The Nigeria Nostalgia Project - Pre Nigeria Discussion


Emir of Kano’s grandson, 3-year-old Muhammadu plays with his Aunt Nana Mowa [?] - 1956.

[Le petit-fils de l’Emir Kano, Muhannadu, 3 ans, joue au photographe avec sa tante Nana Mowa, 4 ans sur une photo envoyee en cadeau a la Reine d’Angleterre avant son voyage en 1956 au Nigeria]


Cast; male head from a figure - 12thC - 15thC

" Original head collected by Frobenius in Ife in 1910. It comes from an almost half life size terracotta figure. The distinctive ‘cat’s whisker’ scarification marks on the face are today associated with the Yagba Yoruba people. These marks are also seen on figures from Benin where they are thought to depict messengers or court attendants. The half-shaved head is associated in Ife with court messengers.

original head is currently in the collections of the Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin (registration number: III C 27532).

© Trustees of the British Museum


Nigeria, street scene with market - not dated

© Trustees of the British Museum



Mr. Allen Upward thought it was too generally assumed in England that the task of administering a black population was a matter which could be disposed of by a few simple rules laid down in black and white; but during his short tenure of office he was impressed with the fact that it was an exceedingly difficult art, which it required many years of experience to master.

He thought the greatest problem which lay before the Government in that part of the world was to find men who could stand the climate, and get them properly trained in the art of dealing with the natives.

The way to obtain such men was not by competitive examinations in English public schools, still less were they to be obtained by the system in vogue till a few years ago of sending the hooligan of the family out to the West Coast to drink himself to death.

If the paper created an interest in the country and induced better men to go out it would do incalculable good.

Those who were acquainted with the subject looked upon the author as one of the best type of administrators in that part of the world.

  • photo from World Outlook (1917)

  • George Allen Upward was Resident, Province of Kabba, Northern Nigeria in 1901. He shot himself in November 1926.

Journal of the Society of Arts. v.51 (1902-03).


gunpowder flask - Benin

acquisition date 1947

© Trustees of the British Museum


ABBEOKOOTA, a large city of Central Africa, and capital of the Egba nation, is situated on the eastern bank of the river Ogoon, in lat 7°8’N. long. 8° 20’E.

It contains about 75,000 inhabitants, composed mainly of refugees from more than 100 small towns which were destroyed by war in the year 1817. The length of the city is four miles, and it is from two to three miles wide.

Egba, fifty years ago, contained nearly 300 towns and villages, some of them of large population, but now the village of Oko-obba, in the south-west of the kingdom, is the only one remaining, war having destroyed all of the others.

Abbeokoota then had no existence. Tradition has that anciently the Egba country was a province of the Yoruba kingdom, but a giant named Lishabbeh headed a rebellion against a cruel king, and the Egbas became an independent people, under a King of their own.

The giant is still worshipped by them, and his farm, which they believe it would be sacrilege to reclaim, is shown on the east side of the Ogoon, about twelve miles below Abbeokoota.

After a long time the Egbas abolished royalty, but, substituting no efficient general government in its stead, jealousies arose between the Chiefs and people of independent Egba towns, which led to civil war, and the Yorubas and Ijebus, by assisting one town after another, succeeded in depopulating the whole country.

Multitudes were sold to the slavers, and shipped to Cuba and Brazil, where many of them are still living.

Several thousands were recaptured on the high seas, and sent to Sierra Leone, many fled to adjacent countries, and some are still slaves to the Yorubas.

The New American Encyclopaedia : a popular dictionary of general knowledge edited by George Ripley and Charles A. Dana (1869)


The Province of Kabba, Northern Nigeria

It must be borne in mind that West Africa has been looked on hitherto as the back yard of the empire. The Coast was long a place to which ne’er-do-wells were shipped off to die of drink or malaria.

The result has been a bad tradition. Men of the right kind are half ashamed to take positions on the West Coast, and men of the wrong kind are an obstacle to improvement.

The pay and prospects of a West African official are as much below those of an Anglo-Indian one of similar rank, as the hardships and climate are more severe than those of India. Under the circumstances it is really astonishing that so much good work has been done.

Allen Upward(1863 - 1926), late Resident

English barrister, writer scholar, spy, political activists;
1901 appointed Resident administering two provinces in Northern Nigeria
Committed suicide November 1926

Journal of the African Society by African Society; African Society. Journal

Published 1901



Kingship is not and never was a feature of the Ibo constitution.

Where it occurs it is clearly of exotic origin. But as it does in fact occur in one or two communities it must be described.

And for this purpose a brief account may be given of the constitution of Onitsha, which, though a small community, has played no small part in the opening-up of Nigeria.

The kingship at Onitsha was derived from Benin.

It is confined to two kindreds, viz. the Umu Eze-Arole and the Umu Dei, whose leaders agreed on their arrival from Benin that each should take it in turn to provide a ruler.

It is common in African states, in which the kingship is supposed to pass from one kindred to another, to find that the theoretical rule is readily set aside by any kindred which is strong enough to do so; and this is what happened at Onitsha.

The Umu Eze-Arole provided six Kings in succession until 1900, when the kingship returned to the Umu Dei kindred in the person of

Throughout his long reign of thirty-two years Okosi had to contend with the continuous intrigue of the kindred which had been displaced, and it is almost true to say that every political difficulty experienced at Onitsha in recent times has been due to the jealousy existing between the two kindreds.

Law And Authority In A Nigerian Tribe by Meek, C. K (1937)


Muah @NaijaLander cant love ya less …


Journal of African Society (1915)

Western Sudan History being the Raudthat’ul Afkari - this work was written by Muhammad Bello Emir of Sokoto, sometime subsequent to 1823, and before 1837, for in the latter year he died.

It is in some respects an epitome of his larger work In fak el Maisuri, but it has a wider purview, and is in fact a general short history of the Western Sudan.

The land of Katsina is of great extent, with trees, and streams, and thickets, and stony ground and rocks. The people are the richest among the Hausas, and there is much cultivated land.

They have a long list of their kings, and there were at Katsina learned men and good men, God’s creatures, in plenty —such as Ibn Sabagi.

His tomb is in Katsina, and was visited by me, when war broke out between the Sultan of Katsina and the Sultan of Gobir. I assisted the former.

The land of Gobir is very sandy and hilly, but there are trees. Of old its people dwelt in Asben, but the Tuareg drove them thence.

They remained on the northern boundary of Gobir, till their Emir Chiroma led them forth and they settled in Eastern Gobir, and built the old capital.

When Chiroma died the youngest of his sons was made King, for it is said such was the old King’s dying request. He was called Muhammad Chiroma.

He waged war on the Emir of Kebbi with his allies Agabba, Emir of Asben and Yacubu Babba, Emir of Zanfara.

They laid waste the land of Kebbi and made the Emir of Zanfara ruler over the greater portion of it, as I will relate.

There ensued between the Emir of Gobir Muhammad bin Chiroma and the Emir of Kebbi fighting in which the men of Kebbi were worsted twice, and their Emir Humadu captured.

He and his principal chiefs were clothed in rags. Thus Gobir grew powerful and extensive, and a power to reckon with to Zanfara and Katsina.

  • map of Sudan & Guinea (1860) from David Ramsey collection


The Church Missionary Intelligencer (February 1864)

The late Are of Ijaye.

A story is current in the interior Yoruba towns about this Chief, which shows, that though his character is stained by not a few of the worst sins, he was not unable to appreciate great affections or high principle in others.

When the Ibadans came and encamped before Ijaye, Are made it a law that every Ibadan prisoner taken should be beheaded with as little delay as possible.

In the Ibadan camp was a young man, the only son of his mother, who was a widow. The mother could not be prevailed upon to remain at home and allow her son to go to the camp alone : where he went she determined to follow.

In one of the battles this young man was taken a prisoner by the Ijayes. When the Ibadans returned to their camp he was missed, and, after the closest search, was nowhere to be found.

The inconsolable mother took the first opportunity of leaving the Ibadan lines, and entered the town Ijaye, and was soon brought before the Chief, whom she thus addressed — “ I have come to seek my son who was taken in the battle. If you have killed him, kill me. If you have beheaded him, behead me. If you put him into fetters, put me into fetters. Only let me be as he is, and I am satisfied.”

The Chief beheld her for a few moments with astonishment ; and then gave orders that she should be shown the heads of some who had just been decapitated.

She searched, but found not her son. She returned and told this to the Chief, who commanded those in fetters to be shown to her.

Here she saw, and, to her unutterable delight, embraced her son, who was still alive. She came and told this to the Chief, and begged to be put in fetters and placed near her son.

Hereupon he ordered the fetters of the young man to be struck off, and the captive brought before him; which, being done, the Chief, turning to the mother, said, “ I am delighted with you : you are a worthy woman. The son of such a woman must be good and brave.”

And taking his sword, and placing it in the young man’s hands, said, " Your life is spared, and I make you my sword-bearer .” — Iwe Irohin.

  • Yoruba mother and child from The Church Missionary Gleaner (November 1874)


The Muhammadan Emirates Of Nigeria by S. J. Hogben (1930)

Zamfarawa and Gobirawa

The constrast between the Zamfarawa and Gobirawa is that the former are in origin regarded as belonging to the Beri-Beri races which include the Yorubas, Jukuns, Fulani, and Yaurawa, while the Gobirawa are Hausas (Hau-sha, i.e. Habash).

The period of Gobir rule in Asben and their migration probably occurred between 1150 and 1350.

According to Barth, when the Gobirawa were dispossessed by the Tuaregs they made terms with their conquerors that they should not be exterminated and that the Tuareg King should always marry a black woman.

During the eighteenth century the Gobirawa, under pressure from the north, began to cast covetous eyes on the more fertile lands of Zamfara to the south.

At the height of its power the kingdom of Zamfara is said to have extended from Sabon Birni in the north to Kwiambana in the south; from the rocks of Muniya, Rubu, and Duru and the stream Babban Baki in the east to the River Gindi in the west.

Their ancient capital was Dutsi, in Zurmi district, where twenty-three kings lie buried.

  • photo from People of All Nations (1920)



The plains of Hausaland

At the end of the eighteenth century the still pagan state of Gober had established a military ascendancy over the more northerly Mohammedan states of Hausaland.

It had conquered Zamfara and subdued Kano.

Katsina alone had been able successfully to resist its power.

Throughout this period the Fulani would seem to have greatly increased in numbers in Gober, and under their own Chiefs and religious teachers they began to form a community of which the independent doctrines gave offence to the pagan authorities.

In the year 1802, the King Bawa sent for their Imaum, Othman dan Fodio, and all the principal Fulani Chiefs, and administered a severe public reprimand on account of the religious and political pretensions that they were beginning to put forward.

This was but a spark to the tinder.

Indignation spread through the Fulani community at the insult which had been offered to their Chiefs.

Othman dan Fodio inflamed the general sentiment by his preaching, in which he urged the Fulani to submit no longer to the yoke of a pagan people.

The Fulani Chiefs raised the standard of revolt ; Othman was elected Sheikh, and under his leadership a Holy War was declared, . . . Through the rest of Hausaland, where the towns were already half in Fulani hands, the conquest of the Fulani spread rapidly.

Zanfara was conquered in the first year of the war ; Zaria was either conquered, or allied itself with the conquerors, within a month of the submission of Zanfara.

The conquest of Kano shortly followed; Katsina was taken in 1807; and in 1808 the victorious arms of the Fulani were carried into Bornu, where they were met and successfully resisted by the Sheikh el Kanemi.

On horseback through Nigeria; or, Life and travel in the central Sudan by Falconer, John Downie (1911)


Hu has change please


When our currency had value :sob::sob:




The Church Missionary Intelligencer (1850)

The Letter [from Queen Victoria], and its accompanying gifts, have been presented to the Chiefs ; a memorable event in the annals of Abbeokuta, of which the Rev. Samuel Crowther has given us the following interesting description —

“May 23, 1849 — Today was the time appointed to deliver Her Majesty’s Letter, and her splendid presents of two copies of the Bible, and the corn-mill from the Royal Consort, Prince Albert, to Sagbua and brother Chiefs.

Sagbua having called many of the influential Elders, representatives of different towns, together, and Ogubonna and Shomoi being present on the part of the War Chiefs, in the other court of the Council House at Ake, the spokesman announced their readiness to hear Her Majesty’s Letter.

I took the Letter and read it, one paragraph after another, and translated it to them ; after which Her Majesty’s present of two copies of the Holy Bible [Arabic and English], and the corn-mill, were presented to Sagbua and the Chiefs, which they received with much respect, and valued as one of the greatest honors bestowed upon them by the Queen of England.

  • potrait of Sagbua, Chief of Abeokuta by late Dr. Irving R.N. from Church Missionary Gleaner (June 1862)


WOW! powerful and wise…

Nice job bro. I wish this was taught in History Class. In fact, why don’t they teach History anymore. I really wish i was taught history, no wonder we are lost as a Country. Any one who forgets his past, can’t understand the present…


Wish I could like this over and over again!!