Nationalism is a feeling of belonging to some community of people sharing the same culture and territory. At times of colonization, Nigerians strived to preserve the identity of the group, achieve statehood, and establish a government based on sovereignty. Learn more about the factors that led to nationalism in Nigeria.
The population of Nigeria consists of many tribes. Two main religions in Nigeria are Christianity and Islam. On the one hand, these differences divided the country but, on the other hand, each tribe struggled for the freedom that contributed to the overall success.
What are the factors that led to nationalism in Nigeria?
The history of the nationalist movement in Nigeria and most post-colonial African countries is full of negative reports that characterized the Nigerian nationalist struggle. Before the British intruded Nigeria, it consisted of various ethnic groups. Later, these autonomous political entities formed an independent country. So, to some extent, British rule led to the creation of Nigeria.
In the beginning, there was no integrated Nigerian nationalism. British imperialism that resulted in political particularism and broad pan-Africanism caused the creation of Nigerian nationalism. British policy towards African colonies was inconsistent. It featured both exploitation of the local natural resources and attempts to preserve the indigenous cultures as well as an introduction of advanced technology and modern concepts.
The factors that led to nationalism in Nigeria include historical, political, economic, social, geographic, and other factors.
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The internal and external factors that led to nationalism in Nigeria
Some of the internal factors that led to the nationalist movement in Nigeria include social, religious and to some extent political and economic factors. However, the division of these factors cannot be regarded unambiguous as every part of the country’s life is its integral part.
Nationalists criticized colonialism for inability to appreciate the indigenous culture of Africa. They demanded self-government stating that colonial rule is the only force that prevents countries of Africa from progress.
One of the internal factors that led to nationalism in Nigeria was religious factor. Europeans refused to allow the incorporation of local customs and practices into the Christian orthodoxy which, however, didn't stop Nigerians from developing new denominations independent of European imperial rule. Christianity had experienced "protestant" schism which was one of the crucial periods in the history of Christian churches in Nigeria.
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Social factors appeared in many different forms, particularly, in founding various ethnic organizations that sometimes took the form of tribal unions. Such organizations have been established primarily in the cities as many rural migrants moved to the cities. Some of the most popular associations were the Igbo Federal Union and the Egbe Omo Oduduwa (Society of the Descendants of Oduduwa), a Yoruba cultural movement and other. Nigerian students who had an opportunity to study abroad joined other students in pan-African groups from other colonies, for example, the West African Students Union which was founded in London in 1925.
When talking about political factors that led to nationalism in Nigeria, the emergence of political parties launched significant political changes in Nigeria. Such political parties as the Nigerian Youth Movement, National Democratic Party, The Action Group and Other Political parties fought for freedom and independence of Nigeria from British rule.
Mass media influence
The development of the press has also contributed to the nationalism in Nigeria. In 1925, the Lagos Daily News was established by Herbert Macaulay, the father of Nigerian nationalism. This opportunity was afforded by the 1922 constitution to elect the representatives to the Legislative Council which gave politically conscious Nigerians a powerful tool of for future development.
The key figure in the political activity was Herbert Macaulay, called a father of Nigerian nationalism. He has founded a newspaper, the Lagos Daily News and the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), which dominated elections in Lagos from its founding in 1922 until 1938. His political platform had a great influence on the economic and educational development in Nigeria.
Minimization of the British presence in Nigeria enabled local officials and politicians to gain access to government jobs and funds for local development, market permits, trade licenses, government contracts, and even scholarships for higher education.
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As for the economic factors that caused nationalism in Nigeria, Nigerians fought for increasing participation in the economy of Nigeria. Social factor that led to nationalism in Nigeria was the discrimination Africans suffered from. Slave trade had strongly negative effects on the development of nations. In terms of economy, the Africans had the only hope for trade unions which had demands raised by striking It has also led to the growth of nationalism in Nigeria. In 1945, one of the biggest strikes took place in Nigeria which forced the colonial masters to agree to the demands of the striking workforce.
When talking about the economic factor that contributed to the growth of nationalism in Nigeria, a relative political independence caused an increase of economic freedom. Despite the fact that initially imports lagged behind exports, by the ‘50s the surpluses decreased. The most important economic factor that led to Nigerian nationalism was a search for oil that began in 1908 by Shell and British Petroleum. In 1958, exportation of Nigerian oil was initiated through Port Harcourt. Oil income was not the biggest part of the country's income, however, it started the political rivalry among the political parties. The crucial thing was that NCNC took fifty-six seats in the Parliament which gave it right to control the petroleum production.
As for other external factors, nationalism in Nigeria was fueled by countries like India, Pakistan, Ghana, and others that have just gained their independence.
As you can see, there were a lot of factors affecting the outlook of Nigerians during that time. Lerning our history is very important for taking the right decisions in the future.
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