Toyin Falola and Yoruba Historiography: The Man, The Mask, The Muse
The Yoruba are among the most studied groups in sub-Saharan Africa today. And one of the scholars that contributed immensely to that study, not just in terms of his own research output, but also in defining the direction, scope and tools to be used in undertaking that research is Toyin Falola. Falola, as we know him today bestrides the field of African studies like a colossus, but his first love has always been Yoruba history. It was in the field of Yoruba history that he cut his academic teeth. And even within that field, Ibadan, his hometown, caught his scholarly attention first. Little wonder then, that his first major work on Yoruba history in 1984, The Political Economy of a Pre-colonial African State: Ibadan, 1830-1900 was based on Ibadan. This chapter analyses Falola’s contributions to Yoruba historiography. The emphasis here is not really to review all his publications on Yoruba history (and these are quite numerous) but to identify specifically his major contributions to the wider terrain of Yoruba historiography. The term ‘Yoruba historiography’ as used here incorporates the craft (techniques and methodology) of writing Yoruba history; trends in Yoruba historical writing (which include other scholars’ interpretations of the Yoruba past); and major issues and themes of Yoruba history.