Ayokunle Olumuyiwa OMOBOWALE


The Yoruba of South-Western Nigeria emerged as a distinct language group around 2000 BC to 1000 BC. The Yoruba developed kingship political system around 1000 BC. This article elucidates the significant features of Yoruba traditional political culture and socialization, which depends enormously on political symbols and language for the legitimisation of political domination.

Moreover, the article presents the family, as the traditional basic unit of indigenous political administration, with chiefs representing the interest of respective families in central administration. This afforded the provision of checks and balances on the Oba (King), as he could not run contrary to the expectation of his subjects without grave consequences. Real political powers were thus reposed in the king’s subjects, represented by their chiefs. Political authority was therefore vested in the ‘social’ rather than the ‘individual’. Colonization brought about transformations in Yoruba political culture as people’s power was taken, harnessed and reposed in the Oba who henceforth became answerable to colonial officials. The tide changed as South-Western Nigeria gained self-governance and the new indigenous elite rulers enacted laws, which transferred powers held by traditional rulers to themselves. Subsequently, new clientelistic structure evolved in Yorubaland wherein patrons and clients engage in exchange relations. This has been the situation ever since modern government was introduced and it has remained fundamental to stability in Yoruba political structure, its potential detrimental implications to development.

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