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The publication of a new translation of Akiga Sai's History of the Tiv invites reappraisal of Akiga himself as a local intellectual. This essay presents a biographical account of this early Tiv convert to Christianity, locating his celebrated History in its social, cultural, ethnic and historical contexts, and presents a provisional narrative of his career subsequent to the publication of Akiga's Story, the version of the History edited by Rupert East. As such, it is intended as an invitation to a full biography. The essay reconstructs, insofar as sources permit, the complex relationship between Akiga, East, the Dutch Reformed Church Mission and the International African Institute that led to the publication of Akiga's Story in the form known until now, comparing that version with the complete translation. Akiga's History emerges from this re-examination as a compellingly contemporary narrative engaged with the lived experience of ethnic identification under colonial rule.


La publication d'une nouvelle traduction de l'ouvrage History of the Tiv d'Akiga Sai invite à repenser Akiga lui-même comme un intellectuel local. Cet essai présente un exposé biographique de l'un des premiers Tiv à s'être convertis au christianisme, situant son célèbre ouvrage History dans son contexte social, culturel, ethnique et historique, et offre un récit provisoire de sa carrière à la suite de la publication d'Akiga's Story, la version de History éditée par Rupert East. En tant que tel, il se veut être une invitation à une biographie complète. L'essai reconstruit, autant que le permettent les sources, la relation complexe entre Akiga, East, la Dutch Reformed Church Mission et l'Institut africain international qui a conduit à la publication d'Akiga's Story sous la forme qu'on lui connaissait jusqu’à présent, en comparant cette version avec la traduction complète. Ce réexamen fait apparaître History d'Akiga comme un récit remarquablement contemporain traitant de l'expérience vécue de l'identification ethnique sous le régime colonial.

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P. Bohannan (1955) ‘A Tiv political and religious idea’, Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 11 (2): 137–49.

P. Bohannan (1958) ‘Extra-processual events in Tiv political institutions’, American Anthropologist 60: 112.

R. Boyd and R. Fardon (2014) ‘Naming powers: Hausa tsafi and Tiv tsav’, Journal of African Cultural Studies 26 (1): 3355.

G. Desai (2001) Subject to Colonialism: African self-fashioning and the colonial library. Durham NC: Duke University Press.

R. Fardon (1984) ‘Sisters, wives, wards and daughters: a transformational analysis of the political organization of the Tiv and their neighbours. Part I’, Africa 54 (4): 221.

G. Furniss (2011) ‘On engendering liberal values in the Nigerian colonial state: the idea behind the Gaskiya Corporation’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 39 (1): 95119.

P. E. Lovejoy and J. S. Hogendorn (1993) Slow Death for Slavery: the course of abolition in Northern Nigeria, 1897–1936. African Studies Series 76. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
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