International Development Planning Review

‘Wheelbarrow livelihoods’, urban space and antinomies of survival in Ibadan, south west Nigeria

International Development Planning Review (2019), 41, (1), 23–42.

Abstract

Wheelbarrows are a common sight in Nigerian cities where they function as an instrument of work among the urban poor. This paper explores how the wheelbarrow is increasingly deployed as a ‘mobile shop’, and describes the livelihoods of urban subjects who use it for street trade and space appropriation in Ibadan, Nigeria. Using 30 in-depth interviews, non-participant observation and picture documentary, we analyse how wheelbarrow street traders reconfigure urban space in everyday encounters with space managers who tax and exploit space users. Findings show that marginal urban subjects invest in wheel-barrows and exert personal agency to create ‘wheelbarrow livelihoods’. The participants use the tool to reconfigure urban space access and negotiate ‘presence’ in the city and engage in ‘visibility’ struggles with shop owners. People on the social margins of cities thrive by adopting livelihood strategies that enable them to occupy and maintain a presence in contentious urban spaces.

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Adeyinka, S. A., Omisore, E. O., Olawuni, P. O. and Abegunde, A. A. (2006) ‘An evaluation of informal sector activities and urban land use management in south western Nigeria’, Paper presented at the Shaping the Change XXIII FIG Congress Munich, Germany, October. An evaluation of informal sector activities and urban land use management in south western Nigeria Google Scholar

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Amponsah, F., Turner, J., Grieco, M., Kwablah, A. and Guitink, P. (1996) ‘Commercial use of nonmotorized transport: evidence from Accra, Ghana’, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 1563, 1–7. Commercial use of nonmotorized transport: evidence from Accra, Ghana Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 1563 1 7 Google Scholar

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Asiedu, A. B. and Agyei-Mensah, S. (2008) ‘Traders on the run: activities of street vendors in the Accra Metropolitan area, Ghana’, Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift-Norwegian Journal of Geography, 62(3), 191–202. Traders on the run: activities of street vendors in the Accra Metropolitan area, Ghana Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift-Norwegian Journal of Geography 62 191 202 Google Scholar

Brown, A. (2015) ‘Claiming the streets: property rights and legal empowerment in the urban informal economy’, World Development, 76, 238–48. Claiming the streets: property rights and legal empowerment in the urban informal economy World Development 76 238 48 Google Scholar

Chambers, R. (1995) ‘Poverty and livelihoods: Whose reality counts?’, Environment and Urbanisation, 7(1), 173–204. Poverty and livelihoods: Whose reality counts? Environment and Urbanisation 7 173 204 Google Scholar

Dawson, J. and Oyeyinka, B. (1993) ‘Structural adjustment and the urban informal sector in Nigeria’ (WEP working paper 65 on urban and informal sector programme), Geneva, International Labour Organisation. Structural adjustment and the urban informal sector in Nigeria Google Scholar

De Haan, L. J. (2012) ‘The livelihood approach: a critical exploration’, Erdkunde, 66(4), 345–57. The livelihood approach: a critical exploration Erdkunde 66 345 57 Google Scholar

Department for International Development (DFID-UK) (1999) Sustainable livelihoods guidiance sheets. London, DFID, http://www.livelihoodscentre.org/documents/20720/100145/Sustainable+livelihoods+guidance+sheets/8f35b59f-8207-43fc-8b99-df75d3000e86 (accessed 4 April 2017). Google Scholar

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Fadaee, S. and Schindler, S. (2017) ‘Women hawkers in Tehran’s metro: everyday politics and the production of public space’, International Development Planning Review, 39(1), 57–75. Women hawkers in Tehran’s metro: everyday politics and the production of public space International Development Planning Review 39 57 75 Google Scholar

Fourchard, L. (2003) ‘Urban slums reports: the case of Ibadan, Nigeria’, Understanding Slums: Case Studies for the Global Report on Human Settlements, Institut Francais de Recherche en Afrique (IFRA), University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Urban slums reports: the case of Ibadan, Nigeria Google Scholar

Gandy, M. (2005) ‘Learning from Lagos’, New Left Review, 33, 37–53. Learning from Lagos New Left Review 33 37 53 Google Scholar

Gillespie, T. (2016) ‘Accumulation by urban dispossession: struggles over urban space in Accra, Ghana’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 41(1), 66–77. Accumulation by urban dispossession: struggles over urban space in Accra, Ghana Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 41 66 77 Google Scholar

Hodder, I. (2014) ‘The entanglements of humans and things: a long-term view’, New Literary History, 45(1), 19–36. The entanglements of humans and things: a long-term view New Literary History 45 19 36 Google Scholar

Ibem, E. O., Uwakonye, O. and Aduwo, E. B. (2013) ‘An appraisal of urban renewal in Nigeria: a case study of the Nigerian Army shopping arena, Oshodi-Lagos’, Journal of Place Management and Development, 6(2), 155–70. An appraisal of urban renewal in Nigeria: a case study of the Nigerian Army shopping arena, Oshodi-Lagos Journal of Place Management and Development 6 155 70 Google Scholar

Ikioda, F. (2016) ‘The impact of road construction on market and street trading in Lagos’, Journal of Transport Geography, 55, 175–81. The impact of road construction on market and street trading in Lagos Journal of Transport Geography 55 175 81 Google Scholar

Ismail, O. (2009) ‘The dialectic of “junctions” and “bases”: youth, “securo-commerce” and the crises of order in downtown Lagos’, Security Dialogue, 40(4-5), 463–87. The dialectic of “junctions” and “bases”: youth, “securo-commerce” and the crises of order in downtown Lagos Security Dialogue 40 463 87 Google Scholar

Kamete, A. Y. (2013) ‘On handling urban informality in southern Africa’, Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 95(1), 17–31. On handling urban informality in southern Africa Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 95 17 31 Google Scholar

King, B. (2011) ‘Spatialising livelihoods: resource access and livelihood spaces in South Africa’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 36(2), 297–13. Spatialising livelihoods: resource access and livelihood spaces in South Africa Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 36 297 13 Google Scholar

Lindell, I. (ed.) (2010) Africa’s informal workers: collective agency, alliances and transnational organising in urban Africa, London, Zed Books. Africa’s informal workers: collective agency, alliances and transnational organising in urban Africa Google Scholar

Mosiane, B. (2009) ‘Landscapes of flexibility or landscapes of marginality? Spaces of livelihood formation in a changing South African city’, GeoJournal, 74(6), 541. Landscapes of flexibility or landscapes of marginality? Spaces of livelihood formation in a changing South African city GeoJournal 74 541 Google Scholar

Munive, J. (2010) ‘The army of “unemployed” young people’, Young, 18(3), 321–38. The army of “unemployed” young people Young 18 321 38 Google Scholar

Nzeadibe, T. C. and Mbah, P. O. (2015) ‘Beyond urban vulnerability: interrogating the social sustainability of a livelihood in the informal economy of Nigerian cities’, Review of African Political Economy, 42(144), 279–98. Beyond urban vulnerability: interrogating the social sustainability of a livelihood in the informal economy of Nigerian cities Review of African Political Economy 42 279 98 Google Scholar

Olajoke, A., Aina, A. T. and Kehinde, O. O. (2013) ‘Residents’ perception on environmental impacts of urban informal enterprises in Ibadan, Nigeria’, Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(19), 21–27. Residents’ perception on environmental impacts of urban informal enterprises in Ibadan, Nigeria Research on Humanities and Social Sciences 3 21 27 Google Scholar

Olutayo, O. A. (2005) ‘Women in long-distance trade: the family and the rural-urban market nexus in southwestern Nigeria’, Ibadan Journal of the Social Sciences, 3, 67–76. Women in long-distance trade: the family and the rural-urban market nexus in southwestern Nigeria Ibadan Journal of the Social Sciences 3 67 76 Google Scholar

Onodugo, V. A., Ezeadichie, N. H., Onwuneme, C. A. and Anosike, A. E. (2016) ‘The dilemma of managing the challenges of street vending in public spaces: the case of Enugu City, Nigeria’, Cities, 59, 95–101. The dilemma of managing the challenges of street vending in public spaces: the case of Enugu City, Nigeria Cities 59 95 101 Google Scholar

Packer, G. (2006) ‘The megacity’, The New Yorker, 13, 2006. The megacity The New Yorker 13 Google Scholar

Preda, A. (1999) ‘The turn to things: arguments for a sociological theory of things’, The Sociological Quarterly, 40(2), 347–66. The turn to things: arguments for a sociological theory of things The Sociological Quarterly 40 347 66 Google Scholar

Schatzki, T. (2010) ‘Materiality and social life’, Nature and Culture, 5(2), 123–49. Materiality and social life Nature and Culture 5 123 49 Google Scholar

Schindler, S. (2014) ‘A New Delhi every day: multiplicities of governance regimes in a transforming metropolis’, Urban Geography, 35(3), 402–19. A New Delhi every day: multiplicities of governance regimes in a transforming metropolis Urban Geography 35 402 19 Google Scholar

Taiwo, O. D. (2015) ‘Implications of street trading activities in central business districts of Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria’, (SSRN report published 10 February 2015), https://ssrn.com/abstract=2485278 (accessed 5 June 2017). Google Scholar

Trentmann, F. (2009) ‘Materiality in the future of history: things, practices, and politics’, The Journal of British Studies, 48(2), 283–307. Materiality in the future of history: things, practices, and politics The Journal of British Studies 48 283 307 Google Scholar

Turner, S. and Schoenberger, L. (2012) ‘Street vendor livelihoods and everyday politics in Hanoi, Vietnam: The seeds of a diverse economy?’ Urban Studies, 49(5), 1027–44. Street vendor livelihoods and everyday politics in Hanoi, Vietnam: The seeds of a diverse economy? Urban Studies 49 1027 44 Google Scholar

Wrigley-Asante, C. (2013) ‘Unraveling the health-related challenges of women in the informal economy: accounts of women in cross-border trading in Accra, Ghana’, GeoJournal, 78(3), 525–37. Unraveling the health-related challenges of women in the informal economy: accounts of women in cross-border trading in Accra, Ghana GeoJournal 78 525 37 Google Scholar

Yeboah, M. A. (2010) ‘Urban poverty, livelihood, and gender: perceptions and experiences of porters in Accra, Ghana’, Africa Today, 56(3), 42–60. Urban poverty, livelihood, and gender: perceptions and experiences of porters in Accra, Ghana Africa Today 56 42 60 Google Scholar

Yusuff, O. S. (2011) ‘A theoretical analysis of the concept of informal economy and informality in developing countries’, European Journal of Social Sciences, 20(4), 624–36. A theoretical analysis of the concept of informal economy and informality in developing countries European Journal of Social Sciences 20 624 36 Google Scholar

Adeyinka, S. A., Omisore, E. O., Olawuni, P. O. and Abegunde, A. A. (2006) ‘An evaluation of informal sector activities and urban land use management in south western Nigeria’, Paper presented at the Shaping the Change XXIII FIG Congress Munich, Germany, October. An evaluation of informal sector activities and urban land use management in south western Nigeria Google Scholar

Afutu-Kotey, R. L. (2016) ‘Young entrepreneurs in the mobile telephony sector in Ghana’, in K. V. Gough and T. Langevang (eds), Young entrepreneurs in sub-saharan Africa, London, Routledge, 167–80. Young entrepreneurs in the mobile telephony sector in Ghana Young entrepreneurs in sub-saharan Africa 167 80 Google Scholar

Agbiboa, D. E. (2016) “‘No condition is permanent”: informal transport workers and labour precarity in Africa’s largest city’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 40(5), 936–57. No condition is permanent”: informal transport workers and labour precarity in Africa’s largest city International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 40 936 57 Google Scholar

Akanle, O. and Chioma, C. (2013) ‘Alabaru: head porterage in Ibadan, Nigeria’, Asian and African Studies, 22(1), 49–64. Alabaru: head porterage in Ibadan, Nigeria Asian and African Studies 22 49 64 Google Scholar

Amponsah, F., Turner, J., Grieco, M., Kwablah, A. and Guitink, P. (1996) ‘Commercial use of nonmotorized transport: evidence from Accra, Ghana’, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 1563, 1–7. Commercial use of nonmotorized transport: evidence from Accra, Ghana Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 1563 1 7 Google Scholar

Annan, G. K. (2009) Wheelbarrow boys of Liberia, 27 July 2009, http://annansi.com/2009/07/wheelbarrow-boys-of-liberia/ (accessed 23 April 2017). Google Scholar

Appadurai, A. (1988) The social life of things: commodities in cultural perspective, New York, Cambridge University Press. The social life of things: commodities in cultural perspective Google Scholar

Asiedu, A. B. and Agyei-Mensah, S. (2008) ‘Traders on the run: activities of street vendors in the Accra Metropolitan area, Ghana’, Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift-Norwegian Journal of Geography, 62(3), 191–202. Traders on the run: activities of street vendors in the Accra Metropolitan area, Ghana Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift-Norwegian Journal of Geography 62 191 202 Google Scholar

Brown, A. (2015) ‘Claiming the streets: property rights and legal empowerment in the urban informal economy’, World Development, 76, 238–48. Claiming the streets: property rights and legal empowerment in the urban informal economy World Development 76 238 48 Google Scholar

Chambers, R. (1995) ‘Poverty and livelihoods: Whose reality counts?’, Environment and Urbanisation, 7(1), 173–204. Poverty and livelihoods: Whose reality counts? Environment and Urbanisation 7 173 204 Google Scholar

Dawson, J. and Oyeyinka, B. (1993) ‘Structural adjustment and the urban informal sector in Nigeria’ (WEP working paper 65 on urban and informal sector programme), Geneva, International Labour Organisation. Structural adjustment and the urban informal sector in Nigeria Google Scholar

De Haan, L. J. (2012) ‘The livelihood approach: a critical exploration’, Erdkunde, 66(4), 345–57. The livelihood approach: a critical exploration Erdkunde 66 345 57 Google Scholar

Department for International Development (DFID-UK) (1999) Sustainable livelihoods guidiance sheets. London, DFID, http://www.livelihoodscentre.org/documents/20720/100145/Sustainable+livelihoods+guidance+sheets/8f35b59f-8207-43fc-8b99-df75d3000e86 (accessed 4 April 2017). Google Scholar

Ezeibe, C. C., Nzeadibe, T. C., Ali, A. N., Udeogu, C. U., Nwankwo, C. F. and Ogbodo, C. (2017) ‘Work on wheels: collective organising of motorcycle taxis in Nigerian cities’, International Development Planning Review, 39(3), 249–73. Work on wheels: collective organising of motorcycle taxis in Nigerian cities International Development Planning Review 39 249 73 Google Scholar

Fadaee, S. and Schindler, S. (2017) ‘Women hawkers in Tehran’s metro: everyday politics and the production of public space’, International Development Planning Review, 39(1), 57–75. Women hawkers in Tehran’s metro: everyday politics and the production of public space International Development Planning Review 39 57 75 Google Scholar

Fourchard, L. (2003) ‘Urban slums reports: the case of Ibadan, Nigeria’, Understanding Slums: Case Studies for the Global Report on Human Settlements, Institut Francais de Recherche en Afrique (IFRA), University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Urban slums reports: the case of Ibadan, Nigeria Google Scholar

Gandy, M. (2005) ‘Learning from Lagos’, New Left Review, 33, 37–53. Learning from Lagos New Left Review 33 37 53 Google Scholar

Gillespie, T. (2016) ‘Accumulation by urban dispossession: struggles over urban space in Accra, Ghana’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 41(1), 66–77. Accumulation by urban dispossession: struggles over urban space in Accra, Ghana Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 41 66 77 Google Scholar

Hodder, I. (2014) ‘The entanglements of humans and things: a long-term view’, New Literary History, 45(1), 19–36. The entanglements of humans and things: a long-term view New Literary History 45 19 36 Google Scholar

Ibem, E. O., Uwakonye, O. and Aduwo, E. B. (2013) ‘An appraisal of urban renewal in Nigeria: a case study of the Nigerian Army shopping arena, Oshodi-Lagos’, Journal of Place Management and Development, 6(2), 155–70. An appraisal of urban renewal in Nigeria: a case study of the Nigerian Army shopping arena, Oshodi-Lagos Journal of Place Management and Development 6 155 70 Google Scholar

Ikioda, F. (2016) ‘The impact of road construction on market and street trading in Lagos’, Journal of Transport Geography, 55, 175–81. The impact of road construction on market and street trading in Lagos Journal of Transport Geography 55 175 81 Google Scholar

Ismail, O. (2009) ‘The dialectic of “junctions” and “bases”: youth, “securo-commerce” and the crises of order in downtown Lagos’, Security Dialogue, 40(4-5), 463–87. The dialectic of “junctions” and “bases”: youth, “securo-commerce” and the crises of order in downtown Lagos Security Dialogue 40 463 87 Google Scholar

Kamete, A. Y. (2013) ‘On handling urban informality in southern Africa’, Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 95(1), 17–31. On handling urban informality in southern Africa Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 95 17 31 Google Scholar

King, B. (2011) ‘Spatialising livelihoods: resource access and livelihood spaces in South Africa’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 36(2), 297–13. Spatialising livelihoods: resource access and livelihood spaces in South Africa Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 36 297 13 Google Scholar

Lindell, I. (ed.) (2010) Africa’s informal workers: collective agency, alliances and transnational organising in urban Africa, London, Zed Books. Africa’s informal workers: collective agency, alliances and transnational organising in urban Africa Google Scholar

Mosiane, B. (2009) ‘Landscapes of flexibility or landscapes of marginality? Spaces of livelihood formation in a changing South African city’, GeoJournal, 74(6), 541. Landscapes of flexibility or landscapes of marginality? Spaces of livelihood formation in a changing South African city GeoJournal 74 541 Google Scholar

Munive, J. (2010) ‘The army of “unemployed” young people’, Young, 18(3), 321–38. The army of “unemployed” young people Young 18 321 38 Google Scholar

Nzeadibe, T. C. and Mbah, P. O. (2015) ‘Beyond urban vulnerability: interrogating the social sustainability of a livelihood in the informal economy of Nigerian cities’, Review of African Political Economy, 42(144), 279–98. Beyond urban vulnerability: interrogating the social sustainability of a livelihood in the informal economy of Nigerian cities Review of African Political Economy 42 279 98 Google Scholar

Olajoke, A., Aina, A. T. and Kehinde, O. O. (2013) ‘Residents’ perception on environmental impacts of urban informal enterprises in Ibadan, Nigeria’, Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(19), 21–27. Residents’ perception on environmental impacts of urban informal enterprises in Ibadan, Nigeria Research on Humanities and Social Sciences 3 21 27 Google Scholar

Olutayo, O. A. (2005) ‘Women in long-distance trade: the family and the rural-urban market nexus in southwestern Nigeria’, Ibadan Journal of the Social Sciences, 3, 67–76. Women in long-distance trade: the family and the rural-urban market nexus in southwestern Nigeria Ibadan Journal of the Social Sciences 3 67 76 Google Scholar

Onodugo, V. A., Ezeadichie, N. H., Onwuneme, C. A. and Anosike, A. E. (2016) ‘The dilemma of managing the challenges of street vending in public spaces: the case of Enugu City, Nigeria’, Cities, 59, 95–101. The dilemma of managing the challenges of street vending in public spaces: the case of Enugu City, Nigeria Cities 59 95 101 Google Scholar

Packer, G. (2006) ‘The megacity’, The New Yorker, 13, 2006. The megacity The New Yorker 13 Google Scholar

Preda, A. (1999) ‘The turn to things: arguments for a sociological theory of things’, The Sociological Quarterly, 40(2), 347–66. The turn to things: arguments for a sociological theory of things The Sociological Quarterly 40 347 66 Google Scholar

Schatzki, T. (2010) ‘Materiality and social life’, Nature and Culture, 5(2), 123–49. Materiality and social life Nature and Culture 5 123 49 Google Scholar

Schindler, S. (2014) ‘A New Delhi every day: multiplicities of governance regimes in a transforming metropolis’, Urban Geography, 35(3), 402–19. A New Delhi every day: multiplicities of governance regimes in a transforming metropolis Urban Geography 35 402 19 Google Scholar

Taiwo, O. D. (2015) ‘Implications of street trading activities in central business districts of Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria’, (SSRN report published 10 February 2015), https://ssrn.com/abstract=2485278 (accessed 5 June 2017). Google Scholar

Trentmann, F. (2009) ‘Materiality in the future of history: things, practices, and politics’, The Journal of British Studies, 48(2), 283–307. Materiality in the future of history: things, practices, and politics The Journal of British Studies 48 283 307 Google Scholar

Turner, S. and Schoenberger, L. (2012) ‘Street vendor livelihoods and everyday politics in Hanoi, Vietnam: The seeds of a diverse economy?’ Urban Studies, 49(5), 1027–44. Street vendor livelihoods and everyday politics in Hanoi, Vietnam: The seeds of a diverse economy? Urban Studies 49 1027 44 Google Scholar

Wrigley-Asante, C. (2013) ‘Unraveling the health-related challenges of women in the informal economy: accounts of women in cross-border trading in Accra, Ghana’, GeoJournal, 78(3), 525–37. Unraveling the health-related challenges of women in the informal economy: accounts of women in cross-border trading in Accra, Ghana GeoJournal 78 525 37 Google Scholar

Yeboah, M. A. (2010) ‘Urban poverty, livelihood, and gender: perceptions and experiences of porters in Accra, Ghana’, Africa Today, 56(3), 42–60. Urban poverty, livelihood, and gender: perceptions and experiences of porters in Accra, Ghana Africa Today 56 42 60 Google Scholar

Yusuff, O. S. (2011) ‘A theoretical analysis of the concept of informal economy and informality in developing countries’, European Journal of Social Sciences, 20(4), 624–36. A theoretical analysis of the concept of informal economy and informality in developing countries European Journal of Social Sciences 20 624 36 Google Scholar

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Adebayo, Kudus

Akinyemi, Adebayo