The Second World War and Failure of Community in Colonial Ilesa Metropolis, Western Nigeria


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Department of History


This research explores the nexus between the Second World War and the episode of communal riots that broke out in Ilesa, Western Nigeria in 1941. The town of Ilesa populated by the Ijesa, a sub-group of the Yoruba had been an extremely vibrant town and during the colonial period, had provided opportunities in commerce and industry for both natives and strangers. However, in 1941, in the face of dwindling resources and acute competition occasioned by the Second World War, the Ijesa people turned on the visitors and strangers in their midst. This work, using undocumented oral reconstruction of popular memory in Ilesa and other parts of western Nigeria, private papers, newsaper accounts and colonial official reports in the National Archives at Ibadan, and secondary sources provides extensive interpretation of the consequences of World War II on identity and intergroup relations in an urban milieu in colonial Nigeria.