Brief History
Government Steamers
In 1914, the area of Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria were united. This was mainly due to the growing international tension and war with Germany. In fact, Nigeria would be used as a base of operations against the German colony of Cameroon in 1914/15.

Nigeria with its natural resources and high population density was one of the more profitable and economic colonies. It also produced goods that were not in competition with the white settler agrarian colonies which meant that it could avoid the worst of excesses of the depression in the 1930s which hurt the standard commodoties more than the exotic products of Nigeria.

Vice-Consulate on Benin River
World War two was to further cement the economic well being of the colony as it good provide products to the empire from a safe base. Other than U-boats there was no strategic threat to the colony in this war.

The relative wealth for the colony made it a clear candidate for one of the first African nations to be granted independence. The fact that Nigeria had pioneered the indirect form of rule bequeathed by Lugard, also meant that its transition would be easier than most other colonies as they still pretty much maintained the old power structures intact. Consequently, Nigeria was federated in 1954 and made fully independent in 1960.

Imperial Flag
Northern Nigeria
Southern Nigeria
map of Nigeria
1896 Hausaland Map
1913 Map of Africa
1914 Map of Nigeria
1961 Map of Lagos Region (NB 31)
1956 Map of SE Nigeria (NB 32)
1955 Map of Western Nigeria (NC 31)
1955 Map of Kaduna Region (NC 32)
1955 Map of Eastern Nigeria (NC 33)
1955 Map of Northern Nigeria (ND 32)
1955 Map of Lake Chad and Fort Lamy (ND 33)
1956 Map of Nigeria
Map of Eastern Nigeria, 1958
Historical nigeria
Images of Nigeria
National Archive Nigeria Images
Queen's 1956 Tour of Nigeria

The Oil-Palm of Nigeria, 1928
This information film illustrates the production of the oil-palm as the then most important export from Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria, 1930
An amateur silent film illustrating the people and places of northern Nigeria,

1914 - 1954
sheet music
Pre-1978 Anthem of Nigeria
Thanks to Michael Jamieson Bristow
Empire's Last Officers
A BBC audio program about a Colonial British Officer in Nigeria
The Nigeria Magazine
Nigeria Magazine, 1937
Nigeria Magazine, 1938 Q1
Nigeria Magazine, 1938 Q2
Nigeria Magazine, 1938 Q3
Nigeria Magazine, 1938 Q4
Nigeria Magazine, 1939 Q1
Nigeria Magazine, 1939 Q2
Nigeria Magazine, 1939 Q3
Nigeria Magazine, 1940 Q1
Nigeria Magazine, 1940 Q2
Nigeria Magazine, 1944
Nigeria Magazine, 1946 Q1
Nigeria Magazine, 1946 Q2
Nigeria Magazine, 1947
Nigeria Magazine, 1948 Q1
Nigeria Magazine, 1948 Q2
Nigeria Magazine, 1949
Mister Johnson
Sanders of the River
  • Odd Jobs and Diplomatic Interludes
    Dogon Yaro gives some examples of the sheer variety of work for a Provincial Officer in Northern Nigeria from the immediate Post-War period and on into post-independence Nigeria.

    An African Experience in Retrospect
    Malcolm F Anderson spent two decades living and working in Nigeria as a surveyor. The fact that his career straddled the colonial and independence periods has allowed him to evaluate the relative merits of the two systems. He had stayed on in Nigeria with the best of intentions but explains how his professional frustrations slowly increased and undermined the important work he was doing in helping Nigeria to develop and transition to a more modern economy.

    Gordon Aitken Citation
    An example of the difficulties faced by the Colonial Police Force in Nigeria in the 1950s and how its officers responded.

    Bush Paths: Nigeria 1949 - 1957
    Keith Arrowsmith gives an insight into the roles and responsibilities of an Assitant District Officer and District Officer in Eastern Nigeria in the 1950s.

    Notes on My Time in Northern Nigeria: January 1948 - August 1960
    Robert Longmore has written a full account of his time working as a Colonial Officer in Northern Nigeria in the Post-War period right up to Nigerian Independence.

    In Our Defence
    John Smith considers just how fairly the history of the British Empire will be considered and relates how even Chinua Achebe credited British Imperial rule with giving some very real benefits to Nigeria.

    On Tour - but in London!
    John Smith gives an account of one of his more unusual tours as a Colonial Civil Servant when he was required to travel to London no less. He was to accompany the Governor of Northern Nigeria to the important 1957 Nigerian Constitutional Conference. This was part of a series of meetings to discuss the constitutional arrangements for Nigeria's forthcoming independence.

    The Bijou Rest Houses of the North
    Malcolm F Anderson explains the realities for a surveyor in finding suitable accommodation in the more remote parts of Northern Nigeria. The humble and often very basic 'Rest House' was the Colonial Government's solution, but the facilities found within these constructs could range from the primitive rustic to the almost non-existent.

    The Baro Line
    Former Colonial Service Medical Officer T.P. Eddy explains how he had to use an old fashioned and rickety 2 stroke rail waggon to travel through tropical Nigeria to visit a sick patient. The journey and his welcome made quite an impression.

    The Nigerian Marine's War Effort
    Captain Aubrey Dennis explains the important role played by the Nigerian Marine Department during the Second World War. He highlights the setbacks they suffered and the successes scored. He also recounts the role his own wife played in potentially saving his life after she decoded a message detailing the danger to a ship the author was due to pilot.

    Trekking in Northern Nigeria, 1959
    R G Lowe explains what it was like to undertake an expedition into the forests of central Nigeria in 1959. He goes into detail about the role of carriers and the kind of equipment they took and how they lived off the land whenever possible. The logistics of a government foot expedition were considerable to say the least.

    Making Forest Reserves in Bornu - Northern Nigeria - 1956
    R G Lowe recounts the practicalities of creating Forest Reserves. Using excerpts from his diaries he recounts the physical difficulties of marking out the boundaries and the lengths that they went to in order to explain the advantages to the local population.

    Letter From West Africa
    Greta Lowe volunteered to work in the Methodist Mission Society Hospital in Ilesha, Nigeria in the 1920s. This fascinating letter gives an account of her journey to this remote imperial spot, a meeting with the king of the region and life in and around a mission hospital.

    The Day's Work and Odd Jobs: The Rogue Elephant
    Ronald Bird gives an example of some of the dangerous jobs that a colonial administrator in Nigeria could be called upon to undertake on any given day.

    Pioneer Nigeria
    A former Colonial Agricultural Officer gives a brief overview of how an inspection regime was developed to help the farmers of Nigeria during the period of British control.

    Who's Afraid?
    Janet Wimbush recalls her time coming down from Plateau Province in Central Nigeria and coming across a real clash of cultures with tribesmen unused to European women.

    The Bauchi Light
    A. S. Webb gives an account of differences between local and western medical treatment along a Central Nigerian railway linking the plains to the plateau.

    Our Side of the Tracks
    Dr. T. P. Eddy explains the social divisions that were made apparent to all colonial servants in the inter-war years. He himself though explains how he was able to learn a little more about divisions in English society whilst talking to a locomotive superintendent in the middle of Nigeria.

    The Fulani Boys at Jingari
    A. S. Webb recalls the time he was on an inspection tour of the Bauchi Light Railway in Nigeria and was forced to have a layover in Jingari where he met missionaries with a remarkable tale of survival by two local boys attacked by a wild animal.

    Journey to Yola, 1929
    B.A. Babb takes us back to a time in Nigerian colonial history when just getting to a new posting could take weeks of arduous travelling.

    He Needs a White Cloth
    A. S. Webb explains some of the finer subtleties in negotiating local customs when it came to the death of a man in a railway workshop in Nigeria.

    Iron Smelting in Northern Nigeria
    H D L Corby describes a novel way of smelting iron that he saw developed in a small Northern Nigerian village.

    A Nigerian Garden
    Muriel Barnett recalls the perils, pitfalls but also the pleasures of doing battle with mother nature in the tropics.

    In Bornu and Adamawa
    Ronald Bird gives an overview of work as an Assistant District Officer in North-East Nigeria along the border with French concerns in the Cameroons and Chad.

    Rescuing Miners on the Niger
    Ronald Bird explains the time and effort required to respond to a message that miners were being held hostage on a small island in the middle of the mighty River Niger and how they got there just in time.

    Niger Adventure - 1947
    Joan Russell recalls an inspection tour of some of the schools in her district in Nigeria which required that she travel by canoe along the River Niger.

    The Imoten Tree Story
    R. F. Hooper explains the lengths that he had to go to when rioting broke out after locals in Nigeria blamed a French trader's wares for causing a hurricane.

    An ADO in Zuru
    N. C. McClintock goes into some detail in describing his life as an Assistant District Officer in a remote part of North Western Nigeria in the 1940s.

    Historical Background to Boko Haram
    John Hare explains how the North-East of Nigeria was no stranger to religious upheaval and radical Islamic influences. In fact, this instability was one of the reasons that the British were to create the colony of Northern Nigeria in the first place.

    Nigeria: Life with Algar Robertson
    Marjorie Lovatt Smith gives a candid account of her time in Nigeria in the dying days of Empire as she witnessed first hand as Britain prepared to hand over responsibility and authority to the Nigerians. She also recounts part of the role played by Algar Robertson in helping establish a central overseas civil service, with its own pension scheme, for officers serving in the colonies.

    Bussa Rapids
    Ronald Bird explains how he tried to revolutionise communications along the River Niger's most notorious stretch of rapids by attaching an outboard motor to the traditional boats that plied the waterways.

    The Resident, Rivers Province
    Manus Nunan explains how he helped set up the first Crown Counsel's Chambers in Port Harcourt in Eastern Nigeria and his dealings with an old-school British Resident.

    Singing for my Supper
    David Angus explains that when you are the ADC to a Governor-General and he asks you to sing unaccompanied to a party of over 100 dignataries in Northern Nigeria, you do exactly as requested.

    Crichton Ian Gavin: A Man Vindicated
    R G Anderson sees how this Nigerian colonial administrator was one of the early victims of the authorities pandering to local politicians who did not appreciate Gavin's efficiency and honesty.

    The Day's Work and Odd Jobs: Rough Games in Gwoza
    Ronald Bird recounts how he had to administer justice between two warring and rambunctious villages in post-war North-Eastern Nigeria.

    Le Ministre
    Manus Nunan recalls the time that he went from British administered Nigeria to French administered Chad and considered the differences in approach to imperial rule in West Africa.

    "Uh, uh! D.O. done come!"
    John Adshead recounts how Hugh Sackville-West showed the soft power of British rule in Nigeria in quelling disturbances tactfully and with a minimum of fuss.

    Major O'Driscoll
    Manus Nunan explains the character of Major O'Driscoll who served in Kaduna in Northern Nigeria.

    Curtains in Kaduna
    Ruth Holmes recalls accompanying her husband to Kaduna in Nigeria in the 1950s and attempting to use local materials and fabrics to decorate her house only to discover that one pattern in particular had an alternative and already established association.

    The Day's Work and Odd Jobs: The Queen's visit to Jos
    Ronald Bird remembers how he was expected to 'fit in' when the Queen came to the town where he was posted for a break from her hectic 1956 tour of Nigeria schedule.

    Nigeria and the Colonial Experience Reflections of a District Officer
    Sir Francis Kennedy analyses the, at times, contradictory contribution made by colonialism in West Africa and its legacy in the post-colonial era.

    Queen Elizabeth's Coronation Day
    Keith Arrowsmith explains his attempts to celebrate the national holiday called in Nigeria to celebrate the crowning of Queen Elizabeth.

    Legacies from the former Colonial Audit Service
    Professor Jeffrey Ridley describes the establishment of the Colonial Audit Service and his own role in Nigeria before discussing the legacy to the wider Commonwealth of this organisation.

  • Further Reading
    From Measles To Magic Memoirs Of A Medical Officer In Northern Nigeria 1957-1964
    by Dr. Kathleen Abraham

    I Am Directed: The Lighter Side of the Civil Service
    by Augustus Adebayo

    One Leg, One Wing
    by Augustus Adebayo

    White Man in Black Skin
    by Augustus Adebayo

    Our unforgettable years
    by Simeon Ola Adebo

    Imperial Policing: the Emergence and Role of the Police in Colonial Nigeria 1860-1960
    by Philip Terdoo Ahire

    Life in the White Man’s Grave: A Pictorial Study of the British in West Africa
    by Philip Allison

    The Geographic Labourers of Arewa: The Story of the Northern Nigerian Survey
    edited by Malcolm Anderson

    Palm Wine and Leopard’s Whiskers – Reminiscences of Eastern Nigeria
    edited by R G Anderson

    Bush Paths
    by Keith Arrowsmith

    The Changing Scenes of Life: from the Colonial Service to the European Civil Service
    by Keith Arrowsmith

    An African Life: Tales of a Colonial Officer
    by M. C. A. Atkinson

    Nigerian Tales Of The Colonial Era
    by M. C. A. Atkinson

    Trade Winds on the Niger: Saga of the Royal Niger Company, 1830-1971
    by Geoffrey Baker

    Into Africa And Out - Northern Nigeria 1956 - 1962
    by David Ball

    A Rough Passage: Memories of Empire - Volume 1 and Volume 2
    by Ken Barnes

    An Imperial Twilight
    by Sir Gawain Bell

    Mad Dogs and Englishmen…
    by Erick Berry

    Lucky Me - Memoirs Of A Former District Officer In Nigeria
    by Frank Bex

    Lasting Legacy: A Story of British Colonialism
    by Kenneth Blackburne

    Gentleman Rider: A Life of Joyce Cary
    by Alan Bishop

    JuJu and Justice
    by John Blair

    In the service of Nigeria
    by A. F. B. Bridges

    So We Used to Do
    by A. F. B. Bridges

    The One-eyed Man is King
    by Ian Brook

    A Copper In Calabar: Experiences Of A Student, Soldier And Policeman In South And West Africa 1920s-1950s
    by Harry Brun

    Colonial Civil Servant
    by Sir Alan Burns

    Gender, Culture and Empire: European Women in Colonial Nigeria
    by Helen Callaway

    My Tanganyika Service and Some Nigeria
    by Sir Donald Cameron

    Letters from Nigeria
    by David Carnegie

    From Kaduna to Kirakira: Letters Home from Overseas: A Record of Nine Years in Northern Nigeria and the British Solomon Islands Protectorate
    by Jennifer Cawte

    Good Second Class: (But Not Even C3) Memories of a Generalist Overseas Administrator
    by Trevor Clark

    A Right Honourable Gentleman: Abubakar From The Black Rock
    by Trevor Clark

    Was It Only Yesterday? The Last Generation Of Nigeria's 'Turawa'
    by Trevor Clark

    Teacher and Friend: Memoirs of an Education Officer in Colonial Africa
    by John D. Clarke

    Khaki and Blue: Military and Police in British Colonial Africa
    by Anthony Clayton and David Killingray

    Nigeria: A Critique of British Colonial Administration
    by Sir Walter Russell

    On Governing Colonies: Being an Outline of Real Issues and a Comparison of the British, French and Belgian Approach to them
    by Sir Walter Russell

    Travelling Back: The Memoirs of Sir Walter Crocker
    by Sir Walter Russell

    Knotted Round My Heart: Recollections of Life in Nigeria 1952-59
    by Peggy Crosskey

    Not Bad for a Foreigner
    by Jean Evans

    On Horseback Through Nigeria
    by Jean Falconer

    A Start in Freedom
    by Hugh Foot

    Two African journals & other papers of the late John Morton Fremantle
    edited by A F Fremantle

    Clifford: Imperial Proconsul
    by Harry A. Gailey

    Sir Donald Cameron, Colonial Governor
    by Harry A. Gailey

    Via Ports: from Hong Kong to Hong Kong
    by Sir Alexander Grantham

    With a Rod in Four Continents
    by Iain Gunn

    War Bush: 81 (West African) Division in Burma 1943-1945
    by John A L Hamilton

    Nigerian Sketches
    by Edwin Haig

    Last Man In: The End Of Empire In Northern Nigeria
    by John Hare

    Scrapbook of 50 years in Nigeria
    by Joe Harold

    Letters from a Long Distance Marriage 1940-1957
    by Jane Harrison

    Nigerian Days
    by A C Hastings

    Africa Called: Science And Development In Nigeria
    by Alan Hayward

    Life On The Rocks
    by Robin Hazell

    All Our Yesterdays: Memories of a Forester in Nigeria, 1950 - 62
    by P.W.T. Henry

    Ju-ju and Justice in Nigeria
    by Frank Hives

    Justice in the Jungle
    by Frank Hives

    Momo and I
    by Frank Hives

    Thomas Hodgkin: Letters from Africa, 1947-56
    Edited by Elizabeth Hodgkin

    A Scorpion for Tea: Or, to Attempt the Impossible
    by Rosemary Hollis

    Tropical Africa, 1908-1944,: Memoirs of a period
    by Eric Hussey

    The History of the Nigerian Railway: Opening the Nation to Sea, Air and Road Transportation
    by Francis Jaekel

    Harmattan: A Wind of Change: Life and Letters from Northern Nigeria at the End of Empire
    by Carolyn Johnston

    Tattered Battlements: A Fighter Pilot's Diary
    by Tim Johnston

    Dust Suspended: a Memoir of Colonial and Diplomatic Service Life 1953 to 1986
    by Sir Francis Kennedy

    Time and the Hour: Nigeria, East Africa and the Second World War
    by R.T. Kerslake

    'So Life Be' A Collection Of Memories Of West Africa
    by Jack King

    Stepping Stones: Memoirs of Colonial Nigeria 1907-1960
    by Sylvia Leith-Ross

    An Attempt
    by R. H. Lewis

    The Nigerian Field: A Short History Of The Nigerian Field Society 1930 - 2000
    by Joyce Lowe

    Kingdoms in the Sand and Sun
    by N. C. McClintock

    Travels in the White Man's Grave: Memoirs from West and Central Africa
    by Donald Macintosh

    Of No Fixed Abode: Account of Colonial Service in Nigeria and Fiji and of Subsequent Work in London and East Africa
    by Kenneth Maddock

    So Many Worlds
    by Patricia Maddocks

    The Jacaranda Children
    by Margaret Mamaki

    Like Father Like Son
    by H.H. Marshall

    Beating About the Nigerian Bush
    by James Maslen

    My Nigerian Journey
    by Myra Meehan

    Goodbye Maigida
    by Myra Meehan

    No Telephone to Heaven: From Apex to Nadir - Colonial Service in Nigeria, Aden, the Cameroons and the Gold Coast 1938-61
    by Malcolm Milne

    Colonial Postscript: The Diary of a District Officer
    by John Morley

    Wind of Chance
    by Dr. Bruce M. Nicol

    The Administration of Nigeria, 1900-1960: Men, Methods and Myths
    by Nicolson, I.F.

    Seven Rivers to Cross: A Mostly British Council Life
    by Bruce Nightingale

    Nigerian Kaleidoscope: Memoirs of a Colonial Servant
    by Sir Rex Niven

    Treks and Palavers
    by R R Oakley

    British Administration in Nigeria 1900-1950: A Nigerian View
    by I M Okonjo

    Tales of Nigeria
    by Clementina Owles

    Follow Up: Robert Hepburn Wright
    by Robert Pearce

    Sir Bernard Bourdillon: The Biography of a Twentieth-Century Colonialist
    by Robert Pearce

    Then the Wind Changed in Africa: Nigerian Letters of Robert Hepburn Wright
    by Robert Pearce

    Business and Decolonization in West Africa, c 1940-1960
    by Sir Frederick Pedler

    Old Sinister: A Memoir of Sir Arthur Richards
    by Richard Peel

    West African Passage: A Journey Through Nigeria, Chad and the Cameroons, 1931-1932
    by Margery Perham

    Lugard: The Years of Adventure and Authority
    by Margery Perham

    No Weariness: The Memoir of a Generalist in Public Service in Four Continents 1919-2000
    by am Scruton Richardson

    Transition in Africa: from Direct Rule to Independence: A Memoir
    by Sir James Robertson

    Nigerian Memories
    by Noel Rowling

    Bush Life in Nigeria: An Account of the Experiences of the Wife of an Administrative Officer in Northern Nigeria from 1934-1944
    by Elnor Russell

    Come On, Eileen! Encounters And Experiences
    by Eileen Sandford

    A History of the Nigerian Health Services
    by Ralph Schram

    Special Forces Commander: The Life And Wars Of Peter Wand-Tetley OBE MC Commando, SAS, SOE & Paratrooper
    by Michael Scott

    England: An Elegy
    by Roger Scruton

    Footprints, the Memoirs of Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke
    by Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke

    But Always As Friends: Northern Nigeria And The Cameroons, 1921-1957
    by Bryan Sharwood Smith

    Diary of a Colonial Wife: An African Experience
    by Joan Sharwood-Smith

    It's Been a Pleasure
    by Sandys Sherwood

    Lake Chad Versus The Sahara Desert
    by Sylvia K Sikes

    At The End Of The Line: Colonial Policing And The Imperial Endgame 1945-80
    by Georgina Sinclair

    Burden assumed: The making of a Colonial Candide
    by Neil Skinner

    Burden at Sunset: Last Days of Empire
    by Neil Skinner

    Colonial Cadet in Nigeria
    by John H Smith

    Birds, Beasts and Bature
    by Vic Smith

    King George’s Keys
    by Sir Robert Stanley

    Times Remembered in Africa and the Caribbean
    by Sir John Stow

    The Police in Modern Nigeria, 1861-1965
    by Tekena Tamuno

    West African Interlude
    by Richard Terrell

    Peter Cook: A Biography
    by Harry Thompson

    Ladder of Bones
    by Ellen Thorpe

    A Surveyor And His Friends: A West African Odyssey
    by W B Till

    Under Three Masters: Memoirs of an African Administrator
    by Jerome Udoji

    Dark Subjects
    by H L Ward Price

    There is Only One Nigeria
    by Peggy Watt

    Five Years In The White Man's Grave: An Education Officer in Nigeria, 1928-33
    by Geoffrey Webb

    ‘Dan Bana’: The Memoirs of a Nigerian Official
    by Stanhope White

    Science And Safari
    by Jack Wilde

    Oyinbo Banki: A White Chief's Nigerian Odyssey
    by Elwyn Williams

    A Passage from India: Reminiscences
    by Richard Henry Wollocombe

    A Colonial Postmaster-General’s Reminiscences
    by Alan Workman

    ‘Strewth So Help Me God’: A Tale Told in Twilight
    by Robert Wright

    Nigerian Field Society
    For Colonial Nigerian Items