The Tokunbo Phenomenon and the Second-Hand Economy in Nigeria

Omobowale coverThis book investigates the social construction and reconstruction of Tokunbo meanings and how these impact on the second-hand economy in Nigeria. Qualitative data were collected at Abeokuta, Ibadan and Lagos in Nigeria and at Cotonou in Benin Republic. The research confirmed that Tokunbo arose from the contact of the Yoruba of south-western Nigeria with Europeans in the fifteenth century and developed further under colonization by Great Britain. Tokunbo as a given name was reserved for children conceived or born in Western countries. The name conveyed an elitist status on bearers and their families, presenting them as harbingers of Western civilization. Following an economic downturn and the consequent dependence on second-hand imports from the 1990s onward, the values attached to Tokunbo were socially modified and transferred to second-hand imports. From this point on, consumers described these imports in glowing terms, emphasizing their quality compared to «substandard» imports from Asia. The Tokunbo second-hand economy enables access to goods that consumers consider essential for the transmission of modernity through the consumption of Western material culture.

Ayokunle Olumuyiwa Omobowale holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Ibadan. His thesis was on Political Clientelism and Rural Development in Selected Communities in Ibadan, Nigeria. He has an interest in scholarly African issues related to the sociological fields of Development, Cultural, Political, Rural and Urban Studies. He has won the University of Ibadan Postgraduate School Award for scholarly publication in 2007, the Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique (IFRA; French Institute for Research in Africa) Research Fellowship in 2009 and the American Council of Learned Societies-African Humanities Programme Post-Doctoral Fellowship (ACLS-AHP PostDoc) in 2010. At present, he is a lecturer in Sociology at Nigeria’s Premier University, the University of Ibadan, Ibadan.

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