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Burying “Zik of Africa”: The Politics of Death and Cultural Crisis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2021

Wale Adebanwi*
Affiliation:
African Studies Centre, School of Global and Area Studies, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Abstract

This article uses the death and burial of one of the most important political leaders in twentieth-century Africa, and Nigeria's first and only ceremonial president, Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Nnamdi Azikiwe, to reflect on how and why the deaths and burials of significant persons in Africa represent occasions for the (re)production and management of cultural crises. It argues that the extant literature on the death of consequential persons in Africa either understates or overlooks the generalizability of the “essential contestability” of the material and immaterial relations of the past, present, and future provoked by such deaths. This is particularly visible when these relations are disturbed or challenged by the absence of the person and the process of their burial or reburial.

Type
“Big Men” Pasts
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History

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