Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


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Twenty-first century Nigeria may be described as the era of democracy yet freedom to publish, which is one of the hallmarks of true democracy, seem to be endangered more than ever before. Conversation around this subject has, however, been superficial, lacking in both historical and empirical depth. The aim of this study, therefore, is to investigate the origin, methods and motivations of censorship in Nigeria with a view to deepening the understanding of this phenomenon. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected offline and online using document analysis and interviews were analysed by simple percentages and the constant comparative method. Findings indicate that book censorship began in 1805, over two centuries ago. Eleven methods, including, burning, banning and bombing have been employed and three major motivations (political, religious and socio-cultural) were identified. This study, beyond the conjectures that make up the literature, sheds light not only on the murky history of censorship in Nigeria but also on the emergence of positive censorship—censorship not undertaken by politicians and religious leaders to stifle free speech but by communities, schools and social media to challenge books with culturally immoral contents. This development promises to strengthen the peer review process to the benefit of all stakeholders in the book chain.