The Yoruba Frontier: A Regional History of Community Formation, Experience, and Changes in Central Nigeria


Aribidesi Usman - African American Studies, Arizona State University   


Abstract: The issue of “frontier” is an important perspective on Africa from which we may better understand the formation of African societies, cultural transformation, and culture-historical continuity. Anyone familiar with the routine workings of African social organization will recognize the different events of migration and founding of settlements. The Yoruba frontier is a special case of that of a local frontier or the “internal African frontier,” lying at the fringes of large polities such as Old Oyo and Nupe. This posits a process in which incipient small polities are produced by other similar and usually more complex societies. The new immigrant grows into a large settlement as it attracts other people. Sometimes the new settlement solidifies, joins with other settlements or establishes hegemony over them, and finally crystallizes into a new polity. The research utilizes ethnohistorical and archaeological information to better understand the process of settlement formation, experiences, and changes in northern Yoruba between at least 1300 and 1900 AD.