Biologically-Based Warfare in the Pre-Colonial Borgu Society of Nigeria and Republic of Benin
Warfare in precolonial Africa has been erroneously seen as raids or expeditions involving the use of simple weapons. Contrary to this view, recent research has demonstrated that African warfare was serious business in which all kinds of strategies were utilized, including the production or importation of biological weapons. This article deals with the example of precolonial Borgu, in present-day Nigeria and Benin, which was able to maintain its territorial integrity despite the fact that it was surrounded by powerful States like Songhay, Oyo, Nupe and later the Fulani Caliphate. The article focuses on the use of biological techniques in Borgu warfare, paying attention to the various ingredients used (toxins from plants and animals), the preparation of biologicals, and the rituals involved in the application of the biologicals to various weapons. It also deals with the categories of people involved in the preparation and use of biologicals for weapons. Bibliogr., notes, sum.