The curse of a size: socio-cultural conception of dwarfism and effects on political participation in south-western Nigeria

Azeez Olusola Olaniyan


The notion of dwarfs as inferior members of the society is a long-held belief amongst the Yoruba ethnic group of south-western Nigeria. By virtue of their size, dwarfs are objects of amusements and ridicule and denied political and leadership opportunities. They cannot become kings, hold chieftaincy titles; serve as heads of family, village heads or occupy leadership positions. In spite of persistence of this discrimination, there is a dearth of research on dwarfs’ socio-political life. And this raises some pertinent questions: what is the socio-historical conception of dwarfism among the Yoruba people? What are the socio-cultural barriers placed on the dwarfs? What are the effects of these on dwarfs’ psycho-political participation as members of the society? And, how do they express their socio-psychological and political affinities, affiliations, preferences, and feelings? Using participant observation, in depth interviews with key informants and archival search, this study seeks to interrogate these problematic.


Dwarfs, Stigma, Politics, Exclusion, Southwestern Nigeria

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