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Colonialism and Violence in Nigeria

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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 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.


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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 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.

41 review for Colonialism and Violence in Nigeria

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hotavio

    In his book Colonial and Violence in Nigeria, Toyin Falola speaks of violence’s integral place in the Nigeria’s modern history. Falola states that the act of colonialism in Nigeria introduced two different phases of violence. The first phase took place in the struggle to against British encroachment. This happened from 1851, with the annexation of Lagos, to the fall of the Sokoto Caliphate in 1903. The second phase of violence came in Nigerians resisting of British governance. This ran until 196 In his book Colonial and Violence in Nigeria, Toyin Falola speaks of violence’s integral place in the Nigeria’s modern history. Falola states that the act of colonialism in Nigeria introduced two different phases of violence. The first phase took place in the struggle to against British encroachment. This happened from 1851, with the annexation of Lagos, to the fall of the Sokoto Caliphate in 1903. The second phase of violence came in Nigerians resisting of British governance. This ran until 1960. Beyond the scope of the book, Falola states that violence inevitably led to a civil brand of violence as Nigeria became politically fragmented after the British left (183). Because many people were brought together forcibly to form the country of Nigeria and because these people have formed some semblance of nationalism, they have endured, yet the 100 years of British interference has created a culture of violence in the country which has been maintained. Falola’s first part of the book deals with British encroachment. Chapters one and two are primarily broken up into two spheres, the southern, which dealt with British interference first due to its geographic location on the ocean. The British had easy access to the port city of Lagos and quickly became commercially involved in the city and the Niger Delta. These tribes were eventually forced into submission by British. Many groups decided to fight for their sovereignty, but were made examples of, such as the mighty Ijebu in 1892 (12). The British took longer to get into the northern part of the country which was run by caliphates. Many in this area also struggled for their independence, but procurement of weapons was tough when the British controlled Nigerian ports. Armed with the Koran and bows and arrows, they didn’t stand up well to the Maxim and Gatling guns of the British (33). The second part of the book, by far the majority, dealt with resistance as an occupied country. Violence here usually took the form of riots and civil disobedience on part of the Nigerians. The British usually responded with violent suppression, including the use of what the author denotes as the Collective Punishment Ordinance (26). This law allowed the British to punish a village for the crimes of one person. This usually meant levying hefty fines on towns where an insurrection occurs or it gave the British an excuse for mass casualty when exacting violent suppression. Themes central to Nigerian dissention were often very similar. The author highlights taxation as a cause of provocation (with special attention paid to the Women’s War of 1929); unionization and labor concerns (this also gets a chapter); spattered throughout the book was disdain over the abuses of indirect rule, that is the implementation of British designated “warrant chiefs” to collect taxes; and finally the cause of nationalism which troubled the colonizers. While religion is a major factor in Nigerian violence, Falola does not center on that. He mentions it several times, usually to give the reader some idea of the motivations to struggle. Religion plays a role in resistance to being occupied via the concept of hijra as the Sokotos exemplified, but also came up during occupied times. The religious were often the anti-British and were often scrutinized for inciting insurrection. Race is also emphasized, albeit minimally considering the context of colonialism in an African country with such diverse ethnicities. The author talks several times about the British goals of introducing modernity to “barbaric” peoples (the author points out that the British employed physical violence, while Nigerians usually opted for less invasive forms) (171). In the search for a national identity, the Nigerians began to identify with their “blackness” as a unifying factor in such an ethnically diverse nation. I felt that Colonial Violence in Nigeria was a sound book, with a clearly stated argument that was well structured. I would have liked at least one map to have been included, considering the author often shifts from one region to another. Most readers are probably unfamiliar with the geography and regions of the ethnic groups mentioned. The book balanced many of the vexations of the Nigerians out and gave plenty of examples, being careful not to center too much on any one region, such as Lagos, which would most likely have had the most information. The author even gives us a short yet sufficient glimpse into post-colonial Nigeria and its brand of violence which makes Colonialism and Violence in Nigeria a good book for someone with little to no knowledge on Nigeria to read.

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