Children’s everyday work in rural Muslim Yorùbá communities in North Central Nigeria

by Bukola Oyinloye

01 Jun 2022
Journal of the British Academy
Digital Object Identifier
Number of pages
22 (pp. 153-174)

Abstract: Proponents of children’s freedom to work agree that work is socially, culturally, and relationally constructed. However, more remains to be known about these constructions, particularly in rural sub-Saharan Africa. This article explores the cultural childrearing beliefs or ethnotheories of Yorùbá parents in rural Northern Nigeria, and parents’ role in organising children’s everyday intra-familial and intra-communal work. Data were generated within a broader ethnographic study which explored parents’ perspectives and practices around formal schooling. Participant observation, including after school observations of children, and partly structured interviews were employed. Findings reveal children’s activities aligned with parents’ ethnotheories about what and how children should learn towards becoming functional, communal adults or Ọmọlúàbís. Parent’s ethnotheories also broadened to accommodate new realities, resulting in additional expectations of children. The article highlights the need to further examine the wider structures which underpin parents’ ethnotheories and thereby determine children’s capabilities to realise their everyday lives.

Keywords: Ethnotheories, Yorùbá, Ọmọlúàbí, children’s agency.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 10, supplementary issue 2 (Searching for the Everyday in African Childhoods).

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