This Present Darkness by Stephen Ellis
A History of Nigerian Organized Crime

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By the end of the novel, the words of Cleave’s title ring hollow; war brings out different forms of bravery in his characters but a host of less admirable traits too. While some of those still standing can forgive one another, what they struggle to do is forgive themselves.
-Financial Times

Synopsis

Nigeria and Nigerians have acquired a notorious reputation for involvement in drug-trafficking, fraud, cyber-crime and other types of serious crime. Successful Nigerian criminal networks have a global reach, interacting with their Italian, Latin American and Russian counterparts. Yet in 1944, a British colonial official wrote that 'the number of persistent and professional criminals is not great' in Nigeria and that 'crime as a career has so far made little appeal to the young Nigerian'.

This book traces the origins of Nigerian organised crime to the last years of colonial rule, when nationalist politicians acquired power at a regional level. In need of funds for campaigning, they offered government contracts to foreign businesses in return for kickbacks, in a pattern that recurs to this day. Political corruption encouraged a wider disrespect for the law that spread throughout Nigerian society. When the country's oil boom came to an end in the early 1980s, young Nigerian college graduates headed abroad, eager to make money by any means. Nigerian crime went global at the very moment new criminal markets were emerging all over the world.
 

About Stephen Ellis

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Professor Stephen Ellis, PhD, was Desmond Tutu Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the VU University, Amsterdam, and author of, inter alia, The Mask of Anarchy: The Religious Roots of the Liberian Civil War, Worlds of Power: Religious Thought and Political Practice in Africa, Madagascar: A Short History, and Season of Rains: Africa in the World, all available from Hurst.
 
Published July 1, 2016 by Oxford University Press. 256 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Biographies & Memoirs, History.
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Critic reviews for This Present Darkness
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Financial Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michael Prodger on May 13 2016

By the end of the novel, the words of Cleave’s title ring hollow; war brings out different forms of bravery in his characters but a host of less admirable traits too. While some of those still standing can forgive one another, what they struggle to do is forgive themselves.

Read Full Review of This Present Darkness: A Hist... | See more reviews from Financial Times

Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by William Wallis on May 06 2016

Published posthumously after Ellis’s death last year, this is the most deeply researched book yet on the nature and origins of Nigerian organised crime.

Read Full Review of This Present Darkness: A Hist... | See more reviews from Financial Times