Principle of Utis Possidetis and challenges of sitting at the frontier in Africa: the Yoruba in the Old Ilorin province and the politics of identity and belonging in post-colonial Nigeria
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For communities that sit at the fringe of ethnic, cultural and linguistic divide, the twin questions of identity and belonging often remain issues of concern. The remoteness of such communities from the mainstream of sociocultural and political processes, the straddling of ethno-cultural boundaries and the dilution of cultural beliefs, values system, practices and language often reinforce the notion that they belong to the peripheries of the nationalities. This in turn can generate crises of marginalization of such communities as is the case of the Yoruba’s of the old Ilorin Province. Through the circumstance of history and the geographical location of Ilorin at the fringe of the Yoruba nation, the people of the Old Ilorin Province have come to be seen as a community that is of less importance to the socio-cultural, political and economic development of the Yoruba nation at large. Thus, the issue of where to place Ilorin has remained an enigma for the people of the community and the Yoruba nation. This has generated a crisis of identity and belonging for the Yoruba of the old Ilorin Province. To this end, this study examined how frontier communities experience and navigate the complexity of identity politics and belonging using Ilorin as a point of reference. The study made use of archival, historical documents and other qualitative data to weave its narration of the crisis of identity and belonging facing the Yoruba of the old Ilorin Province as a common phenomenon in Africa because of colonial legacy.