VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > J. Africa, 1914–1945 > 2. Regions > b. Forest West Africa
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1914, Jan. 1)
b. Forest West Africa
Development of indirect rule as British colonial policy. Sir Frederick Lugard developed indirect rule in Northern Nigeria while serving as British high commissioner there from 1901 to 1906. Lugard believed that the British could best govern Africa through indigenous authorities. Under Lugard's system, British authorities delegated to African chiefs the responsibilities of law enforcement, labor recruitment, and tax collection. In principle, British colonial officials sought to modernize “traditional” African political institutions by gradually modifying their practices. In practice, indirect rule led to conflict over traditions and favored Africans loyal to the colonial rulers. Indirect rule was continued in Northern Nigeria following Lugard's departure, and was eventually adopted in other British colonies in West Africa, such as Southern Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia. In one form or another, indirect rule was adapted throughout British-controlled Africa. Variations of this policy were applied by all European colonial powers as a way of reducing the costs of administration.  1
EXPORTS FROM AFRICA INCREASED BY APPROXIMATELY FIVE TIMES IN VALUE AND VOLUME. Among the most important export crops in forest West Africa were coffee, cocoa, and peanuts. The Ivory Coast successfully produced and exported forest-grown coffee. The Gold Coast became one of the leading suppliers of cocoa, producing almost half the world's supply by 1925. Revenue from cocoa exports made the Gold Coast the wealthiest colony in tropical Africa.  2
The coal discovered at Udi in eastern Nigeria in 1909 proved to be the only deposit of its kind in West Africa. The British colonial government built a railway to link the coal works to export facilities at Port Harcourt on the coast.  3
In 1911 both colonial officials and the British Cotton Growing Association expected the Nigeria railway to boost dramatically the profitability of cotton cultivation in central Hausaland. But Hausa farmers found peanut cultivation more attractive. Their decision to concentrate on peanuts—which were edible and easier to grow than cotton—took the British by surprise and demonstrated how quickly Africans responded to economic opportunities and how little colonial powers actually controlled Africans' economic lives. Nigerian peanut exports rose from under 2,000 tons before 1911 to almost 20,000 tons in 1913.  4
1914, Jan
Lugard, who was recalled to Nigeria in 1912, managed the amalgamation of the colonies of Northern and Southern Nigeria and the Nigerian Protectorates into one colony, Nigeria. Lugard became governor-general.  5
Massive outbreak of influenza with very high mortality.  6
Following the First World War, Germany's African colonies became mandates of the League of Nations. In May 1919 Togo was declared a mandate and transferred to the French for administrative purposes. France obtained the portion of Cameroon that had been ceded to the Germans in 1911; the rest was transferred to Britain.  7
Expansion of the African Christian independent churches. Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, Africans flocked to breakaway, often ecstatic Christian movements. Yoruba Anglicans began to form independent prayer groups as early as 1918. These prayer groups, known as aladura, proliferated in the 1920s and 1930s. The aladura groups sought to adapt Christianity to African traditional beliefs and practices. They conducted their own healing sessions and baptisms, built their own churches, and developed their own liturgies. They helped spread Christianity into areas untouched by European missionaries, who strongly disapproved of their activities. First Church of the Lord (Aladura) founded at Ogere, Western Nigeria, c. 1930.  8
National Congress of British West Africa founded in Accra.  9
Gold Coast cocoa holdup. When the price for Gold Coast cocoa dropped sharply in 1920, African farmers suddenly found themselves in debt and unable to obtain credit. They reacted by staging a “holdup” in 1921. Their refusal to deliver their produce to market led to an eventual rise in the cocoa price and an end to the boycott. The holdup strategy thus provided a way for African farmers to defend their interests in a collective manner. In the Gold Coast, withholding cocoa provided a defense against international market forces and the collusion among expatriate cocoa exporters.  10
Establishment of a legislative council in Nigeria with some elected members.  11
Achimoto College founded near Accra.  12
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.