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Classical models of urban structure and Nigerian towns: an examination and proposal/Yoruba houseform

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It is often claimed in the geographical literature that the concentric zone, sector and multiple nuclei models of urban structure, as developed in the United States, have cross-cultural applicability. This paper attempts an application of these models to Nigeria 's Old Towns, which have been in existence since before the period of British colonisation. These Old Towns have a dual character related to indigenous and colonial phases of growth. The old, pre-colonial section of the town expresses traditional Yoruba urbanism, whereas the new section was grafted to the former by the British colonial government in the early part of this century. Ibadzm, one of Nigeria's principal Old Towns, is used as the main example in this study. The classical models were developed with certain basic socioeconomic assumptions which are valid in North America but not in Nigeria. Two analytical proposals to account for the structure of Nigerian Old Towns are suggested. The extended family system and the institution of chieftaincy lie at the core of the first proposal.These social institutions are seen to account for the forms both of the urban residential quarters and the central nucleus in the older section of the towns, where the king's palace, the main market and are religious building are located. The form of the new section that grew up in the early part of this century is a result of the colonial government policy of separating the various Nigerian immigrant ethnic groups and the non-African community from the indigenous town. This policy, which constitutes the basis for the second proposal, is termed the principle of ethnic separation. The application of these two proposals constitutes the major portion of the paper and it is suggested that these two sets of factors offer a superior explanation of the present structure of Nigerian Old Towns than is offered by the now traditional concentric zone, sector and multiple nuclei generalisations.
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