Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Heidi Gengenbach

Second Advisor

Roberta Wollons

Third Advisor

Paul Bookbinder


This thesis addresses the portrayal of women cannabis traffickers in the Nigerian newspaper press between 1970 and 1980. Its aim is to contribute to historical scholarship on the gender dimension of crime in Africa, particularly in relation to Nigerian women’s participation in the global drugs trade. The study utilizes archival material in microfilm and hard copy as published within the study period in the newspapers Daily Times (DT), New Nigerian (NN), West African Pilot (WAP), Daily Express (DE) and The Punch (P). Conclusions were reached following textual and visual analyses of newspaper genres such as news reports, opinion articles and letters to the editor as well as pictures of the female suspects, who in almost all the cases were fully named and had their motherly credentials or humanity questioned. Oral sources were also consulted on the social, cultural, economic and political milieu of Nigeria of the early post-independence and post-civil war years. A central argument of the thesis is that the managers of the newspaper press, guided as they were by patriarchal notions of how women should behave in traditional Nigerian society, took liberties in sensationalizing stories about apprehended female cannabis traffickers. This claim rests upon the discovery of a disproportionate coverage – both in extent and intensity – of such cases in relation to those involving men, especially as females constituted only 2% of the 1,169 persons convicted for offences related to cannabis between 1966 and 1975. The study found that between 1970 and 1975 at least 100 articles appeared in the selected publications regarding cannabis cultivation, use and trafficking. However, 65 of these articles focused on 12 female suspects some of whom were eventually discharged and acquitted, although their pictures and identities had been liberally splashed across the front pages of newspapers. This work also accounts for how the prevailing socio-economic conditions may have influenced the decision of these women to get involved in trafficking cannabis to several cities of Western Europe at a time of relative economic prosperity in Nigeria.


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