City of Religions, Regalia and Consumerism: Exploring Religious Diversity in the Neo-Liberal City of Isale-Eko, Lagos Island


Tokunbo Bankole M.


Social theorists have noted how the recent rise in importance of economics as a determining social field, namely consumerism and neoliberalism, have coincided with the renewal of formerly repressed or delegitimized “traditional” religious forms. Such a claim could be made for Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria in particular. This paper examines the validity of such a claim and shows how these dynamics are occurring empirically, through complex processes of recomposition, revival, re-interpretation, syncretism, bricolage, et cetera. The paper specifically focuses on the interface between religions in Isale-Eko, Lagos, Nigeria. Isale-Eko is an urban area of Lagos Island in Lagos State, Nigeria. It is a commercial area. In spite of the strong presence of commercialization and the influence of modernization in the area, religion is still accorded prominent attention by the indigenes of Isale-Eko. For example, the Eyo, an African religion fiesta, attracts the attention of both local and foreign tourists. Most of these tourists are Christians and Muslims. The African indigenous faith was the first religion to be established in Isale-Eko, while Christianity and Islam came much later. The influence of the two foreign religions led to a serious decline of traditional cults in the area. However, there is a revival of the beliefs and practices of the autochthonous religion. The state sponsored Eyo festival and the Isese Day attest to this fact. As a result of syncretic activities among Christian and Islamic adherents who patronize traditional priests known as babalawos, the dividing line between traditional and foreign beliefs and practices is becoming difficult to draw. Scholarly publications on religious diversity in Lagos Island have consistently opened academic vacuums yet to be explored. It is in response to the yearnings created by these vacuums that this paper is visualized. Using sociological and historical approaches, this paper submits that there is continuous dialogue between African indigenous religion and foreign religions in Isale-Eko, Lagos Island. This dialogue has given rise to peculiar syncretic beliefs and practices in contemporary Lagos Island.


How to Cite
Bankole M., T. (2022). City of Religions, Regalia and Consumerism: Exploring Religious Diversity in the Neo-Liberal City of Isale-Eko, Lagos Island. African Multidisciplinary Journal of Research, 7(1), 22–43. Retrieved from