Urban Development in Eastern Nigeria -- to 1952
Nwaka, Geoffrey I.
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This thesis examines the problem of modernisation in a colonial context. It is not a critique of colonialism as such. It seeks rather to analyse the irony of a colonial situation in which change and modernisation were encouraged by colonial presence and vitiated at the same time by the adherence of the colonial government to a conservative administrative policy. It focuses on urbanisation in Eastern Nigeria as an important aspect of modernisation and tries to assess the effects of government policy on urban development. The study is divided into three related parts. The first does not merely try to sketch the pre-colonial 'background' to urbanisation in the colonial period. It questions the conventional distinction which is made between 'indigenous' and 'colonial' urbanisation and seeks instead the continuities and contrasts in the development of settlement nodes in both the pre-colonial and colonial periods. In this way it would be possible to establish the unity and autonomy of the region's urban history. The second part, in which the emphasis of the study lies, examines different facets of government urban policy in relation to the general colonial policy of indirect rule and Native Administration. It covers the period from the establishment of British colonial rule to about 1952 when urban local government began to be introduced in the region and argues that in the periods when indirect rule was at its most doctrinaire, urban policy was most restrictive and its impact on urban development most adverse. By contrast, in a period such as the Governorship of Hugh Clifford when the official attitude to that policy was least enthusiastic, urban policy was more liberal and more conducive to effective urban development. In the same way, the towns in the region which were suited and adhered most closely to the system of Native Administration were the least developed in terms of modern urban institutions while those which suited indirect rule least were much better developed. Five towns in the region are used comparatively to illustrate the development of government policy and its consequences for urban growth. The final section of the study focuses on one town -- Aba -- and uses it to illustrate the trends and themes examined on a broad regional level in the preceding sections.