Written Out of History: The Agbekoya Rebellion at Temporal Crossroads

Part of the New Comparisons in World Literature book series (NCWL)


This chapter engages with Toyin Falola’s 2014 memoir Counting the Tiger’s Teeth, which revolves around the author’s participation in the 1968–1970 Agbekoya rebellion. The Agbekoya was a peasant revolt driven by the impoverishment, high taxation and violence suffered by cocoa farmers in west Nigeria, which led to a violent upheaval against the postcolonial government. Falola’s memoir, however, refuses to reduce living history to historiographical document. Drawing on the author’s personal involvement in the rebellion as a young boy, Falola’s book presents a non-synchronous logic wherein different temporal orders coexist in dialectical antagonism: the time of history, the time of memory and the time of myth. The intersection between these different temporal registers vividly emerges through a recurrent figure of speech: peripeteia, which is adopted as important stylistic device in the memoir.

Works Cited

  1. Agamben, Giorgio. 1993. Infancy and History. Trans. Liz Heron. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. Auerbach, Erich. 2003. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Badru, Pade. 1998. Imperialism and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria. Trenton: Africa World Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bayart, Jean-François. 2009. The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  5. Bensaïd, Daniel. 2014. Rearguard Seasonals. In Stavros Tombazos, Time in Marx. Leiden: Brill, xix–xxiv.Google Scholar
  6. Bloch, Ernst. 1969. Thomas Münzer als Theologe der Revolution. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  7. Comaroff, Jean, and John Comaroff, eds. 1993. Modernity and Its Malcontents: Ritual and Power in Postcolonial Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. Engels, Frederick. 1850. The Peasant War in Germany. Accessed 1 May 2019.
  9. Falola, Toyin. 2005a. A Mouth Sweeter Than Salt. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 2005b. Writing and Teaching National History in Africa in an Era of Global History. Africa Spectrum 40.3: 499–519.Google Scholar
  11. ———. 2008. The Power of African Cultures. Rochester: University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 2014. Counting the Tiger’s Teeth. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  13. Geschiere, Peter. 1997. The Modernity of Witchcraft. Trans. Peter Geschiere and Janet Rotiman. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.Google Scholar
  14. Gramsci, Antonio. 2005. The Southern Question. Trans. Pasquale Verdicchio. Toronto: Guernica.Google Scholar
  15. Gunn, Janet Varner. 1977. Autobiography and the Narrative Experience of Temporality as Depth. Soundings 60.2: 194–209.Google Scholar
  16. ———. 1992. “A Window of Opportunity”: An Ethics of Reading Third World Autobiography. College Literature 19.3/1: 162–169.Google Scholar
  17. Harootunian, Harry. 2015. Marx After Marx. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Isaacman, Allen. 1990. Peasants and Rural Social Protest in Africa. African Studies Review 33.2: 1–120.Google Scholar
  19. Jameson, Fredric. 2009. Valences of the Dialectic. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  20. Lee, Christopher J. 2005. Subaltern Studies and African Studies. History Compass 3.162: 1–13.Google Scholar
  21. Löwy, Michael. 2017. Redemption and Utopia. Trans. Hope Heaney. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  22. Lukács, Georg. 1971. Theory of the Novel. Trans. Anna Bostock. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  23. Mbembe, Achille. 2001. On the Postcolony. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  24. Momoh, Abubakar. 1996. Popular Struggles in Nigeria 1960–1982. African Journal of Political Science/Revue Africaine de Science Politique 1.2: 154–175.Google Scholar
  25. Moore, Henrietta L., and Todd Sanders. 2001. Magical Interpretations, Material Realities: An Introduction. In Henrietta L. Moore and Todd Sanders, eds. Magical Interpretations, Material Realities: Modernity, Witchcraft and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa. London: Routledge, 1–27.Google Scholar
  26. Nandy, Ashis. 1995. History’s Forgotten Doubles. History and Theory 34.2: 44–66.Google Scholar
  27. Nyamnjoh, Francis B. 2017. Incompleteness: Frontier Africa and the Currency of Conviviality. Journal of Asian and African Studies 52.3: 253–270.Google Scholar
  28. Okpewho, Isidore. 2009. Storytelling in the African World. Journal of the African Literature Association 3.2: 110–122.Google Scholar
  29. Osofisan, Femi. 1999. Theater and the Rites of “Post-Negritude” Remembering. Research in African Literatures 30.1: 1–11.Google Scholar
  30. Onwueme, Tess Akaeke. 1991. Visions of Myth in Nigerian Drama: Femi Osofisan Versus Wole Soyinka. Canadian Journal of African Studies/La Revue canadienne des études africaines 25.1: 58–69.Google Scholar
  31. Ricoeur, Paul. 1990. Time and Narrative, vol. 1. Trans. Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  32. Soyinka, Wole. 1990. Myth, Literature and the African World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Sternberg, Meir. 1992. Telling in Time (II): Chronology, Teleology, Narrativity. Poetics Today 13.3: 463–541.Google Scholar
  34. Yai, Olabiyi Babalola. 1993. In Praise of Metonymy: The Concepts of ‘Tradition’ and ‘Creativity’ in the Transmission of Yoruba Artistry over Time and Space. Research in African Literatures 24.4: 29–37.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Liverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

Personalised recommendations