Colonialism is both a practice and a word that means so much to Nigeria. Its effects are still widely felt up till today. It is still felt 56 years after it was officially announced death.
As a practice, colonialism is traced to the1854 and 1855 conference at Berlin in Germany. The conference is popularly called “The Berlin Conference”.
In this conference, the European countries divided and shared Africa among themselves. They did this for trade and political reasons. Nigeria through this conference became British’s property.
In 1886, the Royal Niger Company began full trading occupation in Nigeria. This was approved by the British government.
In 1900, the British government indicated full administrative interest in Nigeria. However, due to their unwillingness to invest money and other resources in the country, they employed the services of Royal Niger Company.
Sir Frederick Lugard, who worked with RNC, eventually became the administrator. He acted on behalf of the British home government and as the representative of the Queen of England.
The territory experienced a significant touch in 1914. This was the bringing together of the North and South Protectorate to form Nigeria.
This means that before 1914 there was no “Nigeria”. Independent territories called “Protectorates” existed. Hence, the formation of a country from territories and provinces that were previously independent meant a whole new arrangement.
These territories had different culture and values before their coming together. It meant problem that needed to be well handled.
Colonialism thrived in the Indirect Rule System. The traditional authorities were used to administer the people. Where there was no clear system of rulership, the colonialist created one.
Also, where the existing arrangement was not favourable to their intention, they designed another. This is why the controversial warrant chiefs were appointed in the east for tax collection.
The hub of the issue is that colonialism as a practice officially ended in 1960. This means that Nigeria got independence that year.
However, the effects still live with us today. Colonialism is simply a situation where a powerful country dominates a weaker country, region, province etc.
This domination is normally against the will of the people and it is done for political and economic benefits amongst others. The effects of colonialism in Nigeria include the following:
1. Abuse of our Human Rights
Colonialism came with slave trade. It dismantled the traditional authorities that opposed their actions. Some of the traditional rulers were killed as result of colonialism.
King Jaja of Opobo is one those who were killed because of their opposition. These meant a violation of their human right to life, freedom of association, holding and expressing views which may not be acceptable to others.
Also, Colonialism imposed itself on the people against their will. This is a violation of the people’s right to a government of their own.
2. Displacement of our culture
Though colonialism used some traditional institutions, it insisted on doing everything the British way. Many of the cultural practices of the people of Nigeria were termed barbaric.
Hence, they were consequently destroyed. Recently, our cultural values are fast dying away because we appreciate more of what is done by the white man. This aligns with idea introduced through colonialism.
3. Undue Exploitation of Nigeria and her Resources
There is no doubt that colonialism had commercial aim. Nigerians were made to pay taxes to the colonial government.
These taxes were used to develop Britain to the detriment of Nigeria. The colonial government also spent quality time to source for raw materials for her growing industries.
These raw materials were gotten at very cheap prices and sometime free of charge. Manpower resources were unduly exploited in the form of slaves. However the finished products were sold at excessive prices in return.
4. Rendered the Country a Dumping Ground for Products
The British government used colonialism to regulate trade activities. This was to enable her to sell her mass produce to the people without limitations.
The period was a period of industrial revolution. The output of their industries at this time was more. Hence, the need to source for available market.
So, colonialism provided both a ready and free market. In this market, the buyers traded in ignorance and were exploited by the sellers
5. Restriction of the Country’s Contact with Other Countries
it is clear that Britain was fully incharged. Hence, contact or relationship with any other European country was not welcomed.
The colonial government saw other European countries who tried to access the area as invaders. This means that there was neither bilateral nor multilateral trade relationship with other countries. The British manipulated the scene to suit their purpose.
6. Created hatred among Nigerians
colonialism succeeded in divide and rule. It convinced and used some Nigerians to fight against other Nigerians. In the Southern part of the country, Warrant Chiefs constituted a lot of problem in the course of collecting tax for the colonial authority.
There were times of open confrontation and physical combat between these Nigerians. This created and heightened hatred and enmity among the people.
7. Raised National Awareness
what is known as Nigeria today is a product of colonialism. Colonialism helped Nigerians to unite together as one. The united together to confront the colonialist authority.
The more they worked together, the more the realized the need of staying as a whole and not as independent territories. They love each other and together they expanded their capacity to successfully pursue their goal-independence.
8. Introduction of Formal Education
colonialism led to the establishment of schools into the country. The Yaba College, Hope Waddell Training Institution and many other schools were established to teach Nigerians English Language and Basic Arithmetic.
This helped us to understand and better appreciate the importance of formal education. Nigerians later aspired and reached out for higher education and vocational training outside the country.
9. Training and Development of Manpower
the colonialist authority sponsored many Nigerians who attended University outside Nigeria. They also sponsored people on vocational training and skills acquisition.
Some of the people that later led the nationalist’s movement went to schools outside the country with the help of the colonial authority.
10. Prepared Nigerians for Nationhood
Nigerians learned and understood the basics of present-day political leadership from the British through colonialism. The introduction of legislative chambers and elective positions laid a foundation for democracy.
11. Colonialism Laid a Foundation for Federalism
Richard constitution in 1946 divided Nigeria into three regions. This served as a framework for the present-day federalism system in Nigeria.
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