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These phenomena sprang from the linkage between class and state in modem Africa - the fact that 'dominantclass formation is a consequence of the exercise of [state] power' (Sklar, 1979: 536). The process of class formation, in tum, demands to be understood in its context of economic dependence, extreme poverty and underdevelopment, and an incipient revolution of expectations. We have then at the core of our story these factors: ethnicity, in an ethnically plural and deeply divided society; class formation, in a dependent and extremely underdeveloped economy; a rapidly expanding state, in a society with scant alternative sources of modem resources and rewards; and an electoral democracy, requiring mass political mobilisation for the capture of state power.

With a shrewdness and political skill never figured on by southern elites, a new generation of northern aristocrats, educated in British schools, used the instrument of a modem political party, the NPC, to modernise and so preserve the structure of class dominance. 3 By delimiting the traditional authority of the emirs and subordinating it to that of the modem state, they sought to reconstitute the social and economic dominance of the aristocracy on a modem foundation. From the lower ranks of the sarakuna - the educated clerks and officials of the emirates' native administrations - and the highest rank of the talakawa - the wealthy merchants, or attajirai - the aristocracy drew into a political alliance the additional social segments it needed to reproduce and entrench its class dominance in Northern Nigeria (Coleman, 1958: 353-68; Sklar, 1963: 323-35, 502; Dudley, 1968: 134-52; Whitaker, 1970: 313-54).

Other significant groups included the Igbirra, Idoma, Igala, and Birom, while many smaller groups numbered in the thousands or even hundreds (Dudley, 1968: 57). These peoples shared, by and large, a common heritage of resistance to the Muslim religion and authoritarian state structure - not to mention the slave raids - of the Fulani (Post, 1963: 78). In resisting Yoruba political dominance, the Edo people manifested a similar determination for autonomy, but this was based on pride in a glorious past of artistic achievement and state-building (the Kingdom of Benin), while the cultural resistance of the Ibibio and Efik to Igbo domination grew from their common desire 'to restore the glories of the Calabar commercial empire' (Minorities Commission, 1958: 7) and to recover their initial advantage in Western education (from early colonial rule).

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A Trip to the Safari Park


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