Academic Leadership: The Online Journal


Israel Osokoya


The history of western education in Nigeria was intimately bound up with the history of western education in Europe. During and after the Dark Ages in Europe, the church dominated the business of education and this had a tremendous impact on the intellectual life of people not only in Europe and America but also in the British colonial territories of Asia and Africa. Historically, the British imperial ambition and effective occupation of Nigeria dated back to the second half of the 19th century even though some Europeans including British traders had assumed trading activities with the people in the coastal areas of the region since 1533 (Osokoya 2008). It is on record that the British naval forces started their pre-occupation of Southern Nigeria in 1851 when they bombarded the city of Lagos to punish Kosoko the King of the city who continued with the obnoxious slave trade despite its abolition in the British empire in 1833. Barely ten years after the bombardment, the British government annexed the city to the British Crown (Osokoya 2008). It was only in 1900 that the British flag was flown in the Northern Nigeria (Abubakar, 1980). Britain thereafter adopted a number of measures including coercion and diplomacy to remove all visible African opposition to her full central authority of the Nigerian nation. In fact, with the amalgamation of the Northern protectorate with the Colony and Southern Protectorate in 1914, Britain had succeeded in making herself the sole paramount ruler over a people of different cultures and multi-lingual communities which she unilaterally named Nigeria. Interestingly, western education in the area preceded the establishment of the British Crown as the European Christian missions had free hand in the provision of western education to the people in the area a decade before and about three decades after imperial occupation.


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