‘The owner of the land: the Benin Obas and colonial forest reservation’

von Hellermann, Pauline and Usuanlele, Uyilawa. 2009. ‘The owner of the land: the Benin Obas and colonial forest reservation’. Journal of African History, 50(2), pp. 223-246. ISSN 0021-8537 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Colonial forest reservation in the Benin Division of southern Nigeria was remarkably extensive, with reserves taking up almost 65 per cent of the Division by 1937. This paper explores both the various strategies employed by the colonial government in order to bring about large scale reservation and the role of reservation in changing land politics. In doing so, it provides nuanced insights into the interaction between the colonial government and local rulers under indirect rule. It shows that both Oba Eweka II (1914–33) and Oba Akenzua II (1933–79) supported reservation for strategic reasons, but also highlights the government's many underhand tactics in dealing with the Obas.

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West Africa; Nigeria; agriculture; colonial policy; conservation; land

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Date Deposited:

30 Jun 2015 14:21

Last Modified:

16 Jun 2017 12:57

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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