The Civilizing Mission and Indirect Rule in Northern Nigeria: A Contradiction

Lamont DeHaven King


This paper examines the compatibility of the Civilizing Mission with the British colonial doctrine of Indirect Rule. Focusing on Northern Nigeria, it shows that Lord Lugard, the primary architect of the system, did not exclude missionaries from the area. Instead, subsequent colonial administrators limited missionary contact and education because they feared that the ideas of equality in Christianity would undermine both colonial authority and what they considered to be a traditional Islamic conservatism that enhanced law and order. In so doing, British administrators after Lugard often redefined custom by appointing pliable, non-aristocratic leaders in order to rule directly through them. Specifically in the emirate of Katsina, this governmental strategy resulted in little attention being paid to the development of western oriented education during the first two decades of British rule. More generally, this intersection of colonization, religion, education and the redefinition of custom in Northern Nigeria created a polity that was geared more to the needs of colonial power than to any dissemination of the ideals of western individualism and progress.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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