Nigeria is a country of which much is heard and about which little is understood: the product of an ambitious amalgamation, in 1914, of three hundred and seventy-one ethnic groups in the area of the River Niger, with as many languages, to form the most populous state in British-Africa (estimated at 190 million people).
Its unsettled history since the grant of independence, in 1960, has seen millions killed in the Biafran War, the rise of militants in the oil-producing Niger-Delta region, the emergence of Boko Haram Islamic separatists in the north-east of the country and the return of agitation for Biafran secession by a new generation of Igbos in the south-east.
The book seeks to make sense of the events in this country of many paradoxes: A land of extreme poverty alongside stupendous wealth; a country where, in the north, Islamists proclaim Western education to be sin even while, elsewhere in the country, world-class writers, like Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka, are produced; a state which democrats and dictators have taken turns to rule with little to set them apart in terms of the progress and development of the country.
At a time when old colonial state boundaries in the Middle East are being redrawn by violent conflict and Scottish nationalists are campaigning to break away from their 300-year-old union with England (even as Britain itself seeks to exit from the European Union) this book raises important questions about the outlook for the continued existence of Nigeria as one country.
This book tells the story of Nigeria, from its early conceptualisation by British colonialists in the aftermath of the abolition of the slave trade, up to the present day.
Comprehensive and compelling, it confirms Dele Ogun as one of the foremost writers on Africa in the modern era.