The History Of Nigeria Slave Trade
The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. However the social, economic, and legal positions of slaves were vastly different in different systems of slavery in different times and places.
Slavery can be traced back to the earliest records, such as the Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi (c. 1860 BC), which refers to it as an established institution, and it was common among ancient peoples
“Nigeria: History” also states that by the 18th century, the British had replaced the Portuguese as the leaders of the slave- trade business. According to Google Culture Institute’s “Birth of the Nigerian Colony,” British traders settled in Nigeria around this time in an area that surrounded the Niger River known as Lagos.
The abolition of the slave trade was the key moment when the British truly “intervened in the region,” They placed their focus on obtaining goods to increase their ability to trade, as well as on converting the people of the area, which was previously heavily Muslim, to Christianity.
The British began their colonization of the area by slowly moving around the area and defeating different power heads in order to obtain more trading goods. According to an article written by Toyin Falola titled “Nigeria as a Colony,” the British government gained control over the Royal Niger Company’s territories, and added on lower regions near the river to create the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria.
The British kept their control over Nigeria via indirect rule, which meant that local leaders would govern the area under orders of the British. This way, the British could profit from the economy of Nigeria that, because of their intervention, was based primarily on the export of different crops including palm oil, cacao, and peanuts, while also not getting in the way of ethnic tensions.
Falola also writes that in order to deal with the diversity of groups of the area they had essentially created and defined as a colony, the British created a “divide and rule policy” that could keep different Nigerian groups as far away from one another as possible.
Further divisions among the country came about from the fact that “traditional authorities” led the north, and subsequently Islam resisted the spread of Christianity.
The south, however, was home of a “political hierarchy” in which the British “ruled through those who were most malleable.” Here Christianity spread quickly, adding further tensions to the area by separating people in both religion and politics.
Following WWII, Kamerun (Cameroon), a former German colony, was to be divided based on a League of Nations Mandate between the British and the French. According to Falola, the British added their part of the Former German colony to Nigeria, and once again, the diversity within the borders of Nigeria expanded.
The British had a hard time keeping control of Nigeria, partly due to the trouble between groups and partly due to Pan-Africanism and the struggle to liberate black people form racism and European domination.
The movement inspired the first political party of Nigeria, which fought against the British rule via the youth, the media, the educated, and the farmers.
The response of the British included slowly changing the governing system within Nigeria in order to allow the Nigerian people to have more of a voice. However, this resulted in further divisions and disagreements among Nigerians. Near the mid 20th century, many groups in Nigeria were fearful of gaining independence, for they knew the major ethnic groups would gain control of the new country. However, by 1960, Nigeria achieved its independence (Falola).