Sports and the modernity of leisure in Nigeria : stadium space and the symbolisms of expressions, 1930-1980
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It is well-documented that sports appropriation is universal, though the degree varies from place to place. The emergence of sports in Nigeria provides insights into evolving construction of ethnicity, class, and gender, while simultaneously speaking to local ideas about identity and modernity. For many in Africa, sports clearly represent a passion and pleasure. Two overarching questions guide this dissertation: why were Western sports introduced to Nigeria by the colonial government and missionaries? What role did sports play in processes of identity creation, urban development and modernization in Nigeria? These questions establish the human agency involved within the creation of sporting activities and allow room for the motivations of actors. I answer these questions by examining the broad significance of sports in Nigeria through the stadium. The debates over stadium construction in advance of Nigeria’s independence revealed the ways in which sports critically shaped the conceptions of urban planning and national health in the nation. Although fifty years will be covered here, I focus more on the 1960 to 1980 period in accordance with this dissertation’s emphasis on stadium space and the modernity of leisure. This work shows how spectators used the stadium to construct patronage networks and alliances, and how the government used the stadium as a mobilizing force to legitimize their activities at the grassroots and national levels. In this dissertation, I read the stadium as a representation of power, authority and discipline—the work of architects, politicians, bureaucrats, journalists, and sports officials—and as a venue of lived experiences of spectators, who redefined the stadium in terms that, while not always their own choosing, demonstrated the incorporation of the stadium into everyday life and processes of identity formation in Nigeria. I argue that sports, and the spaces in which they unfolded, dramatically shaped society, politics and culture in Nigeria. I argue that through sport competitions, Nigeria became fixed in the national consciousness as modern.