2 - The ‘Middle Belt’ Historiography of Resistance in Nigeria

by Samaila Suleiman


Existing studies on Nigerian historiography cover renowned historians, major historical writings and prominent historiographical traditions of the major ethnicities such as Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, with little or no attention paid to the multiple ethnic minorities in the Middle Belt area. Using a range of sources, from oral interviews with historians and activists, and a textual analysis of the writings of Middle Belt intellectuals, this study maps out the textual tradition of Middle Belt historiography, its ideological background and political undertones. This article argues that the writings of Middle Belt intellectuals represent the tension between distinct intellectual trends and political agendas in postcolonial Nigeria. Animated by a discourse of marginality and resistance to the dominant interpretations of northern Nigerian historiography, the article advances a fresh approach to the Middle Belt as an epistemic struggle by the ethnic minorities of northern Nigeria to reassert their ‘historical patrimony’ or reclaim their ‘historical dignity’ through the creation of projects that highlight their historical past.

Samaila Suleiman, Department of History, Bayero University, Kano. Email: smlsuleiman@gmail.com; ssulaiman.his@buk.edu.ng