This paper, following the assumptions of the Realist School, takes a critical look at ‘power’ and the use of it, with relations to pre-colonial Oyo and her neighbor, Dahomey in the eighteenth century. The purpose being to examine the extent to which ‘power’ determined the foreign policies of the two Powers during this period. The paper observes that while ‘soft power’ (as postulated by its chief proponent, Joseph Nye) was sparingly deployed by Oyo to achieve her foreign policy objectives, she more often than not exhibited her ‘hard power’ potentials which involved coercion and the threat of it, to resolve some irreconcilable politico-economic issues. More importantly, and acutely germane to contemporary discourse on global relevance, the paper challenges notions in certain quarters that pre-colonial West Africans were insulated from systematic, elaborate and sophisticated art of diplomacy.
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