In Religion and the Making of Nigeria, Olufemi Vaughan examines how Christian, Muslim, and indigenous religious structures have provided the essential social and ideological frameworks for the construction of the modern Nigerian state and society. Using a wealth of primary sources and extensive Africanist scholarship, Vaughan traces Nigeria’s social, religious, and political history from the early nineteenth century to the present.
During the nineteenth century, the historic Sokoto Jihad in today’s northern Nigeria and Christian missionary movement in contemporary southwestern Nigeria provided the frameworks for ethno-religious divisions in colonial society. Following Nigeria’s independence from Britain in 1960, Christian-Muslim tensions became manifest in regional and religious conflicts over the expansion of sharia, fierce competition among political elites forstate power, intense contestations in the public sphere by new religious movements, and the rise of militant Islamist groups. These developments are not simply conflicts over religious beliefs, ethnicity, and regionalism; they represent structural imbalances founded on religious divisions in modern state-society formation forged under colonial rule.