DIPLOMATIC HISTORY

BRITISH COLONISATION OF NIGERIAN TERRITORIES

By 1880, the British had been well established along the coast of West Africa and began to advance into the interior. With the abolition of slave trade in Britain in 1807, the trade in palm oil was encouraged to replace that in slaves. It was also hoped that it would supply Britain with raw materials for her growing industries. The discovery of the Niger by the Lander Brothers in 1830 opened the route to the interior for British trade. Since the mouth of Nigeria had been discovered, it was necessary to put the knowledge to commercial use. The British Naval supremacy on the coast opened up trade for the British. Also, the British wanted to plant Christianity in Nigeria. They were determined to take the Christian religious message and European civilisation to Nigerian communities, most especially where it had not been heard.   British contact with Nigeria as Explorer The British explorers were those who travelled through an unknown areas to find out about it. These were people like Mungo Park, Clapperton, Lander Brothers, Thomas Freeman, Oudney and the likes. The major aim of these men was to discover an inland highway for trade in West Africa and Nigeria in particular. Consequently in 1795, a young Scottish doctor, Mungo Park offered his service and later discovered the majesty of River Niger at Segu. He discovered that River Niger flowed eastwards and observed advanced civilisation in Nigeria. In 1805, the British Government sponsored Mungo Park and about 45 Europeans on another exploration but, unfortunately, all of them died in Bussa. The role of Clapperton, Denham and Oudney who left England in 1821 is worthy of note. They left for Nigeria across Sahara and, reached Bornu and Sokoto in the North West. He did not find out about the Niger, and he went back to England in 1825. Clapperton set out again in 1825. He sailed from Badagry, near Lagos, crossed the Niger near Bussa and visited Sokoto and died there in 1827. In 1830, Richard Lander, John Lander and others were sent on another expedition in order to complete the task of Clapperton. They started from Badagry, and reached Bussa, where they got a boat to travel down the Niger. This party after so many efforts, discovered where River Niger entered the Atlantic Ocean. The discovery of the mouth of the Niger in 1830 by the Lander brothers opened the route to the interior for European traders. Once the mouth of the Niger had been discovered, it was necessary to put the new knowledge to commercial use. One commercial expedition organised in 1832-1834 by a Liverpool ship owner, Mac-Gregor Laird, sailed up the Niger as far as the confluence and beyond. This expedition failed to achieve its desired objective. Another expedition to penetrate the interior was made in 1841-1842 by the British government. This expedition was organised by Thomas Fowell Buxton who was a kind-hearted and religious man who believed that the condition of the people in Nigeria could only be improved upon by opening up the river to traders and missionaries. He influenced the British government to decide that the area should be explored not only for trading transaction, but also for converting the indigenous people to Christianity. This is to confirm the original aim of British penetration into the interior to promote legitimate trade between Nigeria and European, and to convert Nigerians to their (europeans) own religion of Christianity. The heavy death toll from malaria discouraged further efforts until 1854 when Dr. William Baikie took over the command of another expedition. Dr. Baikie-led expedition was the most successful expedition on which he demonstrated that the use of quinine prevented fever. This expedition did not record any death of its members.   The National African Company The penetration of the Niger and the exploration of the British on the oil Rivers was left in the hands of the individuals, among them was John Beecroft. In 1849, he became the consul for the bights of Benin and Biafra; his duty was to look after the interests of the British merchants trading along the coast of Dahomey to the Cameroons. By 1850s, some of these merchants were trading as far inland as Lokoja, Onitsha and Aboh. Between 1855 and1856, the trade volume in the oil Rivers alone amounted to 25,060 tones which was almost half of the entire African production of palm oil for some years. It is to be noted that between the 1830s and 1840s, the British policy on nonintervention in the domestic politics of the African states contributed greatly to the development of trade in the Oil Rivers. However, the period of John Beecroft consisting 1849-1854 marked the beginning of European involvement and empire building in Nigeria. This coincided with the period of African resistance to further European penetration into the interior. George Taubman Goldie’s visit to the oil Rivers in 1877 made him to observe and conclude that only a strong organisation could combat local resistance and French rivalry in the area. This made him to persuade various British companies to form the United African Company in 1819. In 1882, the United African Company was incorporated as the National African Company.   British contact with Missionaries In West Africa, the Portuguese were the first to introduce missionaries. They connected a Wolof King and had a bit of success in Temneland and Benin. The Roman Catholic priests ministered to the French officials in Senegal, and Portuguese in Caches and Bissau. The British missionaries also grew because of the religious revival of the period and their interest in the complete abolition of slave trade. The American Mission also made a meaningful impact, especially in Liberia. The Basel Missionary Society of Switzerland was known for her training school which provided recruits for other groups. German missionaries served British and other societies until she developed political interest in Africa in 1880. The work of these missionaries were limited because of the high death rate as a result of malaria. Because of the problem of communication and hostility in the Muslim areas by the 19th century, their attention was directed to Nigeria. All these missionaries had the mind of planting the Christian religion in West Africa, Nigeria in particular. Along with this motive was their intention to establish trade with Nigeria in order to replace trade in human beings. The Europeans saw Africans as an uncivilised set of human beings. Therefore, they had prepared to introduce European culture and civilisation. They could not realise that Africa had her own unique culture and civilisation long before their coming.   Early Christian missions in Nigeria The Portuguese were the first to introduce missionaries to West Africa as earlier stated. This was towards the end of the 15th century when they had contacts with the people of Benin and Warri Kingdoms. The major aim of the Portuguese was to spread Christianity, and this was followed by commerce which was auxiliary to missionary work. The activities of the Portuguese missionaries in the 15 century to convert the people of Nigeria to Christianity failed. This was due to the fact that the Europeans placed economic interest above the mission work. Also, some traditional rulers who claimed to have support for Christianity did that for political and economic reason. For instance, the Olu of Warri had the intention of maintaining independence from Benin and thus sought the Portuguese support. The Oba of Benin wanted to acquire firearms in order to wage wars of conquest and expansion. The problem of communities and financial difficulties also posed a great threat to the success of Christianity in the 15th century. More importantly, the quality and quantity of the missionaries sent to Nigeria could not cope with the work.   Christian missions in Nigeria The real and successful mission work started in Nigeria in the 19 century. It started among the Yoruba freed slaves who had already been converted to Christianity in Sierra Leone. These converts returned to their homes in Badagry, Lagos and Abeokuta. The Wesleyans were among the earliest workers in Sierra Leone, having established there in 1811. The Wesleyan missionaries were later renamed the Methodists. They were the first to begin work in Nigeria under Thomas Birch Freeman who was the head of the Gold Coast Methodist Mission. He opened a station in Badagry in 1842. He established good relationship with the Egba, under Sodeke. He opened mission stations in Abeokuta, Ibadan, Ilesa and Lagos. The activities of the Church Missionary Society was equally worthy of note. The CMS was formed in 1799 and began work in Sierra Leone in 1804. The Church Missionary Society was successful among the slaves who returned from America who had already been converted, and among the Africans rescued from the slave ships and settled there. The Yorubas rescued from slave ships were settled in Sierra Leone. These people later returned to Yorubaland and asked for missionaries to be sent to them. This led to the founding of the mission stations in Abeokuta in 1846, Lagos in 1851, Ibadan in 1853, Oyo in 1856 and Lokoja in 1865 and later spread to many places in Nigeria. The Roman Catholic Mission returned to Nigeria in 1860 after they had worked extensively in Ivory Coast, Gambia and Sierra Leone. In 1860, the Roman Catholic Mission Station was led by Rev. Father Berghero who visited Abeokuta and Lagos. He opened mission stations in Lagos in 1868 and other places like Abeokuta, Ibadan and Lokoja. The Roman Catholic Mission activities equally spread to today’s eastern part of Nigeria like Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states. Mention must be made of the Southern America Baptist who sent Thomas Jefferson Bowen in 1850 to commence mission work in Nigeria. Bowen established mission station in Ijaye, Ogbomoso in 1854, Oyo, Shaki and other towns in Yorubaland. The Presbyterian Church equally worked in old Calabar under Hope Waddell in 1846. Mary Slessor who was known for stopping the killing of twins also worked with the mission. The Christian missionaries also made several attempts in the northern part of Nigeria but could not succeed well because of hostility from the Muslims. Thus, little progress was made.   Effects of Christian missionary in Nigeria The Christian missionary activities had far-reaching consequences on the people of Nigeria. There were two schools of thought on this. One believed that the missionary activities was beneficial to the people of Nigeria while the other school believed that it was harmful. The missionaries introduced the Christian religion which was against the pagan practice which supported and encouraged various sacrifices even in human beings. The christian religion was opposed to these sacrifices. Mary Slessor equally worked against the killing of twins in Calabar. The missionaries worked relentlessly to bring trade in slave to an end. They were in the vanguard of campaign against the inhuman trade. The missionaries embarked on the introduction and improvement of modern medical services. Hospitals, clinics and dispensaries were built by the missionaries in order to prevent spread of diseases and to improve people health services. Hospitals were built by the Catholics, Methodists, Anglican and Baptist missions all over Nigeria. The introduction of Western education was another credit to the missionaries. The missionaries built schools and colleges in many towns with the aim of teaching the 3R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic). Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman, a Methodist missionary, established the first school in Badagry in 1842. The Church Missionary Society, The Roman Catholic Mission, The Southern American Baptist and the rest equally established schools. The CMS established two schools in Badagry. It also opened two schools in Abeokuta in 1846. The popular CMS Grammer School was established in 1859. Samuel Ajayi Crowther established the first school in Onitsha in 1859. Many schools were established: Abeokuta Grammar School 1908, Ijebu Ode Grammar School 1913, Ibadan Grammar School 1913 and a host of others. For the benefit of the Nigerian teachers, teacher training institutions were also established by the missionaries: St. Andrews College, Oyo 1896, Baptist College Iwo…

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THE EVOLUTION OF THE NIGERIAN STATE

The Berlin Treaty There were two major events that served as the prelude to the conference where the treaty took place. Firstly, King Leopold was interested in the Congo Basin, and the second was the Germans’ acquisition of Colonies in West Africa. The above mentioned events sprang-up rivalry among the European nations for acquisition of territories in Africa.   Major reasons for the treaty The Conference was held between November 1884 and February 1885. This was called by Germany and France in order to discuss the following issues: The freedom of commerce in Basin and Mouth of the River Congo. Freedom of navigation on the River Congo and Niger. Formalities to be observed and fulfilled before a new occupation of territories on the African Coast should be internationally recognised.   Attendance at Berlin Conference These were the European powers who attended the conference. Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Turkey, United States of America, Germany, Britain and France.   Decisions and agreement at Berlin Conference of 1884/1885 The Berlin Conference of 1884/1885 was chaired by Chancellor Bismark of Germany. A lot of diplomatic manoeuvres were employed by Britain, France and Germany to ensure that the European powers would not resort to war among themselves in their race for colonial acquisition in Africa. The Conference recognised King Leopold II of Belgium International Association as a Sovereign power in Congo. This eventually gave birth to the Congo free states. The river Congo was declared an International river whereby freedom of commerce and navigation were to exist on the river for all the European powers. Codes of Conduct for acquisition of territories in Africa were spelt out: Any European power acquiring territories on the coast of Africa should immediately inform all other signatory powers (European powers that attended the Conference and signed the Communique). Occupation of any African territory by any European power would only be valid if it had effective Control over the area in matters of trade and military establishment. Any European power possessing a coastal area in Africa was entitled to its hinterland.   Importance of Berlin Conference of 1884/1885 The decisions reached at the Conference were compromises among the European powers to ensure peaceful partition of African territories. The Conference did not partition Africa, but it succeeded in providing general principles and definition of formula in order to minimise inter-European disputes in their struggle for territorial acquisition. The Conference also gave International recognition to the possession of some African territories that had been occupied before the Conference. The Conference fastened the conquest and partition of Africa.   The roles of Royal Niger Company in Nigerian territories The Royal Niger Company was formed by Sir George Taubman Goldie. He was a former officer of the British army who had interest in one of the British companies trading on the lower Niger. In 1877, he visited the lower Niger River and in 1879 persuaded the British companies trading along the Niger to come together in order to withstand the competition of their French and German rivals. The principal British companies joined together in a company known as the United African Company; and changed its name in 1882 to the National African Company. Sir George Goldie’s Company was financially buoyant and was able to buy the French companies. This made Goldie on the eve of Berlin Conference to obtain treaties from African rulers on the lower Niger. Thus, Britain secured the lower Niger valley and its territories. The British gave the National African Company a Royal charter which conferred political rights on it. The company changed its name to Royal Niger Company with its administrative headquarters at Asaba. The company set up a military (constabulary force), a High Court and several agencies to take care of its trading posts. Through its constabulary force, it declared and demonstrated effective control on the area. In 1897, its forces defeated Bida and Ilorin, thus began the process of the conquest of northern Nigeria. By 1899, the British government decided that the Royal Niger Company had outlived its usefulness. By 1900, as a result of the French challenge, the Royal Niger Company charter was abrogated and its area of operation was taken over by the British government.   Colonial conquest and administration of Nigerian territories The Europeans employed two major methods to invade Africa. These methods were Diplomacy and Force. Diplomacy means the tactics used by the Europeans to make African rulers surrender their states and kingdoms to Europeans without the foreigner’s use of forceful means. The tactics used by the Europeans included the signing of treaties with African Kings. These treaties were called Treaties of commerce and friendship. The implication of this means the establishment of diplomatic relations that is having political representatives, such as ambassadors. There were also trading activities between the Countries that signed the treaties. Some of the contents of the treaty included pledges to stop slave trade and to allow European missionaries to preach Christian religion. Force was used to take up African territories in some areas where diplomacy did not work with the African rulers. Such African rulers were those who refused to sign treaties and insisted on asserting their political authority over the European firms and traders, missionaries and imperial agents in their territories. African rulers in this context included King Kosoko of Lagos, Attahiru II of the Sokoto Caliphate and a host of others. This action cost King Kosoko of Lagos to be bombarded and he was forced out of the throne. Also, Attahiru, the Caliph of the Sokoto Caliphate, was attacked in the early 20m Century because he refused to accept British friendship. These facts showed that the British clearly used force where diplomacy failed to impose their political control on African State. The Europeans were able to secure control of the territories on which they had spheres of influence by making use of their Chartered Companies. In Nigeria, the Royal Niger Company was used to secure the Northern Nigeria and administer it till 1900 when its area of operation was taken over by the British government. The indirect rule system of government was adopted by the British for the administration of Nigeria. This extends the use of traditional rulers in governance. Sir Lord Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern protectorates under a political entity called Nigeria. As the first colonial Governor General, he initiated the Nigerian Council of 1914. In spite of the 1914 amalgamation, the Northern Province was separately administered from the South. The Nigeria Council of 1914 was replaced by Clifford Constitution in 1922. Sir Hugh Clifford introduced an elective principle which allowed Nigerians to be elected into the Legislative Council. This gave rise to the first political party in Nigeria Nigerian National Democratic Party in 1923 by Herbert Macaulay. The elective principle granted three and one elected representatives to Lagos and Calabar respectively. The Richard Constitution of 1946 was directed towards the promotion of Nigerian unity and enhanced greater participation of Nigerians in their own affairs. The Constitution equally introduced regionalism, each of the three regions was dominated by one ethnic group: the Hausa Fulani in the North, the Yoruba in the West and the Igbo in the East. The Macpherson Constitution of 1951 and Lyttleton Constitution of 1954 improved on the British administration and Nigerian participation in the affairs of their country. It must be stressed that the British Colonial Constitutions ensured that the North had many seats in the Central legislature than the West and East. This means that the North had inherited power at independence through British colonial machinery.

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EARLY EUROPEANS IN NIGERIA

The Europeans who came to Nigeria were the explorers, Christian missionaries, traders and merchants. These people included the following: The explorers were Mungo Park, Hugh Clapperton, Richard and John Lander. The traders and merchants included George Tauberman Goldie, John Holt etc. The Christian missionaries included Mary Slessor, Thomas Birch Freeman, Henry Townsend, Ajayi Crowther, Jefferson Bowen, etc.   Mungo Park Mungo Park was a Scottish explorer of West Africa. He was the first European who travelled to places like the Central Africa and Niger River. Mungo Park was educated at home before attending Selkirk Grammar School in 1788. Mungo Park enrolled at the University of Edinburgh, studying medicine and botany. He completed this course in 1792. In 1794, Mungo Park offered his services to the African Association, then looking for a successor to Major Daniel Houghton who had been sent in 1790 to discover the course of the Niger River and had died in the Sahara. In 1795, Mungo Park left Portsmouth, England on a vessel trading to the Gambia for beeswax and ivory. On 21st June, 1795, he reached the Gambia River and ascended it 200 miles to a British trading station named Pisania. On 2nd December 1795, he set out to the interior crossing the upper Senegal basin and through the semi desert region of Kaarta with two local guards. On his journey, he reached the long sought Niger River at Segu. The river followed down to Silla where he turned back because of inadequate resources. To his credit, Mungo Park wrote a book which he titled “Travels in the Interior District of Africa”. This book served as an encouragement to the European Explorers. It also introduced the Europeans to a vast continent unexplored by the Europeans and proposed that the Europeans could exploit the land. Mungo Park died in 1806. His remains was believed to have been buried along the banks of River Niger in Jebba, Nigeria. After his death, European public and political interest in Africa began to increase on a geometric progression. The most lasting effect of Mungo Park travels was the imperialism and colonialism of Africa and Nigeria in particular.   Hugh Clapperton Hugh Clapperton was born in Anan in 1788 where his father worked as a doctor. He left school at 13 years old in order to take up a training post on a ship training between Liverpool and North America. For several times, he made a number of voyages which prompted him to join the royal navy. He established himself and was commissioned into the royal navy. He participated and played an active role during the Napoleonic wars. In November 1810, he led the attack on Port Louis on Mauritius and captured the French flag. In 1820, Clapperton moved to Edinburgh where he met Walter Oudney who was appointed by the British government to establish a consulate in West African kingdom of Bornu. Clapperton volunteered to join Oudney’s expedition and early becoming the first Europeans to see Lake Chad en route to a successful meeting in 1823 with the Sultan of Borno. Clapperton and Oudney stayed in Borno for some months and later went with Dixon Denham with the aim of tracing the course of the River Niger. Oudney died the following month. Clapperton and Denham made their way back to Tripoli in January 1825. This expedition earned Clapperton promotion to the rank of a commander and was sent back to West Africa. In West Africa, he travelled inland with the intention to establish diplomatic and trade relations with sultan Bello of Sokoto. In January, 1826, he crossed the River Niger at Bussa, where Mungo Park had died. Clapperton reached the Sokoto caliphate in July 1826 where he died of dysentery. His journals were later recovered and in 1829 published as Journal of a Second Expedition into the Interior of Africa.   Richard and John Lander Richard and John Lander were two brothers who were born in Dolphin Inn in 1804 and 1807 respectively. The two of them grew up to become explorers and the first Europeans to follow the course of the Niger River to its Delta. Richard Lander walked to London at the age of nine. At eleven years, he sailed on a merchant ship to the West Indies, returning to England in 1818. He lived as a servant in the homes of various wealthy families. In 1823, he went to the cape of good hope in South Africa and returned in 1824. The British government sent Richard Lander and his brother, John to further explore the lower Niger River in 1830. From their journey, they were able to establish that the Niger River flows through many mouths into the Bight of Benin. They discovered the source, route and mouths of the Niger River which were not on the map before. The journal of his expedition to explore the course and termination of the Niger was published in 1832. Richard Lander died on his third West African trip between 1833 and 1834 at Fernado Po on the 6th February, 1834.   Sir George Taubman Goldie Sir George Dashwood Taubman Goldie was born in Douglas on 20th May, 1846. He was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and for two years, he had a commission in the Royal Engineers. He conceived the idea of annexing the region of lower and middle Niger for the British Empire; for many years, he worked towards achieving this objective. His immediate step was to combine all the British commercial interest in the Niger; thus, he achieved this in 1879 when the United African Company was formed. George was granted a charter in July, 1886 and the National African Company became the Royal Niger Company. On 1st January, 1900, the Royal Niger Company transferred its territories to the British government for the sum of 865,000 pounds (£865,000). The ceded territory along with the small Niger coast protectorate which were under the control of British was divided into the protectorate of Northern and Southern Nigeria. Thus, Sir George Taubman Goldie played a major role in the founding of Nigeria.   John Holt John Holt was born in 1841. In 1862, at the age of 21, he sailed from Liverpool in England to take up appointment as a ship assistant in a grocery store in Fernado Po (Now Equatorial Guinea). Five years later, John Holt built up a produce trade with the Delta ports. Palm oil, palm kernels, rubber and cocoa were exported to England while imports included textiles from Lancashire and bicycles from Birmingham. In 1897, John Holt established his first venture in Lagos, Nigeria. John Holt business was in distribution and export of produce up to the period of the Second World War in 1939. A fleet of ships operated a fortnightly service from Liverpool in England to West Africa and the company also had its fleet of river craft. The river craft carried produce, merchandise and cash. In places where there were no banks, John Holt had strong rooms to keep cash. When banks were established, many Nigerians preferred to deposit their cash with John Holt. John Holt and Company (Liverpool) Limited was incorporated in Nigeria as John Holt Limited. In May 1974, it became a public company and was quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.   Thomas Birch Freeman Thomas Birch Freeman was born on the 6th December, 1809 in Twyford, England. His father was an African freeman who died when he was six. Thomas Birch Freeman lived with his mother in Twyford. Thomas Birch Freeman was a missionary of Anglo-African descent who established the Methodist Church on a firm footing in the Gold Coast and extended its work to Lagos and Badagry in Nigeria. He was introduced to Methodism as a boyby a shoemaker. He worked as a gardener and became a keen student of Botany. He had a good knowledge of Latin botanical names. He left his job because of his keen interest in Methodism. In October 1837 he was appointed a minister, on a trial basis at Cape Coast. Thomas Birch Freeman was the first Methodist Missionary to arrive Badagry in Nigeria on September 24, 1842. He was accompanied by William de Graft and his wife. They were allowed to establish a mission in Badagry; they built a mission house and a chapel there by the end of November and William de Graft was put in charge. He travelled to Abeokuta along with William de Graft on the invitation of the king, Alake of Egbaland. They were well received and allowed to preach in the palace courtyard. He presented a Bible to the king of Abeokuta. Thomas Birch Freeman supervised building of many churches. He held religious revival camp meetings and wrote a couple of books, one of such words was missionary enterprises, ‘No Friction’. He opened a new chapel at Mankesim and baptised several converts with his son, Thomas Birch Freeman Jnr who had also been ordained a Methodist minister. He retired in 1885 and lived in a small house near Accra. His final days were spent in the Methodist Mission House in Accra. He died on August 12, 1890.   Mary Slessor Mary Slessor was born on 2nd December, 1848 in Scotland. She was the second of seven children of Robert any Mary Slessor. She was a Scottish missionary to Nigeria. Mary Slessor had interest in religion and when a mission was instituted in Quary Pond, she wanted to teach. At 22 years old, Mary Slessor heard of David Livingstone’s death and she decided to follow his footsteps. This made her to apply to the United Presbyterian Church’s Foreign Mission Board for training. After training, she travelled to West Africa and was assigned to the Calabar region, the land of Efik people. She lived in the missionary compound for three years, working in the missions in old Town and Creek Town. In Efik Land, Mary Slessor was confronted with the problem of lack of western education and widespread human sacrifice at the death of a village elder who, it was believed, required the services of servants and retainers to accompany him into the next world. Also, the birth of twins was considered an evil curse. Mary Slessor adopted every child she found abandoned, and sent out twins missionaries to find, protect and care for them at the mission house. She saved several hundreds of twins out of the bush, where they had been left either to starve to death or be eaten by animals. She equally healed the sick and stopped the practice of determining guilt by making the suspects drink poison. As a missionary, she went to other tribes, spreading the world of Jesus Christ. Also, Mary Slessor was a driving force behind the establishment of Hope Waddell Training Institute in Calabar. The institution provided practical vocational training to the Efiks. Slessor continued with the task of evangelism, social changes and introducing western education. All these activities made Slessor to be called “White, queen of Okoyong”. In 1892, Mary Slessor became vice-consul in Okoyong, thereby presiding over native court. In 1915, Mary Slessor who was at the remote station near Use Ikot Oku suffered a particular severe fever. Mary Slessor died on 13th January, 1915. Her remains was carried down to Cross River to Duke Town where she was given a colonial equivalent of a state burial.   Ajayi Crowther Ajayi was 12 years old when he was captured along with his family and the entire village by Muslim Fulani slave raiders in 1821 and was ultimately sold to the Portuguese slave traders. Ajayi was taken to Freetown, Sierra Leone where he was released. In Sierra Leone, Crowther was cared for by the Anglican Church Missionary Society where he was taught English Language. He was also converted to Christianity and baptised by John Raban on the 11th December, 1825. Ajayi named himself Samuel Crowther after the vicar of Christ Church, Newgate, London. Samuel Ajayi Crowther was taken to England in 1826 to attend St. Mary Church and…

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BACKGROUND TO THE EUROPEAN EXPLORATION

During the Middle Ages, the Europeans could not travel far. This was probably the reason why their knowledge of the outside world was very limited. The Europeans could not travel far due to the following reasons. Firstly, the Europeans could not organise themselves politically or intellectually and were not economically viable to engage in voyages into the sea and have trading interaction with the people by sea. This was due to the system of government- feudalism, which did not make them have Kings who could encourage voyages of exploration and trade. Secondly, the 14th and 15th centuries were a period of political turmoil in the Eastern European countries as a result of constant raids from Ottoman Turks. There were religious wars caused by reformation. All these problems prevented the Europeans from promoting overseas adventures. Thirdly, the Europeans could not venture into the overseas trade because they were able to obtain all their needs from Asia, through the Mediterranean and the Black sea. There was a sudden change for the European exploration of Nigeria and Africa in general. This was as a result of certain changes and events which took place in Europe. In the second half of the 15th century, there was a change in the European political arrangement, whereby feudalism was discarded and was replaced by a new political order – centralised government under strong Kings. Secondly, by the 16th century, there was the willingness to venture into the unknown sea of Atlantic. The Kings of these nations (England Portugal, France and Spain) were already interested in this venture. They threw their weight behind voyages of discovery to Africa and India. Thirdly, the problem of inadequate instruments for navigation was also solved, Sophisticated instruments were discovered. Compass and astrolabe were introduced into Europe from the East where they had been in use for centuries by the Chinese and Arabs. Important maps began to reach Europe from the Jewish map makers. Fourthly, before this period, it was generally believed that the earth was flat. This belief was debunked, and it was clearly established that the earth was not flat but spherical. Thus, a sailor could start from one point of the earth and return to the same point. This knowledge contributed largely to the European exploration to the coast of West Africa and Nigeria in particular. Lastly, by the 13th and 14th centuries, the lands between Europe and Asia, especially the Mediterranean and Black sea routes, were in the hands of the Muslim rulers. Thus, the products from Asia were so expensive and inadequate on reaching Europe. At this period, Asia was a major supplier of silks, spices and gold which were in high demand. Thus, there was so much desire by the European princes to have direct trading contact with China, India and Japan without passing through Muslim-controlled territories. It was during this period that the Portuguese first visited the coast of Nigeria and some other West African countries in the 15th century.   Early European contact with Nigeria-Portuguese exploration The Portuguese were probably the first set of Europeans to visit the coast of Nigeria towards the end of the 15 century. This was evident in the account of Benin historians who recorded the visit of John Affonso d’Aveiro in 1486. This visit was the first whereby the European visited the coastal town of Nigeria. This visit marked the beginning of several contacts with the people of Nigeria. Not only this, it also influenced the socio, political and economic life of the people of the coast as well as the hinterland as time went on. Also, the visit played an important role in the neglect of trans-Saharan trade in favour of a more profitable trade through the Atlantic Ocean. The Portuguese were encouraged to visit Nigerian coast because: firstly, the success they had in their visit to other parts of West Africa, most especially Gold Coast (Ghana). Secondly, the desire to venture into the unknown as a result of the invention of modern ships and scientific instruments of navigation like the compass. Thirdly, the Portuguese wanted to expand their trade and spread the religion of Christianity. The Portuguese voyages to the coast of West Africa were organised by Prince Henry the Navigator. The Portuguese mobilised their natural resources along with the ships and capital for the overseas trade and adventures. They were endowed with navigational instruments like compass and astrolabe which were meant to measure altitudes of stars. Improved nautical charts and maps of greater accuracy reached Europe. The Portuguese of Prince Henry the Navigators’ time were very well equipped in order to undertake distant voyages than any other people in the European world.   Reasons for Portuguese exploration of West African coast The Portuguese were attracted to the exploration of West African Coast because of political, religious and economic reasons: Politically, Portugal is a small country located in Europe. In order to demonstrate her pride to the world despite her size, she had to embark on exploration. The first notable man to have championed this exploration was Prince Henry 1394-1460. He was a Christian who showed interest in science and business. He had his headquarters in Sagres. There, he established a school for navigation at his own expense. The school was well equipped with up to date devices of navigation. He was also surrounded by the best set of astronomers, geographers and map makers. Religiously, the Portuguese also had the aim of taking the religion of Christianity to the pagan people of West African sub-region. Economically, the principal reason for the Portuguese exploration was economic gain. The Portuguese, under Prince Henry, desired to gain access from the south to the gold trade of the western Sudan which was controlled by the Muslim of North Africa along the trans-Saharan routes. The trans-Saharan gold trade of the Moors was hidden to the Europeans. The western Sudan was the principal source of supply of gold to Europe in Prince Henry’s time. Thus, the middle class merchants of Portugal wanted a share of the trans-Saharan trade by suppressing the Moors in the Western Sudan from the West African Coast to the South.   European explorers and Nigeria trade The Portuguese made contact with the people of the coastal states in order to trade. This made them to establish trading ports in Ughotan (Gwatto) and Warri. The main articles of trade that attracted the Portuguese to Benin were pepper and slaves. However, the development of spice trade with the far east made the Portuguese to lose interest in West African pepper. The Europeans established forts and settlements along the coast. These forts and settlements served as the centres where products were to be transacted and exchanged with the people of the hinterland. The Europeans settled at the coast and traded with the interior through the middlemen. The European products included mirrors, umbrellas, glassware, cloths, dates, beeds, salt and various attractive manufactured goods. These goods were exchanged for local products like ivory, pepper, palm products and gold. Other European nations like the Dutch, French and British later joined the Portuguese in the trade by establishing trading contacts with the coastal people of Nigeria. These European nations concentrated on slave trade which was found to be more lucrative than other articles of trade. It must be pointed out that the activities of these European nations were limited to the coastal regions of Nigeria.   Portuguese efforts at Christianising coastal states As stated earlier, one of the major motives of the Portuguese exploration of West Africa was to convert the people to Christianity. In doing this, missionaries were sent to her trading stations on the coast. In Benin, the Oba and his subjects did not show serious attempt at the conversion. They were only interested in acquisition of firearms to wage wars of expansion.Thus,the kings’ conversion to Christianity was not spiritual but political. Also, during the reign of Oba Esigie, a Portuguese, Alfonso d’Aveiro visited Benin and advised the king to become a Christian. The king sent the chief of Ughotan to accompany Alfonso d’Aveiro to Portugal, requesting the king of Portugal to send priests who could teach and preach the religion of Christianity. The king of Portugal sent missionaries and attractive presents to Oba of Benin. These missionaries were equally followed by Portuguese traders who traded in pepper, ivory, Benin cloths and other articles in favour of the king of Portugal. This clearly showed the Christian religion on one hand and trading activities on the other hand. In addition, during the reign of Oba Orhogbua, some churches were built in Benin. However, Christianity remained a minority religion whereby few people embraced it and it was restricted to the king’s palace. At this period, agricultural products could not support the state-sponsored missionary work. Thus, the Portuguese missionaries could not achieve effectively in converting the people of Benin to Christianity. It must be pointed out that the mission to the kingdom of Warri was successful. Christianity was fully embraced and it persisted for more than 200 years. The efforts of Italian Capuchin mission in Sao Tome (Portuguese Guinea) was effective. They spread Christianity to Warri and Benin. In the 17″ century, an Itsekiri Prince, Mingi, travelled to Portugal for ten years in order to acquire western education. He came back with a Portuguese wife who gave birth to Antorio Domingo who later became the Olu of Warri in the 1680s. During Mingi’s stay in Portugal, he attended Christian school of theology for eight years. This made him to throw his weight behind the propagation of Christian religion among his people when he became the Olu of Warri.   Effects of Portuguese efforts at Christianising the coastal states The Portuguese missionary efforts at Christianising the people of the coastal states of Benin and Warri kingdoms failed. The failure was due to the following reasons. The new converts to Christianity found it difficult to cope with the new religion. They found it difficult to abandon their old pagan practices. Thus, Christianity did not take firm root in the area. The Portuguese merchants who followed the missionaries exercised negative influence on Nigerian converts. Many of them married the natives, adopted local customs and practices and thus forgot their Christian religion and even their Portuguese origin.   Effects of European contact with Nigeria The European contact with Nigeria led to introduction of trading activities. The Portuguese who were the first set of Europeans to visit Nigeria introduced coastal trade to the coastal people who became the middlemen with the people of the hinterland. This trade made the coastal people to be wealthy. The European contact also contributed to the introduction of Christianity to the coastal people and Nigeria as a whole. This led to conversion of so many traditional worshippers. They were converted to the Christian religion. In the area of agriculture, the Europeans introduced new crops to Nigeria such as sugarcane, cassava, pineapple, pawpaw, maize, guava and tobacco. The result of this was improved quality of food and healthy living of the people. The contact also contributed to the adoption of European cultural ways of life. The people began to dress and eat like the Europeans. The Europeans practice of one man one wife equally spread in contrast to African polygamous way of life. It must be noted that the cultural influence mentioned above dealt a great blow on the Nigerians who began to shift and adopted European ways of life at the expense of Nigerian culture.

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ORIGIN OF SLAVE TRADE

Slavery was common and normal in West Africa as it was in all the early empires of history. Slavery was the end product of those that were captured in pre-colonial wars of conquest and expansion. Slavery was also the punishment for committing crime and misdemeanour and non-payment of debts. People in these situation had their status reduced to slavery. They were classified as domestic slaves, thereby seen as members ofhis master’s family. In this case, slaves could own property and be protected against injustice. In fact, where a slave behaved well by offering good service to his master, he could be declared a freeman at the will of his master. Slave trade existed in West Africa long before the coming of the Europeans. For so many centuries, North African merchants had taken slaves from Western Sudan to North Africa and the Orient. The clear-cut departure from slavery to slave trade was when the Europeans came to West Africa to purchase slaves for labour on the plantation of the West Indies and America. All the European nations began to compete for the trade and offered a variety of goods in exchange- firearms, alcohol and fabrics of all kinds. The first European to take Africa into slave trade was Goncalves, a Portuguese explorer. In 1441, he returned to Portugal with parties of about ten slaves in order to confirm to Prince Henry that they have sailed to West African Coast. Prince Henry converted them to Christians and trained them as evangelists to be sent back home for evangelism. The export of slaves from West African sub-region to the New World was inaugurated at Circa in 1518. This was in response to the establishment of agricultural plantations in the newly discovered America, West Indies and Canada. Between 1492 and 1577, slaves were first taken to Europe for transportation to the New World. The enslavement of West Africans by the Europeans began in the 15th century and the development in the slave trade began in the 16th century. Equally, there were the establishment of many large plantations and opening up of mines in America. These mines and plantations required cheap labour on a very large scale from West Africa to the New World. This means, as the plantations and the mines increased, the high demand for slave labour also increased. Priest Las Casas preached humanity which dictated that exploitation of the Red Indians must stop. The plight of the Indians under Spanish forced labour aroused his pity and sympathy. Thus, Las Casas suggested the importation of African slaves from the coast of West Africa into the New World. The Africans were robust and much more stronger than the Indians. The Africans were more suitable for the kind of labour needed on the plantation and in the mines in the New World. The Africans lived in a climate similar to that of the West Indies. Another reason for the high demand of cheap black labour was high rate of death recorded among the Red Indians. This was due to diseases introduced by the Europeans. Survivors among them could not bear the strains of working in the plantation farms.   Organisation of the slave trade The Atlantic slave trade involved Europe, Africa and America. The transportation of Africans to the New World was mainly from West Africa. The Europeans were the Financiers of the trade while some West Africans assisted in its organisation. Attractive goods were brought in from Europe in exchange for slaves who were carried away to the New World. The trade in human beings was highly organised with the European government granting licences to many chartered companies like the Dutch West Indian Company, and the Royal African Company which operated from Britain. The Royal African Company, sponsored by the English, was thought to have carried about 125,000 slaves between 1672 and 1711 from locations on the West African coast to the sugar plantations in the West Indies. The companies had the sole objective of making as much profit as possible in slave trade. It was this aim of profit making that attracted the African middlemen and Europeans. To facilitate effective trade in slaves, the slave merchants engaged European ship builders to quickly develop and build special ships for slave trading. This resulted in building of barracons where slaves were heavily loaded like sardines for a long and dangerous journey to the New World. Most of the slaves were gotten from the hinterland and then marched to the coast. On getting to the coast, a lot of them arrived there in a weak state of health, having trekked hundreds of miles. To worsen this situation, they were kept in large baracons for exportation to the New World. While travelling to the New World, they were packed like fish and were not fed adequately. The result of these was death of most of these captives. Barter was another common way of trading in slaves between the Europeans and West Africans, especially Nigeria. Goods and manufactured products from the European World such as linen, woolen cloth, iron bars, copper bracelets or manillas, glass beads, coral and firearms were exchanged. In return, the Europeans obtained from the Africans slaves, ivory, palm oil, pepper and cotton cloth. Slaves were also acquired under the trust system, sometimes as payment for debts owed to wealthy creditors.   Methods of procuring the captives At the beginning of slave trade, one of the ways of obtaining it was through. kidnapping. This was carried out and encouraged by the Europeans who carried away some coastal people. The Europeans went as far as cooperating with the powerful coastal chiefs and were made to carry out the kidnapping of their hinterland neighbours. This made the West African religious leaders and political ruling class to be local agents of the European slave dealers. It needs to be pointed out that this method of producing captives could not cope with the demand of the European slave dealers. Religious institutions also served as a source of providing slaves to the Europeans. These included those found guilty of witchcraft and other capital offences. Some found to perpetrate criminal activities were equally sold into slavery. In a bid to benefit from economic activities of the Europeans, people sold their relatives in order to generate income or pay debts. Warfare and raids were another major method of acquiring slaves. Warfare between West African communities produced captives in large numbers. The European firearms which was exchanged for slaves was a key instrument and weapon used in the warfare and raids. It must be pointed out that most of the African captives were in their prime, that is, at production ages of 15 and 35years. Captives in their productive ages attracted more price as against the aged and weak ones who had little economic value.   Impact of trans-atlantic slave trade Trans-Atlantic slave trade had far-reaching consequences on the people of West Africa and the European nations. Some historians saw slave trade as beneficial to West Africa while others observed that it was harmful to the West African sub-region. J.D Fage, one of the proponents of the view that the Atlantic slave trade was beneficial to West Africans argued that the trade provided trading opportunities for West Africans. He argued further that in spite of whatever negative impact it might have had, it was better for the West Africans to have participated in the trade than to remain unproductive. Secondly, he said that slave trade brought about the introduction of new crops like maize, cassava, etc. and fruits like guava and citrus fruits into West African region. These crops provided a huge source of revenue which helped West African rulers to administer their various empires and kingdoms and Kingdoms like Dahomey, Benin, Ashante, Oyo benefited a lot from the trade. Another beneficial effect of the trade was that the revenue derived from the trade assisted the Kingdoms of Dahomey, Benin, Ashante and Oyo to develop. Thus, the growth and development of these kingdoms have been attributed to the role they played in the slave trade. These kingdoms reached their peak during the Atlantic slave trade. The trade also led to the introduction of European goods to West Africa, and Nigeria in particular. The Europeans brought their own articles of trade in exchange for Nigeria’s products. European goods included guns, umbrellas, alcoholic drinks, mirror, exotic materials and the likes. On the negative side, the Atlantic slave trade led to depopulation of West African sub-region. It was roughly estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 slaves were transported from West Africa to the New World during the 300years of the slave trade. This factor of depopulation also affected the development of local industries because those enslaved were in their prime and in these industries. Also, a lot of these captives perished at various stages between the raids and wars in the interior and the passage across the Atlantic. The trade encouraged communal and intercommunal clashes between the Nigerian states on the coast and in the hinterlands. Mention must be made of Lagos and Badagry, Calabar and Okrika battles. These clashes produced a lot of war prisoners which boosted the market of slaves destined for the New World. The Atlantic slave trade also led to the growth of a new order among the Ijaw. Their population increased from a few hundreds to about four to five thousand inhabitants in each village. Also, complex society developed as a result of the increasing wealth and social status of the slave dealers and middlemen. Financial standing and economic influence soon became more important in the society than age and family history on the social and political hierarchy. It must also be stated that the position of Amanyanabo changed from a ritual leader to become the head of the community, holding political and economic power because of his position as a leading trader in the community and would therefore be the richest man in the land. The most important thing is that the office of the Amanyanabo became hereditary, a clear-cut change from the old order. Another by-product of the transAtlantic slave trade was the exportation of Nigerian culture to West Indies and America. Nigerians who were shipped to the New World went with their own customs and religion. The Igbo exported little of their culture to the New World; the Yoruba equally exhibited their cultural touch in Brazil, Cuba and Trinidad. In the countries mentioned, there were relative freedom for the slaves to practise their religion and other important aspects of their culture and traditions. In Brazil, evidence of Yoruba religion as practised in Western Nigeria was found. Most of the people of Calabar, Efik and Ibibio communities who were shipped to Cuba still hold strictly to their native customs and practices as done in Nigeria. The Atlantic slave trade had adverse effects on West Africa. It retarded the process of economic development in West Africa and it contributed in large scale to the economic dependency of West Africa on Europe and America.   Abolition of trans-Atlantic slave trade Towards the end of the 18″ century, precisely at the last quarter of the 18th Century, moves towards abolition of Atlantic slave trade were made. The members of the public openly criticised the inhuman trade in Great Britain and America. The antislavery squad, who were the proponents of the ideology of human rights observed that slavery and slave trade was not equal with concept of freedom in natural justice. Also, people of the naturalist religious group joined the train for the abolition of slavery and slave trade. They saw it as a contradiction of the Biblical injunction of loving one’s neighbour as oneself. The role of the abolitionists like Graville Sharpe, Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce were also of note in the move for abolition of slave trade. However, all these groups initially met a stiff opposition from those with vested interest. Mention must be made of a popular judgment of Lord Mansfield, the Chief Judge of England in 1772 on…

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