The Pre-colonial Development of Yoruba Towns

  • A. L. Mabogunje
Part of the The Geographical Readings series book series


In spite of their size, many Yoruba settlements fail to meet the criteria of urban status as defined in the more developed countries of the world. Dickinson defines a town in Western Europe and North America as ‘a compact settlement engaged primarily in non-agricultural occupations’1. To this definition other writers have added such criteria as specialisation of economic activities, division of labour and factory-centred production. Very few large centres of population in Nigeria conform to these criteria. Most of them are compact settlements but a sizeable proportion of their population is still engaged in agricultural occupation. Moreover, the level of economic specialisation and division of labour in them is low and factory-centred production is at best very rudimentary.


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  1. 1.
    R. E. Dickinson. City Region and Regionalism, London (1947), p. 25.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    P. C. Lloyd. Craft organisation in Yoruba towns, Africa, 23 (Jan. 1953), 32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    S. O. Biobaku. The Origin of the Yoruba, Federal Information Service, Lagos (1955), p. 21.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ibid., p. 22.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    At present, I am engaged in a study of the morphology of Yoruba towns. Already, a good number of the towns so far studied show distinctive similarities in their lay-out.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Samuel Johnson. The History of the Yorubas, London (1921), p. 22.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ibid., p. 93.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hugh Clapperton. Journal of a Second Expedition into the Interior of Africa, London (1829), p. 58.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Leo Frobenius, The Voice of Africa, London (1913), p. 276.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    The Fulani military power was based on cavalry which can operate best only in open grassland country, hence wooded country was better protected against their onslaught.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. L. Mabogunje

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