Most accounts of Nigeria’s colonisation were written by British officials, presenting it as a noble civilising mission to rid Africans of barbaric superstition and corrupt tribal leadership. Thanks to this skewed writing of history, many Nigerians today still have Empire nostalgia and view the colonial period through rose-tinted glasses.
Max Siollun offers a bold rethink: an unromanticised history, arguing compellingly that colonialism had few benevolent intentions, but many unjust outcomes. It may have ended slavery and human sacrifice, but it was accompanied by extreme violence; ethnic and religious identity were cynically exploited to maintain control, while the forceful remoulding of longstanding legal and social practices permanently altered the culture and internal politics of indigenous communities. The aftershocks of this colonial meddling are still being felt decades after independence. Popular narratives often suggest that the economic and political turmoil are homegrown, but the reality is that Britain created many of Nigeria’s crises, and has left them behind for Nigerians to resolve.
This is a definitive, head-on confrontation with Nigeria’s experience under British rule, showing how it forever changed the country—perhaps cataclysmically.
Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd
Dimensions: 216 x 138 mm
'Brings [a] much needed African viewpoint to [Nigeria’s] colonial history.'
'[A] fascinating new study ... offering a cogent analysis of the development of slavery and the lucrative trade in rubber, in palm oil... and the wholesale exploitation involved.'
'"What Britain Did to Nigeria" is a nuanced, informative and timely book that powerfully captures the complexity of the colonial impact.'
‘The British Empire is often presented as an endeavour that conquered territory, carried out atrocities and looted resources. Max Siollun’s What Britain Did to Nigeria provides some evidence to support that case. But Siollun also provides much-needed nuance: British colonialism in Nigeria was characterised by a tension between the colonial government and the work of missionaries.’
'Max Siollun offers a bold rethink: an unromanticised history, arguing compellingly that colonialism had few benevolent intentions, but many unjust outcomes. […] This is a definitive, head-on confrontation with Nigeria’s experience under British rule, showing how it forever changed the country–perhaps cataclysmically.'
'Siollun's evenhanded assessment of the roughly 60 years of colonial rule that followed is ... absorbing'.
'An intriguing new history of the British presence in Nigeria … Max Siollun writes a powerful corrective to the historical record, one that successfully argues that we cannot understand Nigeria today without examining its colonial past.'
'Balanced and illuminating… Siollun shatters the comfortable assumption that the transition from pre-colonial to colonial government in what became Nigeria avoided… monstrous bloodshed.’
‘Siollun demolishes imperial mythology, showing how ethnic and religious identity were cynically exploited to maintain control, while the forceful remolding of longstanding legal and social practices permanently altered the culture and internal politics of indigenous communities.’
'A humanising and unyielding account of the actors who partook in the making of modern Nigeria, emphasising the scandals and clandestine colonial operations absent from mainstream narratives. It is an unvarnished account of the abuse of power by what was once the most powerful empire on the planet. By the end of this book, the line between savagery and civilisation becomes indelibly blurred.'
'A must-read for anyone interested in the story of Britain’s colonial encounter with Nigeria. Siollun tells this complex story from a Nigerian perspective while never once abandoning his objective eye, the mark of the truly-committed historian. [...] His vast knowledge and down-to-earth writing style have combined to produce a book that is both educative and enjoyable to read, one that shows colonialism in all its human complexities and contradictions. A fantastic accomplishment.'
'Max Siollun has conducted extraordinary research which places the history of one of the most important English-speaking countries on earth in a new light. This is a compelling, brilliant and brave history of Nigeria and British colonialism.'