Essay on the Rise of Nationalism in Nigeria

By Christina Scott

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INTRODUCTION

No one, not even the most far-sighted, ever thought that British rule would last for only sixty years. In the early years of colonial rule, the idea of an independent Nigeria within so short a time would have sounded ridiculous. “The whiteman has come to stay as long as men lived,” boasted an official in 1919.   Nevertheless, nationalism started early, instigated by the need to respond to conquest and new policies. The radical phase came during and after the Second World War, subsequently leading to independence. Although the ultimate goal of nationalism was to secure the country’s independence, it had other interrelated dimensions: the “new Nigeria” would be governed by a Westernized elite, working, through the agency of political parties and Western political ideas, to create a united and developed country. If the British took over power from a traditional elite, nationalism and modernization forced them to hand it over to an educated elite.

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