1914-1918 History of West Africa 1939-1960

Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, 1918-1939

While Northern and Southern Nigeria were placed under a unified administration in 1914 (with seat in Lagos, headed by the Governor-General), the entities of Southern and Northern Nigeria continued to exist. In 1939 the provinces of Southern Nigeria were allocated to one of two regions : east and west. In 1946, for each of the 3 regions (E, W, N) a House of Assembly was introduced. The regions, and on a lower level the provinces had a strong impact on Nigerian history (REGIONALISM).
The principle of INDIRECT RULE, first introduced in Muslim Northern Nigeria, was extended to the Yoruba and Igbo lands in Southern Nigeria. Here the British policy of indirect rule resulted in a significant change of traditional political structures : in Yorubaland, the position of the king was strengthened at the expense of the community; in Igboland royal authority was a new phenomenon. Indirect rule consequently met with considerable resistance, especially in the eastern region (Igboland).
A consequence of indirect rule was that traditional law, in addition to newly passed laws of British Nigeria, continued to be in effect, and that the regional administration/jurisdiction was executed in the regional language, i.e. in Haussa in the North.

Western education was spread by christian missionaries; while christianity spread rapidly in the (hitherto animistic) south, the Muslim emirs of the north resisted it. The result was that the north, traditionally the more advanced region, came to lag behind.
Political movements aiming at Nigerian independence were founded in the 1920es and 1930es.

The economy : crops grown for export included cocoa, peanuts, palm oil. Minerals extracted were tin, from the Jos Plateau, coal, in lesser amounts gold, tantalite etc.
The opening of the railway lines lead to a diversion of trade from the Niger river; indigenous merchants lost market shares to European merchants. The ports of Lagos and Port Harcourt (railway terminals) gained at the expense of traditional ports such as Akassa, Brass, Bonny. The British showed little interest in promoting the development of Nigerian industry; the protectorate was regarded as a source of cheap raw materials and a market for (British) processed industrial products.

Timeline of Nigerian History, from Nigeria Exchange
History of Nigeria, from Infoplease
History of Lagos, from Cyber Schoolbus
REFERENCE Toyin Falola, The History of Nigeria, Westport : Greenwood 1999
R.C. Burns, History of Nigeria, London 1929
Article : West Africa : Nigeria, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1919 pp.234-238, 1924 pp.243-247, 1925 pp.248-252, 1926 pp.249-253, 1928 pp.248-252, 1929 pp.250-254, 1932 pp.252-256, 1937 pp.273-278 [G]
Article : Nigeria, in : Americana Annual 1927 p.634, 1928 pp.589-590, 1930 pp.580-581, 1931 pp.562-563, 1932 p.536, 1933 pp.566-567, 1934 p.443, 1935 pp.527-528, 1936 pp.530-531, 1937 pp.520-521 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on August 23rd 2007

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