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The incremental houses of urban fringes: Yoruba personhood and popular culture in Ibadan, Nigeria


Year published: 2021
Categories: Journal Article

Author / Authors:

  • Babajide Olusoji Ololajulo


Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 39:2, 169-184, DOI: 10.1080/02589001.2020.1851660


This article, based on a qualitative study of incremental self-help housing in a peripheral neighbourhood of Ibadan, southwest Nigeria, focuses on the motivation for homeownership of urban low-income earners. It offers an anthropological perspective, with particular attention paid to social embedding of homeownership. The article depicts incremental homes as reflective of a local consciousness of personhood and autonomy, as well a response to a growing urban culture of homeownership. I argue that people move into the incremental homes they build through self-help as owner-occupiers so as to attain a level of social ostentation that by popular accounts confers personhood on the individual, and likewise as a protest against the unequal power relationship between low-income renters and city landlords in Nigeria. In either case, the article reckons the poor-quality homes as occurring altogether as a material expression of both an enduring and emerging worldview of the self and self-actualisation.


  • Journal Article