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History Of Nigeria Before Independence: 10 Facts You Should Know

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Nigeria is a country with rich history and culture. But not much know exactly what was the beginning of the formation of Nigeria as a nation and the events that preceded its independence. In this article, we will describe a brief history of Nigeria before independence, and we assure you, it''s interesting!



Pre-colonial history of Nigeria

Different tribes and empires inhabited the territories that make up what is now known as Nigeria since ancient times. About 200 thousand years ago Nigeria became the land and a part of West Africa. We don't know for sure if somebody was living at this time in this area, but probably from that time the ancient tribes began to penetrate there from the territory of Eastern and Central Africa, and they were distant descendants of the Asuras and the distant ancestors of modern pygmies.

Somewhere in the middle of 1,000 BC, the Nok culture was formed in the Central part of the country in Jos plateau which marked the transition from the stone to the iron age. A distinctive feature of this culture was terracotta figurines. Some features of the culture (figurines of horses, riders, and wheeled carts) allow you to link the appearance of the Nok with the influence of the Mediterranean ancient cradle of civilizations.

Kingdom of the Guinea coast


After the mysterious disappearance of the Noc civilization and the Yoruba peoples had preserved its traditions, who created the pre-state unities, Ife, Oyo and Benin Kingdom. "Benin bronze," which was used for decoration of the Palace of the Benin Kings is currently represented in the collections of major museums in Europe, and the most of them can be found in the British Museum.

The Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people has been existing since the X century in the South-East of Nigeria (the exact date of occurrence is unknown) until 1911. The city of Nri is considered to be the cradle of Igbo culture.

Also, it is worth mentioning the culture of the people of Tiv, which was developed in the Northern region of Nigeria, and dates from the VI century BC. Nowadays, some sculptural heads made of terra-cotta and bronze have become known around the world.

10 facts of Nigerian history before independence


  • Metallurgy of iron appeared in Nigeria much earlier than in Europe. The earliest evidence of iron production in Africa was found in the vicinity of Tarugi and Samun Dukhiya which were the settlements belonging to the Noc culture and were located in the Jos plateau in Nigeria. Furnace for the production of iron which was discovered there was dated to be made at 500-450 years BC. It had a cylindrical shape and was made of clay.
  • By 700, Kanem state was created in the North-East of Nigeria (lake Chad). It was created by nomadic Nilotic peoples Zaghawa. It was a vast country (Kanem–Bornu) stretching from Libya to Nigeria.
  • By 850 a new nation was formed in South-West Nigeria called Igbo. This nation was formed on the basis of the Eastern Akan tribes. The Hausa state appeared on the Northern outskirts of Nigeria.
  • In 1085, the rulers of Kanem-Borno converted to Islam under the influence of Arab merchants. The basis of the economy of the state was a transit trans-Saharan trade and collection of tribute from the conquered tribes.
  • By 1150 Benin emerged in the South of Nigeria (the West bank of the lower Niger), Kano emerged in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria.


  • In the 15th century, Europeans appeared on the shores of the Gulf of Guinea. The first of them were Portuguese. Unlike other regions of the world, the Europeans weren't trying to gain a foothold in this territory, to build their cities or to convert the local population to their religion. On the contrary, they contributed to strengthening native kingdoms (Oyo, Benin) due to their involvement in the world market. Exotic fruits and ivory were in demand in Europe and slaves in its overseas colonies.
  • By 1600 the Saharan Kanuri tribes penetrated the North-Eastern of Nigeria (from the North). And the Fulani tribes penetrated from the West to the Northern part of Nigeria. Such tribes as Brass, Bonny, and Calabar appeared on the coast (in southern Nigeria) by 1700. Ekiti and Igbomina appeared on the Western edge of Nigeria. Zaria emerged in Central Nigeria.
  • By 1849 in a big settlement appeared in Northern Nigeria called Sokoto Caliphate. Also, there were such others as Bornu and Baguirmi to the East of it.


  • As a consequence of the "Africa partition" in 1885, Britain laid claim on the part of the coast of Guinea, the coast of modern southern Nigeria. The colonizers imparted an Anglican form of Christianity, crops, cocoa, and peanuts to the local population (Yoruba).
  • In 1914, the British colonies were amalgamated and named of Nigeria. In 1916, the British built the first railways in Nigeria, and in 1958 the British drilled the first oil well.

When did Nigeria become a republic?

On 1 October 1960 Nigeria became an independent state. But it became a republic in 1963.

History of Nigeria colonial era


In 1885 Great Britain declared its rights to the territory of Western Africa, and this decision had the support of the entire international political community. The following year, the Royal Niger company was organized (Royal Niger). In 1900 the Royal Niger company gave its territories to the British government.

Thus, the United Kingdom expanded its power on the territory of modern Nigeria. On 1 January 1901, Nigeria became a protectorate of Britain (the Northern and Southern protectorates) and a part of the British Empire. In 1914 the Northern and Southern protectorates were merged into a single entity called "Nigeria." The name "Nigeria" was suggested by the wife of a British Governor-General Sir Frederick Lord Lugard.



After the Second World War, in response to the growth of Nigerian nationalism and accelerated requests for independence, the British government decided to allow Nigeria to move to self-government on a federal basis. By the mid-twentieth century, there was a wave of uprisings for independence across Africa.

Why did Britain take over Nigeria?


After exploring of the African continent in the Middle ages, the Europeans regularly visited it, which was associated with a significant interest in African products and a variety of resources that the continent was full of.

At the end of the 19th century, the entire African continent except Liberia and Ethiopia was colonized, while England had their colonies in Africa along with the territories occupied in other states in Western, Central and Northern Europe.

Britain acquired possessions in sub-regions of Africa which had natural resources which they exported, as well as slaves.

This is a brief story of Nigeria before independence. As we can see, it is rich in events and different political decisions. Anyway, now Nigeria is an independent country with a rich history and bright future.

Source: https://www.naija.ng/1144108-history-nigeria-independence-10-facts-know.html#1144108

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