The Gospel and the Flag: The Missionary Strands in the British Colonial Enterprise in Nigeria, 1841-1960

Kanayo Louis Nwadialor, Nwachukwu J. Obiakor


British colonial enterprise in Nigeria has often been discussed in the light of British commercial companies that began to operate along the coasts of West Africa from the 1840s. These commercial firms often obtained charters to administer different territories on behalf of the British government. These territories were further organized into Colonies and Protectorates and there was a resultant increase in British colonial interest in the regions. These Protectorates were eventually amalgamated in 1914 to form a single administrative unit and consequently, there was an effective establishment of British colonial rule in what later became modern Nigeria. However, much as this historical analysis might be empirical, there is an aspect of the history that appears not to have engaged enough scholarly attention in the recent past. The missionary strands in the British colonial enterprise in Nigeria are factors that seem to be neglected, yet without it; the history of British penetration into Nigeria in particular and effective colonial rule in general may not be complete. The British missionaries were in Nigeria for the spiritual and moral regeneration of the people, yet they cooperated with the British government in establishing British colonial administration in the area. Their invitation to the British colonial office for a military conquest of the “heathens” in the regions which they considered a basic prerequisite for effective establishment of Christianity, and their continued efforts to pacify the conquered people, predisposed them as the spiritual arm of British imperialism in Nigeria. Since the missionaries believed that European rule, rather than the existing African administration, facilitated their missionary enterprise, it was obvious that the establishment of British political authority would be looked upon as a welcome change. This is the missing link in the British colonial enterprise in Nigeria that the various sub-themes of this study have addressed.

DOI: 10.5901/ajis.2015.v4n3p249

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Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies ISSN 2281 3993(Print) ISSN 2281-4612(Online)

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