Liberators of Nigeria
Alhaji Ahmadu, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe
The largest Negro country in the world and
the largest colony in the United Kingdom is the Federation of
Nigeria (about 373,000 square miles).
It is divided into Northern, Western and Eastern regions,
and since the 1954 constitution locally administered by three
Premiers. It also
includes the quasi-federal Southern Cameroons and the
municipality of Lagos as federal territory.
Alhaji Almadu, the Sardauna of Sokoto,
Premier of the Northern and largest region, is of Islamic
culture as are the majority of tribes in that area.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo, of the Yoruba tribe completed his
education in England as a lawyer and is Premier of the
prosperous Western region and founder of the Action Group
political party. Nnamdi
Azikiwe (popularly known as Zik), a member of the Ibo tribe and
Premier of the Eastern Region, was educated in the United States
and is internationally known.
He owns a chain of newspapers in Nigeria and as founder
of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC)
political party is the foremost leader of the independence
All but about 15,000 of the total population
of over 33,000,000 (mid-1956 estimate) are Africans of some 240
tribes. Until the
mid-nineteenth century, Nigeria was known mainly as the source
of slaves for the Americas.
Lagos was ceded to the British in 1861 and a year later
constituted a colony. In
1900, British formally annexed the Niger River Basin and in 1914
put the three regions together for administrative purposes.
Since World War II, three successive constitutions have
been instituted by Britain, each one more liberal than the last. A British Governor General is president of the Federal
Council of Ministers. A
British Governor heads each of the three regional executive
Awolowo seeks a looser federation, which the Sardauna prefers
that the British remain in control until the Northern region is
Alhaji Ahmadu was born in 1909 in
Rabba, Sokoto province of Northern Nigeria, a great-great
grandson of Othman Dan Fodio, founder of the Fulah Empire more
than 150 years ago. Ahmadu’s great-grandfather was the second Sultan of Sokoto
and spiritual leader of the largest group of Moslems in Nigeria.
His grandfather was the eighth Sultan.
At the age of four, Ahmadu attended the Koranic School
and at eleven the Provincial School at Sokoto.
He entered Katsina College in 1926, the only teachers’
training center in the Northern region and was graduated in
1931. For three
years he taught at the Sokoto Middle School, then was district
chief of Rabba.
After his cousin became Sultan in 1938,
Ahmadu, as possible successor, was appointed Sardauna, chief
adviser to the Sultan. The
title carries with it a sword of office and was originally
intended to lead aristocrats into war, but is now a symbol of
justice. He was a
member of the Sokoto Native Authority Council until 1944 when he
was placed in charge of administration.
When transferred to Kaduna in 1948 to supervise public
works, medical and health services and secondary education,
three officials replaced him in Sokoto.
Later in 1948, he went to England for a
course in local government at the University of London and
visited several countries in Europe to study forestry, farm
management and local government.
In 1949 he joined the Northern Peoples’ Congress,
became its leader and was elected to the House of
Representatives of Nigeria.
In the next two years, he was a member of the Regional
Development and Production, Forest Inspection, Nigerian Coal and
He was appointed Minister of Works in the
northern region after the 1951 constitution was effected.
Early in 1953, he became Minister of Local Government and
Community Development. After
Ahmadu became Premier in 1954, he attended the 1955 Cambridge
Conference on development of local governments in the colonies
and returned to Nigeria via Holland, Germany, Switzerland and
Italy. He also made
a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1955.
Alhaji Ahmadu has three wives (the Koran
permits four) and two teen-age daughters.
He is six feet one inch tall and broad-shouldered.
His genial smile, perfect English, impressive phrases and
ways of putting questions are admired by many.
Ahmadu is popular with British officials in Nigeria and
was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
He is a member of the Kaduna Rifle Club
and when possible goes on shooting expeditions.
|Obafemi Awolowo was born at Ikenne,
western Nigeria on March 6, 1909, the son of a farmer
and descendant of Oduduwa, founder of the Yoruba
inherited the titles of Ashiwaju of Ijebu Remo, Losi of
Ikenne, Lisa of Ijeun and Apesin of Oshogbo.
His early schooling in Ikenne at the Church
Missionary Society and Wesleyan School was interrupted
by his father’s death and he had to help support the
family by cutting wood, marketing it, and other odd
possible, he attended classes and at sixteen was able to
enter the Imo Methodist School in Abeokuta as a
The next year, he went to Wesley College to train
as a teacher and was graduated in 1927.
He taught for
awhile, studied stenography at the same time and from
1930 to 1934 worked as a stenographer.
For a year, he was a newspaper reporter, then for eight years
was employed by the Motor Transporter and Produce Trader,
studied evenings and took his B.Com. degree with honors in 1944.
Through hard work and frugal living, he managed to go to
London to read law. While
at the University of London, he lived in Hampstead lodgings and
cooked his own meals.
For relaxation, he studied British colonial
policy and frequented places where it was discussed, including
the Fabian, Royal African and Royal Empire societies.
He attended House of Commons debates and met people
interested in overseas problems like Sir Stafford Cripps and
Margery Perham, who wrote the foreword to his book Path to
Nigerian Freedom (Faber, 1947), which he wrote while a law
With Nigerian friends in England, he founded
Egbe Omo Odudua, a semireligious society intended to unite
Yorubas. He passed
his bar examinations with second class honors, received his
LL.B. degree and was called to the Bar at Inner Temple in 1947.
Returning to Nigeria, he served as solicitor and advocate
of the Superior Court of Nigeria from 1947 to 1951.
In 1950 he launched the Action Group as the political
wing of Egbe Omo Odudua and took over the political activities
of the Nigerian Youth Movement of which he had long been a
Branches of Egbe Omo Odudua spread to the
North and East. To
publicize the movement, Awolowo ran a newspaper, the Tribune.
In the general election of 1951, the Action Group
defeated the well-organized NCNC in the Western region and
provided its first government under the new constitution, with
Awolowo as Minister of Local Government.
An admirer of Jawaharlal Nehru, Awolowo
visited India in 1952–53 to discuss comparative aspects of
self-government with him and other Indian leaders.
Ceylon, Pakistan and Egypt were included in the trip.
Later, Nehru’s autobiography was serialized in the Tribune.
Early in 1956, Awolowo, as Premier and Finance Minister
of the Western Region, headed a five-member mission on a tour
which included Britain, the United States, West Germany, Italy
and Japan to arouse trade and investment interest in his
Obafemi Awolowo was married on December 26,
1937 to Hannah Idowu Dide Olu.
They have two sons and three daughters.
The Premier is of medium height and well built and wears
Nigerian robes and a dark red and gold turban.
With all his political preoccupation, he keeps the mark
of missionary training and youthful seriousness and is a devout
member of the Wesleyan Church.
His approach to politics is realistic and his speeches
are filled with hard facts and systematic analysis rather than
Awolowo has stated that “West and East
Nigeria are as different as Ireland from Germany.
The North is as different from either as China.”
He has also noted: “No Communist danger exists in
southern Nigeria, though we have a few
could be a Communist danger in the North, when the feudal system
there breaks down.” In regard to British administration was carried out by
incompetent, inferior officials, and that the British do not
have the true interests of the country at heart.
“In fourteen months under the present government, we
have done more for Nigeria than the British did in 120 years,”
he stated in 1955.
Nnamdi Azikiwe was born on November
16, 1904 at Zungeru in northern Nigeria where his father, a
member of the Ibo tribe, was employed in government service. He was educated at the Church Missionary Society’s Central
School at Onitsha, the Hope Waddel Training Institute at Calabar
and was graduated in 1925 from the Methodist Boys’ High School
in Lagos at the head of his class.
His father retired the same year and gave young Zik $1200
to pursue his education in the United States.
For two years he attended Howard University
in Washington, D.C., where he studied under Ralph Bunche and
played soccer. In
September 1929 he entered Lincoln University in Pennsylvania,
received his B.A. degree in 1930 and continued for two years of
graduate work as an instructor.
He took a course in journalism at Columbia University and
was a student instructor at the University of Pennsylvania in
Philadelphia, studied anthropology, and earned the M.A. degree.
His summers were spent in a variety of jobs.
Later he was a reporter for the Baltimore Afro-American,
Philadelphia Tribune and with the Associated Negro Press
in Chicago. He
received two honorary doctorates, the LL.D. degree from Howard
and the D.Lit. from Lincoln universities.
Returning to Africa in 1934, he became editor
in chief of the African Morning Post in Accra, Gold
Coast. In 1937 he
started the West African Pilot in Lagos, and added four
newspapers in other cities under Zik Enterprises, Ltd.
Zik is the undisputed leader of the Ibos and leader of
the nationalist cause. He
helped to organize the NCNC in 1944 and became its first
secretary-general, and in 1946 its president.
This group advocates universal adult suffrage, direct
elections, control of the civil service by African ministers,
and complete “Nigerianization” of the country’s military
forces. Zik was
elected a Lagos member of the Legislative Council of Nigeria in
1947 and in 1952 was the first NCNC opposition leader in the
Western House of Assembly. He resigned a year later and was elected to the Eastern House
of Assembly. Nigerian
nationalism is sometimes called “Zikism” after this powerful
leader, who advocates self-government and a united country.
His thirteen books include The Practice of
Forced Labor (1932),
Renascent Africa (Zik’s Press,
1937), Our Struggle for Freedom (1955), and Economic
Rehabilitation of Eastern Nigeria (1956).
He was a member of the Brooke Arbitration Tribunal in
1944, Cameroons Arbitration Tribunal in 1948, and the Foot
Nigerianization Committee in the same year.
On several occasions he led delegations to
England with proposals for constitutional changes.
According to A. T. Steele (New York Herald Tribune,
December 21, 1947) Zik promised the British “plenty of
trouble” if his plans for full freedom in fifteen years
received an unsatisfactory reply.
Early in 1954 he toured Europe, England, the United
States and Canada with members of the Eastern region economic
commission to attract capital for developments in textile,
vegetable oil refineries, steel and chemicals.
Oden Meeker (Saturday Evening Post, October 16,
1954) mentioned that Zik had studied communist political
techniques and was not above using communism as a “political
poker chip,” although his $2,000,000 business interests made
it difficult for him to be seriously interested in communism.
Nnamdi Azikiwe was married in 1936 to Flora
Ogbenyeanu Ogoegbunam. They
have three sons and one daughter.
Zik has been described as tall, slim, handsome, magnetic,
and a dynamic orator, who knows how to attract and hold vast
sportsman, he is president of the Lagos Football Association and
vice-president of the Nigeria Boxing Board.
Late in July 1953, Ahmadu, Awolowo and Zik
led their respective delegations to the London conference to
pave the way for self-government. Awolowo and Zik demanded self-government by 1956.
Ahmadu advocated a more moderate “as soon as
practicable” program. When
the British proposed to detach Lagos, Nigerian capital and
principal port, from the Western region, Awolowo objected.
Colonial Secretary Oliver Lyttelton settled the point by
announcing that the British government had made the decision and
Awolowo and his delegates walked out.
They returned three days later to discuss other factors.
The discussions were continued in Lagos in
January 1954, after it was understood that Awolowo would drop
the issue. The
southern part of the Cameroons was detached from the Eastern
region and became “quasi-federal” territory.
A “no holds barred” conference was promised for
The three leaders were elected as the first
Premiers after the revised constitution became effective in
October 1954 and established the Federation of Nigeria.
It was revealed by the Gold Coast Weekly Review
(December 1, 1955) that wealthy Moslems in the north sought the
Premiership, but Ahmadu was recognized as the only man by birth
and capacity who could act as a link between the House of Chiefs
and keep northerners together against alleged threats from the
Eastern and Western regions.
Awolowo and Zik had less competition in their respective
In the wealthy Western region where farms
based on palm oil and cocoa flourished, education programs
advanced faster. Ibadan’s
University College, the only university in Nigeria, was founded
in 1947 and is an affiliate of the University of London.
As Minister of Local Government, Awolowo made education a
major development. Free
and compulsory primary education was introduced in 1955 and six
new secondary technical schools planned.
Zik introduced a new education program in the Eastern
sends more students abroad than the rest of Africa.
Azikiwe is credited with being most responsible for this
achievement. But basically a politician,
the London Observer noted that Zik had invaded some of
the strongholds of the Action Group which increased political
antagonism with the Yorubas.
The impromptu Sudanese declaration of
independence on January 1, 1956, the Toronto Star Weekly
(January 28, 1956) reported, may have hastened the three-week
royal visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to
Nigeria in early 1956. The
people, commented one of the local papers, hate British
imperialism, but love the Queen.
A reigning woman is regarded as a mystical figure.
Britain hoped that the Queen’s visit would keep the
country within the British framework of nations when the
conference on self-government was held later in the year.
The conference was postponed.
Time (August 6, 1956) explained that Zik was
accused of having withdrawn $5,600,000 in government funds and
placing it in the African Continental Bank to save it from
collapse. Zik and
the Zik Enterprises hold 28,000 shares in the bank.
The British Governor requested an inquiry.
In a message to Colonial Secretary Alan T. Lennox-Boyd,
Zik asked that the Governor be removed and added: “My humble
advice is that you be careful not to mess up the affairs of
Eastern Nigeria as in the case of Cyprus and Singapore. …
We … will not stand nonsense from anybody.
You have been warned.”
Lennox-Boyd ordered an investigation.
The British tribunal found Zik “guilty of
improper conduct,” according to the Christian Science
Monitor (January 19, 1957).
Awolowo and Ahmadu became outspoken opponents of Zik and
asked the Nigerian independence be postponed until 1959.
Time (March 25, 1957) related that Zik, heeding
“the voice of the people”, dissolved the Legislature and
called an election, and found himself a hero.
It was whispered that the tribunal had been an
“imperialist plot” to discredit the nationalist movement,
that Zik had been building a bank for Africans to “break the
The New York Times (March 19, 1957)
reported that Zik’s party won forty-four seats out of
eighty-four and Awolowo’s Action Group gained nine seats in
the Eastern Assembly. The
postponed London conference was opened on May 23, 1957 with the
three Premiers leading the delegation.
Among the Nigerian representatives was a Moslem commoner,
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, a powerful leader of the North.
Source: Current Biography (1957)
* * *
My Life—The Sardauna of Sokoto
By Sir Ahmadu
Ahmadu Bello (1910-1966),
Sardauna of Sokoto, the Premier of the Northern
Region of Nigeria, is thought by many to have been
an influential figure in Nigeria's history. The
descendant of the great reformer, Shehu Usuman dan
Fodio, the Sardauna grew up in the atmosphere of the
Muslim and aristocratic tradition of the Fulani
conquerors of Northern Nigeria. . He reached
maturity in a Nigeria that was rapidly advancing
towards independent nationhood, with political
institutions deriving largely from the traditions of
the Christian West.
As leader of the Northern
People's Congress, the majority political party in
Northern Nigeria, the Sardauna became the first
Premier of that region in 1954. He was assassinated
in January 1966 in the military coup. His
autobiography discusses many things including
whether Islam can co-exist with other communities of
different faiths, whether institutional education
and the franchise be extended to Muslim women, the
role of the Emirs in the new parliamentary system
* * *
Spectres of 1919: Class and Nation in the
Making of the New Negro
A carefully argued,
nuanced presentation of the genesis of the
Harlem Renaissance. Foley's breadth of
knowledge in American radical history is
Foley's book is a lucid
and useful one... A heavyweight
intervention, it prompts significant
rethinking of the ideological and
representational strategies structuring the
of American Studies
does a masterful job of analyzing the racial
and political theories of a wide range of
black and white figures, from the radical
Left to the racist Right... Students of
African American political and cultural
history in the early twentieth century
cannot ignore this book. Essential.—Choice
current time of crisis, when ruling classes
busily promote nationalism and racism to
conceal the class nature of their
inter-imperialist rivalries, one can only
hope that readers will not be daunted by
Foley's dedication to analyzing the
ideological milieu of the 1920s that
contributed to the eclipse of New Negro
radicalism by New Negro nationalism.—Science
With the New
Negro movement and the Harlem Renaissance, the 1920s
was a landmark decade in African American political
and cultural history, characterized by an upsurge in
racial awareness and artistic creativity. In
Spectres of 1919 Barbara Foley traces the
origins of this revolutionary era to the turbulent
year 1919, identifying the events and trends in
American society that spurred the black community to
action and examining the forms that action took as
studies of the Harlem Renaissance, which see 1919 as
significant mostly because of the geographic migrations
of blacks to the North, Spectres of 1919 looks at
that year as the political crucible from which the
radicalism of the 1920s emerged. Foley draws from a
wealth of primary sources, taking a bold new approach to
the origins of African American radicalism and adding
nuance and complexity to the understanding of a
fascinating and vibrant era.—amazon.com
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Debt: The First 5,000 Years
By David Graeber
Before there was money, there was debt. Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems—to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors. Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy. Economist Glenn Loury /Criminalizing a Race
* * *
Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
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Negro Digest /
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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update 19 April 2010