalist mode of production towards this reality. This study examines the systematic oppression and exploitation of Nigerian women since the introduction of capitalism into the Nigerian context. The study contends that several sexist policies enacted by the British colonialist government facilitated the capitalist exploitation of the Nigerian masses and that the global exploitation of women is inseparable from capitalism.