Foreign Policy and Public Opinion: An Assessment of Ijebu Involvement in the Kiriji War
Much has been said on the nexus between public opinion and foreign policy. There are those who believe that public opinion is the primary, if not the sole, molder of foreign policy. On the other hand, there are those who hold that the elite, rather than the general public, determine foreign policy. There are also others who contend that government is the sole determinant of foreign policy. Where pre-colonial Africa is concerned, it is taken for granted that the king was the only factor, foreign policy wise. This paper contends that contrary to widely held belief, public opinion played a critical role in the formulation of foreign policy in pre-colonial Yoruba-land. Relying on critical reinterpretation of existing literature in addition to some oral and archival data, this paper examines how changes in the public opinion influenced the posture of the Ijebu state in the Kiriji War of late 19th Century in Yorubaland.