Religion and the Making of Nigeria

Religion and the Making of Nigeria

Religious Cultures of African and African Diaspora People

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Book Pages: 336 Illustrations: 9 illustrations Published: December 2016

Author: Olufemi Vaughan

African Studies, Religious Studies

In Religion and the Making of Nigeria, Olufemi Vaughan examines how Christian, Muslim, and indigenous religious structures have provided the essential social and ideological frameworks for the construction of contemporary Nigeria. Using a wealth of archival sources and extensive Africanist scholarship, Vaughan traces Nigeria’s social, religious, and political history from the early nineteenth century to the present. During the nineteenth century, the historic Sokoto Jihad in today’s northern Nigeria and the Christian missionary movement in what is now southwestern Nigeria provided the frameworks for ethno-religious divisions in colonial society. Following Nigeria’s independence from Britain in 1960, Christian-Muslim tensions became manifest in regional and religious conflicts over the expansion of sharia, in fierce competition among political elites for state power, and in the rise of Boko Haram. These tensions are not simply conflicts over religious beliefs, ethnicity, and regionalism; they represent structural imbalances founded on the religious divisions forged under colonial rule.


"Religion and the Making of Nigeria is a refreshing and seminal piece of work and achievement. Its implications extend beyond Nigeria, and enjoin us as scholars of sub-Sahara African states and societies to critically examine and interrogate the dialectical processes and relations between pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial states and societies in the continent." — David Emelifeonwu, Nation Nigeria

"Professor Olufemi Vaughan’s book supremely holds the reader’s interest, fittingly fires her curiosity, and graciously gives her the pleasure of an intellectual high." — Nimi Wariboko, Nigerian Tribune

"Vaughan is highly commended for this book, an immense contribution to African history." — Eric Mokube, Africa Today

Religion and the Making of Nigeria is easy to read, well researched, and a well-crafted book. No doubt it opens up avenues for further research and offers provocative thoughts about religion and its implication for the Nigerian state. The book is wholeheartedly recommended for both town and gown; that is, both worlds of academia and business people who wish to know more about the role of religion in Nigeria’s socio-political and economic realms.” — David O. Ogungbile, Numen

"Drawing from an array of disciplines, Vaughan presents a complex scholarship that examines the intersection of history, religion, politics, ethnic struggles, and nation building, contributing to a growing body of literature and discourse on the role of religion in all of these diverse fields of study. . . . Scholars will appreciate the excellent and critical analysis presented in this book." — Chima J. Korieh, African Studies Review

Religion and the Making of Nigeria is an essential addition to academic libraries. Advanced undergraduates and graduate students in African Studies, Africanists, and specialists in Religious Studies will find Vaughan's work fascinating, complex, and helpful in understanding the history and character of modern Nigeria.” — Ken Wilburn, Canadian Journal of History

"Religion and the Making of Nigeria works its way through an impressive amount of scholarly research. The book has real value for the due diligence Olufemi Vaughan displays in examining all aspects of the debate over religion in the country." — Andrew Barnes, Church History

"The strength of the book lies in Vaughan’s deft synthesis of disparate works focused upon one region, ethnicity, historical moment, or thematic preoccupation. . . . Brimming with insights." — Barbara M. Cooper, American Historical Review

"A commendable undertaking of a vast and challenging topic . . . A welcome new contribution to the developing field of Nigerian religious and political studies." — Christian van Gorder, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"An excellent resource for scholars interested in the role of the politics and practice of religion in state-making in Nigeria." — Daniel E. Agbiboa, Journal of Modern African Studies

"Delivers a penetrating case study . . . successfully underscores the tensions between ethnicity, religion, and politics and Nigeria’s struggles with maintaining traditional structures and negotiating modernity." — Nicholas C. McLeod, Journal of Global South Studies

"Detailed, concise, and well-written. . . . The book is suited for students, scholars, and general readers interested in the role of religion in Nigerian politics and society, as well as for those interested in how colonial policies have shaped state-society relations in Africa." — Henrik Angerbrandt, History: Reviews of New Books

"Religion and the Making of Nigeria is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the present religious and political landscape in Nigeria." — Randy Goldson, Reading Religion

“Olufemi Vaughan cuts through the noise of postcolonial discourses to get to the root of contemporary Nigeria's problems: the colonially aborted Islamic religious march toward domination of Nigeria's middle belt and northern regions. This book stands out among other efforts; it clearly articulates the role of religion in state-making in sub-Saharan Africa—especially in Nigeria. It will be welcomed by historians, religious scholars, sociologists, and literary critics who desire to understand the intersection among the different narratives and visions of colonialists in Nigeria.” — Kelechi Amihe Kalu, author of Economic Development and Nigerian Foreign Policy

"Religion and the Making of Nigeria is a well-wrought and eloquently crafted analysis of the intriguing linkage between religion and modern state formation in Nigeria. Drawing on archival and contemporary sources, Olufemi Vaughan adroitly situates his material within the vortex of historical and anthropological contention over the religious antecedents of colonial and postcolonial Nigeria. Elegantly written, Religion and the Making of Nigeria is a truly outstanding work of interdisciplinary analysis that is likely to become the standard bearer for scholarship on religion and the evolution of the modern Nigerian state in the foreseeable future." — Ebenezer Obadare, Professor of Sociology, University of Kansas


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Price: $27.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Olufemi Vaughan is Geoffrey Canada Professor of Africana Studies and History at Bowdoin College and the author and editor of many books, including Nigerian Chiefs: Traditional Power in Modern Politics, 1890s-1990s.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction  1
1. Islam and Christianity in the Making of Modern Nigeria  13
2. Islam and Colonial Rule in Northern Nigeria  39
3. Christianity and the Transformation of Colonial Southern and Northern Nigeria  69
4. The Politics of Religion in Northern Nigeria during Decolonization  89
5. Religion and the Postcolonial State  112
6. Religious Revival and the State: The Rise of Pentacostalism  139
7. Expanded Sharia: The Northern Ummah and the Fourth Republic  158
8. Expanded Sharia: Resistance, Violence, and Reconciliation  181
9. Sharia Politics, Obasanjo's PNP Federal Government, and the 1999 Constitution  199
Conclusion  223
Bibliography  273
Index  295
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Co-Winner, 2017 Nigerian Studies Association Book Prize

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6227-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6206-7
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