Borgu and Its Kingdoms a Reconstruction of a Western Sudanese Polity

Author: Stewart, Marjorie
Documents the history of Borgu (a little-known area now situated in the northern part of the Republic of Benin and the north-western region of Nigeria) from the period when Mande peoples migrated from their homeland to settle in many parts of the Western Sudan including Borgu. By the ninth century, they had established long-distance trade; the art of making brass and copper artifacts by the lost wax technique was known; and large political entities were being formed. By the fifteenth century, Borgu consisted of three kingdoms whose rulers claimed close kinship ties, and the king's position was firmly rooted in ancient religious traditions. The historical reconstruction of Borgu society rests on a detailed examination of oral tradition, linguistic and genealogical data, archival records and ethnographic fieldwork.


"Stewart attempts, successfully, to reconstruct the complex history of this often ignored part of West Africa. She makes good use of published works, government documents, and field research in Borgu itself to describe and analyze developments over the past several hundred years, using techniques of history, linguistics, and anthropology. . . . Recommended for libraries that specialize in African studies. Graduate; faculty." - Choice

"It is commendable that Stewart's book takes into account ethnographic evidence, such as patronyms, and elements of traditional religion, burial custom, and craft. For example, she describes the pre-Kisra period by making inferences about the former political position of today's earth priests and their cults. . . . makes available an abundance of archival material, and details the effects of the colonial administration's intrusion on the fragile balance of the traditional political set up. The appendix listing the genealogical charts of many Borgu polities is very useful. A good index is also to be noted. . . . a useful documentation of the disrupting effect of colonial power." - Anthropos

"This is an important book in West African history because published works on Borgu (especially the English-speaking section) have been sorely lacking. . . . Although writing as an anthropologist, Stewart attempts to be as historical as possible in her analysis. . . . the author has combined oral data with anthropological notes and records of the colonial officers in Borgu. . . a major contribution to the precolonial history of Borgu." - International Journal of African Historical Studies

". . . a most valuable new contribution to the field of African historical studies. . . . likely to become prescribed library reading for graduate as well as undergraduate university courses. . . . It will be of special interest not only to university tea