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Igbos under Colonial Rule 1905-1960

Igbos under Colonial Rule 1905-1960: A Case of Effium, Ebonyi State

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

General Introduction

This work is an attempt to explore the various activities of colonial administration in Effium during the colonial rule from 1905 to 1960. It is aimed at finding out the reasons why they came to Effium as at that time and the impact of their coming.  Also, effort will be made to examine the geographical location, migration and settlement of the Effium peoples’ in the pre-colonial era.

Furthermore, the work is a deliberate effort made to ascertain the reasons behind the advent of the colonialists, their occupation in Effium community and the system of administration they used. This work however, will concentrate and examine the socio-cultural effects of colonial rule in Effium.

This work is also an attempt to contribute to the effort being made to reconstruct the colonial vestiges imbibe by the people during the colonial epoch, by examining some of the impact and the effects on the people of Effium after the colonial era. And also, through historical reconstruction proffer solution to those areas in which colonial rule has indented the lives of the people.

Scope of Study

This research work is limited to the Effium as well as the Ezza-Effium people.  Effium is a non-Igbo speaking tribes (mainly the Orri tribes) which is made up of the six clans in Ebonyi state. The non-Igbo speaking tribes include: The Ntezi, Okpoto and Effium… the other clans include Ngbo, Izzi and Ezza according to Professor Anyanwu.

Effort will be made to explore the activities of colonial rule in Effium from 1905 to 1960, and its effects on the history of Effium as well as Ezza-Effium people and their neighbours since the coming of modern government. Effium is found presently in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi state.

Sources and Methodology

Both primary and secondary sources of historical reconstruction will be used in this work. The primary sources include archival materials such as intelligence reports, and memoranda. Other sources like oral tradition will as well be used. The secondary sources that will be used include books and journal articles.

 Literature Review

There are many books and scholars who have written about colonialism and its impact in Africa.

According to A.E Afigbo, “The Eastern Province under Colonial Rule colonial rule did not only turn the old political order upside down, it also changed the economic pattern of society1.

This assertion was supported by U.C Anyanwu in his book titled Treading the Rough and Tumble Field, Oral Tradition and History of Igbo land, where he observed that colonialism was in fact, one of the major agents of change in Africa. But there are two differing views about the extent to which African societies underwent changes as a result of colonialism. To colonial apologists, African society was basically static but with colonialism came “swift” changes for suddenly, colonialism removed the barriers hindering the progress of commerce and civilization; A contrary opinion is held by African nationalists who insist that Africa had a glorious past. In other words, Africa was a dynamic society and that colonialism was just another agent of change. 2

Nico Van steensel in The Izhi, their History and Customs, noted that: In 1900 the British government proclaimed the protectorate of Northern and Southern Nigeria and the colony and protectorate of Lagos. Various peoples in Nigeria challenged the British aggression. Also the Abakaliki area has resisted the British administration.3

The British penetration into Igbo land also caught the attention of A.E Afigbo who in Ropes of Sand studies in Igbo history and culture, stated that: the imposition of British rule was a stunning experience for the Igbo. It was the first time in their history that an alien Army marched through their land.4

However, U.C Anyanwu in Treading the Rough and Tumble Field, Oral Tradition and History in Northern Igbo land acclaimed thus:

For the groups like the Ntezi and Okpoto including Effium, the advent of colonialism was their saving grace. Colonialism, some of them were humble enough to admit, saved them from extermination or being driven away completely from Abakaliki area.          

Nico Van Steensel; in his book titled The Izhi, their History and Customs observed that: The main activities of Europeans in the 1907 till 1930 were to establish and demarcate the boundaries between the different tribes in the Abakaliki area. They demarcated the boundaries in conflicts between Iseke and Effium.6

According to A.I Asiwaju The western province under Colonial Rules in Obaro Ikime, Ground work of Nigeria History, traced the impact of British rule in the west as varied both from place to place and from time to time. The variations were necessarily affected by the variety not only of the cultures and histories of particular localities but also of the mode of colonization and the administration types imposed by the British.7

With political changes that developed as a result of colonial rule A.E Afigbo; The Warrant Chiefs and Indirect Rule in South Eastern Nigeria, highlighted the use of indigenous chiefs at a the expense of indigenous constitution.8

Sa’ad Abubakar, “ The Northern Provinces under colonial rule: 1900-1959 captured it in Obaro Ikime, Ground work of Nigeria History, that the first three decades of British colonial rule in the Northern Province was a period of enormous changes. It witnessed the curtailing of the powers of Emirs and other traditional rulers, and the reduction of the size of the large emirates9

Furthermore, Njoku Afoke and Paul Nworie, Ezza History, Culture and Civilization aver that: The colonization programme did not stop with the age-long colonization habits instilled in us when our masters were with us. Indeed, the worst change inflicted on us by colonization and neo-colonization is the mental aberration which we have continued to suffer. 10

Simon Ottenberg echoed this in Farmers and Townspeople in a changing Nigeria; Abakaliki during Colonial Times 1905-1960, when he opined that: colonialism brought the British to Abakaliki Division as a new set of leaders, who existed for much of the colonial period with a parallel set of traditional leaders.11

Igiri Daniel Omogo in Ngbo Ejeogu and the people, noted that: after the conquest of Ngbo clan in 1907, Ngbo people did so many things to avoid the British and their administration.12

Njoku Afoke and Paul Nworie also acclaimed in their work titled “Ezza History culture and civilization” that when the European first stepped on the Nigeria soil, they had three motives at the back of their minds: To colonize us, to Christianize us, and to civilize us. They succeeded in inflicting these three C’s on the Nigeria nation and people.13

Simon Ottenberg, Farmers and Towns people in a changing Nigeria; Abakaliki during Colonial Times (1905-1960), avers thus:  colonialism stimulated the generation of a whole range of new educated Nigerian elite, who began to constrain and negotiate with the older indigenous leadership within the cultural groups in the division, and to represent the African population in negotiating with the British.14

The purpose of this research work is to explore the impact of colonial rule on the history of Effium and its effect on the society. Many scholars have written about the impact of colonialism in many areas especially in Africa as seen in the work, but much have not been written on Effium. Hence, it was a bid to fill this vacuum that I undertake this research work.

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