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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The History of Mr. Johnson: Progress and Protest in Northern Nigeria, 1900-1921
Author:Mason, Michael H.
Periodical:Canadian Journal of African Studies
Geographic terms:Nigeria
Northern Nigeria
Great Britain
civil servants
colonial administration
educational policy
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/486059
Abstract:The incorporation of educated Africans from several British West African colonies into the colonial apparatus of Northern Nigeria in the early 20th century was bound to be turbulent. Inscribed in the colonial ideology of Northern Nigeria at that time was the notion that all Africans were inferior and those from the tropical coastlands particularly degenerate. A fictionalized expression of this racism may be seen in Joyce Cary's 'Mr. Johnson' (1973), an account of the murder of the clerk Johnson in the small emirate of 'Fada' during World War I. From 1900 to 1921 the African clerks struggled to create the conditions which guaranteed them a permanent and secure foothold in the modern world. That they were able to prevail against the colonial State was due to the exceptional development of Northern Nigeria itself - as a colonial backwater in which the light of literacy remained extinguished for half a century. The colonial regime's refusal to permit the expansion of Western education in Northern Nigeria gave the clerks from the coast their opportunity and their strength - they could hold on to and expand their positions in the colonial bureaucracy well into the 1950s. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French.