1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Nigeria

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NIGERIA, a British protectorate in West Africa occupying the lower basin of the Niger and the country between that river and Lake Chad, including the Fula empire (i.e. the Hausa States) and the greater part of Bornu. It embraces most of the territory in the square formed by the meridians of 3° and 14° E. and the parallels of 4° and 14° N., and has an area of about 338,000 sq. m. The protectorate is bounded W., N. and N. E. by French possessions (Dahomey, Upper Senegal and Niger colony, and Chad territory), S.E. by the German colony of Cameroon and S. by the Atlantic.

Physical Features.—The country is divisible, broadly, into three zones running parallel with the coast: (1) the delta, (2) forest region, giving place to (3) the plateau region. The coast line, some 500 m. in length, extends along the Gulf of Guinea from 2° 46′ 55″ E. to 8° 45′ E. ending at the Rio del Rey, the point where the great bend eastwards of the continent ceases and the land turns south. The Niger (q.v.), which enters the protectorate at its N.W. corner and flows thence S.E. to the Atlantic, receives, 250 m. from the sea, the Benue, which, rising in the mountains of Adamawa south of Lake Chad, flows west across the plateau. Into the huge delta of the Niger several other rivers (the “Oil Rivers”) empty themselves; the chief being, on the west, the Benin (q.v.), and on the east the Brass. East of the Niger delta is that formed by the Imo or Opobo, Bonny and other streams, and still farther east is the Calabar estuary, mainly formed by the Cross river (q.v.). West of the Niger delta are several independent streams discharging into lagoons, which here line the coast. The most westerly of these streams, the Ogun, enters the Lagos lagoon, which is connected by navigable waterways with the Niger (see Lagos).


The delta region is swampy, and forms, for a distance of from 40 to 70 m. inland, a network of interlacing creeks and broad sluggish channels fringed with monotonous mangrove forests. The main rivers are navigable for ocean-going steamers for a distance of from 15 to 40 m. from their mouths. Beyond the delta firm ground takes the place of mud and the mangroves disappear. The land rises gradually at first, becoming, however, in many districts very hilly, and is covered with dense forests. The Niger at its confluence with the Benue is not more than 250 ft. above the sea. North of this point are hills forming the walls of the plateau which extends over the centre of the protectorate and is part of the great plateau of North Africa. This plateau, broken only by the valleys of the rivers, does not attain an elevation approaching that of the plateaus of the southern half of the continent, the culminating point (apart from particular mountain districts), situated in about 10° N., reaching a height of 3000 ft. only. The valleys of the Niger and Benue, especially the latter, are very much lower, the town of Yola on the Benue, some 400 m. inland, lying at an altitude of little over 600 ft. The surface is generally undulating, with isolated “table mountains” of granite and sandstone often rising abruptly from the plain. It is clothed largely with thin forest, but becomes more open to the north until, near the French frontier, the arid steppes bordering the Sahara are reached. Much of the country north of Zaria (11° N.) is covered with heavy loose sand. The most mountainous districts are northern Bauchi (a little north of 10°), where heights of 6000 to 7000 ft. occur; parts of Muri, along the north bank of the Benue; and the southern border of the Benue basin, where the hills (consisting of ironstone, quartz and granite) appear rich in minerals. The mountainous area covers some 50,000 sq. m. On the east the plateau sinks to the plains of Bornu (q.v.), which extend to Lake Chad. Tributaries of the Niger traverse the western portion of the country, the most noteworthy being the Gulbin Kebbi or Sokoto river and the Kaduna, which flows through a valley not more than 500 ft. above the sea. The north-eastern part of the country drains to Lake Chad by the Waube or Yo, an intermittent stream, which in its lower course forms the Anglo-French boundary. The western portion of Lake Chad (q.v.) belongs to the protectorate, which contains no other large lake. The water parting between the Chad and Niger systems runs N.W. and S.E. from about Katsena in 13° N. to the Bauchi hills. Of the tributaries of the Benue the most important is the Gongola. During the dry season most of the small rivers cease running and the water in the larger streams is low. The great rise of the Niger within the protectorate takes place in August and September and there is a second rise about the beginning of the year.

Geology.—The fundamental formation consists of crystalline rocks. From the edge of the coast belt to near the confluence of the Benue and Niger they are overlain by unfossiliferous sandstones, lying undisturbed and possibly of the age of the sandstones of the Congo basin. Limestones, with fossils indicating a Tertiary age, have been found near Sokoto. Superficial deposits occupy the coast belt. Recent alluvium and a thick deposit of black earth border the upper reaches of the Benue and cover wide areas, around Lake Chad.

Climate.—The country lies wholly within the tropics. The climate of the coast-lands is moist and hot, and extremely unhealthy, malarial fever being prevalent and deadly. The annual rainfall in the delta regions varies between 100 and 140 or more inches; the mean temperature is over 80° F. The heat does not vary greatly, rarely sinking below 70°, and not often exceeding 100° in the shade. The direction of the prevailing wind is S.W. Though unfavourable for the permanent residence of white men, the interior is much less deadly than the coast-lands. The northern part is a land of tornadoes. At the close of the dry season (end of February) cyclones from the N.E., usually accompanied by rain and thunder, burst over the land. They increase in frequency until they merge in the heavy rains which last from July to October. Then the “hamattan,” or hot, dry wind from the Sahara, begins and brings with it clouds of impalpable dust. At this period the nights are cold, and in the north January and February are cold even in the day-time, while frosts are experienced in the neighbourhood of Lake Chad. The temperature in the central part of the protectorate is much the same average as at the coast, but the range is far greater, varying from a shade minimum of 59° to a shade maximum of 107°.[1]The rainfall is much scantier on the plateaus than in the maritime regions, averaging in Northern Nigeria about 50 in. a year. There is evidence of the increasing desiccation of the whole country north of the forest belt. This desiccation is partly attributable to the unrestricted felling of wood practised for many centuries by the inhabitants. Along the northern border of the protectorate this has resulted in the encroachment of the Saharan desert over once fertile districts.

The natives of the northern regions do not suffer to any extent from fever unless they move to a part of the country some distance from their home. Leprosy is common, especially in the inland towns; while ophthalmia is prevalent in the north, especially among the poorer classes, who are compelled to expose themselves to the blinding dust from the deserts and the excessive glare of the sun reflected from the burning sand.

Fauna and Flora.—The animals of Nigeria include the elephant, lion, leopard, giraffe, hyena, West-African buffalo, many kinds of antelope and gazelle and smaller game. Monkeys are numerous in the forests, and snakes are common. The camel is found in the northern regions bordering the Sahara. In the rivers are rhinoceros, hippopotamus and crocodile. The manatus is also found. The birds include the ostrich, marabout, vultures, kites, hawks, ground hornbill, great bustard, guinea fowl, partridge, lesser bustard, quail, snipe, duck, widgeon, teal, geese of various kinds, parquets, doves, blue, bronze and green pigeons, and many others. Domestic animals include the horse and donkey in the plateaus, but baggage animals are rare in the coast-lands, where the tsetse fly is found. Mosquitoes are also abundant throughout the delta. Herds of cattle and flocks of sheep and goats are numerous throughout the country.

The mangrove is the characteristic tree of the swamps. North of the swamps the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) flourishes abundantly. It is common as far as about 7° N. Rubber vines, mahogany, ebony and many valuable timber trees are found in the forest zone. Other trees, found chiefly on the plateaus, are the baobab, the shea-butter tree, the locust tree, gambier, palms, including the date and dum palm (Hyphaene), the tamarind, and, in the arid regions, the acacia and mimosa.

Inhabitants.—The population of Nigeria is estimated at 15,000,000. The Europeans (mostly British) number about a thousand, and are civil servants, soldiers, traders or missionaries. In the delta district and the forest zone the inhabitants are typical negroes. Besides the people of Benin, the coast tribes include the Jekri, living on the lower part of the Benin river and akin to the Yoruba, the Ijos, living in the delta east of the main mouth of the Niger, and the Ibos, occupying a wide tract of country just above the delta and extending for 100 m. east from the Niger to the Cross river. South of the Ibos live the Aros, a tribe of relatively great intelligence, who dominated many of the surrounding tribes and possessed an oracle or ju-ju of reputed great power. On the middle Cross river live the Akuna-kunas, an agricultural race, and in the Calabar region are the Efiks, Ibibios and Kwas. All these tribes are fetish worshippers, though Christian and Moslem missionaries have made numerous converts. The Efiks, a coast tribe which has come much into contact with white men, have adopted several European customs, and educated Efiks are employed in government service. The great secret society called Egbo (q.v.) is an Efik institution. Each tribe has a different ju-ju, and each speaks a separate language or dialect, the most widely diffused tongues being the Ibo and Efik, which have been reduced to writing. In general little clothing is worn, but none of the tribes go absolutely nude. In colour the majority are dark chocolate, others are coal-black (a tint much admired by the natives themselves) or dark yellow-brown. Cannibalism, human sacrifices and other revolting practices common to the tribes, are being gradually stamped out under British control. Trial by ordeal and domestic slavery are still among the recognized institutions.

In the northern parts of Nigeria the inhabitants are of more mixed blood, the negro substratum having been to a great extent driven out by the northern races of the continent. The most important race in Northern Nigeria is that of the Hausa (q.v.), among whom the superior classes adopted Mahommedanism in the 13th and 14th centuries. While the lower classes remained pagan, a fairly civilized system of administration, with an efficient judicial and fiscal organization, was established in the Hausa territories. The Hausa are keen traders and make excellent soldiers.

At the beginning of the 19th century the Hausa territories were conquered by another dominant Mahommedan race, the Fula (q.v.), who form a separate caste of cattle-rearers. Arab merchants are settled in some of the larger Hausa towns.

In general the people living in the river valleys have been unaffected by Moslem propaganda either in blood or religion. Thus along the banks of the Niger, Benue and other streams, the inhabitants are negro and pagans, and generally of a purely savage though often rather fine type. Of these the Munshi, who inhabit the district nearest the junction of the Benue with the Niger, were long noted for their intractability and hostility to strangers, whom they attacked with poisoned arrows. The Yoraghums, their neighbours, were cannibals. Nearer Yola live the Battas, who also had a bad reputation. These tribes, under British influence, are turning to trade and agricultural pursuits. In the central hilly region of Kachia are other pagan tribes. They wear no clothes and their bodies are covered with hair. South of the Benue, near the Niger confluence, dwell the savage and warlike Okpotos, Bassas and other tribes. In the districts of Illorin and Borgu, west of the Niger, the inhabitants are also negroes and pagan, but of a more advanced type than the tribes of the river valleys. To attempt any complete list of the tribes inhabiting Northern Nigeria would be vain. In the one province of Bauchi as many as sixty native languages are spoken.

In Bornu (q.v.) the population consists of (1) Berberi or Kanuri, the ruling race, containing a mixture of Berber and negro blood, with many lesser indigenous tribes; (2) so-called Arabs, and (3Fula. The country to the back of Lagos is largely inhabited by Yorubas (q.v.), and the people of Borgu according to some native traditions claim to have had a Coptic origin.

Towns.—A large proportion of the population dwells in towns. The chief ports are Lagos (q.v.), capital of Southern Nigeria, with a population of about 50,000; Calabar (q.v.), pop. about 15,000, known as Old Calabar and Duke Town, on the Calabar river; Opobo, Bonny Town and Brass Town, all on the rivers of the same name. Brass Town contains a fine church, the gift of a native chief. These places are east of the Nun or main mouth of the Niger, where, on the western bank, is Akassa. Here are important engineering works and a slip for repairing ships. Further west at the Forcados mouth of the Niger is a town of the same name, which is the principal port of entry for the river. Benin (q.v.), about 60 m. inland from the mouth of the Benin river, and Bende, about 50 m. N.W. of Calabar, were noted ju-ju towns and have large populations. Wari and Sapele are towns in the Benin district. Owo, some 50 m. N. of Benin city, is an important trade centre for the Yoruba country, in which are the large cities of Abeokuta, Ibadan and Illorin, all separately noticed. On the Niger at the head of the delta are Asaba (west bank) and Onitsha (east bank); Iddah (Ida), in the palm-oil zone; Lokoja on the west bank opposite the confluence with the Benue, and the headquarters of the protectorate's military force; Baro, on the east bank, 70 m. above Lokoja, the river terminus of the Northern Nigeria railway; Egga, Mureji (at the Kaduna confidence), Jebba and Bussa (q.v.). The administrative headquarters of Northern Nigeria are at Zungeru, on the Kaduna river, in 6° 09′ 40″ E., 9° 48′ 32″ N.

Apart from the sea and river ports and the towns in Yorubaland, the chief centres of population are in the open plains east of the Niger. They are the capitals of various states founded by the Hausa. Of these cities the most important is Kano (q.v.), the great emporium of trade for the central Sudan, where Tuareg and Arab from the north meet merchants from the Niger, Lake Chad and the far southern regions. It is situated in 12° N. and 8° 32′ E. Some 220 m. W.N.W. of Kano is Sokoto, on a tributary of the Niger of the same name. Sokoto is the religious and political centre of the Fula. Next in importance among the Hausa towns are Bauchi (or Yakoba), pop. over 50,000, 140 m. S.E. of Kano; Zaria (q.v.), pop. about 60,000, 82 m. S.S.W. of Kano; Katsena (q.v.), 84 m. N.W. of Kano; Hadeija, near the N. eastern frontier; Gando, 60 m. S.W. of Sokoto; Bida (q.v.), 25 m. N.W. of Egga on the Niger; and Yola (q.v.) on the Benue near the German frontier. Jegga, 85 m. S.W. of Sokoto, is an important entrepôt for trade from the hinterland of the Guinea coast and the Hausa states. The chief towns of Bornu are Kuka (q.v.) on Lake Chad, and Maidugari, some 70 m. S.W. of that lake. Most of these towns are capitals of provinces and residences of native princes subordinate to the British administration. They are nearly all surrounded by strong mud walls and outer dry moats. Their interior is divided into a series of compounds, each entered through a flat-roofed audience chamber. Inside are the beehive-shaped huts of the household. The gateways are strongly fortified. In addition to the towns mentioned there are many others containing populations of from 10,000 to 20,000, the bulk of the inhabitants of the Hausa countries being town dwellers.

Communications.—The rivers are the great highways of communication, but, in consequence of the lowness of the water between October and May, navigation is then only possible for shallow draught stern-wheel steamers and launches. From the Forcados mouth of the Niger steamers can ascend the main stream as far as ebba, a distance of 530 m. and, at some risk, to Fort Goldie, 30 m. farther up at the foot of the Bussa rapids. Steamers can also ascend the Benue to Yola, 480 m., above the confluence of that river with the Niger at Lokoja. It is also possible by this route to proceed by small boat via the Shari system to Lake Chad. The Kaduna from its confluence with the Niger can be ascended by steamer 50 m. to Barijuko, which is 22 m. by rail from Zungeru. The Gongola is navigable at high water for 130 m. from its junction with the Benue. In the delta region every place of importance is easily reached by river steamers, and there is a regular service between Forcados and Lagos by the lagoons. The Cross river is navigable 240 m. up to and beyond the frontier of Cameroon.

A 3 ft. 6 in. gauge railway from the port of Lagos to Ibadan was completed in 1900, the distance by rail being 123 m. Only about half that distance intervenes between Ibadan and the sea. This line was, during 19061910, extended via Oshogbo, Illorin and Jebba to Zungeru, whence it is continued to She, 40 m. E. of Zungeru and about 450 m. from Lagos, where a junction is effected with the Baro-Kano line. A small light surface line 22 m. long, 2 ft. 6 in. gauge was built (19011902) in Northern Nigeria between Barijuko on the Kaduna and the capital, Zungeru, and proved most successful and lucrative. In 1907 the construction was begun of a 3 ft. 6 in. railway from Baro on the Niger via Bida and Zaria to Kano—a distance of about 400 m. Good roads connect some of the great Hausa cities, and Kano and Kuka are starting-points for caravans across the Sahara to the Mediterranean. There are also old established caravan routes from Kano to Ashanti and neighbouring countries.

Regular communication is maintained with Europe by steamers running between Liverpool and Forcados, Bonny and Calabar, the steamers calling at other West African ports en route. The time occupied between Liverpool and Forcados is about seventeen days. Other steamers ply between the ports named (and others in the protectorate) and London and Hamburg. There is telegraphic communication between Brass and Bonny and Europe by submarine cable, and land lines from Calabar to Lagos and from Lagos to Jebba, Lokoja, Zungeru, Kano, &c., a connexion being also effected with the telegraph system of French West Africa.

Agriculture.—The natives of the coast region cultivate yams and other food plants but in that district agriculture proper scarcely exists, the fruit of the oil-palm supplying an easy means of obtaining almost everything that the natives require. In the plains of the north, inhabited by Hausa and by agricultural pagan tribes, and in the fertile river valleys, agriculture is regularly carried on. Rice and wheat are cultivated in many parts, though the staple food is guinea corn. Sweet potatoes, ground nuts, yams, onions and other vegetables are largely grown. Of fruits, dates, pomegranates, citrons and bananas abound in certain areas. The shea-butter tree supplies an excellent oil for lamps, and also for cooking, though it is only used by the poorer classes. The most important vegetable products are cotton and indigo, which are universally grown. Tobacco and kola nuts are also grown.

Mineral Products.—Tin ore of excellent quality is found in the province of Bauchi, alkali salts are abundant in Kano province, iron ore and red and yellow ochres are found in Kontagora and other provinces, kaolin (china clay) and limestone in the west central regions. Silver and lead have been found in the Benue area.[2]

Trade.—Throughout Nigeria local trade is active and has shown rapid increase under British rule. Its further development will be fostered by the improvement of communications which is taking place. Export trade in the delta and forest regions is almost entirely confined to “jungle produce,” the most important articles being palm oil and palm kernel. Rubber, ebony and other timber, cocoa and gum copal come next in importance. Cotton is also grown for export. The quantity of palm oil exported annually exceeds 12,000,000 gallons, and is worth over £600,000. Of palm kernels 50,000 to 70,000 tons are shipped yearly, with an average value of £500,000 a year. The principal imports are cotton goods (nearly all from the United Kingdom), and in the southern region spiritsgin and geneva—almost wholly from Holland and Germany, salt, rice and other provisions, tobacco, hardware, cutlery and building material, &c., mostly from the United Kingdom. The value of the trade (imports and exports) of Southern Nigeria (exclusive of Lagos) increased from £1,566,000 in 18941895 to £3,464,000 in 1905. In 1906 the total trade, inclusive of Lagos, was valued at £6,299,000—imports, £3,148,000; exports, £3,151,000.

In Northern Nigeria up to the moment of the British occupation the foreign trade was chiefly in the hands of Tripoli Arabs whose caravans crossed the desert at great risk and expense, and carried to the markets of Kuka and Kano tea, sugar and other European goods, taking away the skins and feathers which constituted the principal articles of export to the Mediterranean coast. There was also a very considerable caravan trade in native goods which the industrious Hausa population carried for great distances through the western and central states of the Sudan. The principal articles of this trade are salt, kola nuts, ivory, leather, sodium carbonates and spices. The centre of the cloth manufacture is Kano. The cloth is made of the cotton grown in the country, woven on small hand looms and dyed either with indigo or with a magenta dye obtained from the bark of a tree. If the Hausa history, which exists in written form, be correct, the manufacture of this cloth has been carried on in Kano since the 9th century. Kano and the district around it clothes half the population of the Sudan. The kola nut, chewed by almost every native of the country, is brought from west of the Niger, traders from Ashanti, Accra and Yorubaland frequenting the markets of Jegga. Salt and “potash” are imported from Absen in the Sahara; and ivory, ostrich feathers and leather goods are exported to Tripoli. The principal exports to Great Britain have come hitherto from the forest regions, and are of the same class as the forest products of the south. Rubber constitutes at present the most important export. The cultivation of cotton is however indigenous to the country. Inquiries made under the auspices of the British Cotton Growing Association have led to the conclusion that Northern Nigeria offers the most promising field contained within the empire for the growth of cotton required to render Lancashire looms independent of foreign supplies. Steps have been taken to stimulate the native industry, and it is hoped) that cotton may take the place in Northern Nigeria which palm oil and kernels occupy in the coast zone. Any great expansion in the cotton trade is however dependent on the development of cheap and efficient means of transport—hence the importance, commercially, of the Baro-Kano railway, with its base on the navigable Niger. With the increase of transport facilities it is probable that the trade with the Mediterranean coasts will also be diverted to the south, and profitable minor branches of trade would be formed in leather, ostrich feathers, gums, fibres, &c. The imports from Great Britain, which come via Forcados, are mostly cotton goods, provisions and hardware. The importation of spirits is prohibited north of 7° N.

Currency and Banking.—The legal currency, and that in general use, is British sterling. There is a subsidiary coinage (introduced in 1908) consisting of a nickel penny and a nickel tenth of a penny (the last-named was first coined in aluminium, but this metal proved unsuitable and was withdrawn). Cowries (1000=3d.) are still occasionally employed, and on the coast, accounts are sometimes kept in gallons of palm oil. Banking is in the hands of the Bank of British West Africa and the Bank of Nigeria. There is also a government savings bank.

Of the early history of the races inhabiting the coast lands little is known. The Beni appear to have been the most powerful race at the time of the discovery of the coast by the Portuguese in the 15th century, and the kings of Benin in the 17th century ruled a large part of the south-western portion of the existing British protectorate (see Benin). The Benin influence does not seem to have reached east of the Forcados mouth of the Niger. In the greater part of the delta region each town owned a different chief and there was no one dominant tribe. Among these people, who occupied a low position even among the degenerate coast negroes, and who were constantly raided by the more virile tribes of the interior, trading stations were established by the Portuguese, and later on by other Europeans, British traders appearing as early as the 17th century. There was no assertion of political rights by the white men, who were largely at the mercy of the natives, and who rarely ventured far from their ships or the “factories” established on the various rivers and estuaries.

By the end of the 18th century British enterprise had almost entirely displaced that of other nations on the Niger coast. But the principal trade of all Europeans was still in slaves. After the abolition of the slave-trade in the 19th century palm oil formed the staple article of commerce, and the various streams which drain the Niger coast near the mouth of the great river became known as the “Oil Rivers.” The opening up of the interior was in the meantime promoted, chiefly by the efforts of British travellers and merchants. Mungo Park traced the Niger from Segu to Bussa, where he lost his life in 1805. From Bussa to the sea the course of the river was first made known in 1830 by the brothers Richard and John Lander. Major Dixon Denham and Captain Hugh Clapperton entered the country now known as Northern Nigeria from the north in 1823, crossing the desert from Tripoli. Clapperton in 18261827 made a second journey, approaching the same territory from the Guinea coast. Dr Barth, travelling under the auspices of the British government, entered the country from the north and made the journeys, lasting over two years between 1852 and 1855, of which he has left the record that still remains the principal standard work for the interior. Macgregor Laird first organized in 1832 the navigation of the river Niger from its mouth to a point above the Benue confluence. During the next twenty-five years expeditions were dispatched into the interior, and a British consul was posted at Lokoja. Possession was also taken, in 1861, of Lagos island, with the object of checking the slave trade still being carried on in that region. But the deadly climate discouraged the first efforts of the British government, and, after the parliamentary committee of 1865 had recommended a policy which would render possible the ultimate withdrawal of British official influence from the coast, the consulate of Lokoja was abandoned.

It was re-established a few years later to meet the still steadily growing requirements of British trade upon the river. In 1880 the influence of the international “scramble for Africa” made itself felt by the establishment under the recognized protection of the French government of two French firms which opened upwards of thirty trading stations on the Lower Niger. The establishment of these firms was admittedly a political move which coincided with the extension of French influence from Senegal into the interior. Nearly at the same time a young Englishman, George Goldie-Taubman, afterwards better known as Sir George Goldie (q.v.), having some private interests on the Niger, conceived the idea of amalgamating all local British interests and creating a British province on the Niger. To effect this end the United African Company was formed in 1879, and trade was pushed upon the river with an energy which convinced the French firms of the futility of their less united efforts. Formation of the Royal Niger Company.They yielded the field and allowed themselves to be bought out by the United African Company in 1884. At the Berlin Conference held in 18841885 the British representative was able to state that Great Britain alone possessed trading interests on the Lower Niger, and in June 1885 a British protectorate was notified over the coast lands known as the Oil Rivers. Germany had in the meantime established itself in Cameroon and the new British protectorate extended along the Gulf of Guinea from the British colony of Lagos on the west to the new German colony on the east, where the Rio del Rey marked the frontier. In the following year, 1886, the United African Company received a royal charter under the title of the Royal Niger Company. The territories which were placed by the charter under the control of the company were those immediately bordering the Lower Niger in its course from the confluence at Lokoja to the sea. On the coast they extended from the Forcados to the Nun mouth of the river. Beyond the confluence European trade had not at that time penetrated to the interior.

The interior was held by powerful Mahommedan rulers who had imposed a military domination upon the indigenous races and were not prepared to open their territories to European intercourse. To secure British political influence, and to preserve a possible field for future development, the Niger Company had negotiated treaties with some of the most important of these rulers, and the nominal extension of the company's territories was carried over the whole sphere of influence thus secured. The movements of Germany from the south-east, and of France from the west and north, were thus held in check, and by securing international agreements the mutual limits of the three European powers concerned were definitely fixed. The principal treaties relating to the German frontiers were negotiated in 1886 and 1893: the Anglo-French treaties were more numerous, those of 1890 and 1898, which laid down the main lines of division between French and British possessions on the northern and western frontiers of Nigeria, having been supplemented by many lesser rectifications of frontier. (See Africa, §5.) It was not until 1909 that the whole of the frontier between Nigeria and the French and German possessions had been definitely demarcated. Thus, mainly by the action of the Royal Niger Company, a territory of vast extent, into which the chartered company itself was not able to carry either administrative or trading operations, was secured for Great Britain. In 1897, at a time when disputes with France upon the western frontier had reached a very active stage, the company entered upon a campaign against the Mahommedan sovereign of Nupe. This campaign would, no doubt, have led to important results had the company retained its administrative powers. In the expedition a force of 500 Hausa, drilled and trained by the company, and led by thirty white officers—of whom some were lent for the occasion by the War Office—decisively defeated a force of some thousands of native troops, led by the emir of Nupe himself. The capital town of Bida was taken and the emir deposed. From Bida the expedition marched to Illorin, where again the whole district submitted to the authority of the company. In Illorin the campaign had some lasting effect. In Nupe, on the northern side of the river, as the company was unable to occupy the territory conquered, things shortly reverted to their previous condition. When the company's troops were withdrawn the deposed emir returned and reoccupied the throne, leaving the situation to be dealt with after the territories of the company had been transferred to the crown.

The complications to which the pressure of foreign nations, and especially of France, on the frontiers of the territories gave rise, became at this period so acute that the resources of a private company were manifestly inadequate to meet the possible necessities of the to the position. Transfer of authority to the crown.Relations with France on the western border became so strained that in 1897 Mr Chamberlain, who was then secretary of state for the colonies, thought it necessary to raise a local force, afterwards known as the West African Frontier Force, for the special defence of the frontiers of the West African dependencies. In these circumstances it was judged advisable to place the territories of the Royal Niger Company, to which the general name of Nigeria had been given, under the direct control of the crown. It was therefore arranged that in consideration of compensation for private rights the company should surrender its charter and transfer all political rights in the territories to the Crown. The transfer took place on the 1st of January 1900, from which date the company, which dropped the name of “royal,” became a purely trading corporation. The southern portion of the territories was amalgamated with the Niger Coast Protectorate, the whole district taking the name of the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, while the northern portion, extending from a line drawn slightly above 7° N. to the frontier of the French possessions on the north and including the confluence of the Niger and the Benue at Lokoja, was proclaimed a protectorate under the name of Northern Nigeria.

The company, during its tenure of administrative power under the charter, had organized its territories south of the confluence, into trading districts, over each of which there was placed a European agent. The executive powers in Africa were entrusted to an agent general with three provincial and twelve district superintendents. There was a small judicial staff directed by a chief justice, and there was a native constabulary of about 1000 men, trained and drilled by white officers. The company kept also upon the river a fleet of about thirty steamers. The entire direction of the proceedings of the company was, however, in the hands of the council in London, and the administrative control of the territories was practically from first to last vested in the person of Sir George Goldie. The local work of the representatives of the company was mainly commercial. When, on the surrender of the charter, Sir George Goldie withdrew from the company, the administrative element disappeared. No administrative records were handed over and very little machinery remained. Two enactments, however, bore testimony to the legislation of the company. One, which by force of circumstances remained inoperative, was the abolition of the legal status of slavery, proclaimed in the year of Queen Victoria's jubilee (1897). The other, more practical, which has remained in operation to the present day, confirmed and enforced by the succeeding administration, was the absolute prohibition of the trade in spirits beyond the parallel of 7° N.

While the development of the Royal Niger Company's territories was proceeding in the manner described, the regions under direct British control were also being opened up in and law and order introduced. In 1893, when the title southern Oil Rivers Protectorate was changed to that of Niger Coast Protectorate, a regular administration was established (subject to the Foreign Office in London) under Sir Claude Macdonald, who was succeeded as commissioner and consul-general in 1896 by Sir Ralph Moor (18601909). Progress in Southern Nigeria, 1885–1906.Under these officials peace was gradually established between various tribes, trade routes opened and progress made in civilization. The work was one of extreme difficulty, largely because there was no central native authority with which to deal. Small military expeditions had constantly to be employed to break up slave-raiding gangs or reduce to order tribes which blocked trade routes or made war on other tribes living peaceably under British protection. The most serious military operations were against the Beni, a peaceful mission to the king of Benin having been massacred in the bush in January 1897. The operations were completely successful and the Benin country was added to the protectorate (see Benin). In 1900, as stated, the southern portion of the Niger Company's territories was added to the protectorate, the change in administration being effected without difficulty of any kind. Sir Ralph Moor continued until 1904 to govern the country under the style of high commissioner. The efforts of the administration to better the condition of the natives without undue interference with customary law met with encouraging results, and the submission of the Aros to the government in 1902 brought to an end the system of tribal warfare for the purpose of making slaves, while the enforcement of a proclamation of 1901 prohibiting the buying, pawning or selling of slaves had a salutary effect. Trade steadily developed, and owing to the large sums paid as duty on imported spirits, the revenue of the protectorate was sufficient to cover the expenditure.

In Northern Nigeria in 1900 the establishment of British authority remained still to be effected. The man selected for the post of first high commissioner was Colonel-afterwards better known as Sir Frederick-Lugard, who had conducted one of the Royal Niger company's most successful expeditions into the western portion of the interior and had already been employed by the British government to raise and organize the West African Frontier Force.

The transference of influence from the company to the government was officially effected on the first of January 1900, on which day the Union Tack was hoisted at Lokoja, and the formation of a local administration was entered upon. The number of civilians in the employ of the government was very small, and the administrative machinery had to be evolved under the pressure of a somewhat acute military situation. Northern Nigeria brought under control.The headquarters of the West African Frontier Force had been at Jebba, not far from the point at which Mungo Park had lost his life upon the river. Neither Jebba nor Lokoja was considered suitable for the permanent capital of the protectorate, and survey parties were sent out, with strict orders to avoid conflict with the nominally friendly natives, to find a more suitable site. This was selected on a branch of the Kaduna river in the south-western corner of the province of Zaria, at a place of which the native name of Zungeru was retained. The ruler of Zaria, while professing friendliness, was, however, unable or unwilling to restrain the rulers of Kontagora and Nupe from aggression. These two potentates raided for slaves to the borders of the rivers and openly threatened the British position on the Niger. The Ashanti War of 1900 claimed the despatch of a strong detachment of the West African Frontier Force, and it was not until the return of the troops in February 1901 that Nupe and Kontagora could be effectively dealt with. In that year both provinces were subdued, their emirs deposed, and letters of appointment given to new emirs, who undertook to rule in accordance with the requirements of humanity, to abolish slave-raiding and slave dealing, and to acknowledge the sovereignty of Great Britain. Illorin and Borgu with a portion of Kabba were already under British rule. The rulers of other neighbouring provinces offered their allegiance, and by the end of the year 1901 nine provinces, Illorin, Kabba, Middle Niger, Lower Benue, Upper Benue, Nupe, Kontagora, Borgu and Zaria had accepted the British occupation. These territories, with the exception of Zaria, were all in the more or less immediate neighbourhood of the valleys of the Niger and the Benue, and Zaria bordered upon the Kaduna. For all these territories an initial system of administration was organized, and British residents were appointed to each province. Seventeen legislative proclamations were enacted in the first year dealing with the immediate necessities of the position, and providing for the establishment of a supreme and provincial court of justice, for the legalization of native courts of justice, and dealing with questions of slavery, importation of liquor and firearms, land titles, &c. In the autumn of 1901 the emir of Yola, the extreme eastern corner of the territories bordering upon the Benue, was, in consequence of the aggressions upon a trading station established by the Niger Company, dealt with in the same manner as the emirs of Nupe and Kontagora, and a new emir was appointed under British rule. In 1902 Bauchi and Bornu were brought under British rule. In Bauchi the emir was deposed and a new emir was appointed. In Bornu the extension of British authority was very willingly accepted as a guarantee against other European encroachments, and the legitimate Shehu was restored to the throne under British protection. Military stations were established in Bornu and in Bauchi, and both provinces were included in the system of British administration. Later in the same year an act of treachery culminating in the murder of a British resident, Captain Moloney, in the province of Nassarawa, led to the military subjugation of that province. The murderer fled northwards through Zaria to Kano, which was still an independent Mahommedan state. The emir of Zaria was found to be in treasonable correspondence with the emir of Kano. It was thought desirable to arrest and dethrone him, and his prime minister was temporarily appointed to administer the province under British protection. To all these provinces British residents were appointed, and British legislative enactments became applicable to them all. By the end of the year 1902 British administration had been extended to the whole of the provinces in the south, east and west of the protectorate. The important Mahommedan states of Sokoto, Gando, Kano and Katsena remained independent. These states were regarded as the stronghold of Fula supremacy. The emir of Sokoto held the position of religious as well as political head of all the lesser states of Northern Nigeria, and in response to friendly overtures on the part of the British administration had declared that between Sokoto and Great Britain there could be nothing but war. Katsena was the centre of local learning, while Kano was at once the commercial and the military centre of power. By the end of 1902 it had become evident that a trial of strength between the Mahommedan powers and the new British administration was inevitable. The Mahommedan rulers were themselves of comparatively recent date. In fighting them there was no question of fighting the whole country. On the contrary it was presumed with justice that their overthrow would be hailed with satisfaction by many of the subject peoples. Every attempt was made to settle the question at issue by conciliatory methods, but these having failed, a campaign against Kano and Sokoto was entered upon in January 1903. It was entirely successful. The capital of Kano, a walled and fortified town of great extent and formidable strength, fell to a British assault in February of 1903. Sokoto submitted after a battle which took place on the 17th of May. The sultan fled, and on the 21st of May a new sultan, chosen by the council of elders, was installed by the British high commissioner, after he had publicly accepted the conditions imposed by the British government. These conditions were that all nights of conquest acquired by the Fulani throughout Northern Nigeria passed to Great Britain, that for the future every sultan and emir and principal officer of state should be appointed by Great Britain, that the emirs and chiefs so appointed should obey the laws of the British government, that they should no longer buy and sell slaves, nor enslave people, that they should import no firearms, except flint-locks, that they should enforce no sentences in their courts of law which were contrary to humanity, and that the British government should in future hold rights in land and taxation. When these conditions were accepted by the Fulani chiefs the supremacy of Great Britain was established over the entire country. Katsena and Gando followed the example set to them by Kano and Sokoto. Throughout Northern Nigeria all chiefs, Mahommedan and Pagan, now hold their appointments under the British crown and take the oath of allegiance to the British sovereign.

It remained to organize the territories for British rule, to institute a reformed system of taxation, to establish courts of justice, and to open the country to civilized occupation.

The following account of the legislation carried into force up to 1907 shows in effect what was done in that direction. After the conquest of the Hausa States in 19021903 the king's writ ran—with the exception of a few districts inhabited by primitive savages—through the whole area known as Northern Nigeria. The temporary enactments of the earlier days were then superseded by laws based upon a more accurate knowledge of local conditions and rendered possible by the effective administration which had been set up throughout the country.

Courts of Law and Administration of Justice.—A superior court was set up with jurisdiction over all non-natives and government employés. Its jurisdiction over natives was limited to the two centres of administration named “cantonments,” and to such neighbouring territories as might be included by regulation within a feasible distance of those centres. It could, however, try any case in any province by special warrant of the high commissioner. The whole country was divided into seventeen provinces, in each of which there was a provincial court presided over by the resident in charge, whose assistants were commissioners of the court. They submitted their lists of criminal trials to the high commissioner, who, advised by the attorney-general, acted as a court of appeal, and no sentence exceeding six months could take effect without his confirmation. Cases could be referred by him for re-trial in the superior court if he so decided. A criminal code was drawn up, together with a criminal procedure proclamation. Native courts were established by warrant at all the chief native towns with varying powers. They were of two classes, the “Alkalis' Court,” presided over by trained Mahommedan jurists, and “Judicial Councils,” under the leading chiefs and natives presided over by the emir or other native ruler. In these courts native law and customs (principally the Mahommedan law) were administered with the proviso that no penalty could be enforced which was contrary to the laws of humanity or opposed to any specific proclamation of the protectorate. With the exception of two or three of the most enlightened courts, the criminal powers of these courts were restricted, but in civil actions they had full scope. No native court could carry a sentence of death into execution without the concurrence of the resident.

Cantonment courts were also set up in the two chief government centres (Zungeru and Lokoja), chiefly for the purpose of enforcing sanitary and municipal regulations. These were affiliated to the superior courts.

Lands and Minerals.—These constitute the main asset of the government. In the first instance, as following upon conquest or potential conquest, the Fulani emirs who were appointed by government to each of the great native states were installed under a letter of appointment in which (in addition to rights of legislation, taxation and other powers inherent in suzerainty) the ultimate title to all land was transferred from the Fulani dynasty and vested in the British. Private ownership was not interfered with, but all waste lands became the property of the crown, and no non-native could acquire title except as from the government. Similarly the sole title to minerals (subject to the share of profits assigned to the Niger Company by the deed of transfer) was vested in the government, and the terms upon which licences to prospect or mine could be acquired, together with full regulations regarding mining, were enacted by law. The right of natives to smelt iron and the question of compensation for any other existing mining industry or for surface disturbance was left to the discretion of government.

Slavery.—Practical effect was given to the abolition of the legal status of slavery, in so far as all British courts were concerned. This decree had been promulgated before the transfer of the administration, but had existed merely on paper. Every slave could thereby assert his freedom if he desired to do so, but it was not made illegal for a native to own a slave, and no penalty attached to mere possession in such a case. Slave-dealing and transactions of every kind in slaves were now made illegal. Civil questions arising from the institution of domestic slavery remained justifiable by the native courts; which in this matter were very carefully supervised by the British administration.

Taxation.—In the earlier years of the administration the tolls upon trade in transit, which had existed from time immemorial and had become the means of much extortion, were made a monopoly of the government, and were reorganized on an equitable and popular basis. To these were added certain licences (e.g. on canoes, &c.). In 1905 a complete reorganization of the direct taxation of the country was introduced. The innumerable taxes upon agriculture and industry of all kinds were consolidated into two principal taxes, viz. the land and general tax—in its nature an income tax—and the jangali or cattle tax upon nomad herdsmen. The imposition of this tax involved a rough and ready assessment of every village in the protectorate. Under this system the oppression and extortion practised under native rule gave place to a carefully regulated method of assessment. At its initiation the proceeds were divided in approximately equal shares between the central government and the native administration, and a means was thus found of creating a legitimate revenue for the native chiefs to supersede the proceeds of slave-raiding and slave-dealing, and of oppression and extortion, by which they had hitherto supplied their needs. As in India, the village with its lands and cultivation was constituted the unit of assessment, and the provinces were divided into districts under native headmen responsible for the collection of the tax, and its payment to the paramount chief, who in turn rendered the assigned share to district and village chiefs, to the officers of state recognized by government and to the government itself. The administrative officers were entrusted with the assessment and acted as arbitrators and referees in case of illegal exactions. In the Pagan districts where no native machinery existed and no previous taxation had been in force, a nominal impost was levied and collected by the officers of the government through the agency of the village chiefs. The taxation of the great cities formed a separate and very difficult problem. The law laid down the method to be employed in this case, but pending the completion of the rural taxation this detailed application of the system was allowed to remain in suspense. It was hoped that so soon as the scheme could be effectively put into operation the taxes on trade in transit could be largely if not completely abolished, and the traders and merchants—the wealthiest class of the community—would be assessed in their city domiciles. By these means a large and rapidly increasing revenue is being secured to government; while the condition of the peasantry and people is being greatly ameliorated, an adequate but not excessive income is being secured to the native rulers; and the class of middlemen who lived by extortion and absorbed a great part of the wealth of the country is being abolished.

Native Rulers.—By the operation of the native courts proclamation, the taxation proclamation, and finally by the enforcement of native authority proclamations, the status of the native rulers, their powers and authority, were defined and legalized. They receive the support of the government within the limits of their recognized sphere of action. The great chiefs are appointed by the government in consultation with the principal men, and in accordance with native customs and laws of succession. Minor chiefs are nominated by their paramount chiefs, subject to the approval of the high commissioner.

Military and Police.—The defensive force—the Northern Nigeria Regiment of the West African Frontier Force—is constituted by law, and the proclamation contains a military code based on the Army Act with modifications necessary in local circumstances. A police force is similarly organized and controlled by a second enactment. The military force is divided into three regiments and two batteries of artillery under the supreme command of a commandant. The distribution of the garrisons is under the direction of the high commissioner. The police, on the other hand, are more or less equally divided between the provinces (including the establishment at each cantonment), and while their interior economy and organization rests in the hands of a commissioner, they are for purposes of duty under the control of the resident of the province. A district superintendent is appointed to each province.

Miscellaneous Enactments.—A variety of other enactments deals with minor matters of administration. Commissions of inquiry may be appointed by the high commissioner to investigate the conduct of an individual or department and take evidence on oath. Discipline on board of steamers is prescribed by the Marine Discipline Act. The preservation of wild animals and birds in accordance with international agreements is enforced by law. The importation or possession of arms of precision is forbidden, except by permits in conformity with the Brussels Act, and in further application of that act the importation of spirits for sale to natives is wholly prohibited. The cantonments are regulated by a municipal ordinance, establishing rates and laying down various regulations for order and sanitation. In order to prevent hydrophobia dogs may only be kept under certain restrictions. Patents, marriages (of non-natives), &c., &c., form the subject of other laws.

Administrative Divisions.—For administrative purposes the territories were at first divided into seventeen provinces: Sokoto, Gando, Kano, Katsena, Bornu East, Bornu West, Zaria, Bauchi, Borgu, Kontagora, Nassarawa, Muri, Yola, Bassa, Kabba, Illorin, Nupe. Of these Sokoto and Gando, Kano and Katsena, Bornu East and Bornu West have been carried a step further in organization and now form three double provinces, each under the charge of a first-class resident. lllorin, Nupe and Kabba have been formed into one province called the Niger province, and also placed under the charge of a first-class resident, and it is intended to continue this process so as to make finally eight first-class provinces of the whole territory. The first-class residents of the double provinces are assisted by about twelve residents and assistant residents of subordinate rank. In the Mahommedan states the native system of administration remains intact, and is carried on under British supervision by native emirs and officials. In the Pagan states there is no organized system of native administration, and the British residents are responsible for good government.

Amalgamation of Lagos and Southern Nigeria.—The political reasons which had resulted in the Nigerian territories being divided into three distinct administrations no longer existing, it was decided to unite them under one government, and as a first step in that direction Sir Walter (then Mr) Egerton was in 1904 appointed both governor of Lagos and high commissioner of Southern Nigeria. This was followed in February 1906 by the amalgamation of the two administrations under the style of “the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria,” with headquarters at Lagos town. The former colony and protectorate of Lagos (q.v.) became the western or Lagos province of the new administration. In the year the amalgamation was effected the revenue reached a record figure, the amount collected being £1,083,000, to which Lagos province contributed £424,000. Over 80% of the revenue was derived from customs. In the same year the expenditure from revenue was £1,056,000.

Northern Nigeria Railway.—In Northern Nigeria, which continued for the time to be a separate protectorate, Sir Frederick Lugard was, at the beginning of 1907, succeeded as high commissioner by Sir Percy Girouard. In August of that year the British government, on administrative, strategic and commercial grounds, came to a decision to build a railway which should place the important cities of Zaria and Kano in direct communication with the perennially navigable waters of the Lower Niger. In view of the approaching unification of Southern and Northern Nigeria, the money needed, about £1,250,000, was raised as a loan by Southern Nigeria. The route chosen for the line was that advocated by Sir Frederick Lugard. This important work, essential for the welfare of the northern territories, was begun under the superintendence of Sir Percy Girouard,[3] the builder of the Wadi Haifa-Khartum railway. At the same time the decision was taken to continue the Lagos railway till it effected a junction with the Kano line near Zungeru, the Niger being bridged at Jebba.

Land Tenure.—Sir Percy Girouard devoted much attention to land tenure, probably the most important of the questions concerning imperial policy in West Africa. He adopted the land policy of Sir F. D. Lugard, and recommended “a declaration in favour of the nationalization of the lands of the Protectorate.” This was in accord with native laws-that the land is the property of the people, held in trust for them by their chiefs, who have not the power of alienation. Thereafter the secretary for the colonies appointed a strong committee, which, after hearing much evidence, issued a report in April 1910 in substantial agreement with the governor's recommendations. This policy was adopted by the Colonial Office. By this means the natives of Nigeria were secured in the possession of their land—the government imposing land taxes, which are the equivalent of rent. This exclusion of the European land speculator and denial of the right to buy and sell land and of freehold tenure was held by all the authorities to be essential for the moral and material welfare of the inhabitants of a land where the duty of the white man is mainly that of administration and his material advantages lie in trade. (See an article on “Land Tenure in West Africa” in The Times, May 24, 1910.)

Authorities.—Of early books dealing with large areas of Nigeria, H. Barth's Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa (London, 18571858) is a standard authority. See also Lady Lugard, A Tropical Dependency (London, 1905); Boyd Alexander, From the Niger to the Nile (London, 1907); C. Larymore, A Resident's Wife in Nigeria (London, 1908); the annual Reports on Southern and Northern Nigeria issued by the Colonial Office; E. D. Motel, Affairs of West Africa (London, 1902); C. H. Robinson, Hausaland (London, 1896); S. Vandeleur, Campaigning on the Upper Nile and Niger (London, 1898), with introduction by Sir George Goldie; Major A. G. Leonard, The Lower Niger and its Tribes (London, 1906); C. Partridge, The Cross River Natives (London, 1905); E. Dayrell, Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria (London, 1910). Maps of the country on the scale of ¹/₁,₀₀₀,₀₀₀ and ¹/₂₅₀,₀₀₀ are published by the War Office. The Blue Books, Cd. 2325 (1904), 2787 (1905) and 4523 (1909), deal with railway construction, harbours and river navigation.

(F. L. L.)


  1. Returns at Zungeru for 1903.
  2. See Colonial Office Reports, Northern Nigeria Mineral Survey 19061907; Southern Nigeria Mineral Survey 19051907 (Miscellaneous, Nos. 59, 67, 68).
  3. In 1909 Sir Percy Girouard was succeeded by Sir H. H. I. Bell. The title High Commissioner had meantime been changed to that of Governor.