Olufunke A. Adeboye
University of Lagos

Olufunke Adeboye teaches history at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She is a member of the Association of African Historians. She has published several articles on the socio-political history of colonial Yorubaland, the most recent appearing in L. Fourchard and I. O. Albert (eds.), Security, Crime and Segregation in West African Cities Since the 19th Century (Paris: Karthala, 2003), and O. Oyebade, The Foundations of Nigeria: Essays In Honor of Toyin Falola (New Jersey: Africa World Press, 2003). Her current research interests are in urban and social history, and Pentecostal studies.
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Diaries as Intellectual and Cultural Histories: Some Examples from Twentieth-Century Yorubaland

The introduction of Western education to Yorubaland led to the rise of an educated elite, which has been the subject of various scholarly studies by J.F. Ade-Ajayi, E.A. Ayandele, and other notable scholars. There is however, one aspect of the intellectual disposition of this intelligentsia, which has not received adequate attention, namely, its diary-keeping culture. Many of the members of the educated elite, located in several Yoruba urban centers such as Lagos, Ibadan and Abeokuta religiously kept diaries. These diaries contained records of appointments, daily summaries of their activities, their opinions on crucial issues and their future plans. The diaries contained a rich array of information on the lives and times of the authors, and happily, a few of them have survived till present times. This paper looks at the historiographical significance of these diaries as commentaries on contemporary events and also as veritable intellectual and cultural histories of the milieu in which they were written. How much of prevailing cultural tendencies were actually captured by individual diarists, and from what prisms were they recorded?

On the other hand, how much of the intellectual development of the diarists and their age were represented in these contemporary records? This study also compares the diary with other contemporary sources with a view to highlighting its limitations. The main argument here is that despite these limitations, these diaries still have a lot to offer historians and even literary critics (as well as other scholars such as anthropologists, sociologists and political scientists.). While the need to discover more of such diaries cannot be overemphasized, the few presently at the disposal of the public are being underutilized. These records are rich in the intellectual and cultural nuances of their times, and as such should be revisited and amply utilized as scholars are expanding the frontiers of Yoruba studies. And on a general note, the historiographical significance of the diary as a primary and contemporary source could be applied to other cultures outside Africa with or without modifications.