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Title:The traditional political organizations of Yoruba towns: a case study of Ayedun-Ekiti in a comparative framework
Author:Watabe, Shigeyuki
Periodical:African Urban Studies (Tokyo)
Geographic term:Nigeria
traditional polities
small towns
Abstract:In contrast to other ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa, the Yoruba of southwestern Nigeria are generally acknowledged to have lived in towns long before colonization. Consequently they have often been called 'an urban people' or 'traditional town dwellers'. The present author reconsiders the supposed 'uniqueness' of the Yoruba towns. He reexamines the characterizations of Yoruba towns found in the literature in historical setting and discovers that previous studies have depended mainly on data concerning large towns. There is little information on ordinary small towns. To fill the gap, he describes the social structure of Ayedun, a small town in the Ekiti area, based on field research in 1981-1983 and 1991. He looks at the chieftaincy system and age groups, the composition of wards, quarters and patrilineal groups, and the status of the 'Alaaye' (town chief) and the town's history. He subsequently compares the features of Ayedun social organization with those of other Yoruba subgroups, notably the Kabba-Yoruba, and those of neighbouring ethnic groups which belong to the Kwa language group, such as the Igbo, in order to discover differences and similarities. Bibliogr., notes, ref.