This paper is about cocoa-induced conflict between the Ibadan and the Ijebu, two Yoruba sub-groups of southwestern Nigeria. Although historians have examined the socio-economic impact of cocoa, they have however neglected how it created violent conflict. I examine the interrelatedness of the transformation of land tenure system and economics of cocoa production to show that although the colonialists, and the Ibadan and the Ijebu claimed that land/boundary was the main source of conflict, in reality it was cocoa. Cocoa conflict realigned indigenous culture of political allegiance, created new methods of litigation and arbitration,and rendered colonial legal system incapable of solving a crisis that had strong impact on the imperial treasury. As it turned out, the ‘conflict’ not the ‘law’ or ‘court’ dictated the pattern of resolution and compromise. If crude oil is a major source of tension between the Nigerian state and the Niger Delta region since the 1970s, cocoa during the colonial period negatively impacted the colonial treasury and reconfigured the pattern of relations between the natives and the British imperial authority.
Saheed Aderinto is an Assistant Professor of African History at Western Carolina University, Cullowhee NC, USA. He is the co-author of Nigeria, Nationalism, and Writing History (University of Rochester Press, 2010) and co-editor of The Third Wave of Historical Scholarship on Nigeria: Essays in Honor of Ayodeji Olukoju (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, August 2012). His works have appeared or forthcoming in leading Africanist and specialist journals, including the Canadian Journal of African Studies, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, History in Africa: A Journal of Methods, and Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, among others. Aderinto’s areas of specialization include nationalism and historiography, gender and sexuality, peace and conflict, children and childhood, and popular culture.