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Of Origins and Colonial Order: Southern Nigerian Historians and the ‘Hamitic Hypothesis’ c. 1870–19701

  • Philip S. Zachernuk (a1)

The professional Nigerian nationalist historiography which emerged in reaction against the imperialist Hamitic Hypothesis – the assertion that Africa's history had been made only by foreigners – is rooted in a complex West African tradition of critical dialogue with European ideas. From the mid-nineteenth century, western-educated Africans have re-worked European ideas into distinctive Hamitic Hypotheses suited to their colonial location. This account developed within the constraints set by changing European and African-American ideas about West African origins and the evolving character of the Nigerian intelligentsia. West Africans first identified themselves not as victims of Hamitic invasion but as the degenerate heirs of classical civilizations, to establish their potential to create a modern, Christian society. At the turn of the century various authors argued for past development within West Africa rather than mere degeneration. Edward Blyden appropriated African-American thought to posit a distinct racial history. Samuel Johnson elaborated on Yoruba traditions of a golden age. Inter-war writers such as J. O. Lucas and Ladipo Solanke built on both arguments, but as race science declined they again invoked universal historical patterns. Facing the arrival of Nigeria as a nation-state, later writers such as S. O. Biobaku developed these ideas to argue that Hamitic invasions had created Nigeria's proto-national culture. In the heightened identity politics of the 1950s, local historians adopted Hamites to compete for historical primacy among Nigerian communities. The Hamitic Hypothesis declined in post-colonial conditions, in part because the concern to define ultimate identities along a colonial axis was displaced by the need to understand identity politics within the Nigerian sphere. The Nigerian Hamitic Hypothesis had a complex career, promoting élite ambitions, Christian identities, Nigerian nationalism and communal rivalries. New treatments of African colonial historiography – and intellectual history – must incorporate the complexities illus-trated here.

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2 July R. W., The Origins of Modern African Thought (New York, 1967); Afigbo A. E., The Poverty of African Historiography (Lagos, 1977); also Afigbo, Ropes of Sand (Nsukka, 1981), 56; Crowder M., ‘The outsider and African culture: the case of E. H. Duckworth and Nigeria Magazine’, in July R. W. and Benson P. (eds. ), African Culture and Intellectual Leaders and the Development of the New African Nations (New York and Ibadan, 1982), 79. For the focus on recent writing, see Adeoye A. O., ‘Understanding the crisis in Nigerian historiography’, History in Africa, XIX (1992), 111; Saulawa A. M., ‘A history of historical writings in Nigeria since c. 1960 A. d.’, Savanna, x (1989), 7685; Neale C., Writing ‘Independent’ History (Westport and London, 1985); Lovejoy P. E., ‘The Ibadan school of historiography and its critics’, in Falola T. (ed. ), African Historiography (Longman, 1993), 195202; Ofonagoro W. I., ‘Re-appraisals in history: The West African context’, in Uya O. E. and Erim E. O. (eds. ), Perspectives and Methods of Studying African History (Enugu, 1984), esp. 1719.Kapteijns L. treats the early period more insightfully but very briefly in African Historiography Written by Africans, 1955–1973. The Nigerian Case (Leiden, 1977), 913.

3 Most of this work concerns the Yoruba. A valuable recent collection is Falola (ed. ), African Historiography. See also Falola, ‘The minor works of T. O. Avoseh’, History in Africa, xIx (1992), 237–62; Falola, ‘“Alternative History”: the world of Yoruba chroniclers’, Passages, vi (1993), 23, 6; Falola (ed. ), Yoruba Historiography (Madison, 1991); Falola (ed. ), Pioneer, Patriot and Patriarch: Samuel Johnson and the Yoruba People (Madison, 1993). Robin Law's interest in early historiography is more long-standing. See his ‘Early Yoruba historiography’, History in Africa, III (1976), 6989; and ‘Constructing’ a real national history’: a comparison of Edward Blyden and Samuel Johnson’, in Farias P. F. de Moraes and Barber K. (eds. ), Self-Assertion and Brokerage: Early Cultural Nationalism in West Africa, (Birmingham, 1990). Also Doortmont M. R., ‘The invention of the Yorubas: regional and pan-African nationalism versus ethnic provincialism’, in Farias and Barber (eds. ), Self-Assertion, 101–8; Peel J. D. Y., ‘The Pastor and the Babalawo: interaction of religions in nineteenth-century Yorubaland’, Africa, lx (1990), 338–69.

4 Law R., ‘How truly traditional is our traditional history? The case of Samuel Johnson and the recording of Yoruba oral tradition’, in Falola (ed. ), Pioneer, 4763; ‘The Heritage of Oduduwa: traditional history and political propaganda among the Yoruba’, J. Afr. Hist., xIv (1973), 207–22.

5 T. O. Ranger's rethinking of ‘invention’ as ‘imagining’ admirably addresses the intricacies of social thought in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Africa which I am attempting to capture in the realm of historiography: ‘The invention of tradition revisited: the case of colonial Africa’, in Ranger T. O. and Vaughan O. (eds. ), Legitimacy and the State in Twentieth-Century Africa (London, 1993), esp. 7882.

6 Sanders E. R., ‘The Hamitic Hypothesis; its origin and function in time perspective’, J. Afr. Hist., X (1969), 521–32; also Drake Saint-Clair, ‘Détruire le myth chamitique, devoir des hommes cultivés’, Présence Africaine, numéro special (Paris, 1959), 215–30. Many studies show the image of Africa changing with European needs, notably Hammond D. and Jablow A., The Myth of Africa, (2nd ed., New York, 1977), and Curtin P. D., The Image of Africa (Madison, 1964). For the confusion concerning the curse, and a critique of Sanders for rooting its racism in the Babylonian Talmud, see Isaac E., ‘Genesis, Judaism, and the “Sons of Ham”’, in Willis J. R. (ed. ), Slaves and Slavery in Muslim Africa, (2 vols. ) (London, 1985), i, 7591. On the removal of Egypt (and especially a black Egypt) from classical history more generally, see Bernal M., Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (2 vols. ) (London, 1987), i, 30, 240–6, and passim.

7 J. A. Atanda provides a useful sketch of various colonial-era European and Nigerian schools of thought about Nigerian origins, but without adequate attention to motivation, context, or transformations: ‘The historian and the problem of origins of peoples in Nigerian society’, J. Hist. Soc. Nigeria, x (1980), 6377.

8 Afigbo A. E., ‘Traditions of Igbo origins: a comment’, History in Africa, x (1983), 23

9 Afigbo, ‘Colonial historiography’, in Falola (ed. ), African Historiography, 3951.

10 By colonial intelligentsia I mean those members of the western-educated community who addressed the problems of Nigeria as a colonial entity. My observations about the composition and situation of the colonial intelligentsia throughout this article are based on Zachernuk P. S., ‘Intellectual life in a colonial context: the Nigerian intelligentsia, 1860–1960’ (Ph. D. thesis, University of Toronto, 1991), esp. chs. 2 and 3.

11 On this theme see Said E. W., Orientalism (New York, 1978), and Culture and Imperialism (New York, 1993); Mudimbe V. Y., The Invention of Africa (London, 1988); Inden R., Imagining India (Oxford, 1992).

12 Peel J. D. Y., ‘The Cultural Work of Yoruba Ethnogenesis’, in Falola (ed. ), Pioneer, 6575.

13 For examples of Blyden's influence on the Lagos intelligentsia, see the Lagos Weekly Record, 14 Apr. 1917; Lagos Daily News, 8 Feb. 1932.

14 I have drawn on a variety of sources for my treatment of changing European ideas, including Barker A. J., The African Link (London, 1978); Bolt C., Victorian Attitudes to Race (Toronto, 1971); Curtin, Image; Gossett T. F., Race: The History of an Idea in America (Dallas, 1963); Kuklick H., The Savage Within: The Social History of British Anthropology, 1885–1945 (Cambridge, 1991); Stepan N., The Idea of Race in Science (London, 1982); Stocking G. W. Jr, Victorian Anthropology (New York, 1987).

15 Grégoire H. B., De la littérature des nègres (Paris, 1808; repr. 1991); Prichard J. C., Researches into the Physical History of Man (London, 1813; repr. Chicago, 1973). Ham's curse had long competed with environmental and other explanations for African physical differences; by 1800 it was losing ground: Jordan W. D., White over Black (Chapel Hill NC, 1968), 1720, 243, 525. During the scramble for Africa the Roman Catholic church re-thought the curse of Ham to clear the ground for evangelization of Africans: Mudimbe, Invention, 46.

16 Armistead W., A Tribute for the Negro (Manchester, 1848; repr. Miami, 1969), 120. Armistead's book was a popular restatement of this tradition set against a rising challenge. Volney asserted the black African roots of ancient Egyptian civilization: Volney M., The Ruins; or a Survey of the Revolution of Empires (London, 1822), 29.

17 Bernal, Black Athena, i, 1.

18 Wilberforce W., A Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade (London, 1807), 74–5.

19 Wilson J. L., Western Africa (New York, 1856; repr. Westport, 1970), 1321; Koelle S. W., Polyglotta Africana (London, 1854; repr. Graz, 1963), iii; also Armistead, Tribute, 123–43. T. E. Bowdich's 1821 Essay on the Superstitions, Customs, and Arts Common to the Ancient Egyptians, Abyssinians and Ashantees, which Curtin calls the ‘first full-length study of West African culture history’, traced the Asante aristocrats’ culture through Ethiopia to Egypt: Curtin, Image, 257.

20 Bowen T. J., Adventures and Missionary Labours in Several Countries in the Interior of Africa from 1848 to 1856 (2nd ed., London, 1968), 310; Clarke W. H., Travels and Explorations in Yorubaland, 1854–1858 (Ibadan, 1972), 276–7; Tucker C., Abbeokuta; or, Sunrise Within the Tropics, (3rd ed., London, 1853), 192n.

21 See the authorities making these arguments assembled by Crummell Alexander, ‘The Negro Race Not Under a Curse’ (1850), in Crummell, The Future of Africa (New York, 1862; repr. 1969), 327–32.

22 Mills Arthur, ‘Our colonial policy’, Contemporary Review, xi (1869), 230. See Stepan, Idea of Race, 4782; Stocking G. W. Jr, ‘The persistence of polygenist thought in post-Darwinian Anthropology’, in his Race, Culture, and Evolution (New York, 1968), 4268.

23 Bovven, Adventures, 1418, 267–9, 276–80.

24 Burton R. F., Abeokuta and the Camaroons Mountains (2 vols. ) (London, 1863), i, 176–7, 206, 231; also his Wit and Wisdom from West Africa (London, 1865; repr. New York, 1969), xxii-xxiv. Even a missionary journal, while accepting that some African history was unknown rather than non-existent, insisted that foreigners had made all history in Africa, without much affecting ‘the negro race’: ‘The negro’, Church Missionary Intelligencer, n. s., Ix (1873), 226–8.

25 Garnet H. H., The Past and Present Condition, and the Destiny, of the Colored Race (Troy, New York, 1848; repr. Miami, 1969), 6, 9; Easton H., A Treatise on the Intellectual Character, and Civil and Political Condition of the Colored People of the U. States (Boston, 1837; repr. Philadelphia, n. d. ), 9; Brown W. W., The Black Man: his Antecedents, his Genius, and his Achievements (2nd ed., New York, 1863; repr. 1968), 3150.

26 Crummell, ‘Negro race’, 325–54.

27 I. Geiss reviews this writing in the context of the birth of Pan-African demands for equality in The Pan African Movement, trans. Keep A. (New York, 1974), 96131; see also Thorpe E. E., Black Historians (New York, 1971).

28 Easton, Treatise, 520. Re-interpretations of the curse of Ham appear in African American journals from at least the 1820s: Moses W. J., Alexander Crummell (Oxford, 1989), 81.

29 Brown W. W., The Rising Son; or, the Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race (Boston, 1874; repr. Miami, 1969), 45–7.

30 Garnet, Past and Present, 12.

31 Crummell, ‘The progress of civilization along the west coast of Africa’ (1861), in his Future of Africa, 106–7, 113.

32 Brown, Rising Son, 3648 and passim. Brown asserts on the one hand that ‘Negroland’ proper ‘abounds in the arts of civilization’ (66), but on the other accepts that the stone ruins of Zimbabwe were built by foreigners, as ‘No native tribes dwelling in mud huts could ever have conceived its erection’ (77).

33 Concerning the African-American mission to uplift Africa, see Blackett R. J. M., ‘Return to the motherland: Robert Campbell, a Jamaican in early colonial Lagos’, Phylon, XL (1979), 375–86; Thorpe E. E., The Mind of the Negro (Westport, 1970), 22–3; 07, Origins, 103–9.

34 Law, ‘How truly traditional’; Law, ‘The “Hamitic Hypothesis” in indigenous West African historical thought’, Paper presented at the Centre for Non-Western Studies, Rijkuniversiteit Leiden, 12 November 1993; also Stevens P. Jr, ‘The Kisra legend and the distortion of historical tradition’, J. Afr. Hist., xvi (1975), 185200. Afigbo notes Islam might also have provided an inspiration among the Igbo, although he is sceptical about this, and does not explore the possibility:‘Traditions’, 2. Ideas of oriental origins taken from Bello and found in many southern Nigerian oral traditions, whatever their derivation, also served to reinforce European researchers in their Hamitic Hypotheses, as for example Farrow S. S., Faith, Fancies and Fetich, or Yoruba Paganism (London, 1926; repr. New York, 1969), 166–7.

35 Equiano O. (c. 1745–97), The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustava Vassa the African (2 vols. ) (London, 1789; repr. 1969), i, 3044, esp. 3742.

36 Crowther S. (c. 18091891), A Grammar and Vocabulary of the Yoruba Language (London, 1852), i–ii

37 Although J. O. George (c. 1850–1915) suggests both that biblical elements in Yoruba myth came through Muslim influences, and that the Yoruba religion shares certain fundamental elements with Christianity, he does not invoke any clear Hamitic Hypothesis as a background to his essay on recent Yoruba history: Historical Notes on the Yoruba Country and its Tribes (Lagos, 1895), 3, 4466; also, e. g., Rev. Reindorf C. C. (18341917), The History of the Gold Coast and Asante [1889] (2nd ed., Accra, 1966), 1723.

38 Horton J. A. B. (18351883), West African Countries and Peoples, British and Native (London, 1868; repr. Nendeln/Lichtenstein, 1970), 41, 183–9.

39 Ibid, ii, 28, 4.

40 Blyden E. W. (18321912), ‘The negro in ancient history’, Methodist Quarterly Review, li (1869), 72, 87, 81.

41 Blyden, Liberia: Past Present and Future (Washington DC, 1869), 21, 23–4.

42 Blyden, Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race (London, 1888).

43 ‘The Reverend Esiere’ [Pseud, for E. E. Ukpabio] As Seen Through African Eyes (London, n. d. [1916 or 1920?]), esp. 4964. As his career in the Presbyterian mission in south-eastern Nigeria ran from the 1850s to 1900 I assume he was born in the 1830s. For the claim of uncommon African resilience, see Crummell, ‘Hope for Africa’ (1852), in Future of Africa, 283323.

44 See, for example, Tylor E. B., Primitive Culture (2 vols. ) (London, 1871), i, 34; Spencer H., The Principles of Sociology, (3 vols. ) (2nd ed., New York, 1897), iii, 164.

45 Kuklick, Savage Within, 125–33; Kuper Adam, Anthropology and Anthropologists (rev. ed., London, 1983), 45. For a defence of diffusion, see Smith G. Elliot, Malinowski B., Spinden H. J. and Goldenweiser A., Culture: The Diffusion Controversy (London, 1928)

46 Kuklick, Savage Within, 216–25.

47 Bois W. E. B. Du, Black Folk (New York, 1939; repr. 1975), 221.

48 SirJohnston H. H. , A History of the Colonisation of Africa by Alien Races [1899], 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 1913), 151; Johnston, ‘A survey of the ethnography of Africa’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, xliii (1913), 381–90, 414.

49 Johnston H. H., The Opening up of Africa (London, 1911), 25. This book was reprinted in 1925, 1928 and 1937.

50 Seligman C. G., Races of Africa [1930], (3rd ed., London, 1957), 10. All four editions have this passage, e. g. 18 (1939), 8 (1966). See also, Dixon R. B., The Racial History of Man (New York, 1923), 190–1.

51 Burns A. C., History of Nigeria (London, 1929), 29, 33, 44, 53; in the 7th ed. (1969), 29. By the 6th edition (1963), however, Burns also incorporated observations about the antiquity of Nok culture and its potential as a foundation for an indigenous high civilization (25–6), and admitted Benin brasswork might predate Portuguese influence (67). See also the Egyptian roots for the Jukun in Meek C. K., A Sudanese Kingdom (London, 1931), xi–xii.

52 Macmillan A., Rhodesia and Eastern Africa (London, 1931), 25.Macmillan had earlier compiled The Red Book of West Africa (London, 1922; repr. 1968). My thanks to John Ezard of The Guardian for making me aware of this poem, and helping specify the source.

53 Ellis A. B., The Yoruba-Speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa (London, 1894), 293–4.

54 Mann K., Marrying Well (Cambridge, 1985), 20–8.

55 Blyden, African Life and Customs (London, 1908; repr. 1969). For a more elaborate version of this thesis by a black West Indian, see Scholes T. E. S., Glimpses of the Ages or the ‘Superior’ and‘Inferior’ races, so-called, Discussed in the Light of Science and History (2 vols. ) (London, 1905), i, 312–45.

56 Blyden seeks and finds much support in this ‘Nineteenth century negritude’ from a growing number of Europeans who sought in Africa human values they feared industrial Europe had lost, notably the ethnographer Mary Kingsley in whose memory the African Society was founded in 1901. He was also in the company of many African-American writers who sought in Africa a distinctive cultural legacy which they could contribute to American life: July R. W., ‘Nineteenth century negritude: Edward Wilmot Blyden’, J. Afr. Hist., v (1964), 7386. On African-American uses of African difference, see Berghahn M., Images of Africa in Black American Literature (London, 1977); Magubane B. M., The Ties that Bind: African-American Consciousness of Africa (Trenton NJ, 1987).

57 Blyden, African Life, 10, 2933, 39. Blydenesque assertions of a racially unique civilization that needed to be preserved and understood in its own terms echo especially in Lagos writers with connections to the black Atlantic world, such as Liberian J. P. Jackson (1847–1915). See, for example, editorials in his Lagos Weekly Record, 12 Nov. 1892, 21 May 1904.

58 See Appiah's K. A. analysis of a similar 1897 argument by Bois W. E. B. Du as ‘the antithesis of a classic dialectic in the reaction to prejudice’: In My Father's House (Oxford, 1992), 30–4. For more extended treatment of the dilemma constructed by Blyden's racial history, see Zachernuk, ‘The Lagos intelligentsia and the idea of progress, ca. 1860–1960’, in Falola (ed. ), Yoruba Historiography, 152–4.

59 Johnson S., The History of the Yorubas, ed. by Johnson O. (London, 1921; repr. 1966), 415, 30, 79, no, 154. Samuel Johnson first drafted this book in 1897. Also Johnson O., Lagos Past [1901]. (repr. Ibadan, 1985), 12. For more detailed treatments of Johnson's Hamitic Hypothesis, see Zachernuk, ‘Johnson and the Victorian image of the Yoruba’; also J. A. Atanda, ‘Samuel Johnson and the origins of the Yoruba people’; Law, ‘How truly traditional’, all in Falola (ed. ), Pioneer. There were other sketches of oriental origins for the Yoruba at this time, for example in Sierra Leone by Sibthorpe A. B. C., Bible Review of Reviews: The Discovery of the Lost Ten Tribes, Yorubas or Akus (1909), discussed in Fyfe C., ‘A. B. C. Sibthorpe: a tribute’, History in Africa, xix (1992), 347.

60 Gibson A. E. M., ‘Slavery in western Africa,’ Journal of the African Society, III (1903), esp. 43–7.

61 See, for example, Boas Franz, ‘Fallacies of racial inferiority’, Current History, xxv (1927), 676–82; ‘What is a race?’, The Nation (1925), reprinted in Boas, Race and Democratic Society (New York, 1946), 27.

62 Kuklick also notes systematic differences between anthropology written in Britain and in the colonial field: Savage Within, 182–241.

63 Temple C. L., Native Races and their Rulers (Cape Town, 1918), 29. Temple's citation of O. Johnson alone regarding the oriental roots of the Yoruba illustrates the mutual reinforcement of Nigerian and imperial historiography.

64 Lugard F., The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa (London, 1922; repr. 1965), 6493;Westermann D., The African To-Day and To-morrow (London, 1934).

65 This paternalist empathy with African societies has strong roots in the writing of Mary Kingsley. See her Travels in West Africa, (2nd ed., London, 1900) and West African Studies, 2nd ed. (London, 1901). It was carried on after her by R. E. Dennett, E. D. Morel and the African Society. See Dennett R. E., Nigerian Studies (London, 1910), and At Back of the Black Man's Mind (London, 1906). It was also followed, of course, by the relativist spirit of functionalist anthropology, which like Kingsley was rather unconcerned with the question of ultimate origins and very much concerned with contemporary cultural complexities.

66 For some of the special recognition given the Yoruba in the mid-nineteenth century, see Zachernuk, ‘Johnson’, 38–9.

67 Smith G. Elliot, The Ancient Egyptians and the Origins of Civilization (rev. ed., London, 1923), 7782; Rawlinson G., A History of Ancient Egypt (2 vols. ) (New York, 1880), i, 48.

68 Shaw F. L., A Tropical Dependency (London, 1905), 1718; Talbot D. Amaury, Woman's Mysteries of a Primitive People (London, 1915), 45. For the marginal status of these ideas, see Wissler C., Man and Culture (New York, 1923), 36. The debate is apparent in the responses appended to Johnston's ‘Survey’, 414–19.

69 Talbot P. Amaury, ‘Some foreign influences on Nigeria’, Journal of the African Society, xxIv (1925), 178201; also The Peoples of Southern Nigeria (5 vols. ) (London, 1926), i, 730.

70 Roth H. Ling, Great Benin: Its Customs, Art and Horrors (London, 1903; repr. 1968), 233–4.

71 Williams J. J., Hebrewisms of West Africa (New York, 1930; repr. 1967), 123, 319–56; Basden G. T., ‘Notes on the Igbo country’, The Geographical Journal, xxxix (1912), 246–7; Basden, Niger Ibos (New York, 1938; repr. 1966), 411–23, esp. 414–15; Farrow, Faith, Fancies and Fetich, 166–8. See also Leonard A. G., The Lower Niger and its Tribes (London, 1906), i, 43–5.

72 Frobenius L., The Voice of Africa, trans. Blind R. (2 vols. ) (London, 1913), i, 8.

73 Ibid, ii, 672–6. The relative complexity of Frobenius's history is represented by a map (ii, 496). P. A. Talbot also deemed the primitive West African indigenes deeply religious, ‘more clearly alive to spiritual conditions and truths than other, more materialistic, races’: ‘Foreign influences’, 184; also Talbot P. A., Mysteries, 5.

74 Frobenius, Voice, i, 65, 320, also 148–9.

75 Ibid, i, 319–49. Frobenius is not explicit, but apparently white Atlantic colonists ruled at IIe-Ife. He suggests the early Yoruba were not ‘negro’ (95), hints at racial parallels between the ancient and modern colonial missions (43), and clearly believes in a hierarchy of races (145)

76 Ibid, i, 146, 148.

77 Ibid, i, 98, 41, 107, also 143.

78 For example, Bois W. E. B. Du, The Negro (New York, 1915; repr. Oxford, 1970) and Black Folk, 39–53 and passim; Woodson C. G., African Background Outlined (Washington DC, 1936), 181–3; Ferris W. H., The African Abroad (2 vols) (New Haven CT, 1913; repr. New York, 1968), ii, 565605; Ellis G. W., Negro Culture in West Africa (New York, 1914; repr. 1970), 17; Washington B. T., The Story of the Negro (2 vols) (1909; repr. Gloucester MA, 1969), i, 3681; Boas F., ‘What the Negro has done in America,’ [1904], reprinted in his Race, 5460. G. Shepperson's introduction to The Negro provides a good introduction to this literature.

79 In a somewhat exceptional essay, William Leo Hansberry selected evidence from Frobenius and Ling Roth to reject foreign roots for Ife and Benin art: ‘The Material Culture of Ancient Nigeria’, Journal of Negro History, vi (1921), esp. 290–5.

80 Okonkwo R. L., ‘The Garvey movement in Nigeria’, Calabar Historical Journal, 11 (1978), 98113.

81 Lucas J. O. (b. 1897), The Religion of the Yorubas (Lagos, 1948), 37, 365. This was accepted in 1942 at the University of Durham as a Doctor of Divinity thesis.

82 Ibid. 14–18, 352–4. Herbert Macaulay cited African-American authors on the same point, for example in Henry Rawlinson Carr [1924], (2nd ed., ed. by Ojugbele A., Ebute Metta, 1983), 23.

83 Lucas, Yorubas, 711, 354–8; Religions in West Africa and Ancient Egypt (Lagos, 1970), 1011.

84 Lucas cites Burns, Ellis, Westermann and Dennett: Yorubas, 7–11. See also Ojocole J. (19031938), ‘A glimpse of Yoruba civilization’, WASU, Nos. 3&4 (1927), 1619.

85 Lucas, Yorubas, 348.

86 L. Solanke (1884–1958) was a leading Yoruba and West African intellectual heading the West African Students’ Union in London. Solanke, United West Africa (or Africa) at the Bar of the Family of Nations (London, 1927; repr., 1969), 714; also his ‘Unity and co-operation among West African ancients as disclosed by history and tradition’, WASU, No. 5 (1927), 1821.Solanke reviews Williams's Hebrewisms in WASU, 11 (1933), 40–1. Solanke's references include Samuel Johnson as well as such standard colonial works as P. A. Talbot, Dennett and Ellis.

87 Solanke, United, 13, 21. He cites (7) an African-American reiteration of this argument based on Scripture: Webb J. M., The Black Man (Seattle, 1910).

88 Solanke, United, 8, 10.

89 Ibid. 7; also his Yoruba Problems and How to Solve Them (Ibadan, 1931), 11.

90 Solanke, United, 14, 21.

91 Solanke, Lectures Delivered at the Abeokuta Centenary Celebrations (Lagos, 1931), 25; Solanke, A Special Lecture - addressed to Mr. A. K. Ajisafe (Lagos, 1931), 75–6.

92 Trevor-Roper H., ‘The rise of Christian Europe’, Listener, lxx (1963), 871.

93 The Ghanaian case would seem to have many parallels which would reward a companion study to the southern Nigerian case. Peter Shinnie recalls that in 1958 many western-educated Ghanaians accepted Hamitic Hypotheses such as Williams's Hebrewisms, and notes that while historical scholars have since abandoned such ideas they persist in some circles. He also notes a varied tradition of speculation about oriental connections, from Bowdich's 1821 Essay, through Williams's Hebrewisms, Danquah's J. B. The Akan Doctrine of God (1944; repr. London, 1968), and the books of Meyerowitz E. L. R., such as The Divine Kingship in Ghana and Ancient Egypt (London, 1960). Letter, Peter Shinnie to the author, 24 Feb. 1994.

94 Epelle S. (6. c. 1929), The Promise of Nigeria (London, 1960), 15.

95 Arikpo O. (b. 1916), Who are the Nigerians? (Lagos, n. d. [1957?]), 32; also Mbadiwe K. O., ‘Nigeria in the new commonwealth’ (London, 1956), 3, in Fabian Colonial Papers, Rhodes House, Oxford, Box 83/2.

96 Biobaku S. O. (b. 1918), The Origin of the Yoruba (Lagos, 1955; repr. 1971), 22.

97 Biobaku claimed that his profession owned the tools to rise above the myth and distortion permeating existing oral and written Yoruba historiography. See his ‘The problem of traditional history with special reference to Yoruba traditions’, J. Hist. Soc. Nigeria, I (1956), 43–7.

98 Biobaku, Origin, 6, 20. Biobaku also notes (13) physical resemblances between the Yoruba and north-east Africans to support his theory. We should note that in the context of Yoruba rather than West African history, Solanke also suggested that his ancient ‘Ife culture’ was imported rather than homegrown: Lectures Delivered, 2–3.

99 The lectures were broadcast on radio in the 1950s, reproduced for visitors attending the Independence celebrations in 1960, and reprinted by popular demand in 1971: Biobaku, Origin, 34. For similar claims about the special roots of the ‘Yoruba race’ and the common background of all Nigerians, cf. Ojo S., The Origin of the Yorubas, Part I (3rd ed., Ibadan, 1953), 712.

100 Ughulu E. O. (b. 1906), The Short History of (Esan) Ishan-Benin (Lagos, 1950), 211.

101 Umo R. Kano, History of Aro Settlements (Yaba, n. d. [1950?]), 12; also Oji B. A. (b. 1907), Social and Political History of Nigeria for Schools and Colleges (Aba, 1951), 2831.

102 Ike A. (b. 1918), The Origin of the Ibos, (2nd ed., Aba, n. d. [1951]), 8. See also Ijeomanta's E. K. account discussed in Afigbo, ‘Traditions’, 2.

103 Numa F. Y. (b. 1916), The Pride of Urhobo Nation (Lagos, 1950), 613.Egharevba J. U. (b. 1897) traced Benin roots through Ife to Egypt: A Short History of Benin (2nd ed., rev. and en I., Benin, 1953), 1.

104 Aye E. U., Old Calabar Through the Centuries (Calabar, 1967), 30.

105 Kenyo E. A. (b. 1902), Origin of the Progenitor of the Yoruba Race (Lagos, 1950), 9, 1214.

106 Fajemisin R. A. (b. 1897), Primacy in Post-Oduduwa Yorubaland (IIesa, 1984), 115. Fajemisin's writing reflects his membership in Lucas's generation.

107 IIuri (b. 1917) is discussed in Falola, ‘Alternative History’, 6; and Farias P. F. de Moraes, ‘“Yoruba origins” revisited by Muslims’, in Farias and Barber (eds. ), SelfAssertion, 134–43.

108 Fagg B. E. B., ‘The Nok culture in prehistory’, J. Hist. Soc. Nigeria, I (1959), 293. Fagg was Director of the Nigerian Department of Antiquities.

109 Armstrong R. G., ‘The development of kingdoms in negro Africa’, J. Hist. Soc. Nigeria, 11 (1960), 2739; Greenberg J. H., Studies in African Linguistic Classification (Branford CT, 1955); Drake, ‘Detruire le myth’.

110 Wescott R. W., ‘Ancient Egypt and modern Africa’, J. Afr. Hist., 11 (1961), 311–21. This largely reiterates his ‘Did the Yoruba come from Egypt?’, Odu, Iv (1957), 1015.

111 Losi J. B., for example, traces the Egba only to Oduduwa, identified as a native of ‘the Niger territory’: History of Abeokuta (Lagos, 1924), 1.

112 Ademakinwa J. A. (b. 1897), I fe, Cradle of the Yoruba (2 vols. ) (Lagos, n. d. [1965? ]), i, 3 and passim. Biobaku wrote the foreword as the Director of the Yoruba Research Scheme.

113 Dosumu G. A. (b. 1899), ‘Oduduiva’ The Origin of Mankind (Ibadan, 1951);Queen of Sheba’ ‘Balkis’ ‘Eteye’ ‘Makeda’ ‘Sungbo’ Wife of King Solomon; a native of Oke Eri, Ijebu Province, Western Nigeria, (W. A. ) (n. p., [1955]).

114 For example, Idigo M. C. M., A Short History of Aguleri (Yaba, 1955), 56; Ekeghe O. O., A Short History of Abiriba (n. p., 1955), 716.

115 Okafor A., ‘West African Background’, in Davidson B. and Ademola A. (eds. ) The New West Africa (London, 1953), 24–5; also Adeniyi A. (b. 1926), My Duties Toward Nigeria (Sapele, 1963), 712.

116 See Omer-Cooper J. D., ‘The question of unity in African history’, J. Hist. Soc. Nigeria, III (1964), 103–12; Horton R., ‘Ancient Ife: A reassessment’, J. Hist. Soc. Nigeria, ix (1979), 69149; Afigbo, Ropes of Sand, 130; Obayemi A., ‘The Yoruba and Edo-speaking peoples and their neighbours before 1600’, in Ajayi J. F. Ade and Crowder M. (eds. ), History of West Africa (2 vols. ) (3rd ed., New York, 1985), i, 255322. For rejections of Johnson's theory in particular, see Atanda, ‘Johnson’, and B. Agbaje Williams, ‘Samuel Johnson, Yoruba origins, and archaeology’, both in Falola (ed. ), Pioneer.

117 Aderigbe A. B., ‘Biobaku: the scholar and his works’, in Olusanya G. O. (ed. ), Studies in Yoruba History and Culture (Ibadan, 1983), 15

118 Afigbo, ‘Traditions’.

119 Afolayan F., ‘Reconstructing the past to reconstruct the present: the nineteenth century wars and Yoruba history’, Passages, vi (1993), 1213.

1 I would like to thank Robin Law for his helpful criticism of an earlier draft. I also gratefully acknowledge support for some of the research represented here received from the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Calgary, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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