‘A skilled and eclectic insider view of state corruption, drugs
and crime in Nigeria, from one of the most dogged journalists
and Africa researchers of his generation’ — Anjan Sundaram, author of Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo
This Present Darkness analyses how Nigeria acquired its unfortunate reputation as an epicentre of global illicit trade and organised crime.
Celebrated Africanist Stephen Ellis traces the origins of the phenomenon to the last years of colonial rule, when nationalist politicians offered government contracts in return for kickbacks. 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, and Nigerian crime went global at the very moment new criminal markets were emerging all over the world.
Stephen Ellis’ last book is the first to chart this globally significant phenomenon, from drugs, fraud and cyber-crime, to smuggling and
‘This is a fascinating portrait of Nigeria through the decades. Stephen Ellis’ final book showcases his understanding of this complex, intriguing, exasperating country. Providing forensic — often hilarious — detail about a series of eyewateringly ambitious scams, schemes and stings, Ellis probes the spiritual, cultural and historical impulses which explain why Nigeria became a byword for corruption. He manages to do so without lecturing or berating.’ — Michela Wrong, author of It’s Our Turn to Eat
‘This is quite simply a dynamite book, striking for the sheer depth of research and for the way that it is able to fit this material into a bigger picture. It benefits not only from a thorough familiarity with Nigerian history and politics, but also from an awareness especially of the spiritual dimensions of Nigerian life, and the ways in which these feed through into crime as well as virtually every other aspect of Nigerian affairs.’ — Christopher Clapham, University of Cambridge
‘Lucid, starkly realistic, and beautifully written, this book calls into sharp focus the nature of corruption in Nigeria. It is a significant contribution to our understanding of the Nigerian state and validates Ellis’ position as one of the most consistently imaginative and creative thinkers of our time on politics in Africa.’ — Will Reno, Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University, and author of Warfare in Independent Africa
‘This Present Darkness is nothing less than an analysis of Nigeria’s history from the pre-colonial period to the present time. Ellis’ conclusions about crime, the Nigerian state, the pre-colonial, and the colonial past are bound to generate fresh thinking.’ — John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies, Council on Foreign Relations