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Title:The 'Born-Again' Oba: Pentecostalism and Traditional Chieftaincy in Yorubaland
Author:Adeboye, OlufunkeISNI
Periodical:Lagos Historical Review
Geographic term:Nigeria
traditional rulers
History and Exploration
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:The introduction of Christianity undermined the hold of traditional religion in Nigeria's Yoruba communities. Pentecostalism was particularly noncompromising in its denunciation of traditional religious practices, making it sacrilegious for any born-again believer to still promote or participate in such activities. However, despite this seeming paradox, certain traditional rulers became born-again. This article examines the phenomenon of born-again 'obas' in Yorubaland both in the colonial and postcolonial periods. It argues that while Pentecostal doctrine does not distinguish between 'personal' and 'cultural' conversion, such a distinction may have become pragmatic for many of these 'obas' in order to avert communal crises. This study shows that the conversion of an 'oba' goes beyond a personal change of religious affiliation, but raises questions of power relations and cultural hegemony. The article also highlights the intersection between conversion, modernity and development. It demonstrates how 'physical development' gradually became a principal parameter used to assess the performance of traditional rulers in postcolonial Nigeria, and how a high rating in this regard could mitigate hostilities provoked by an 'oba''s born-again stance. At the heart of this entire discourse is the contestation of power through religious or 'development' idioms. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]