The Invention of Tradition Revisited: The Case of Colonial Africa

Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series


As Werner Sollors has remarked, the word ‘invention’ has ‘become a rather popular category in intellectual discourse’. No longer ‘reserved for accounts of technological advances such as the telegraph’, invention has been applied to ‘such diverse phenomena as the invention of culture; of literary history; of childhood as well as the loss of childhood; of motherhood; of kinship; of the self; of America; of the Negro; of the Indian; of the Jew’. Some usages of ‘invention’ have laid so much stress on ‘the importance of language in the social construction of reality’ as ‘to let “reality” disappear behind an inventive language that dissembles it’.1


Ethnic Identity Civic Virtue Colonial State Cultural Nationalism Colonial Administrator 
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  1. 2.
    J. A. Atanda, The New Oyo Empire: Indirect Rule and Change in Southeastern Nigeria 1894–1934 (London: Longman, 1973), pp. 222, 225. See Appendix 1.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    C. E. F. Beer and G. Williams, ‘The politics of the Ibadan peasantry’, in G. Williams (ed.), Nigeria: Economy and Society (London: Rex Collings, 1976), p. 140Google Scholar
  3. A. G. Hopkins, ‘Economic aspects of political movements in Nigeria and the Gold Coast, 1918–39’, Journal of African History 7, 1, 1966.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    C. Wilson, The History of Unilever: A Study in Economic Growth and Social Change, Vol. 1 (London: Cassell, 1954). On the subsequent development of the oligopoly, see J. Mars, ‘Extra-territorial enterprises’ in Mining, Commerce and Finance in Nigeria, ed. M. Perham (London: Faber, 1948); P. T. Bauer, West African Trade (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954) and G. Deutsch, ‘Educating the middlemen: a political and economic history of statutory cocoa marketing in Nigeria, 1936–1947’, Ph.D. thesis, University of London.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    I. B. Akinyele, The Outlines of Ibadan History (Lagos: Alebiosu Press, 1946), pp. 10–11 (tr. of Iwe Itan Ibadan (Ibadan: Egbe Agba O’Tan, 1916; and Exeter: James Townsend, 1946); S. O. Johnson, The History of the Yorubas from the Earliest Times to the Beginnings of the British Protectorate (London: Christian Missionary Society, 1921; 6th edition 1966); B. Awe, ‘The Rise of Ibadan as a Yoruba Power’, D.Phil. thesis, University of Oxford, 1964, pp. 244–92.Google Scholar
  6. 18.
    C. H. Elgee, The Evolution of Ibadan (Lagos: Government Printer, 1914); Atanda, The New Oyo Empire, pp. 95–7. On Irefin, see I. B. Akinyele, The Outlines of Ibadan History (Lagos: Alebiosu Press, 1946), pp. 22–3.Google Scholar

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© Terence Ranger and Olufemi Vaughan 1993

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