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Colonialism and Violence in Nigeria

Toyin Falola

Publication Year: 2009

Colonialism and Violence in Nigeria looks closely at the conditions that created a legacy of violence in Nigeria. Toyin Falola examines violence as a tool of domination and resistance, however unequally applied, to get to the heart of why Nigeria has not built a successful democracy. Falola's analysis centers on two phases of Nigerian history: the last quarter of the 19th century, when linkages between violence and domination were part of the British conquest; and the first half of the 20th century, which was characterized by violent rebellion and the development of a national political consciousness. This important book emphasizes the patterns that have been formed and focuses on how violence and instability have influenced Nigeria today.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xv

The theme of this book is the ways that the imposition of colonial rule and the British governance of Nigeria created conditions for violence from the second half of the nineteenth century to the early 1950s. I define violence in terms of its most basic elements: the use of force to damage people and objects; ...

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pp. xvii-xix

With most of my books, the idea to write the next one emerges in the process of writing the previous one. When I was completing a book on religious violence in Nigeria, two obvious gaps occurred to me—the linkage between colonialism and violence and that between ethnicity and violence. ...

Nigerian History Major events covered in this book

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pp. xxi-xxii

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1 Violence and Colonial Conquest

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pp. 1-25

Before gold and diamonds were discovered in South Africa in the 1880s, no region in Africa was more attractive to the European powers than Nigeria. Even when the possibility of greater profits opened up in South Africa, the British did not relent in their efforts to add Nigeria to their growing empire.1 ...

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2 Resistance by Violence

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pp. 26-54

Maintaining law and order was the top priority of the colonial government. Very early in the life of the administration, it established various guidelines to deal with law and order; these were revised as the government accumulated experience and dealt with cases of violence. ...

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3 Violence and Colonial Consolidation

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pp. 55-78

During the first two decades of the twentieth century, the British often complained that various groups and individuals were hostile to colonial authorities and their Nigerian agents. They characterized resistance as “barbaric” acts of violence by “primitive” people who lacked any idea of what they would gain once they were civilized. ...

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4 Taxation and Conflicts

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pp. 79-107

Violence and protests were part of the anti-tax resistance of the colonial era. Some cases of anti-tax violence took on the characteristics of what the official records called “wars” because of their intensity. Some were smallscale violent protests that required police action to end them or to prevent greater anti-tax violence ...

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5 Gendered Violence

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pp. 108-130

If most of the leading officers of the government and their local agents thought the anti-tax riots were over by 1928, they were about to be disappointed, even shocked. A year later, the biggest of the riots occurred in the Bende District of southern Nigeria, known in some records as the Aba Riots of 1929.1 ...

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6 Verbal Violence and Radical Nationalism

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pp. 131-151

Nigeria entered an era of militant nationalism in the 1940s. The anti-imperialist mood was fed by the desire for the rapid disengagement of the British from power and the belief that previous leaders and parties had been too gentlemanly. The rise of activist leaders, notably political leaders such as Nnamdi Azikiwe and critics such as Nduka Eze, ...

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7 Labor, Wages, and Riots

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pp. 152-170

Nigerians in the service of colonial authorities described themselves as “workers.” Even though they might work for the colonial government or foreign-owned companies, they distanced themselves from the idea that they were stakeholders in the colonial regime. ...

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Conclusion: Violence and Political Culture

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pp. 171-186

If politics is about the ability to define the middle ground and make compromises, violence may be about the ability to avoid the middle ground in order to establish one’s power and make one’s opinions the new hegemony. Violence has become an integral part of Nigerian political culture, ...


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pp. 187-204


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pp. 205-220


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pp. 221-231

E-ISBN-13: 9780253003393
E-ISBN-10: 0253003393
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253353566

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2009