The UK Spectator on April 4, 1903 declared gleefully- “Sokoto – Another kingdom acquired this week! That strange “destiny” which drove a few English merchants owning a few square miles as trading stations to the conquest of the Peninsula appears to be again driving us forward in West Africa.”
The UK Spectator then wondered why the conquest of 15 great kingdoms in West Africa happened so easily. It wonders how a population of 20 million fell so easily to a few White men and then offers , ” that perhaps it is probable that the dominant castes are deserted by their subjects, worn out with oppression and pillage; but the evidence is imperfect, and it is in default of information that correspondents fall back on the “prestige” of the white man. “
The UK Spectator then speculates that the limited local resistance is because ” 1. the African Ruler is as foreign as we are and rules by the naked right of the stronger, enforcing his power with pitiless cruelty and directed to perpetual plunder such that its people have no chance of rising to prosperity or enjoying peace 2. the African ruler exerts on their people frightful oppressions like slave raiding and taxation by torture 3. the African masses seeks some sort of order and protection from the terrors of his leaders that have made his life wretched so that they may keep some of their gains and rise in civilisation
Between 1750 and 1900 from one- to two-thirds of the entire population of the Fulani jihad states consisted of slaves. The population of the Sokoto caliphate formed by Hausas in northern Nigeria and Cameroon was half-slave in the 19th century. Amongst the Yoruba and Igbo, 30-50% of the population was enslaved. (Wikipedia)
Today in Nigeria, 50% of the population lives in extreme poverty. Across Africa 42% of the population lives in poverty and poor Africans increased in population from 278 million in 1990 to 413 million in 2015- the highest rate of poverty increase in world in this period. 27 of the poorest 28 countries in the world are in Africa with poverty rates of 30%+ (Brookings).
This situation should not be if Africa’s elite chooses selfless service to their nations over self-aggrandisement. Soon enough the ‘white man’s prestige’ will be called to bear in many parts of Africa- Nigeria included, should its rapacious elite continue their ways in impoverishing the country. Slave raids of the past have been exchanged today into treasury raids, industrial scale extortion and oppression of the poor as an instrument of state power which serves as extension of elite dominance and in their minds, a measure of their social prestige.
The African horde that now willingly trades itself to Europe as illegal migrants will soon force the hand of the White man to use ‘his prestige’ to deliver sanity, justice and security for the African masses and the opportunity to prosper that the African elite is unwilling to provide through want of responsibility. The time draws near.
If the African will not righteously govern himself with clear purpose, he will be subject to the colonial and imperial domination of a race that has a clear agenda. It was the white man in the past – in the future it may be the Chinese. And just as the masses willingly exchanged the migrant & native oppressor-ruler for the overseas-oppressor ruler they will willingly deliver themselves to the trader-oppressor ruler. In the end nothing changes for the African and indeed all black people will remain puppets in the white man’s world- to be buffeted at will and to fill the roles mandated for him by races with a clear and united communal vision. There will be no hope for deliverance and the African indeed the black man will remain the dreg of human society- the poster boy for all that the so-called ‘superior races’ hold in contempt.
This is no curse. And no number of prayers, fastings or sacrifices will change this destiny for the African. Only hard work, the assumption of selfless leadership for the nation by its elite and the uniting of communal will for mutual service with the bid for national self-preservation will change Africa’s manifest destiny for the better. If the African indeed the black man will be free, he must arise in unison to seek his freedom.
Sadly, how will Africa achieve its freedom when it has lost its internal capacity to produce leaders. By leaders, I do not conflate good administrators with good leaders as many Africans now do. A good administrator is not a good leader for he merely administers and allocates resources. Sadly, since Africa’s overall leadership quality has fallen to abysmal depths over the last 50 years, the only type of good leadership many Africans now recognise is that of a good administrator- who is able to govern to the rules, seeks to keep order as per the status quo, focuses on reducing leakages that happen because of corruption and generally allocates resources to keep as many people as possible happy. That the average African sees this as good leadership is only a sorry representation of how low leadership quality has sunk on the continent since 1960.
The portrait of a good leader is of the likes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt with his New Deal that unleashed modern America’s global dominance and Deng Xiaoping with his Chinese Socialism that kickstarted Chinese economic renaissance. These are men that took pains to understand their national problems, created the agenda to empower their people and selflessly strived to implement their vision while all the while creating space for their people amongst the international comity of nations. The worst leaders do not govern, mediocre leaders merely administrate but true leaders create the future for their peoples. Africa had these men- Kwame Nkrumah, Obafemi Awolowo, Thomas Sankara. Today, the only true leader in Africa is Paul Kagame .
That a whole generation in Africa has grown up to not experience what good governance looks like is shameful. That they have had no privilege to be directly mentored by true leaders is worrying- for whereabouts shall Africa derive its much required capacity to deliver itself from its perpetual underachievement? Perhaps its diaspora having grasped leadership lessons from its sojourn in the West and China will return someday to implement what it has learned. Or perhaps, the west as suggested by the Germans, will return to build colonial cities that teach native Africans how to govern themselves properly.
Whatever the case, Africans should not look to the outside for their deliverance. It behoves on young Africans to see for themselves how dire their future looks. Those among them who shall call themselves into service of their peoples, must be willing to sacrifice themselves to lead. They must now lead a Second Cry for Independence especially as the 1960’s independence is now clear to all as a farce; for Africa merely exchanged the color of its oppressors.
If Africans will not sacrifice themselves to constitute true leadership for their own communal interests, who will?
Young Africans arise, your time is NOW!
Reference: Background to Nigerian history as a corollary to similitudes to the present state of African indeed Nigerian affairs
The Full Article
The Spectator April 4, 1903
Sokoto – Another kingdom acquired this week! That strange “destiny” which drove a few English merchants owning a few square miles as trading stations to the conquest of the Peninsula appears to be again driving us forward in West Africa. Nobody that we know of deliberately designed the conquest of the vast regions which we describe by those two words.
The British people as a body know absolutely nothing about it, not even its geography, and do not feel the slightest inclination when they hear that “Sokoto has fallen” either to cheer or to “maffick.” With the partial exception of Sir Frederick Lugard, they do not care about the heroes of the conquest, and so long as there is no disaster they are slightly impatient even of West African telegrams.
The Army regards victories there with something like dismay, lest they should imply the formation of more stations in “God forgotten holes,” and the Imperial Government itself discourages expansion as much as the East India Company ever, did. It is sick of its ever-accumulating responsibilities, and does not supply its agents in West Africa either with sufficient troops or adequate resources for administrative expenditure. Nevertheless the work goes forward.
State after State passes, as if through some invisible compulsion, under British authority, and as it produces a situation demanding in the eyes of all local experts a fresh advance, till we are already responsible for fifteen kingdoms in West Africa, each with its history, and for a population which is greatly underestimated at twenty millions.
The resistance we meet, considered as warlike resistance, is contemptible; but no one can say precisely why it is the peoples we conquer being brave and fairly armed, any more than they can say why, when Bengal, their richest province, was taken from them, the Mussulmans of India, did not draw together to defend their well-loved and hardly won supremacy against the arrogant white invader. It is probable that the dominant castes are deserted by their subjects, worn out with oppression and pillage; but the evidence is imperfect, and it is in default of information that correspondents fall back on the “prestige” of the white man.
There is little use in resisting the process, which is directed by some force, be it Providence, as we think, or Necessity, as others think, and no moral reason for doing it. Most of the dynasties or governments that we overthrow in Africa are as foreign as we are, and rule by the naked right of the stronger, enforced with pitiless cruelty, and directed to perpetual plunder so ruinous that no region under its “native” rulers has even a chance of rising to prosperity or enjoying peace. There is no foe to progress, whether among blacks or whites, like insecurity of property.
” We terminate at once frightful oppressions like slave-raiding, which implies murder poured out of a bucket through whole districts; we sweep away taxation by torture; and we shall gradually — probably within a quarter of a century — enforce such order that the peasant, the artisan, and the trader of the towns will be relieved of the terrors which now make life wretched even for the humble, will be able to keep his gains, little or much, for himself, and will have at least a chance of rising in the scale of civilisation.
“… If the great white firm is to govern thirty or fifty millions of blacks, let the partners feel it their duty to watch their agents without intermittent fits of careless disregard. We are not quite sure that an Africa Office, like the India Office,would not solidify our action in West and Central Africa; but we can at least see that the Colonial Office, which will not always be controlled by Mr. Chamberlain, does its work well, and on principles dictated by statesmanship, and not by the merest opportunism.
The Spectator April 18, 1903 – SOKOTO.
[To the Editor of the “Spectator.”] SIR, -In your interesting article in the Spectator of April 4th under the above heading, and commencing, “Another kingdom acquired this week!” you state, I fear with considerable truth, that “the British people as a body know absolutely nothing about it, not even its geography.”
Some of your readers may be interested in knowing that a volume, by Charles H. Robinson, M.A., published in 1896 by Sampson Low and Co., under the title “Hausaland,” contains a mass of information respecting Sokoto and the great city of Kano, “the Manchester of Tropical Africa,” which deserves careful study at the present time.
” I had the privilege of an interview some seven years ago with Mr. Robinson shortly after his return from a visit to Kano. He informed me that in Hausaland, under the British sphere of influence, there then existed five million slaves, and that five hundred were often to be seen for sale in the Kano market.
They formed, in fact, the main currency of the land, and were used as payment in all transactions too large to be met by the bulky bags of cowries. The annual tribute to the Sultan of Sokoto was paid by the ruler of Kano and all other smaller chiefs in the form of slaves, and, sad to say, these were nearly all raided from the neighbouring outlying villages, so that there may be said to have been an almost constant civil war throughout the land.
” To give some idea of the vast number of slaves, Mr. Robinson estimates that if the whole population of the world were brought together, one out of every three hundred would be a Hausa-speaking slave. Perhaps this might be more easily understood by the British public if I state that if all London were suddenly emptied of its inhabitants, this vast Metropolis might be filled by the slaves held in captivity in Hausaland.
It is very well known that Kano is the great commercial emporium of Central Tropical Africa, and that its calicoes, beautifully made from native cotton, are eagerly purchased in the ports of Western and Northern Africa, and may be obtained in Egypt and on the Red Sea.
” Kano itself, being nearly 2,000 feet above sea-level, is described as healthy and free from the malarial influences of the lower countries. Sir F. Lugard is to be warmly congratulated upon the comparatively bloodless manner in which he has pacified the countries of Central Africa from East to West. The great and baneful Fulah Mahommedan Power, which has lasted for about a century, received its first severe blow from Sir George Taubman Goldie in 1897, and will now be superseded by British rule.
The excellent advice contained in your article respecting the future administration of Hausaland ought to carry great weight with our Government and the public at large
-I am, Sir, &c., Chas. H. Allen(late Hon. Sec. British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society). 17 Well Walk, Hampstead, London, N.W.