A STUDY ON COLONIALISM AND CHANGE IN IGBOLAND: A CASE STUDY OF THE MBAISE AREA OF OWERRI DIVISION 1902-1934
This is the study of colonialism and change in Igboland, Southeastern Nigeria with a special focus on the Mbaise area of Owerri Division from 1902 to 1934. This study seeks to explain the nature of the changes that occurred in this area within the elected period. The study discovered that the pre-colonial sociopolitical and economic organizations in this area stood as an obstacle to the British expanding imperialist interest (exploitation of human and material resources).
Consequently, these institutions were supplanted by the colonial state. The study revealed that the imposition of the Warrant Chief System on Igboland was to maintain those laws and order which at least ensured the protection of the British imperialist interests.
By so doing, the colonial state solved the problem of inadequate numbers of staff and more significantly, insufficient funds, which would have prevented the realization of the main objective of colonialism… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)
It is commonplace that the study of the environment is very vital to the study of human history. Man does not exist in a vacuum. Therefore, this chapter shows how man’s physical environment affected his activities within the area under inquiry.
Ignoring the nature of the land, climate, and vegetation, would amount to negating the fundamental basis, which the understanding of the economic, cultural and socio-political development of an area relies upon.
We have seen from various studies and researches that environment play an important role in human culture, settlement patterns and economic activities. The study of the man’s past include their progress, growth, stagnations and decline therefore it is proper to understand that the relationship between man and his environment is dialectic.
As the environment influences the nature of man, so too many cultures the environment to ensure his own continued existence and safety… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)
GEOGRAPHICAL BACKGROUND: LOCATION OF MBAISE
The Mbaise area became a British colonial administrative unit in the early years of the twentieth century. It is situated in the very heartland ofIgboland. The area could also be said to occupy the central part of what much later became Imo State. The area lies between 5-6 degrees latitude and 7-7.30 degrees east longitude.
Another description shows that Mbaise area is found within the palm belt of south-eastern Nigeria in what became the Owerri Division. The area lies in the Equatorial rain forest. In terms of land coverage, Mbaise covers an area of land measured about one hundred and eighty five (185) square miles… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)
THE PRE-COLONIAL MBAISE SOCIETY
This chapter is meant to explain the nature of the Mbaise community before its subjection to British rule, which began by the visit of the Aro-field Force in 1901. Nothing is more repugnant to an historian than to describe a society as if it were a temporal vacuum.
Every society has been and is still in a state of flux, hence they undergo constant changes. According to Isichei, historians focus on changes rather than continuity. But we cannot neatly separate continuities from change because change itself is a continuous phenomenon in human society.
The Political System In Mbaise Prior To 1903
Before the British intervention in the political affairs of the Igbo, the communities that transformed into what much later became known as Mbaise, the people had evolved their own method of governance, just like other Igbo communities. This pattern of government was said to be democratic and gerontocratic.
“Democratic” implies that all the families within the village were duly represented in the process of policy formulation, or making of law which regulate the conduct of the individuals within the society. It was said to be gerontocratic,… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)
Fusion of Power
There was fusion of governmental powers at every stage of governance. The legislative, judicial and executive functions were performed by the same persons. All the same, the legislative, judicial and executive matters stood on their own. The basic structure of Igbo political administration required that the principal and most vital unit of government starts from the family head of each household… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)
PRE-COLONIAL ECONOMY OF MBAISE
The history of Mbaise before the imposition of colonial rule which began in 1903-4 can be more than just a collection of their political history. It should also be possible to have a historical perspective embracing the economic aspect of the people’s history.
The staples produced in the area include yam, cocoyam, cassava and vegetables. The soil in Mbaise was not so fertile as to enhance surplus production, coupled with the fact that preservation mechanisms were still not developed. Consequently, they produced enough to take them through the year.
Apart from the tuba crops and vegetable mentioned above, palm products were produced in the area beyond subsistent level. It has been argued that some of the crops cultivated in the area around the late precolonial times were not indigenous to the entire Igbo society… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)
MODE OF PRODUCTION IN PRE – COLONIAL MBAISE
The economic life of Mbaise people before the advent of colonial administration was determined by the interaction between the people and their natural environment. It has been said that in production, men not only act on nature, but also one another.
They produced only by cooperating in certain ways and mutually exchanging their activities. In order to produce, they enter into a definite connection and relations with one another, and only within these social connections and relations does their action on nature take place… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)
ESTABLISHMENT OF BRITISH RULE IN MBAISE 1902–1916
British Military Occupation Of Mbaise 1902-1916
This pronouncement made in the Gazette was a brainchild of what can properly be referred to as politico-economic agreement entered into by the colonizing powers of Europe, during a historic conference convened in Berlin in 1885. The conference was convened by the colonizing powers of Europe to prevent major conflicts, which were most likely to occur from the aggressive acquisition of African territories.
The general act of this epoch-making conference provided that the navigation of the Niger was to be free for the ships of all nations. Britain assumed a very cumbersome obligation of ensuring a hitch free movement of foreign merchants by indorsing this act.
Another international issue that was decisive to the conquest of interiors of the area, which became eastern provinces, was the Brussels Conference. This conference was most significant for providing the basis for the overthrow of the indigenous system of government across the frontiers of the coastal area, into the interior.
Article I of the conference became a very strong impulse to whatever action that followed it, hence it provided as follows:… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)
MBAISE UNDER COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION 1903-1929
Consolidation of British Rule, 1904-1930
After the creation of Owerri District Headquarter on 11 May 1902, ‘Native court’ was established, and warrant chiefs were appointed. But as the chiefs appointed did not in any way wield any measure of traditional authority over the people, the government decided to booster their powers by artificial means knowing this, the Higher commissioner said that “the chiefs requires strong support from the government, as I fear they have no control over their boys” … (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
In conclusion we will identify some of the major findings of the research. It is evident that all aspects our work points to the direction that the creation of warrant chiefs in Mbaise and indeed the whole of Igboland can be summarized as the systematic I imposition of British control for the purpose of subordinating the production and distribution systems of the colony to that of the metropolitan capitalist firms. The critical process of dependency was carried out through the agency of the colonial state which was a useful tool of the capitalist state of Britain… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)
Having shown that the creation of the Warrant Chiefs System in Eastern Nigeria was a systematic imposition of colonial rule in the area for the purpose of economic expoitation of the human and natural resources, and that colonial violence played significant role in increasing production. More attention should be paid to the study of colonial violence in these areas, to ascertain… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)
Ake, C. Explanatary Notes on the Political Economy of Africa, J.M.A.S Vol. 14, No 1 1976.
Aderebigbe, A. Trade and British Expansion in the Lagos Area in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century. Nigerian Journal of Economics and Social Studies, 4 1962.
Afigbo. A.E, Herbert Richmond Palmer and Indirect Rule in Eastern Nigeria 1915-1928 J.H.S.N Vol. IV No 2 December 1965.
The Native Treasury Question Under the Warrant System in Eastern Nigeria 1899-1929 ODU, Journal of Africa Studies University of Ife Vol. iv, No1, 1967
Revolution and Reaction in Eastern Nigeria, The Background to the Women’s Riot of 1929, J.H.S.N vol iii No 3 Dec. 1966.
The Warrant Chief System in Eastern Nigeria. Direct or Indirect Rule? J.H.S.N, Vol. iii No 4, June, 1967
Background to Nigeria Federalism; Federal Features in Colonial State www, Oxford. Journals. Org.
Amin, S. Underdevelopment and Dependence in Black Africa. Their Historical Origin and Contemporary Forms, Journal of Modern African Studies No 10, 1972
Bohannan, P. The Impact of Money on an Africa Subsistence Economy. Journal of Economic History No 19, 1959.
Fyfe, C. Race as a Control over Slave and Subject People. A paper Presented to the World Conference, Arewa House 26-30th march 1999. Hamman, M. The Consolidation of Underdevelopment in Colonial Nigeria
1900-1960. A paper presented at the 30th Congress of the Historical Society of Nigeria, University of Nigeria Nsuka 1st – 4th May 1985
Igbafe, P. British Rule in Benin 1897-1920: Direct or Indirect J.H.S.N, Vol. iii No 4 June 1967
Ikime, O. Reconsidering Indirect Rule: The Nigeria Example, J.H.S.N. Vol. IV No 3 December 1968.
The Anti- Tax Riot in Warri Province 1927-1928 J.H.S.N. Vol. iii No 3 December 1966.
Modibo, M.A. The Colonial State and European Trading companies in Northern Nigeria C. 1900- C.1919. A Post Graduate Seminar Paper. Department of History, A.B.U Zaria 12th May 1979.