Nigeria Early History

By | October 28, 2021

Pre-colonial states

In pre-colonial times, the city-states of the Hausa were formed in the area of ​​today’s Nigeria in the north, which were amalgamated between 1804 and 1807 by O. dan Fodio in the Sultanate of Sokoto. In the north-east, the Bornu empire continued the Kanem tradition ( Kanem-Bornu ) from the end of the 14th century. In the southwest, the Yoruba formed several small states whose religious and cultural center was Ife. The Nupe state on central Niger was influenced by the Hausa and Yoruba people. The Ibo in the southeast and other peoples in the east were organized in segments and did not establish any larger states.

In 1472 the Portuguese landed on the coast of what is now Nigeria for the first time and later carried out slave transports to America. In the 17th / 18th In the 19th century, the English had a major share in the slave business. The most powerful of the Yoruba empires around 1700 under the ruler (“Alafin”) of Oyo got into crises and civil wars that lasted until 1850. While O. dan Fodios ‘ successors built up an expansive Islamic state power in the north in 1817-60, small city royalty (Opobo, Bonny, Brass, Calabar, etc.) flourished on the south-east coast through the palm oil trade, which after 1807 replaced the slave trade.

Colonial times and independence

To suppress the slave trade, the British occupied Lagos in 1861 and made it their colony. British influence expanded under the United African Company (from 1886 Royal Niger Company, endowed with a royal charter and sovereign rights). Protectorate treaties were concluded after the Niger area had been recognized as a British sphere of interest at the Berlin Congo Conference in 1885. Military conquests between 1897 (Kingdom of Benin) and 1903 (Emirates of Kano, Gwandu and Sokoto) continuously increased the British sphere of influence. In 1899 the British government withdrew the charter and took over the administration of the country itself. In 1900 the protectorates of North and South Nigeria were founded, in 1906 the colony of Lagos and South Nigeria merged. governorIn 1914, F. J. D. Lugard united northern and southern Nigeria under a common administration to form the united territory of Nigeria (Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria). In the north, the British colonial power, however, the Emirates was limited by the inclusion of traditional administrative structures only on an “indirect rule” ( Indirect Rule ). In order to facilitate the administration, large parts of the minority peoples were subordinated to the Emirates. British rule only prevailed in Iboland during the First World War. In 1922, part of the former German colony of Cameroon was linked to Nigeria as a British mandate.

After the First World War, according to areacodesexplorer, a black African national movement emerged among members of the intelligentsia (founding of a “National Congress for British West Africa”). In 1929, many Ibo, especially women, violently resisted tax registration. As a result, the system of “indirect rule”, for which there were no real African authorities in the south, was reformed and a judiciary that was independent of the administration was created. Under pressure from trade unions (strikes) and the 1944 by B. N. Azikiwe and other politicians founded National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (English abbreviation NCNC), the British colonial government introduced constitutional reforms: The federal constitution of 1951 strengthened the autonomy of the regions (formation of a federation of western, eastern and northern regions as well as the then capital Lagos Bicameral regional parliaments), the constitution of 1954 introduced a central parliament, directly to be elected by the people, and a council of ministers for all of Nigeria. In addition to the NCNC, the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) emerged as the conservative party of the north, and the Action Group (AG) under Obafemi Awolowo (* 1909, † 1987) as the mouthpiece of the Yoruba. On October 1, 1960, Nigeria became independent as a constitutional monarchy in the British Commonwealth, and on October 1, 1963 as a republic within the Commonwealth; Azikiwe (“1st Republic”) became president.

Civil War for Biafra

Social, cultural and ethnic tensions in many areas of the country, especially between the Muslim Hausa and the Christian Ibo, blocked the democratic development of Nigeria. On January 15, 1966, a group of officers led by Ibo General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (* 1924, † 1966) carried out a coup. President Azikiwe resigned in February. On July 29, 1966 – in the form of a counter-coup – military forces close to the Hausa overthrew General Aguiyi-Ironsi, who on January 16 had taken over the Nigerian government as chairman of a centralist military council. Aguiyi-Ironsi was murdered. Pogroms against the Ibo in northern Nigeria and the beginning of the development of oil reserves in the Niger Delta prompted Colonel C. O. Ojukwu, the military governor of the eastern region of Nigeria, mainly inhabited by Ibo, to proclaim it the Independent Republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967. In a bloody civil war (an estimated 1-2 million deaths) succeeded the Nigerian central government under General Y. Gowon, head of state since the second coup in 1966, to reverse the Biafras secession. Internationally supported by only a few countries, Biafra, whose population had been severely affected by the constant famine (aid measures by the International Red Cross and the Christian Churches, among others), surrendered on January 15, 1970. However, a national one succeeded in a short time Reconciliation between the civil war parties. In the period that followed, the central government set up numerous constituent states in order to reduce the ethnic and cultural rivalries.

Nigeria Early History