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The socio-organization of the igbos in the pre-colonial period is based on membership in kinship groups and parallel but complementary dual-sex associations, which are of great importance to the integration of society. The associations take several forms, including age grades, men’s societies, women’s societies, and prestige-title societies such as the Nze or Ozo for men and the Omu, Ekwe, or Lolo for women. The interlocking nature of these groups prevents the concentration of authority in any one association. Age sets are informally established during childhood. Respect and recognition among

the Igbo are accorded not only on the basis of age, but also through the acquisition of traditional titles. In Igbo society, an individual may progress

through at least five levels of titles. One could liken the acquisition of

titles to the acquisition of academic degrees. Titles are expensive to obtain,

and each additional title costs more than the preceding one; they are, therefore, considered a sure means to upward mobility. In other words The Igbos had a decentralised system of government. The executive, legislative and judicial power were vested in the Oha-na Eze,the council of elders,the Ofor title holders, the family, the Ozor title holders, the Age-Grade, the Umuada, the ‘Ala’ or the Earth’s goddess represented by a Chief Priest. Finally, the Igbo society is segmentary, Republican and sovereign in nature. There were no chiefs compared to Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani pre-colonial administration.


Ife (aka Ile-Ife) was an ancient African city which flourished between the 11th and 15th century CE in what is today Nigeria in West Africa. Ife was the capital and principal religious centre of the Yoruba kingdom of Ife, which prospered thanks to trade connections with other West African kingdoms. Ife is particularly famous today for the magnificent metal sculptures its artists produced which include serene-looking human heads so masterfully crafted that Europeans once wrongly considered them the work of another civilization.

Located in today’s Nigeria along the Guinea coast of southern West Africa, Ife controlled the rainforest to the west of the River Niger delta. Ife was founded c. 500 CE by the Yoruba people – a Kwa-speaking people of southwest Nigeria and Benin – but did not flourish until the early part of the 2nd millennium CE. Ife culture may have been influenced or somehow connected to the kingdom of Igbo-Ukwu, which peaked in the 9th century CE on the other side of the River Niger, but details of this period of history in southern West Africa are lacking. The kingdom of Ife had disappeared by the 16th century CE for reasons which are unknown.


(i)Demands for opportunity and inclusion: Many Nigeria at this time accepted the reality of colonial imposition but they did not accept the harsh discrimination and the lack of opportunity that was a central part of the colonial experience. Opposition to these aspects of colonialism was particularly strong among educated Africans. Educated Africans believed that “all humans are created equal.” Discriminatory colonial policies and practice restricted economic opportunities and participation in the political process.

(ii)Mass protests: During the inter-war era, there were few mass protests against colonial policies. One of the most important and interesting exceptions was the Aba Women’s War that took place in southeastern Nigeria in 1929. Ibo market women were upset with a number of colonial policies that threatened their economic and social position. In 1929, the women staged a series of protests. The largest protest included more than 10,000 women who had covered their faces with blue paint and carried fern-covered sticks. The women were able to destroy a number of colonial buildings before soldiers stopped the protest, killing more than fifty women in the process.

(iii)Economic opposition: During this time period economic opposition was often not well organized. However, there were attempts in the 1920s and 1930s by mine workers in southern Nigeria and port workers in West and East Africa to organize into unions. While important, these activities had little impact on the majority of Nigeria peoples. Of greater impact were the less organized but more widespread efforts of Nigeria farmers to resist colonial demands and imposition on their labor and their land.


The royal Niger company existed for a comparatively short time (1879–1900) but was instrumental in the formation of Colonial Nigeria, as it enabled the British Empire to establish control over the lower Niger against the German competition led by Bismarck during the 1890s. In 1900, the company-controlled territories became the Southern Nigeria Protectorate, which was in turn united with the Northern Nigeria Protectorate to form the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria in 1914 (which eventually gained

independence within the same borders as the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1960).

In 1886 the company received a charter of

incorporation as the Royal Niger Company

and was authorized to administer the Niger delta and the country on the banks of the Niger and Benue rivers. It engaged in a three way struggle with the French to the west and the Germans to the southeast for the trade of the central Sudan. The company imposed prohibitive dues on the people of Brass, in the Niger delta, who wished to trade at their traditional markets in the company’s territory, and it incurred such hostility that in 1895 its establishment at Akassa was attacked. In the north, it did not manage to subdue the Fulani empire, but it did conquer several emirates and compelled them to recognize its suzerainty. The continuation of the company’s commercial and territorial disputes with France , together with continuing complaints from the people of Brass, led to the transference of the company’s charter to the imperial British government on Dec, 31,1899.


(i)Shortage of Staff: There was an acute shortage of trained European staff to help run the vast territories. Britain was therefore forced to, rely on the services of the local rulers. This shortage of staff was made worse because the Britain were involved with the Angio-Boer War. Again service in Africa was very unpopular because of the high mortality rate caused by the tropical climate and diseases among Europeans.

(ii)Shortage of Funds: Secondly, the funds or money available were too meager to finance large scale direct administration. Hence the shortage of

funds forced the British to adopt the Policy of Indirect Rule

(iii)Lack of Roads: The British could not easily reach most parts of its’ colonies because the colonies were vast with

bad roads and lack of the means of communication. Hence local rulers were empowered to rule for them.

(iv)Fear of Hostilities and Revolts: It was also because of fear of revolts that the British avoid direct contact with

African people as much as possible. Through indirect rule Britain preserve direct traditional institutions.

(v)The Existence of a well Established traditional Administration: In many areas of Africa such as Northern Nigeria, the British found well established traditional institutions under the Muslim rulers. The institutions were easily adaptable to a system of indirect rule. Moreover, the Muslim rulers such as the Lamidos were powerful and had influence on their people. Therefore, Britain came to believe that before any British administration could succeed in Africa, the Africans traditional rulers were essential.


(i)Nigeria played a role in helping The conservatives, led by Nigeria, offered alternative ideas to counter balance the arguments of the radicals. Nigeria’s prime minister, Tafawa Balewa offered imposing ideas built on functionalism and gradualism in Nigeria.

(ii)they also played a role true the majority of African leaders at the summit favoured a continental organisation built on the philosophy of gradualism. Despite the seeming victory of gradualism, Ghanaian Kwame Nkrumah still dissented by arguing for a politically united Africa with a common currency, common market, common system of defence, and an African central bank among others.

(iii)They also provide the platform for Nigeria to extend its diplomatic reach and shape the outcomes of major events across the continent. Through the multilateral framework of the OAU, Nigeria championed the campaign against colonialism and institutionalised racism in Africa.

(iv)Nigeria’s aversion for fight against apartheid was supercharged by the country’s experience during its 30-month agonising civil war. During this period, apartheid South Africa, racist Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and pro settler colonialism Portugal all supported the Biafran secessionists. Following this experience, successive Nigerian leaders became more outspoken in their opposition to institutionalised racism and colonialism in Africa during OAU summits and conferences.

(v)Nigeria also began to give open support and endorsement to liberation movements across the continent. The military regime of General Yakubu Gowon ‘unilaterally increased Nigeria’s contribution to the Liberation Fund of the OAU and buoyed the confidence level of the freedom fighters’. Nigeria’s leadership in this regard led to the dismantling of white minority rule in Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in 1980 and the emergence of non-racial democratic rule in apartheid South Africa in 1994.

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