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Timothy J. Stapleton

Abstract

In British colonial Nigeria, the military was more heterogeneous than previously thought and British ideas about “martial races” changed depending on local reactions to recruiting. In the early twentieth century British officers saw the northern Hausa and southwestern Yoruba, who dominated the ranks, as civilized “martial races.” The Yoruba stopped enlisting given new prospects and protest, and southeasterners like the Igbo rejected recruiting given language difficulties and resistance. The British then perceived all southern Nigerians as lacking martial qualities. Although Hausa enlistment also declined with opportunities and religious objections, the inter-war army developed a northern ethos through Hausa language and the northern location of military institutions. The rank-and-file became increasingly diverse including northern and Middle Belt minorities, seen by the British as primitive warriors and as insurance against Muslim revolt, enlisting because of poverty. From 1930, military identities in Nigeria polarized with uneducated northern/Middle Belt infantry and literate southern technicians.

The Rise and Demise of the Boys’ Company

From Coup Makers to a Footnote in Ghana’s Political History

Humphrey Asamoah Agyekum

Abstract

Graduates of Ghana's defunct Army Boys’ Company, a specialized military training institution for boys, participated to varying degrees in all five successful coups in the West African country. Most significantly, their prominent role in the coups of 1979 and 1981 catapulted them into the heart of the Ghanaian political arena. They thus became political actors; a position with far reaching consequences for the Boys’ Company. Coups in Ghana have received considerable academic attention. However, the focus of this body of literature tended to be on the coup leaders with rarely any attention for the soldiers who facilitate the power seizures by conducting the fighting. This article addresses this lacunae by assessing how the so-called “ex-Boys” radicalized politically, while bringing to the fore their experience at the Army Boys’ Company and in the military. Additionally, the article scrutinizes the conditions that led to demise of the Boys’ Company.

Two Thousand Years in Dendi, Northern Benin

Archaeology, History and Memory

Series:

Edited by Anne Haour

In Two Thousand Years in Dendi, Northern Benin an international team examines a little-known part of the Niger River valley, West Africa, over the longue durée. This area, known as Dendi, has often been portrayed as the crossroads of major West African medieval empires but this understanding has been based on a small number of very patchy historical sources. Working from the ground up, from the archaeological sites, standing remains, oral traditions and craft industries of Dendi, Haour and her team offer the first in-depth account of the area.

Contributors are: Paul Adderley, Mardjoua Barpougouni, Victor Brunfaut, Louis Champion, Annalisa Christie, Barbara Eichhorn, Anne Filippini, Dorian Fuller, Olivier Gosselain, David Kay, Nadia Khalaf, Nestor Labiyi, Raoul Laibi, Richard Lee, Veerle Linseele, Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Carlos Magnavita, Sonja Magnavita, Didier N'Dah, Nicolas Nikis, Sam Nixon, Franck N’Po Takpara, Jean-François Pinet, Ronika Power, Caroline Robion-Brunner, Lucie Smolderen, Abubakar Sule Sani, Romuald Tchibozo, Jennifer Wexler, Wim Wouters.

Call for Papers

Special Issue on New Perspectives on World War Two In West Africa

Enock Ndawana and Mediel Hove

Abstract

This article examines the role of traditional leaders during Zimbabwe’s war of liberation. Contrary to the generalisations that traditional leaders and their subordinates were either absolutely supportive of the liberation war or were against it supporting the Smith regime, this paper uses the case of Buhera District to demonstrate that traditional leaders and their subordinates contributed in various ways to Zimbabwe’s war of liberation. Guided by a combination of primary and secondary sources, the article argues that traditional leaders were in a dilemma because they were victims of the contending forces. However, they employed various survival tactics as they faced equally dangerous conflicting forces who put them in complex, ambiguous and contradictory relationships. The article concludes that the strategies and tactics employed by the Rhodesian Security Forces and the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army guerrillas had debilitating effects on traditional leaders and their subordinates during the liberation war.