Rural-urban migration in Iganna : a study of the changing relations of production in an agricultural community in northwestern Yorubaland
This thesis focuses on rural-urban migration in Iganna, an ancient Yoruba kingdom located fifty miles west of 0yo in Nigeria. The fieldwork on which this thesis is based took place in Iganna and partly in Ibadan and Lagos between April 1974 and October 1975. The central hypothesis which is put forward in the thesis is that the present-day rural exodus to the urban centres (especially by young people) cannot adequately be accounted for in terms of a 'quest for money' explanation, or, more generally, in terms of formal maximisation theories. The root of this problem, it is argued, lies in the radical changes in the relations of production within the traditional kin-based household units since the inclusion of farm produce in long-distance trade, with the result that farmers become increasingly dependent on/indebted to the middle traders (these are usually their womenfolk) and the hired labourers (these are men from outside Yorubaland). Inherent in this quantitative expansion of commercial farming is a qualitative decrease in social solidarity in the more traditional Yoruba rural communities. The first part of the thesis examines the present-day migration phenomenon as it presents itself in Iganna. While the town has been drained of large numbers of its young people who have been emigrating to the cities since the 1950s, immigration into the area has taken place by Yoruba farmers from other towns, by Fulani pastoralists and by farm labourers from outside Yorubaland. Interviews and questionnaire results concerning the reasons for emigration reveal that most people hold the opinion that there is no money in farming, while emigration to the cities holds the promise of a better and more affluent life. Research into the occupations and living conditions of the people concerned, however, did not fully support such explanations. In the cities the majority of the Iganna migrants live in relative poverty, while in Iganna there are farmers, albeit mainly non-native, who realise good money returns in cash-cropping; although it is true that the majority of the Iganna farmers are chronically hard-up for money. In the second part of the thesis the system of agricultural production in Iganna is examined with why it is unrewarding. A model of the traditional system of agricultural production is presented which explains how farmer- householders used to exert control both over the allocation of their produce and over their dependent co-producers. An analysis is made of the modern changes in agricultural production which were triggered off by the inclusion of farm produce in the external trade with the distant urban markets. In the new system of production farmers no longer depend on their chiefs as patrons and creditors. Instead, their womenfolk who have now become the middle traders in farm produce provide them with credit. Farmers can no longer obtain the assistance of their own household dependants, especially sons and debt-labourers, in order to increase their production. Instead they have to pay for the services of migrant labourers. Hence farmers tend to find themselves socially at the loser's end of the modern system of production, even when they make profits. While the traditional town environment in Iganna tends to disguise these reversed relations of production, it also inhibits farmers from modernising their system of production. At the some time Government policies and initiatives with regard to agriculture have usually proved to be inadequate in coming to grips with the real conditions in which agricultural production is caught in the rural areas. Hence the discrepancies between present-day agricultural production and the rapid social changes in most other domains tend to become more pronounced as time goes on, thus precipitating the large-scale emigration from the rural towns like Iganna to the cities.