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Monday, 26 March 2018

FAMILY WRITERS PRESS IN TOUCH WITH HISTORY [MAIDEN EDITION] THE EXISTENCE OF BIAFRA BEFORE THE GENESIS OF THIS INJUSTICE CALLED NIGERIA PART TWO (2)

FAMILY WRITERS PRESS IN TOUCH WITH HISTORY [MAIDEN EDITION]

THE EXISTENCE OF BIAFRA BEFORE THE GENESIS OF THIS INJUSTICE CALLED NIGERIA PART TWO (2)

By Nwafor Somtochukwu Aloysius
For Family Writers Press

Continued...

By 1850 a series of British consuls held office along the coast and penetration already started to the North of Lagos.
The most notable of those traders was Sir, George Dashwood Taubman Goldie. This man had by 1879 succeeded in uniting British merchants along the coast into a fighting front, not against Africans but against the French, who were their more natural rivals.
Lagos having been ceded to Britain in 1861 by Oba Dosumu as a result of internal power tussle. Sir George Goldie and the local British Consul Hewett, wanted British government to step in and declare the area of oil Rivers and the lower Niger, a British colony.
The liberal British government, however demurred, believing colonies in such places to be an expensive waste of time.  Although this government had rejected the recommendation of the 1875 Royal Commission on West Africa which called for withdrawal from existing colonies, it not seem willing to set up anymore.

For five years, Goldie waged a two-front struggle; one against the French traders who had finally bought out under pressure by 1884, and on other against aparthy in Whitehall. Both the mood in Europe changed in 1884. Germany's Chancellor Otto Von Bismark, having previously been as lukewarm as Gladstone to the idea of West African colonies, called the Berlin conference.
In the same year (1884), Germany annexed the Cameroons. The point of the conference ostensibly was to enable Bismark to back French and Belgium demands for a cessation of British activities in Congo basin; activities being carried out by Baptist missionaries and merchants from Manchester and Liverpool. In this he got his way, the conference declared the Belgians free state to the authority administering Congo.

Not wishing to push Franco-German collaboration too far, the conference had little hesitation in permitting Britain to be responsible for the Niger River.
Goldie attended the conference as an observer. The result of all this was the Berlin Act, which provided that any European country which could show that it has a predominant interest in any African region would be accepted as the administering power in that region, providing it could show that its administration was reality.

In 1886, Goldie's company (Royal Niger Company) which later turned to United African Company (UAC) was granted a " Charter of Administration" Goldie pushed north establishing a monopoly of trade in his wake, flanked by Germans in Cameroon on his light.

In 1897, British government sent out Sir Fredrick Lugard, a soldier and an administrator, who had seen service in Uganda and Nyasaland. Within a year, Lugard pushed the French out of what is known today as Northern Nigeria, frustrating French's bid to link up with Lake Chad under the energetic Faidherbie, who had conquered all Dahomey and were pushing eastwards into present day Nigeria. War with France threatened. The Niger crisis was settled by the Anglo-French agreement of June 1898, which established the basis for the new country's borders.

Britain had gained a colony. It had been conquered, it had not really been explored.
It had no name, so lady Lugard, Flora Shaw (Lugard's mistress) gave it one; Nigeria.
An amalgalm of two words "Niger" and "Area" This land later became Southern Nigeria, was split into an eastern and a western portion of the Niger River, flowing south from its confluence with Benue River at Lokoja.

In the western part of the south, predominantly is the Yorubas, a people with history of highly developed Kingdoms. This was so because of the British penetration through Lagos. Having come in contact with the whites first, Western culture enveloped the Yorubas before other tribes. In the eastern part of the south, lived variety of people; the Igbos, Ibibios, Ijaws, Efiks, Anangs among others. The predominant is the Igbos.

The North proper was the land of the Hausa, the Kanuri and the Fulani, the latter having originally from south of the Sahara (Futa Jallon mountain area in Guinea) in conquest, bringing with them, their Moslem religion.
Lugard spent three years subduing the North, conquering with his tiny force, one emirate after another. The stiffest opposition was provided by the sultanate in Sokoto. Despite the great number of Fulani armies, Lugard was able to depend on superior fire power.
Lugard had the " Maxim gun" and with other automatic weapons, the sultan's calvary was cut to pieces and the last of Fulani empire in Hausaland fell. This was under sultan Attahiru, who was killed in 1904 at Burmi, while coming back with his calvary ( re-enforcement) to recover the sultanate (Sokoto) that fell to Lugard's soldiers.

Lugard formed the bridge between the haphazard trail; breaking of the merchants and missionaries and bonafide imperialism.

This was not the first empire in Northern Nigeria.
Between 1804-1810, Usman Dan Fodio a Muslim scholar and reformer, had led a jihad (holy war) against the Hausa Kingdoms and had subjected them to his Fulani kinsmen.
What started as a crusade to clean up irreligious practices in Islam turned into move for land acquisition and power.  The Fulani empire swept the south into the land of the Middle Belt, into the land of the Yoruba. This movement of the jihad was stopped between 1837 and 1840 by the northward move of the British up from Lagos and came to rest in Ilorin along the kabba line.

To be continued...

READ PART 3 HERE: FAMILY WRITERS PRESS IN TOUCH WITH HISTORY[ MAIDEN EDITION] : THE EXISTENCE OF BIAFRA BEFORE THE GENESIS OF THIS INJUSTICE CALLED NIGERIA PART THREE (3)

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