Nigeria History

The country Nigeria is the product of the amalgamation by the British of some of the most powerful, influential and richest kingdoms of Africa and the ancient world during the colonial era.

 Talk to your partner about what you think the result of this will be. Jot down your ideas and find out if you are correct at the end of the unit.

Refer back to Nigerian timeline. The country Nigeria did not exist before the European scramble for Africa. By the 8th century AD, Hausa City States were already being established in the North and following Islamic laws. In the South, The Ibos were thriving in the South East; and in the South West, the Kingdoms of Benin and Oyo had become the dominant states in the area. They all observed their own traditional ways of life and religions. 

In the 15th century, The Portuguese were the first Europeans to enter into trading relationship with the coastal states of West Africa including Southern Nigeria. Soon, British, French and Dutch traders joined in.  

They exchanged spices, textiles, food, bronzes, silver, alcohol and guns for Agricultural goods and slaves. With new players on the scene, this trading relationship soon developed into a triangular pattern now known as the Transatlantic Slave Trade.  

Slaves were taken from the coast of West Africa; they were delivered to the West Indies and America where they were worked to produce the ‘White Gold’ (sugar) and cotton for fabric. These items were taken to Europe and America for local consumption. The ships then collected manufactured goods like fabric, alcohol, guns, and other items on their outward journey. These they exchanged for slaves when they got back to the West African Coasts where they picked up fresh supply of slaves to begin the triangle again. 

  Due to resistance at home and amongst the slaves, Britain abandoned the slave trade in 1807 but other countries carried on until 1875. 

Lagos was a big trading port and in order to control trade along the coast particularly, slave trade which had been abolished, Sir George Goldie annexed the colony of Lagos. 

Thus began the taking over of the different kingdoms and states in West Africa and their eventual amalgamation. Artificial boundaries were created and peoples with different beliefs, cultures and religions were forced to become one country under colonial rule.  

With Britain now completely in charge of Nigeria, it needed to maintain law and order. Lord Lugard set up an indirect rule system. With this system, they were able to rule the people through systems already in place e.g. in the Edo land, the Oba along with his Chiefs still ruled the people unless there was a dispute; in which case they would be referred to the Judicial courts set up the British.    

In some areas this worked well and in others the traditional rulers lost their authorities with two masters in charge.  

The British Governor continued to make all the important decisions, leading to protests in some parts of the country and eventually in 1960, Nigeria finally gained the right to administer itself. October 1st 1960 is Nigeria's Independence Day. 

History Quiz.
1. Who were the first people to settle on Jos Plateau?
     (a) The Nok    (b) The Kanem Borneo  (c) The Hausas

2. Hausa City States were estqablished in
     (a) 2000BC     (b) 2005          (c) 11th century AD

3. In early 16 century AD, Hausaland was ruled by
    (a) Oba of Ife  (b) Songhai Empire (c) Kanuri empire

4. Kingdoms of Benin and Oyo were influential in the south during the
      (a) The Victorian period (b) Georgian period (c) The Tudors period

5. Usman Dan Fodio captured Hausalands in
     (a) 1817      (b) 1837      (c) 1481

6. The Central State of Sokoto was established by
     (a) Usman Dan Fodio (b) Fredrick Lugard (c) Muhammed Bello

7. The Portuguese begin trade with the south in
     (a) Early 15th century  (b) late 15th century  (c) early 18th century

8. North and South of Nigeria were amalgamated in
    (a) 1906   (b) 1906    (c) 1914

9. Local protests begin in Calabar in
      (a) 1960        (b) 1926        (c) 1967


1.    A
2.   C
3.   B
4.   C
5.   A
6.   C
7.   B
8.   C
9.   B

Student task: research the Nigeria coat of arm.
1.    What do coats of arms represent?
2.   What symbols can you see?
3.   What does each symbol represent in Nigerian coat of arm?
4.   What symbols would you use to represent yourself?
5.   Design your personal coat of arm.

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