Colonial Administration | Meaning, Background, Reasons, Features & Classification

Definition Of Colonialism In Africa Colonialism can be characterized as the imposition of a more advanced culture upon a less developed one, supported by expansionist and economic endeavours. Another definition portrays it as the coercive governance of one country by another, signifying the extension of political control from a dominant nation over a weaker one. […]

Definition Of Colonialism In Africa

Colonialism can be characterized as the imposition of a more advanced culture upon a less developed one, supported by expansionist and economic endeavours. Another definition portrays it as the coercive governance of one country by another, signifying the extension of political control from a dominant nation over a weaker one. Often synonymous with imperialism, colonialism entails the political dominance and economic exploitation of the weaker nation by the stronger one.

 

Historical Background

Britain’s initial endeavour to establish a formal government in Nigeria took place in 1900, coinciding with the industrial revolution in Europe during the late 19th century. The competitive quest for finished goods among European powers, including Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, led to the scramble and partition of Africa. The Berlin West Africa conference of 1884-1885 witnessed the allocation of African lands to European countries as colonies.

 

The first formal British government in Nigeria, established in 1900, comprised three distinct administrative areas: the Colony of Lagos, the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria, and the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria.

 

In May 1906, the Colony of Lagos and the Southern Protectorate merged to form the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. Lord Frederick Luggard further amalgamated Lagos and the Southern Protectorate with the Northern Protectorate in 1914, creating a unified colony called Nigeria.

 

Reasons For Colonialism

Economic Reasons:

  1. Raw Materials: The European industrialists, fueled by the industrial revolution, sought abundant raw materials for their industries, leading them to Africa, particularly Nigeria.
  2. Market: Europe, seeking new markets beyond its borders, identified Africa as a potential market for excess products.

 

Social Reasons:

  1. Settlement: Colonies were perceived as suitable places to accommodate surplus populations.
  2. Cultural Reasons: Colonialism was viewed as a means of civilizing the perceived primitive black populations.
  3. Humanitarian Reasons: Colonizers claimed to be halting slave trade and inter-ethnic wars in West Africa.
  4. Religious Reasons: European ventures aimed at converting Africans to Christianity.
  5. Prestige Motive: Colonialism was deemed a way to enhance the prestige of metropolitan centers like Britain and France.
  6. Political Reasons: Europeans aimed to extend their spheres of influence and rule over African territories.
  7. Explorative Motive: European explorers ventured into Africa to discover various human and natural resources.

 

Features Of Colonial Administration

  1. Central Administration: Headed by the appointed Governor, responsible for both legislative and executive councils.
  2. Native Administration: Instituted a system of native administration through the indirect rule system in protectorates, provinces, and districts.

 

Classification Of British Colonies In West Africa

  1. Crown Colony: Established through military conquest, owned by the British Crown (e.g., Lagos colony).
  2. Protectorate: A territory under British government protection against other European conquests (e.g., Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria).
  3. Trust Territory: Former German colonies (e.g., Cameroon, Togo, and Tanzania) controlled by Allied powers after Germany’s defeat.

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