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The Decolonization of Nigeria

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Heather Logsdon

on 30 January 2016

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Transcript of The Decolonization of Nigeria

In the 19th century Great Britain began to colonize what is now known as Nigeria.
Britain did not conquer all of modern day Nigeria at one time. Instead they established multiple "protectorates" which remained self-governing.
In 1914 the protectorates were combined to create the Nigerian Colony.
Between 1922 and 1959 the people of Nigeria fought for their independence from Great Britain.
On October 1st 1960 Nigeria was granted its independence (Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, n.d.).
The Decolonization of Nigeria
Colonialism is an act of political and economic control by one country over another "weaker" country (Adejuwon & Adeyeri, 2012).
The relationship between a colony and its metropole is one sided. The colony gets very little in return for the resources the land provides or the labor of the people.
The process of decolonization begins when a colony gains its independence.
How a colony attained independence depended on multiple factors including: the ruling country, the resources the colony possessed, and the attitude in both the ruling country and the world towards colonization (Iweriebor, 2011).
Colonization and
The Colony
The Process of
The British granted independence to all of their African colonies between 1957 and 1965.
They may have chosen to speed up the rate of decolonization because of violent outbursts in other non-British colonies.
The military made some attempts to suppress the nationalist movement in Kenya, but the level of brutality involved caused public opinion to shift in favor of decolonization (Watts, 2011).
The increasing number of conflicts with Nationalists in Africa meant that more money had to be spent on securing the colonies which made the decision to remain uneconomical.
These factors probably allowed Nigeria to decolonize more peacefully than other colonies.
Britain and Decolonization
The international community played a part in Great Britain's decision to decolonize.
The United States placed pressure on Great Britain to decolonize. They worried the Nationalists would turn to communist powers to help them gain independence (Watts, 2011).
The United States encouraged the newly freed countries (sometimes by military force) to adopt a democratic government rather than a communist government (U.S. Department of State, n.d.).
The decision to decolonize was not done for the good of the colonial people, but because it was economically and socially frowned upon.
The Importance of Decolonization in World Affairs
There was no single motivation for the decolonization of Nigeria (and other African colonies).
Decolonization meant that Britain had to pay for the resources they once openly exploited, but decolonization did not meaningfully hinder Europe.
Colonization did, however, hinder the natural course of Nigerian history.
The British presence had strengthened cultural and religious divides.
The people of Nigeria also had to cope with the loss of the few good things colonization brought (easier access to healthcare, cheaper goods, and better education).
Adeyeri, O., & Adejuwon, K. D. (2012). The implications of British colonial economic policies on Nigeria's development. International Journal of Advanced Research in Management and Social Sciences, 1(2).
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. (2016). Nigeria: Past, present, and future. Retrieved from http://www.nigeriaembassyusa.org/index.php?page=nigeria-past-present-and-future
Iweriebor, E. G. (2011). The Colonization of Africa. Retrieved from http://exhibitions.nypl.org/africanaage/essay-colonization-of-africa.html#indirect
PBS. (n.d.). Commanding heights : Nigeria Overview. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/lo/countries/ng/ng_overview.html
U.S. Department of State. (n.d.). Decolonization of Asia and Africa. Retrieved from https://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/asia-and-africa
Watts, C. P. (2011). History Review, 12-17.
by Heather Logsdon
The British established "indirect rule" in Nigeria. The pre-existing system of government was left intact, but the real power was held by the governor appointed by the British government.
The British encouraged the Nigerian people to grow cash crops rather than the traditional food crops (Adejuwon & Adeyeri, 2012).
Major exports included: tin, cotton, palm oil, cocoa, and ground nuts (Metz, 1991).
Britain monetized the Nigerian economy, established tariffs that were unfair to the people, and made it more difficult for natives to sell their own goods as British products could be offered for less money (Adejuwon & Adeyeri, 2012).
Nigeria's economy was not allowed to develop naturally to meet the needs of the people that lived there, but was molded to serve the needs of the metropole.
The Nationalist movement began in 1919 and picked up steam during the economic depression of the 1930s.
Nigerian nationalists protested the increased authority given to the ruling elite, unfair taxation, and the lack of a municipal self-government.
World War Two strengthened Nationalist resolve. Nigerian soldiers were exposed to allied propaganda that espoused freedom and pressure was placed on Britain to free their colonies (PBS, n.d.).
After this the Nigerian people were given slightly more control of their country, but the political, economic, and social inequalities remained (Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2016).
Nigeria gained full independence on October 1st 1960s. The transition of power was gradual and peaceful (PBS, n.d.).
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