Monday, 25 March 2013

Sir George Goldie ( 20 May 1846 - 20 August 1925)

Sir George Dashwood Taubman Goldie Facts:

The British trader and empire builder Sir George Dashwood Taubman Goldie (1846-1925) created the Royal Niger Company, which secured British claims to the lower Niger and Northern Nigeria.
The son of the Speaker of the Manx Parliament, George Goldie was born on the Isle of Man. His family were influential landowners on the island. The family name was Taubman, but Goldie adopted his mother's family name when he was knighted in 1887.

In the 1860s Goldie trained as a royal engineer at Woolwich but afterward used a legacy to visit Egypt, where he took an Arab mistress. He went to the Sudan, living an idyllic and isolated life for 3 years, learning Arabic and reading extensively in African travel literature. He also met Hausa pilgrims from Nigeria and began studying that country.

Returning to England, Goldie ran away to Paris with the family governess, Mathilda Elliot, and they were caught in the Prussian siege of 1870 and were married in July 1871. Goldie's escapades and an avowed atheism cut him off from an official career and the highest circles of Victorian society.

In 1875 the Taubman family purchased a near-bankrupt firm which traded on the Niger River. Goldie was given the task of putting its affairs in order and visited the Niger for the first time. He concluded that over competition was ruining all the British firms on the river, and he set out to create a single monopolistic organization. By 1879 he had succeeded in amalgamating the British firms into the United African Company but thereafter had to face competition from the Africans and French.
Goldie then decided to secure administrative rights by treaty from Africans to establish his company as a government which could exclude competitors by administrative measures. In 1882 he formed the National African Company for this purpose and began treaty making. By 1884 Goldie had ruined the French competition, and at the Berlin Conference (1884-1885) Britain was given the task of administering the lower Niger. The British government was unwilling to spend money for such a purpose and in 1886 gave a royal charter to Goldie's company, which was renamed the Royal Niger Company.

By 1892 the company had established a complete monopoly of trade. The British government ignored the opposition this provoked because the company was expanding and establishing British territorial claims in Nigeria at no cost to the taxpayer. In 1895, however, a commission of inquiry investigated the company, and Joseph Chamberlain, the new colonial secretary, determined to take over Goldie's administration. This was delayed by struggles with the French on Northern Nigeria's frontiers, but eventually in 1900 the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria took over the company's administrative functions.

Thereafter Goldie played little part in public life, rejecting various offers of colonial governorships and turning down an offer to take control of the British South Africa Company after Cecil Rhodes's death. He died in London on Aug. 25, 1925.

Goldie destroyed his papers during World War I and never wrote his intended memoirs

Friday, 22 March 2013

Art: Out of Africa (TIME Magazine Monday, Sept. 04, 1950)

Modern artists from Picasso to Jacob Epstein have found inspiration in carved African idols, masks and fetishes. Last week a London gallery was showing the works of bearded Ben Enwonwu, an African carver who reversed the process.
Born 29 years ago in Nigeria, Enwonwu carved his own toys as a child. He was teaching art at 18, and five years later the
N'gerian government sent him abroad for further study. Since then he has won a Diploma of Fine Art from the University of London, has been made a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and has become more European than African in his approach to art.
Enwonwu's ancestors carved for magic purposes, not for exhibition. They gave force to their whittled gods by using many of the tricks of modern art: violent distortion of figures into angular cubistic shapes, mingling of naturalistic features with wholly abstract ones, the surrealist shock-value of giving vaguely human figures some of the attributes of animals and birds. The results struck at least one art historian, Roger Fry, as "great sculpture—greater, I believe, than any we have made . . ."
Enwonwu has broken from the faith of his fathers: like most European artists since the Renaissance, he works to express human emotions, not to hint at supernatural forces. Suffering, supplication, exuberance were typical themes of his London show—themes ill-suited to violent distortion. Enwonwu sometimes let the shape and grain of the wood guide his chisel, to produce partial abstractions that merely pleased the eye. "Sometimes," he told admirers at the show's opening, "I see the form in my mind and it grows and grows as I work. I am happy when I am hacking out; I never want to stop." Smoothing the thigh of his Dancing Figure with a pink-palmed hand, he sighed and added: "But when I must finish off my work, smooth the surface and polish—then I get bored. The creation is gone."
London Sunday Times Critic Eric Newton decided that "only when hand and chisel and imagination are in complete harmony can such confidence [as Enwonwu's] occur." If the'same harmony existed between his African heritage and his European training, Enwonwu's art might have had punch to match its polish.

R.I.P Professor Chinua Achebe

I have just heard about Professor Achebes passing and my prayers are with his loved ones at this time.

It all makes sense now, It is very clear !....In Chinua Achebes book 'There was a country' Achebe, lamented on the fact that his publishing company the Citadel Press had not published the manuscript given to him by Major Ifeajuna, on his account of the January 66 military coup. Achebe felt the account was highly exaggerated, but no doubt he regretted not publishing it- for one reason, by the end of the Nigerian Civil war the main plotters had been killed...and dead men can't talk.

The 82 year old knew his time was coming to an end and as an ultimate griot who new his duty to his people he knew he had to pass on his version of events.

Knowing what researchers of history face in our nations national archives he put into words what only he could, HIS OWN ACCOUNT of what he experienced - For posterity's sake !

National archives are meant to give us a glimpse of history and depending on the author of the document or the angle the photographer took, it will always be a VERSION that could be seen in so many different ways.

For all those who believed Professor Chinua Achebe's book 'There was a country' was personal (tribal) attack. It wasn't - it was his contribution to our deficient archival system.
He gave us his version of events and that's all he could have done FOR POSTERITY'S SAKE.

"Things fall apart" , "No Longer At Ease" "Arrow Of God" "Man Of The People" "Anthills Of The Savannah" books that take pride of place on my book shelf and has taught me so much about my heritage.

Thank you Sir. You have left a beautiful legacy.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe: What the British really thought of him and the issue of a Peerage.

Correspondences between Sir James Robertson and Sir Peter Alexander Clutterbuck 1960


Girl fattening in West Africa

I remember reading an article on the strange practice of force-feeding young girls as young as 5 in preparation for marriage. This cruel practice, known as girl fattenning is making a significant comeback in certain parts of Africa like rural Mauritania " A woman's size indicates the amount of space she occupies in her husband's heart,"hmmmm.....
Aminetou Mint Ely, a women's rights campaigner, said girls as young as five were still being subjected to the tradition of leblouh every year. The practice sees them tortured into swallowing gargantuan amounts of food and liquid - and consuming their vomit if they reject it.

Historians say the practice dates back to pre-colonial times when all Mauritania's white Moor Arabs were nomads. The richer the man, the less his wife would do - the preference being for her to sit still all day in her tent while her black slaves saw to household chores. Ancient Berber quatrains laud tebtath (stretchmarks) as jewels. Even today lekhwassar (fat around the waist) is given lyrical pride of place and girls sent for fattening gain the stature of mbelha. They are taught to sit in the lotus position, speak softly, use utensils and to emulate the exemplary lives of the Prophet Muhammad's wives. Fattening of girls is practised beyond Mauritania, in northern Mali and rural Niger - areas conquered, along with half of present-day Spain and Portugal, by the Almoravid dynasty in the 11th century. The practice of fattening also continues in Nigeria's Calabar state and north Cameroon.

Then I found this picture...

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Notorious Chief Nwiboko Obodo. Time Magazine Aug 04, 1958

NIGERIA: The Chief Says . . .


My facebook friend Ed Keazor posted this picture of a man called Chief Nwiboko Obodo. 
This 1958 picture shows the notorious Nwiboko Obodo (L) head of the Odozi Obodo cult in custody awaiting hanging. 
He was convicted of decapitating his wife with a bicycle chain. He was also suspected of at least 400 other murders. 
Below is the TIME magazine article on the case.

In the vast British tropical colony of Nigeria, the back-country people of the Eastern Region have long been a troublesome lot to officialdom. Mostly half-naked farmers, they take unusual delight in staging bloody campaigns against vaccinations, and in setting schools on fire. Each time the police must come in to restore order. But of all the assignments that the police have undertaken, none has produced such eerie results as the search of the house of Chief Nwiboko Obodo.
For months reports had poured in of a high homicide rate around the tiny town of Abakaliki, about 50 miles from the Eastern Region capital of Enugu. Men would go to their farms of a morning and simply disappear; women went to market and never came home. Police found evidence that since 1954 there had been more than 100 murders in Abakaliki. But it was not until they raided Chief Obodo's house that they found the reason why.
Inside, they discovered rope, leg irons, and swords, as well as an assortment of juju charms bearing the warning that all men and women in the 14 villages around "must respect me and do whatever I say." It soon turned out that the chief was a member of a secret cult that inappropriately bears the name of Odozi Obodo, the "Committee of the Peacemakers."
The most powerful arm of the society was a sort of Murder Inc. squad called Exepute, meaning "the Chief says . .." It was the Exepute that carried out the grisly justice of the society against anyone who balked at paying the "taxes" the chiefs whimsically imposed, or against those whom the chiefs merely disliked. For the chiefs, murder was also a lucrative business: by tradition, they inherit "all property of the dead, including wives and children.
Last week, while Chief Obodo languished in jail and his British counsel, Dingle Foot (brother of Cyprus Governor Sir Hugh Foot), prepared his defense, one of his sidekicks, Chief Idaka Igboji, faced trial for murder, along with ten accomplices. A steady stream of witnesses —those who dared talk—told tales of death by drowning or burying alive. Finally there unrolled the story of the specific murder in question—that of a farmer named Nwakriko Abam. Abam, according to prosecution testimony, had been invited around for drinks by some of the chief's men. Suddenly his hosts seized him and slowly strangled him with a chain. His body was then brought before Chief Igboji, dismembered, tied to the victim's own bicycle, and flung into the river. Abam's crime: he had had the temerity to campaign against the chief in the last local parliamentary election.
Source Time
Photo Source. Ed Keazor