Research Programs

Women at Work: For a comparative history of African female urban professions (Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana), 1919-1970 (WomatWork)

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WomatWork (ERC Consolidator grant n. 101045774a) is the first comparative investigation of the history of female popular professionals in the African continent. It studies the history of urban popular female professionals in four African countries – Ghana, Sudan, Ethiopia and Tanzania – chosen for their comparative potential, throughout fifty momentous years, from the end of the First World War to the transition to one-party governments in the 1960s.

It starts from the realization that the labour pattern of female popular urban professions as birth attendants, beauticians, market vendors, artisans and so on have historically presented a number of fascinating and unsettling characteristics, very different from those of male salaried labour. One example is the notion of a fixed price for a certain service. In the case of many of such professions, compensations were never fixed, but were determined by the customer’s economic situation and status.

According to the existing literature on African labour, while the colonial states hired generally men, women worked in a plethora of self-employed and unwaged professions, outside the colonial gaze. This sexual division of labour hindered for long time the recognition of the role of women in colonial economies, and this until an important strand of feminist Marxist scholarship (influenced by the works of Ester Boserup) managed to demonstrate that female labour was not outside colonial relations of productions, but quintessential to it.

A limit to this scholarship was that it analysed the history of female labour through macro-categories (like peasants versus urban female workers), and tended to depict women as victims of exploitative labour relations. Without overlooking this dimension, to me seeing work only as exploitation prevents us from understanding it as an existential and social phenomenon. In my project, I want to cast light on how having a certain profession impacted the lives of non-elite urban women, what work meant for them.

So, to sum up, the objectives of this project are:

1. Chart the specificities of female urban professions and their change over time

2. Study the existential and social dimension of female labour,

But how to achieve such ambitious objectives if the working hands of women were invisible? This project is based on creative methodologies used to try to overcome the problem of the invisibility of female workers in official documents by weaving together unconventional set of sources.

The idea is to start from photographic sources. Over the years, doing research in several national, colonial and missionary archives, I observed that pictures of female workers abounds in some collections, in contrast to the scarcity of textual sources directly describing them. Pictures of women at work will be surveyed and analysed, and will provide various information such as the multiplicity of urban professions, or the places where women worked. In some cases, even their names are kept.

Secondly: oral accounts. Starting from clues grasped from photographs, oral accounts of female professionals and their families will be collected through extensive fieldwork.

Finally, the vernacular press: In connection to the rise of nationalism, the press of the four countries often debated about the national role of female popular workers. These sources are to be read along and against oral accounts and photographs.

These sets of sources have also crossed with other grey and miscellaneous literature, as ILO reports, census data, missionary parish records, urban plans, and so on.

One final pillar of the project is the involvement of African institutions and junior and senior African scholars through a number of actions, including

  • the co-production of knowledge through systematic research and joint publication projects
  • the sharing of research benefits through a focus on training
  • the fostering of local research by supporting projects on the history of women at work

In this way, this project will strive for a more democratic, more inclusive history, both for its content and for its means.



  • CNRS, Paris (France)
  • Università di Bologna (Italie)
  • École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris (France)
  • Université de Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne (France)
  • Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique – Nigeria
  • Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique – Kenya
  • Centre for Economic, Legal and Social Studies CEDEJ – Khartoum (Soudan)


Principal Investigators:

  • Elena Vezzadini, CNRS, Paris
  • Karin Pallaver, Université de Bologne
  • Anne Hugon, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
  • Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Université du Ghana
  • Cyrelene Amoah-Boampong, Université du Ghana

Gender, Law, and Political Activism in West Africa (GLOW project)

GLOW is a scientific project between the University of Lagos and Les Afriques dans le Monde (Bordeaux), in partnership with IFRA Nigeria. In 2024, it received funding from the CNRS Institut des Sciences Humaines et Sociales as an International Emerging Action (IEA). English and French versions available below.
GLOW est un projet scientifique entre l'Université de Lagos et Les Afriques dans le Monde (Bordeaux), en partenariat avec l'IFRA Nigeria. En 2024, ce projet reçu un financement  International Emerging Action (IEA) de l'Institut des Sciences Humaines et Sociales du CNRS. Version française et anglaise disponible ci-dessous.
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Project Overview

From the beginning of the XXth century, inhabitants of French and British colonies experienced a « paradoxical citizenship » (Spire 2003): although they were French or British citizens, their political and social rights were limited (Saada 2005, Saada and Noriek 2007, Urban 2017). In terms of personal status, legal pluralism was imposed with the application of customary and religious norms (Rodet 2007). This “politics of difference” (Cooper 2009) included mechanisms for excluding/integrating rights based on multiple colonial-imposed demarcation lines that vary over time and from one colonial territory to another, such as race, gender, class, religion, ethnicity or metissage (Saada 2005; Cooper 2014; André 2016). The many ways in which colonial governments tinkered with these different categories produced a diversity of legal, political and social statuses for people living under colonial domination.  From the beginning of the XXth century, social mobilisations emerged to reform colonial laws. Women played an important role in these mobilisations, making law a central issue in nationalist or women’s movements (Scully 2000, Adeboye 2009, Panata 2016, Rillon 2022). Despite their involvement in the fights for independence, women were largely excluded from post-colonial governments and played little or no part in the drafting of national legislation (Tripp et alii 2009). Therefore, in the post-colonial period, women’s activists mobilized again to address legal inequalities. They often focused on family laws, where inequalities were most striking (Bernard and N’Diaye 2021, N’Diaye 2021). Their demands then extended to equal rights in the public sphere (elected office, political participation, professional equality) (Iweriebor 1988, Tripp 2016) and in the private sphere (sexual and reproductive rights, dress codes) (Bleek 1994, Kaler 2003).

Research on the role of African women in nation-building processes during the 20th and 21st centuries has developed over the last forty years. Many studies have focused on women’s movements and mobilizations. The literature analysing the interactions between gender and law in Africa has gradually developed into a dynamic, multidisciplinary field of research (Ndengue 2016, Idriss 2019, Panata 2020, Barthélémy 2022). However, this literature has developed in unequal ways across the continent (Coquery-Vidrovitch 2007). For decades, women have been mobilizing for legal recognition of gender equality, yet the intersection between women’s mobilizations and the law remains largely unexplored. This research programme aims to bridge this gap by conducting studies that explore the intersection of gender, activism, and law in West Africa from the 20th to the 21st century. By examining the history of women’s mobilisations for legal rights, the project seeks to provide a fresh perspective on the political and social history of the region during both the colonial and post-colonial periods. It aims to offer new insights into the legal construction of political and social inequalities over time.

This project adopts a multidisciplinary approach, that aims to bring together researchers from a variety of fields, including historians, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists and legal experts. By doing so, this program aims to overcome disciplinary and methodological barriers that hinder the historical analysis of the relationship between law and mobilization, as well as the origins of certain legislative debates that have been ongoing for decades. GLOW also promotes multiscalar approaches, analysing both local mobilisations and the impact of international standards on mobilisations and legislations. In addition, the collaboration between anglophone and francophone researchers is central to the project, as it highlights the differences and similarities in legal heritage and moves beyond linguistic and imperial boundaries. Finally, GLOW encourages associate researchers to adopt a variety of methods, using a diverse range of sources such as legal texts, case law, parliamentary debates, reports from international conferences, activists’ writings and documents, visual documents, interviews, and observations to propose both “top-down” and “bottom-up” analyses.

Organising Team

– Olufunke Adeboye (University of Lagos) – PI : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

– Barbara Morovich (IFRA Nigeria) – Co-PI : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

– Marième N’Diaye (CNRS-Les Afriques dans le Monde) – Co-PI : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

– Sara Panata (CNRS-Les Afriques dans le Monde) – Co-PI: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Are you interested in this project ? Do not hesitate to contact us !

Genre, Droit et Mobilisations en Afrique de l’Ouest (Projet GLOW)

GLOW est un projet scientifique entre l’Université de Lagos et le laboratoire Les Afriques dans le Monde (Bordeaux), en partenariat avec l’IFRA Nigeria.

En 2024, il a reçu un financement de l’Institut des Sciences Humaines et Sociales du CNRS en tant qu’International Emerging Action (IEA).

Présentation du projet

A partir du début du XXe siècle, les populations sous domination coloniale vivent une « citoyenneté paradoxale » (Spire 2003) : tout en étant des nationaux des empires, Africaines et Africains font l’objet d’un traitement différencié de la part de l’administration coloniale et ne bénéficient pas des droits politiques et sociaux dont jouissent les de la métropole (Saada 2005, Saada et Noriek 2007, Urban 2017). En matière de statut personnel, le pluralisme juridique s’impose avec l’application des normes coutumières et religieuses (Rodet 2007). Cette « politique de la différence »(Cooper 2009) comporte des mécanismes d’exclusion/intégration des droits basés sur des catégories multiples qui varient au fil du temps et d’un territoire colonial à l’autre (Saada 2005 ; Cooper 2014 ; André 2016) : le genre, la race, la classe, la religion ou encore le métissage (Denzer 1975, Goerg 1997). Les nombreux bricolages opérés par les gouvernements coloniaux en fonction de ces différents critères produisent une diversité de statuts juridiques, politiques et sociaux pour les peuples sous domination coloniale. Dès le début du XXe siècle, des mobilisations sociales émergent pour revendiquer des réformes du droit colonial. Les femmes ont joué un rôle important dans ces mobilisations et ont ainsi contribué à faire du droit positif un enjeu des luttes portées par les mouvements nationalistes ou féminins (Scully 2000, Adeboye 2009, Panata 2016, Rillon 2022). Malgré leur implication dans les combats pour l’indépendance, elles sont largement exclues des gouvernements postcoloniaux et ne participent pas (ou très peu) à l’élaboration des législations nationales (Tripp et alii 2009).  Les femmes vont donc à nouveau investir le terrain des luttes sociales pour réclamer l’abrogation des discriminations juridiques dont elles font l’objet, souvent à partir du droit de la famille, où les inégalités sont les plus marquées (Bernard et N’Diaye 2021, N’Diaye 2021). Les revendications s’étendent ensuite et touchent aussi bien à l’égalité des droits dans la sphère publique (fonctions électives, participation politique, égalité professionnelle) (Iweriebor 1988, Tripp 2016) que dans la sphère privées (droits sexuels et reproductifs, codes vestimentaires) (Bleek 1994, Kaler 2003).

Les recherches sur le rôle des femmes africaines dans les processus de construction nationale se sont développées au cours des quarante dernières années. Plusieurs études se sont concentrées sur les mouvements et les mobilisations des femmes. Cette dense littérature n’a eu de cesse de se renouveler au cours de la dernière décennie (Ndengue 2016, Idriss 2019, Panata 2020, Barthélémy 2022). La littérature qui analyse les rapports entre genre et droit en Afrique subsaharienne s’est progressivement constituée en champ de recherche dynamique et pluridisciplinaire. Néanmoins, cette littérature s’est développée de manière inégale sur le continent  (Coquery-Vidrovitch 2007). Par ailleurs, le croisement entre mobilisations féminines et droit reste encore peu exploré alors que les femmes se mobilisent depuis plusieurs décennies pour la reconnaissance juridique de l’égalité des sexes.

Ce projet de recherche collectif vise à combler ces lacunes à travers des analyses qui croisent les rapports entre genre, droit et mobilisations sur le continent africain aux XXe et XXIe siècles. Il s’agit ainsi de renouveler l’histoire politique et sociale de la région à l’époque coloniale et postcoloniale en proposant des éléments de compréhension des inégalités socio-politiques et de leurs constructions juridiques dans le temps.

Avec une approche multidisciplinaire, qui ambitionne de mettre en dialogue, sociologues, anthropologues, politistes et juristes, ce programme veut dépasser un cloisonnement disciplinaire et méthodologique qui fait obstacle à un travail d’historicisation des rapports entre droit et mobilisations et à la reconstruction de la genèse de certains débats législatifs, menés pourtant depuis plusieurs décennies. Ce projet privilégie aussi des approches multiscalaires, qui analysent à la fois des mobilisations locales mais aussi l’impact des normes internationales sur les mobilisations et sur les législations. Par ailleurs, le dialogue entre Afrique anglophone et francophone est central dans le projet, à la fois pour souligner les similitudes et différences en termes d’héritages juridiques, mais aussi pour sortir des frontières impériales et linguistiques et ainsi pouvoir tracer les éventuelles continuités dans les mobilisations sociales visant à réformer le droit. Enfin, le projet mobilise des méthodes plurielles, avec le recours à une diversité de sources écrites (textes de lois, jurisprudence, débats parlementaires, rapports de conférences internationales, écrits engagés, documents militants et ego-archives), de documents visuels, d’entretiens et d’observations (pratiques sociales de mobilisations, procès, etc.) pour proposer à la fois des analyses « par le haut » et « par le bas » qui s’ouvrent sur de multiples voix et sites d’actions.

Equipe organisatrice

– Olufunke Adeboye (University of Lagos) – PI : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

– Barbara Morovich (IFRA Nigeria) – Co-PI : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

– Marième N’Diaye (CNRS-Les Afriques dans le Monde) – Co-PI : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

– Sara Panata (CNRS-Les Afriques dans le Monde) – Co-PI: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Vous êtes interessé.e.s par ce projet ? N’hésitez pas à nous contacter !

Nigerian Heritage Digitisation Program

In 2022, the Embassy of France in Nigeria and IFRA-Nigeria have been awarded funding to support efforts by Nigerian researchers and professionals, from partnered institutions, to develop their ideas and projects on the conservation of Nigerian Heritage and Patrimony.

Digitising Nigerian Heritage

From left to right: Dr. Sa'eed Husaini, researcher at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Dr. Sola Olorunyomi, associate professor at the University of Ibadan, 

In 2022, the Embassy of France in Nigeria and IFRA-Nigeria have been awarded funding to support efforts by Nigerian researchers and professionals, from partnered institutions, to develop their ideas and projects on the conservation of Nigerian Heritage and Patrimony.

The objective of this project is to put digital technologies, as well as French and Nigerian expertise, at the service of the protection, enhancement, and dissemination of Nigerian heritage processes to different local and global communities. In practice, it is a response to the growing challenges in the world of research of Nigerian cultural and heritage studies with the objective to improve the protection, conservation, dissemination, and training about heritage and develop sustainable capacity in this area.

The Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects (FSPI) is a program run by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs designed to help French institutions abroad carry out research-action activities in the country where they work, in close collaboration with local stakeholders.

In this FSPI project, IFRA-Nigeria will be working with Nigerian partners to

1) Select processes of Nigerian cultural heritage and their conservation,

2) make these heritages more accessible to a wider audience with the help of digital tools,

3) provide training opportunities for a new generations of Nigerian researchers,

with a specific focus on the gender and age of the researcher. At the beginning, the project is made up of five different component projects but with dynamic connectivity in the core objectives of the broader FSPI project.

Objectives of the FSPI project:

  • Structuring Franco-Nigerian relations in the sectors of protection, promotion, and dissemination of Nigerian heritage processes.
  • Building a fair partnership and collaboration models aimed at co-constructing projects and jointly mobilising French and Nigerian expertise to develop skills.
  • Demonstrating the relevance of such an approach through the implementation of projects that are eventually replicable and provide deliverable added value in the medium term.

Five components of the project

  1. Protecting political activists’ archives to write another history of Nigeria


  • Create an inventory and digitise pre-selected archives of professors Bene and Edwin Madunagu in Calabar as well as other activists’ archives.
  • Academics and activists will be sponsored to publish research on the digitised archives (as well as the papers of professors? Ola and Kehinde Oni previously digitised by IFRA-Nigeria). Workshops will be organised to disseminate knowledge about the digitised archives.
  1. Digitising and promoting the documentary collections of the National Museum of Lagos
  • Partners: National Commission for Museums and Monuments (Lagos National Museum) & African Artists’ Foundation, Lagos. Coordination: Pedro Taye


  • Digitizing and promoting the documentary collections of the National Museum of Lagos, especially the maps and papers of the Museum’s founder Kenneth Murray.
  • Training of staff and other heritage specialists.
  • Researchers will be hired to work on the digitised collections.
  • Partnership with the African Artists’ Foundation to have artists working on and interrogating the digitised collections.
  • Final exhibition and event with the artists and researchers.
  1. Creating a digital archive of the intangible heritage of Benin (Nigeria)


  • Creating a digital archive of the intangible heritage of Benin (Nigeria)
  • A group of young researchers specializing in Benin Studies will be trained in sound and video recording and the challenges of digitizing intangible heritage during a five-day masterclass at the start of the project
  • Elements of Edo’s intangible heritage (songs, ceremonies, rituals) will be collected, annotated, translated, and archived on a dedicated website
  • A high-level event will be organized in Benin City and broadcast online to present the digital archive
  1. Promoting the religious architectural heritage of Ibadan
  • Partners: Institute of African Studies & University of Ibadan & others. Coordination: Cell Generation Technology (CGT) & Dr. Cyrielle Maingraud-Martinaud (IFRA-Nigeria)


  1. Protecting the urban archaeological heritage of Ile-Ife


  • Mapping historical pavements of Ile-Ife. 
  • Training in the preservation of archaeological heritage
  • Raising public awareness of the protection of urban archaeological heritage 
  • Creating interest through open access of the digitised heritage of Ife
  • Partnership for the creation of a center of interpretation on one of the sites

Elections Observatory

IFRA-Nigeria’s Elections Observatory

IFRA-Nigeria intends to play a role in observing and analysing the social impacts of Nigerian policies, polities, and politics in a short- and long-term perspective. In this electoral setting, IFRA launched an observatory overseeing the 2023 elections in Nigeria. The aim is to produce data and analysis from various standpoints on the election process. To further this endeavour, IFRA-Nigeria sponsored and spearheaded several initiatives. A Roundtable on the 2023 Nigerian elections kickstarted this initiative on the 8th of December 2022.

IFRA-Nigeria & IFRI partnerships

IFRA-Nigeria partnered with the Institut Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI) and commissioned a paper to Dr. Sa'eed Husaini, researcher at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) that was published in February 2023. The paper titled “Nigeria’s 2023 Election: Democratic Development and Political Fragmentation” is freely accessible following this link.


On the 16th of March 2023, IFRA-Nigeria, and the French institute of international relations (IFRI) co-organised an online seminar on the Nigerian general elections featuring Dr. Elodie Apard, Research Officer at IRD, Dr. Benjamin Augé, Research Associate at IFRI; Dr. Sa'eed Husaini, Researcher at the Centre for Democracy and Development and Dr. Cyrielle Maingraud-Martinaud, Deputy Director of IFRA-Nigeria. The debate was moderated by Alain Antil, Director of IFRI’s Sub-Saharan Africa Centre. This event reviewed the electoral process and the results of the elections while replacing them in historical dynamics and structural challenges of the country. The recording of this event is available here.


Screenshot of the online conference co-organised by IFRA-Nigeria and IFRI on March 16th, 2023

Ethnographic fieldwork projects

IFRA-Nigeria is funding six young Nigerian researchers to conduct fieldwork-based research upon different topics and to promote new point of views and analytical lenses to understand topical issues in social sciences. These researchers conducted ethnographic fieldwork on various aspects of the electoral events. The research was carried out in several regions and covered issues such as the involvement of women in the electoral process, the violence they suffered and their way to reorganise themselves and answer to violence; the challenges faced by the ad hoc collation agents of the Independent National Electoral Election (INEC), and the nature of elections in a local government bordering Benin.


Adedeji Adebayo (researcher) with Ms. Iyabo Ojo, Ìyál'ọ́jà (chief) of Ikere-Ekiti at her house in Ikere, February 22nd, 2023 – credit: Adedeji Adebayo

Building from research conducted within IFRA-Nigeria elections observatory, the institute hosted a day of roundtables and a keynote lecture by Professor Eghosa Osaghae on June 14th aimed at assessing what happened during this election cycle and what it means for the political and social dynamics of the country.


Professor Eghosa Osaghae at the institute of African studies (University of Ibadan) on June 14th


IFRA-Nigeria staff and five of the six researchers recruited to observe and analyse the election process, June 14th 2023. From left to right: Mr Ikefuama Okechukwu Livingstone, Mrs Elizabeth Njo Obimbua, Dr. Adedeji Adebayo, Mr Lateef Olalekan Aremu, Dr. Barbara Morovich (IFRA-Nigeria director), Dr. Olusapo Olakunle Thompson, Mr Youssef Bouri (Researcher Project manager), Dr. Cyrielle Maingraud-Martinaud (IFRA-Nigeria Deputy director and researcher),

List of researchers and provisional research titles

Dr. Adedeji Adebayo

How much does a vote cost? Politics of inducement in Ikere Local Government Area, Ekiti State, Southwestern Nigeria

Elizabeth Njo Obimbua

Electoral violence and the female gender in Lafia local government area of Nasarawa state

Ikefuama Okechukwu Livingstone

Border spaces: interrogating voting behaviour in Nigeria’s ungoverned spaces

Lateef Olalekan Aremu

Protecting the vulnerable actors: violence during electoral campaigns and participation of women in politics in Ibadan metropolis

Dr. Olusapo Olakunle Thompson

An assessment of the challenges of the independent national electoral election (inec) ad hoc collation officers in the 2023 general elections

Obafemi Seyi Peter

Countering vote-buying with voter education; a field researcher’s account of the 2023 general elections in Egbeda Iga of Oyo state.

Life After Trafficking; Transnational Perspectives

Research Project coordinated by:

- Dr. Elodie Apard, Chargée de Recherche, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Unité de Recherches Migrations et Société (URMIS)

- Dr. Precious Diagboya, Senior Research Fellow, Institut Français de Recherche du Nigéria (IFRA-Nigeria)

Illustration Life after Trafficking 1 page 0001

Original drawing : Ewena Robin


Project Description

This project is a continuation of an IFRA research project on the Protection of migrants and Asylum seekers especially Children and women coming from Nigeria and victims of trafficKING (PACKING).

For some years now, human trafficking for sexual exploitation from Nigeria to Europe is grabbing the attention of public institutions and arousing growing media interest. This phenomenon, partly due to its “emotional power” (Jakšić 2013), also triggered abundant scientific production. But even if largely covered by scholars, NGOs and government authorities, such topic remains tricky to analyze, notably because of the potential political exploitation of social and moral issues related to sex trafficking.

The research project “Life after trafficking; transnational perspectives” has been, thus, based on critical distancing and new approaches, in order to develop original forms of data collection, through multi-situated ethnographic fieldwork.

So far, most studies on sex trafficking have adopted one-sided approaches, either from a Nigerian or a European perspective. In Nigeria, analyses often conflate sex trafficking and “irregular” migration, while in Europe, the focus has long been on the legal framework of anti-trafficking policies and the status of victims (Jakšić & Ragaru, 2021, de Montvalon, 2018). Individual trajectories and family histories have been more seldom explored[1]. In addition to family histories, the present project intends to focus on personal experiences at a micro level, but within a transnational continuum that encompasses spaces of departure, transit and arrival.

This collective and multidisciplinary research project follows the previous work on trafficking for sexual exploitation from Nigeria to Europe undertaken by IFRA-Nigeria from 2015 to 2020[2].

The two coordinators of the project are:

  • Dr. Precious Diagboya, philosopher by training, has studied the epistemology of slavery before specializing in human trafficking for sexual exploitation. As a native of Edo State, she has excellent knowledge of Benin Culture and History, but also of the social landscape of the region.
  • Dr. Elodie Apard, historian by training, has worked and lived in Nigeria for 9 years. She specialized in women international mobility and sex-trafficking when she was the Director of the French Research Institute in Nigeria (IFRA-Nigeria), between 2016 and 2020.

Both of them were part of these preceding research studies; they conducted extensive fieldwork, in France and in Nigeria, and developed a solid expertise in analysing the social, religious, economic and political dynamics that underlie sex-trafficking logics and practices[3].


Context of the Study

During the past decade, sex trafficking from Nigeria to Europe evolved significantly, following a series of events; the so-called “migrant crisis” in 2015-2016, closure of south European countries, externalization of borders and the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-2021. As a result, the number of people affected, the routes, destinations and trafficking strategies have changed. In 2018, in Nigeria, the declaration of the Oba of Benin, that declared trafficking practices punishable by death, also had a considerable impact on the phenomenon.

Today, while the number of Nigerian women arriving in Europe through trafficking networks has decreased, new major challenges have emerged.

One of them is the integration of these women into the host societies in Western Europe. After experiencing the violence of sexual exploitation, the majority of them suffer from polytrauma. The way the receiving countries acknowledge and address their peculiar situation is crucial to the success of their social integration as well as those of their children.

Another challenge lies in the relationship these women have with their Families in Nigeria. Trafficking often stems from a collective strategy to escape poverty and is seen as a way to sustain the whole household. The nature of the family ties plays a key role in the life of trafficked women in Europe, but also in the transformation of social and family dynamics in Nigeria.

Through multi-situated fieldwork and crossed data, this research project intends to explore post-trafficking issues, both in France and in Nigeria. The idea is not to compare situations in departure and arrival countries but rather to combine different perspectives on what characterizes life after trafficking, at the different levels of the transnational continuum.


Main Goals

By gathering original and fresh first-hand data, this project aims at enhancing empirical knowledge on sex trafficking. It intends to document and analyse the transnational dynamics developing between Nigeria and Europe, among victims of trafficking who are now engaged in an insertion process and with their families.

The results of this research will translate into academic publications (articles in peer-reviewed Journals, book’s chapters) and presentations (papers presented in Conferences, public lectures or seminars).

However, production of scientific knowledge on sex trafficking from Nigeria should not remain limited to scholarly work, therefore, the results of this project will also be disseminated towards actors involved on the ground and stakeholders. Through written reports, public presentations or organising small groups discussions with concerned professionals, researchers will inform a large public on what is at stake in post-trafficking situations.

The project is an action-oriented research project implemented in partnership with MIST association[4] (Mission d’Intervention et de Sensibilisation contre la Traite), in Paris. Founded by Nigerian women victims of sex-trafficking, Mist association is specialised in protecting, sheltering and helping victims through their integration process in France. Based on peer-education, the association also organises support groups, workshops and podcast production, in which the collaboration with researchers has proved to be particularly fruitful. This project shall also be useful to the association and its members; researchers will indeed make data available to victims and will aim at developing new forms of knowledge transmission and alternative forms of writing while promoting collaborative reflection.



In the course of the previous research work and ethnographic fieldwork they conducted, the two coordinators of the project realized that different perceptions, depending on researchers’ point of view and positionality, co-exited and needed to be combined. Then, they decided to implement new research approaches, based on the complementarity of a multi-situated analysis.

The two coordinators are based in different countries: Dr. Elodie Apard in France and Dr. Precious Diagboya in Nigeria; but the research tasks do not correspond to this geographical division; both researchers work with former victims of trafficking in their respective countries, follow their integration process in France, engage with social workers and and meet the families in Nigeria, either separately through individual fieldwork conducted in parallel, or together during common field surveys.

The aim of undertaking fieldwork together, alternatively in France and in Nigeria, is to combine different skills (i.e. language and analytical skills) and methodologies, but also different standpoints and perspectives, on the same object, at the same time. This original method allows a broader approach and facilitates the researchers’ reflexivity efforts.

Finally, access to the field, to the victims and their families is facilitated by the researchers’ experience and also by the collaboration with MIST; while researchers take part in the association’s activities, some members of MIST participate in the research process.



The idea of the project started in 2020, with the involvement of the two coordinators in the activities of MIST association and theirs exchanges with members about the challenges of integration in France. The first surveys started in 2021, with a common fieldwork conducted in the Nigerian Churches of Paris Region. Researchers explored the role of the Church in the socialisation and integration processes in France, as well as their connections with trafficking practices. Since 2022, fieldwork has been conducted simultaneously in France and in Nigeria, among members of the same families, to address post-trafficking issues from different perspectives.

Supported by IFRA-Nigeria and URMIS Paris, this research project is expected to develop in the years to come by getting substantial funding and associating more researchers.



[1] Among the few scholars who did explore individual trajectories is Sine Plambech, anthropologist at the Danish Institute for International Studies.


[3] Among the outcomes of their collective work on sex trafficking, see : Apard, Élodie, Precious Diagboya, et Vanessa Simoni. "“Ashawo no Dey Kill!” The social-climbing projects of families in the context of sex trafficking (Nigeria-Europe)", Politique africaine, vol. 159, no. 3, 2020, pp. 51-82., Élodie Apard, Precious Diagboya, et. al. Religious, Social and Criminal Groups in Trafficking of Nigerian Girls and Women. [Research Report], 2019, 179 p. ⟨hal-03337293⟩, Élodie Apard, Precious Diagboya, et. al.,Temples et traite des êtres humains du Nigéria vers l'Europe. [Rapport de recherche], 2019, 77 p. ⟨hal-02124579⟩


Knowledges and attachments to urban plants in Sub-Saharan Africa (Benin, Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal): identification and production of a heritage from below – INFRAPATRI

Funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR) from March 2021 to March 2025, the interdisciplinary project INFRAPATRI aims to study the local knowledges and forms of attachment to urban plants in four sub-Saharan African cities: Yaounde in Cameroon, Ibadan in Nigeria, Porto-Novo in Benin and Dakar in Senegal. Our reflection is based on the notion of "heritage from below", allowing us to understand the relationship of city dwellers to plants in terms of memory and conceptions of the past, rarely recognised by institutional approaches to heritage conservation. Plants in the city, which cover multiple figures and spaces, are in fact used in a variety of ways based on practical or symbolic knowledge. Together, this knowledge and uses are produced by various urban collectives based on family, ethnic identity, religion, neighbourhood, profession or political representation. We formulate the hypothesis that they are preserved and transmitted through different channels at the basis of various forms of urban identifications. The aim of the project will be to identify these forms of heritage from below emanating from plural relationships to plants, and to analyse them in the light of past and present institutional attempts to patrimonialise urban plant entities and groupings.

An old ficus tree in front of the Opadere family compound. Oké Dada. Photo Emilie Guitard December 2021. min. min min min

This research project is based on a comparative approach. The four cities selected for the survey present contrasting but not dissimilar histories and ecosystems. All of them are also threatened today by urbanization policies determined by a certain conception of "modernity" promoting the use of concrete, the artificialization of soils and highly regulated greening methods, in addition to land and property speculation. Nevertheless, in each of these cities, urban plants have recently been brought up to date by new urban elites or public authorities, through the prism of the global model of the "sustainable city" promoted by international cooperation and major development agencies.

An international and interdisciplinary collaboration between humanities, social and natural sciences and arts

Within the framework of INFRAPATRI, interdisciplinary collaborations between human and social sciences and natural sciences will be set up in order to understand urban nature both as a historical, social and cultural construction and as a set of living elements with tangible physical, biological and ecological properties. The project also places great emphasis on collaboration between scientists and visual and audiovisual artists, not only in terms of disseminating the results to a variety of audiences (inhabitants, urban planning and sustainable development actors, academic and cultural actors) but also in terms of survey methodology. This interdisciplinary project thus brings together geographers, anthropologists, historians, botanists and artists from Benin, Cameroon, France, Nigeria and Senegal, all of whom are familiar with the cities selected for the survey and the project's issues.

To address INFRAPATRI's interdisciplinary issues, the research methodology will combine qualitative and quantitative survey techniques, using both secondary (archives, contemporary grey literature, cadasters, local press articles, online resources) and primary sources (via data collection work directly on species and natural spaces in cities and together with different types of urban dwellers and the authorities in charge of environmental management and urban planning). By combining archival work, botanical inventories, production of geolocalized data, cartographies, and interviews and long-term ethnographic observations, the project borrows from several disciplinary traditions. Finally, our approach is resolutely participatory, based on a "multi-species ethnography" approach that allows us to consider inhabitants and natural elements together in their daily interactions within the urban space.

The prayer ground of a small African church on one the highest hill of Ibadan. Oké Aré. Photo Guitard December 2021. min

Team members

Head of project: Emilie Guitard, permanent research fellow in Anthropology (CNRS/UMR Prodig, France)

Team in Dakar:

  • Jean-François Boclé, visual artist (Paris, France)
  • Linda Boukhris, lecturer in Geography (Université Paris 1/EIREST, France)
  • Saskia Cousin, professor of Anthropology (Université Paris Nanterre/CESSMA, France)
  • Wagane Gueye, artist (Dakar, Senegal)
  • Sébastien Jacquot, lecturer in Geography (Université Paris 1//EIREST, France)
Team in Ibadan:
  • Saheed Aderinto, professor of History and African and African Diaspora Studies (Florida International University, USA)
  • Elodie and Delphine Chevalme aka « Les soeur Chevalmes », visual artists and graphic designers (Paris, France)
  • Emilie Guitard, permanent research fellow in Anthropology (CNRS/UMR Prodig, France)
  • Alain Kassanda, documentary film maker (Montreuil, France)
  • David Ladipo, research in Botany (CENRAD Ibadan, Nigeria)
  • Anthony Obayomi, visual artist and graphic designer (Lagos, Nigeria)
  • Yohan Sahraoui, lecturer in Geography (Université de Franche Comté, France)

Team in Porto-Novo

  • Saskia Cousin,  professor of Anthropology (Université Paris Nanterre/CESSMA, France)
  • Theodore Dakpogan, visual artist (Porto-Novo, Benin Republic)
  • Elieth Eyebiyi, postdoctoral fellow in Anthropology (LASDEL, Benin Republic)
  • Rémi Jenvrin, doctoral fellow in Geography (CNRS/Université Paris 1)
  • François Kougblenou Zansou, visual artist  (Porto-Novo, Benin Republic)
  • Sara Tassi, research in Architecture and Urbanism (CESSMA, France)
Team in Yaounde:
  • Thomas Chatelet, documentary film maker (Lyon, France)
  • Stéphane Eloundou, visual artist (Yaounde, Cameroon)
  • Elsa Escobedo, visual artist (Paris, France) 
  • Sébastien Jacquot, lecturer in Geography (Université Paris 1//EIREST, France)
  • Marie Morelle, professor of Geography (Université Lyon 2/PRODIG, France)
  • Joseph Owona NTSAMA, researcher in History (Cerdotola, Cameroon)
  • Christine Raimond, senior research fellow in Geography (CNRS/UMR Prodig, France)
  • Murielle SIMO, lecturer in Botany (Université Yaoundé 1, Cameroon)
GIScience team:
  • Pauline Gluski, research engineer in GIScience (IRD/PRODIG, France)
  • Yohan Sahraoui, lecturer in Geography (Université de Franche Comté, France)
  • Christine Raimond, senior research fellow in Geography (CNRS/UMR Prodig, France)

Associated events

Ife-Sungbo Archeological project 2018-2023

The Ife-Sungbo Archaeological project gives new perspectives on the urbanization history chronology as well as the socio-political dynamics of West-African tropical forest societies. The Ife–Sungbo Archaeological Project aims to study domestic life, vernacular architecture and spatial organization in the humid forests of the Gulf of Guinea. Often forgotten in mainstream African historiography, the Guinean tropical forests witnessed the rise and decline of major demographic and civilizational centres, long before the opening of the Atlantic trade in the late 15th century CE.

The project has two main objectives:

1) The town of Ile-Ife known as the mythical center of the Yoruba civilization and a major archaeological site

Map of Ile-Ife


2018 was the fifth season of excavation in Ile-Ife. We excavated two test pits on the site of Oduduwa College, south of the 19th c. inner enclosure that defended Ife’s inner core area. They revealed a series of domestic features that seemed promising in terms of understanding medieval architecture and spatial organization. 

In 2019, the team returned to the same site to excavate seven units (by hand) and one trench (with the excavator) in the same location, for a total surface of about 140 sq. meters. The 2019 season enabled us to identify one type of dwelling characterized by a platform made of compacted fine clay, erected on the top of an irregular, stony surface, which corresponded to the stone line, the ubiquitous three-dimensional layer of stone that is a marker of the natural sub-soil at Ile-Ife. 

In 2020, the research could not be conducted, and were postponed to June 2021. 

In July 2022, a team of about 30 scholars, students, curators, heritage officers, technicians and logisticians,  took part in the last season of the Ife-Sungbo Archaeological Project. They worked on two different sites at Ile-Ife: Ita Yemoo and Oduduwa College where they excavated various interesting materials dated the 13th and 14th centuries including potsherd and stone pavements, and in situ pots. These findings will be processed and analyzed to add to current understandings of the region’s history.


2) The early polity of Ijebu, as delimited by the monumental enclosure of Sungbo’s Eredo, a system of banks and ditches now lost under dense forest cover.

We aim to document life, death, innovations and change in these forgotten sites. In Sungbo, we seek to implement Light detection and ranging, or LiDAR technology, a measurement and mapping revolutionary tool for archaeology. Its application is used for the documentation and conservation of the world’s largest earthen enclosure, Sungbo's Eredo, a late 14th-century monumental public work (Lagos and Ogun States, south-western Nigeria).

Indeed, the feature is largely forgotten and neglected by researchers and the public alike. This despite its massive scale: the earthwork consists of a trench – 5 to 15 meters deep – and an inner bank – 2 to 5 meters high. It is the largest-known single earthen monument in the world and a powerful testimony to the political sophistication of Nigeria’s deep past and its central place in the emergent Atlantic World. Large parts of the monument are located under dense forest cover, which has reduced its visibility and impaired delineation, conservation, and heritage planning. Nonetheless, the forest cover has not provided enough protection to the monument which is under increasing pressure from urbanization, industrialization, and erosion. Indeed, large portions of Sungbo’s Eredo have already been destroyed by human action, and the monument is under considerable threat, a process that is made worse by its unusual size and location in an environment with torrential rain and associated weathering.

In this project, we propose state-of-the-art remote-sensing technology and 3-D scanning at the service of mapping, heritage conservation, and preservation. Our project aims to document the entire monument in support of the development of a comprehensive conservation strategy for an area of 1640 square kilometers, and a model project for the preservation of two 8-kilometer sections of the ditch and bank enclosure.

Look back at ... the 2022 season in Ile-Ife

The goal for the 2022 season was initially to continue previous excavations at the Oduduwa College site (expanding the excavation in the pavement area, delineating the boundaries of the habitat area, continuing the excavation of two deep trash pitss). Recent elections in Osun State disrupted this program, and the team decided to open new excavation units at the Ita Yemoo site, an archaeological reserve and federal land. In 2017, the digging of the foundations of a new building  at Ita Yemoo site had revealed the presence of a potsherd pavement and stone alignments. The construction project was interrupted at the request of the directors of the Ife-Sungbo Archaeological Project and moved elsewhere. In 2022, our team opened test units at the spot of the 2017 discovery. The opening of 12 units led to the discovery of a vast pavement complex made up of potsherds and stones, sometimes with several levels, and a feature evoking a ritual space. This specific space echoes the excavations carried out by Frank Willett between 1957 and 1964 at Ita Yemoo, which archives have been rediscovered and partly published by our team in 2021.

202207 Ita Yemo Pavements measurements, Ita Yemoo, Ile-Ife, July 2022, photo by Zainab Popoola, © Ife-Sungbo Archaeaological Project202207OduduwaCollege

Pavement and feature evoking a ritual spaceIta Yemoo, Ile-Ife July 2022, photo by Gérard Chouin © Ife-Sungbo Archaeaological Project

Meanwhile, after an 8-day delay, the team began work again at the Oduduwa College site (project started in 2018). Amanda Logan and her team successfully processed a large number of samples from two deep pits using a water-recycling flotation machine of her conception.

202207 Well

Prof. Gérard Chouin and Dr. Emuobosa Akpo Orijemie drawing the stratigraphic profile and taking samples from the content of the  pits H1 and H2, Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife, July 2022, Photo by Léa Roth © Ife-Sungbo Archaeological Project

The archaeologist team found the first in situ pots at this site and continued to interpret the spatial organization and architecture of the site.

 202207 Pots

Pots found in-situ, Unit P, Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife, July 2022, Photo by Léa Roth © Ife-Sungbo Archaeological Project

In total, about thirty people participated in this 7th Ife-Sungbo campaign. 

  • Prof. Gérard Chouin (William & Mary, USA) and Prof. Adisa Ogunfolakan (Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife) coordinated the team assisted by Joseph Ayodokun, Tolulope Victor Omotoso, Emmanuel Fehintola and Oladele Durosakin.
  • Professor Raphael Ajayi Alabi and Dr. Emuobosa Akpo Orijemie from the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Ibadan visited the archaeological site and took part in the 2022 season. Dr. Orijemie collected samples for a palynological study.
  • Members of NCMM at Ife, Oyo, Lagos, Benin City and Jos : Sharon Nworgu (Lagos) Adesiyan Ademola (Ile-Ife), Adeniyi Kehinde (Ile-Ife), Salami Tajudeen (Ile-Ife), Samson Kas (Jos), Mercy Gold (Oyo) and Chioma Obayi (Benin City)
  • An independent expert in mosaics conservation, Carole Acquaviva,  joined the team for a first 10-day reconnaissance mission in the framework of the FSPI project. The preliminary work included observations and experimentations to identify simple strategies which could be implemented  to enhance the  conservation of pavements at Ile-Ife. A second mission is scheduled in 2023 to implement a  conservation protocol, and organize a training workshop.
  • Many students took part in the excavations in 2022.

They included undergraduate and graduate students from the Department of Archaeology of the University of Ibadan (Emmanuel Adeara, Stanley Osinachi Nwosu, Adegoke Niyi, Oreoluwa Sodeke, Emmanuel Olaleye, Timilehin Ayelagbe and Zainab Popoola), Master students from the University of Jos (Nalong Manguna, Great Iwundu, Suleiman Babamasi) and students from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (Confort Oyinyechi and Abdulmalik Abdumalik).
A Ghanaian student trained at the University of Ghana-Legon and beginning a PhD at Northwestern University, USA (under the supervision of Amanda Logan), Emmanuel Elikplim Kuto.
A doctoral student in cotutelle at Université Paris 1 and Università degli Studi di Pavia, Léa Roth.

  • Some others participants completed this team: Timothy Ayodokun, Victory Oseghale (field workers), Yao Assigbe and Rasaki Ismaila (ITB Nigeria Ltd)


Team members of Ife-Sungbo Archaeological project, Ile-Ife, July 2022 © Ife-Sungbo Archaeological Project

In 2022, as a complementary research, Cécile Chapelain de Seréville-Niel, research engineer at the CNRS and archaeo-anthropologist at the Centre de recherches archéologiques et historiques anciennes et médiévales (CRAHAM, UMR 6273 CNRS/UNICAEN) completed her study started in 2019 of a collection of skeletons found by Graham Connah in the early 1960s in a mass grave located in a well at Benin City. She first made a complete inventory of the collection and produced a photographic record that has since been shared. Next, she completed a new study of the anthropological characteristics of the populations represented and existing pathologies. She also took bone samples from the petrous bones for subsequent DNA analysis.

Seven students participated in this study as part of a workshop in which they received preliminary training in physical anthropology (Azeez Lawal ; Racheal Oyundoyin ; Emmanuel Idowu ; Moses Akogun ; Iyunoluwa Jesudemilade ; Ovie Agezeh and Farouk Ajibade).

Similarly, Professor Raphael Ajayi Alabi, Dr. Akanni Olusegun Opadeji and Dr. Kolawole Adekola from the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology facilitated her meeting with various local academic bodies (Prof. Bamgbose SAN, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships ; Prof. Olufunmilayo I. Fawole, director of the Office of international Programmes and Prof. Bakare A. Adekunle, Dean, Faculty of Science) in the framework of future collaborative projects between the University of Ibadan and the University of Caen.

In the coming years, the research on the Oduduwa College site will keep on. As a component of the FSPI Project Heritage Preservation, IFRA-Nigeria's team, together with the team of archaeologists, are working on an online database which will map and reference Ife's pavements. 

Academic Partners 

  • William & Mary University (Virginia, USA), 
  • The Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) (Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria),
  • The University of Ibadan (UI) (Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria),
  • The Augustine University at Ilara (AUI).
  • National Commission for Museum and Monuments(NCMM)
  • Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)


Gerard Chouin, Principal Investigator, an Associate Professor in History and Director of Medieval and Renaissance studies at William and Mary, is a leading expert in pre-Atlantic and early modern Atlantic West African landscapes, earthworks and sociopolitical systems. He has extensive experience conducting archaeological research in Nigeria, as the director of the Ife- Sungbo Archaeological Project.

Adisa Ogunfolakan, The Co-Principal Investigator, a Professor and Director of the Natural History Museum, Obafemi Awolowo University of Ife, is an archaeologist of Yorubaland, and co-director of the Ife-Sungbo Archaeological project.


Ife-Sungbo Archeological. Project preliminary report on excavations at oduduwa College II Ile-Ife, Osun State, Septembre 2019. 

PADIR: Perspectives africaines sur le dialogue inter-religieux // African perspectives on inter-religious dialogue (2019 - 2021)

The research programme PADIR, establish at IFRA-Nigeria in 2019, aims at analyzing the field of institutional inter-religious dialogue in Africa from a critical perspective, with Nigeria and Tanzania as case studies.

Discover the project

 Inter-religious organisations, forums and projects have flourished at the global level since the beginning of the 2000s, especially after the 9/11 attacks. They differ from the ecumenical dialogue initiated by the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council as they are based less on theological discussions than on the idea that religious leaders are key actors in the solving of economic, social and political problems, especially linked to poverty, extremism and terrorism. Mobilizing the language of « peace building », many initiatives have been launched by religious organisations, NGOs as well as States and regional bodies as part of their diplomatic action.

With their population roughly divided between Christians and Muslims, both Nigeria and Tanzania have been considered important « laboratories » for inter religious dialogue in Africa. Perceived as being marred with conflicts and in a perpetual state of « crisis », Nigeria is also identified at a frontline of the global fight against terrorism and religious extremism. On the other side of the spectrum, Tanzania is seen as a stable country, a « heaven of peace » and example of religious coexistence, though under multiple threat linked to international Islamist networks, sporadic ethnic violence or separatism.

In both these cases, international involvement in the national fields of inter-religious dialogue has met endogenous dynamics. In Nigeria, several initiatives had been launched since the mid 1990s, with a new vigor since the return to democracy in 1999. Both at the federal and at the States' level, inter-religious forums and organisations have been created, often supported by local « big men » and politicians competing for votes and influence. In Tanzania, the rhetoric of « peace and stability » and the development of local inter-religious dialogue forum has been parallel to the growing involvement of religious leaders in the political sphere, in the context of the perpetuation of a dominant party system and authoritarian politics despite the return to multipartism in 1992.

The objective of PADIR is to identify the actors, organisations and networks that have contributed to the emergence of the field of inter-religious dialogue and its functioning, both from a local, national and transnational perspective. Through the case studies of Nigeria and Tanzania, it intends to understand better inter-religious relations, the dynamics of both Christian and Islamic religious fields, as well as the complex relationships between religious and political actors.


This project will combine several qualitative methods including semi-structured interviews with national and international actors of the inter-religious dialogue field in Nigeria and Tanzania ; biographical interviews with key religious figures involved ; observation of projects and initiatives on inter-religious dialogue ; social network analysis.

The comparison between two contrasted cases will highlight the similarities and differences between the Nigerian and Tanzanian approaches to inter-religious dialogue as well as the factors explaining these variations.

Two workshops will be organized in Dar es Salaam and Ibadan in 2020 and publications are expected in 2021.


Dr Cyrielle Maingraud Martinaud

Research Associates

Abimbola Omopo (Institute of African Studies / UI)

Announcement of the 2019 cohort of the TEEP programme


On March 22, 2019, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) organised the announcement of the new entrepreneurs selected to join the Programme’s fifth cohort. Entrepreneurs and former beneficiaries but also representatives of foreign countries, agents of Development Financial Organizations and public figures such as the First Lady of Nigeria met at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

The afternoon began with two different meetings taking place. On the one hand, the presentation of the selection process, which is partly outsourced to a firm called Accenture Development Partners. Most officials attended this presentation while entrepreneurs and beneficiaries were listening to a panel of five former beneficiaries interviewed on the scene of the Congress Hall invited to tell their “success story”. Finally, later on in the afternoon, guests gathered around the main scene to follow the selection announcement. The originality of the announcement was undoubtedly the number of beneficiaries: 3,050 entrepreneurs around the continent. While the TEF supports 1,000 entrepreneurs, its partners (African Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, Red Cross, the Benin Republic among others) help 2,050 additional entrepreneurs.

The main objective for the two researchers was to make contacts with entrepreneurs and benefit from their contacts with other beneficiaries as to reach them more easily once on the field in Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire. The assumption was that using interpersonal networks would be complementary to the exhaustive database given by the TEF. It would thus help to have complementary information on beneficiaries (failure or success, migration…) and maybe target those reluctant to reply to formal contact through emails.

However, most of the entrepreneurs present this day were Nigerian. Even though this is not surprising as the event was taking place in Abuja, it underlines one macro characteristic of the Programme: the share of Nigerian beneficiaries, though variable depending on the cohort, is always preponderant. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Nigerians represented respectively 49,7%, 59,1% and 57% of the beneficiaries.


TREEBADAN/IGI’BADAN: “Local Knowledges and Relations to Remarkable Trees in Ibadan (Oyo State, Nigeria)”

Treebadan research program 1

Discover the project

The research program TREEBADAN/IGI’BADAN “Local Knowledges and Relations to Remarkable Trees in Ibadan (Oyo State, Nigeria)”, aims at establishing an assessment of the natural heritage of the city of Ibadan (Oyo State, Nigeria), from a botanical, but also a historical and an anthropological perspectives.

The Treebadan project is now part of the ANR-funded 4 year research programme INFRAPATRI Knowledges and attachments to urban plants in Sub-Saharan Africa (Benin, Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal): identification and production of a heritage from below. You can find more information about this ANR in french or in english.

This will involve drawing up an inventory of the trees within the city seen as “remarkable” according to their botanical characteristics (Modelled on the inventory realised by the cities of Paris or New York for instance), but also as supports of the urban memory and identities, markers of specific historical events (rituals, judgments, political or festive gatherings, battles, markets, etc.), places and objects of sociability and urbanity (places of meeting, worship or trade, elements of the local pharmacopeia, objects of ornamentation and attachment, etc.) and tools for urban governance. One of the objectives of the project is also to evaluate the effective tree biodiversity of Ibadan and how it is perceived and used by Ibadan citizens, through an ethnoscientific approach.

More broadly, TREEBADAN aims at deciphering what the relationships of Ibadan’s city-dwellers and authorities to urban trees and nature tell us about:

  • the urbanistic history of the city
  • the construction of an urban memory and the definition of urban social and cultural identities, modes of sociability and of “living-together” in the public spaces of the city
  • the governance of the city, captured through its management of natural elements over the years

To that end, the research is conducted by a multidisciplinary team of researchers, in social sciences, humanities, urban studies and natural sciences, from France and Nigeria. The scientific team partners also with artists to capture local relations to urban trees through a more aesthetic and poetic apprehension, and to disseminate the results of the program to a wider audience. Finally, TREEBADAN results could lead to a practical programme aiming at recognising the urban remarkable trees as part of the natural, but also cultural heritages of Ibadan, and from that at protecting them, so to as to fight against deforestation and to preserve urban biodiversity, starting from local knowledge and relations to urban nature.

Treebadan research program 5

A kola tree in front of a photo studio at night, Irefin, Ibadan, S. Chevalme


The program is directed by Dr Emilie Guitard, anthropologist and researcher at IFRA-Nigeria. Together with Adedeji Adebayo, PhD student from the University of Ibadan, they have started since 2017 to conduct ethnographic fieldwork by realising open interviews with citizens living close to the trees and/or interacting with them on a daily basis, along with the relevant municipal authorities, and by realising sessions of participant observation to understand the interactions between these different actors in social, economic, political or religious terms with and around the urban trees. Dr Guitard and A. Adebayo are also carrying ethnoscientific data collection to evaluate the local knowledge and uses regarding general and urban tree biodiversity.

As a second step, Dr Guitard will partner with Dr Saheed Aderinto, associate professor of History at Western Carolina University (USA), to redraw the history of the management of the urban natural elements, notably trees, by the successive authorities of Ibadan. A geographer or an urban-planner will also be associated to the program to study the spatial repartition of trees in the city, according to their species and uses, but also in line with the history of their public management. Within this frame, the trees identified as remarkable will be geo-located, to produce a digital map of urban trees in Ibadan, including not only botanical, but also anthropological and historical data. Finally, a botanist will be associated to TREEBADAN to assess the tree biodiversity of Ibadan and proceed to the botanical identification and dendrochronological dating of the urban trees said to be “remarkable” by the city-dwellers.

At last, to capture the local relations to urban nature through an aesthetic and poetic apprehension, and notably to describe the urban atmosphere under the urban trees and its variation depending on the neighbourhood, the time of the day or the type of activities going on there, the scientific team is collaborating with French and Nigerian visual artists, photographers and documentary film maker. In October 2017, the French graphic designers and visual artists Elodie and Delphine Chevalme (better known as Les Soeurs Chevalme) spent two weeks doing fieldwork with Dr Guitard and A. Adebayo to realise drawings and pictures around “remarkable” trees in the historical centre of Ibadan. These artistic productions will be presented to the general audience of Ibadan, Nigeria and abroad through various mediums, including a multimedia exhibition and a coffee table book, together with brief texts by the members of the scientific team. As a second step, the scientific team will also partner with the French and Congolese documentary film maker Alain Kassanda, to realise a poetic documentary on the relations of the inhabitants of Ibadan to urban trees.

Treebadan research program 3

A garage under an Almond tree, Ita Baale, Ibadan, E. Chevalme

Finally, the results of TREEBADAN could be used to nurture applied programs to fight locally against deforestation by preserving the urban biodiversity. The trees listed as remarkable will be presented to Ibadan and Oyo State authorities to be patrimonalized and protected, as part of the city heritage. The data produced within the frame of the program could also be mobilised to realize a botanical walk throughout the city, presenting by means of panels the main information concerning the most remarkable trees in the different registers studied (botany, history, anthropology). Commented tours of this walk could also be organised in collaboration with the researchers and the inhabitants interviewed for the city schools, together with the screening of the documentary and possibly the presentation of the multimedia exhibition. TREEBADAN/IGI’BADAN will in this context serve as a tool to raise awareness on the wealth of Ibadan’s trees as part of its natural and cultural heritages, and on the necessity to preserve them, starting from the local knowledge and relations to them.

Treebadan research program 4

A Fig tree in front of the Ogunmola compound, Bere, Ibadan, D. Chevalme

Team Members

Academic team

  • Dr. Emilie Guitard, Scientific coordinator of the project (IFRA Nigeria, France/Nigeria)
  • Dr. Saheed Aderinto, Historian (Western Carolina University, USA)
  • Adedeji Adebayo, Research assistant (PhD student, University of Ibadan, Nigeria)

Artistic team

  • Elodie and Delphine Chevalme aka « Les soeur Chevalmes » (visual artists and graphic designers, France)
  • Alain Kassanda (documentary film maker, France/DRCongo)

Associated events

 Treebadan research program 6

Presentation (in French) of the program and its first results by Dr Guitard during a round-table on “Nature, art, ville”, organised by Dr A. Choplin (Global Studies Institute, Geneva) for the Institute for Research for Development (IRD) at the Institut Français du Bénin, Cotonou, December 2017

Treebadan research program 7

Presentation (in French) of the program and its first results by Dr Guitard during a round-table on “Patrimoine dans les villes d’Afrique: les cas de Yaoundé et d’Ibadan”, organised by Dr M. Morelle (University Paris 1/CNRS) and the Fondation Paul Ango-Ela at the Institut Français du Cameroun, Yaoundé, June 2018

Treebadan research program 8

Presentation (in French) of the program and its firt results by Dr Guitard within the Labex DynamiTe workshop on “Perceptions des changements par la biodiversité ordinaire. Savoirs locaux sur la biodiversité et les changements globaux en milieux urbains et périurbains”, organised by Dr A. Sourdril (Ladyss, Nanterre) and Prof. C. Raimond (Prodig, Paris), University Paris Diderot, March 2019


NaijaSynCor: A Corpus-based Macro-Syntactic Study of Naija (Nigerian Pidgin)

naijasyncorNaijaSynCor Research Project

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NaijaSynCor (A Corpus-based Macro-Syntactic Study of Naija, aka Nigerian Pidgin) takes an exhaustive and in-depth look at the structure of Naija (Nigerian Pidgin) in Nigeria today. Spoken by educated Nigerians, it has been proved to develop in Lagos as a discrete language, separate from Nigerian English. This study proposes to assess whether this holds true for the rest of Nigeria where Naija is spoken by over 75 million speakers. It examines diachronic, diatopic, diaphasic, diastratic, and genre variation.

The project is a collaborative effort of two Nigerian leading experts on Naija (F. Egbokhare & C. Ofulue) and two research units that have proved their expertise in corpus annotation in previous programmes: Llacan, on lesser-described languages; Modyco, on the interaction of prosody and syntax in French and the development of large treebanks, and. The macrosyntactic framework developed in the ANR Rhapsodie project (Lacheret, Pietrandrea & Tchobanov 2014) has proved to be particularly efficient in dealing with the specificities of oral corpora, e.g. piles stacking, disfluencies, repetitions, discourse markers, overlaps, co-enunciation, false starts, self-repairs and truncations. This method is data-driven, inductive (the relevant units are identified through annotation) and modular.



The tools developed by the research team in these previous corpus study programs are robust and mature enough to focus on the linguistic problem posed by Naija: in its geographical and functional expansion, does Naija maintain its status as a discrete language, separate from Nigerian English, or does it undergo decreolization? While answering this question, the research programme aims at overcoming two remaining technological challenges, (i) automatic identification of illocutionary units based on intonation data as a parameter; (ii) building a parser integrating intonation data as a parameter.

Through the creation of a deeply annotated 500 Kw corpus, the project documents the emergence of Naija as a language at the national level, challenging existing theories of the development of creoles and languages in contact. Capitalizing on the latest developments in the area of corpus annotation, this innovative approach to the dynamics of contact and change in the areas of human behaviour and sociology of language will powerfully impact the methodology and technology of research on emerging languages.


Starting: February 1st, 2017
: 42 months


Meet the team

Principal Investigator (PI): Bernard CARON, Senior Research Fellow - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Partner #1: LLACAN, UMR 8135, Langages, Langues et Cultures d’Afrique Noire (Inalco – CNRS) : 
Partner #2: MODYCO, UMR 7114, Modèles, Dynamiques, Corpus (Université Paris -Ouest Nanterre La Défense – CNRS) :



  • Bigi, Brigitte, Bernard Caron & Abiola S. Oyelere. 2017. Developing Resources for Automated Speech Processing of the African Language Naija (Nigerian Pidgin). 8th Language and Technology Conference: Human Language Technologies as a Challenge for Computer Science and Linguistics, 441–445. Poznan, Poland.
  • Caron, Bernard. s.p. Clefts in Naija, a Nigerian pidgincreole. Linguistics Discovery 41pp.
  • Caron, Bernard. 2018a. NaijaSynCor. Methodological and technical challenges of a corpus-based study of Naija (a post-creole spoken in Nigeria). Keynote address presented at the SYWAL 2018 (3rd Symposium on West African Languages) , 28th-29th September, Warsaw.
  • Caron, Bernard. 2018b. Could Naija (aka Common Nigerian Pidgin) be a solution to the curse of indigeneity? (Nigerian Pidgin: E fit go be di future?). Presented at the Neuvième édition du CAAS (Consortium for Asian and African Studies, CAAS 2018), Inalco, Paris.
  • Courtin, Marine, Sylvain Kahane, Kim Gerdes & Bernard Caron. 2018. Establishing a Language by Annotating a Corpus: the Case of Naija, a Post-creole Spoken in Nigeria. In Sandra Kübler & Heike Zinsmeister (eds.), Proceedings of the Workshop on Annotation in Digital Humanities co-located with ESSLLI 2018, vol. 2155, 7–11. Sofia, Bulgaria: CEUR. Workshop Proceedings.
  • Gerdes, Kim, Bruno Guillaume, Sylvain Kahane & Guy Perrier. 2018. SUD or Surface-Syntactic Universal Dependencies: An annotation scheme near-isomorphic to UD. Workshop Paper presented at the Universal Dependencies Workshop 2018 (UDW 2018), EMNLP 2018, Brussells. (20 November, 2018).
  • Oyelere, Abiola S. 2018. Vowel Nasality in Naija. Paper presented at the SYWAL 2018 (3rd Symposium on West African Languages) , 28th-29th September, Warsaw.
  • Oyelere, Abiola S., Candide Simard & Anne Lacheret-Dujour. 2018. Prominence in the identification of the focus elements in Naija (Nigerian Pidgin). PROSLANG, 12–13. Wellington, New-Zealand.

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