DON’T MISS : Talking Africa Podcast – Mozambique’s insurgency: After Palma, what comes next?
By Patrick Smith
Posted on Friday, 4 June 2021 16:36
Today Nigeria’s political system is more fiercely contested than ever with some militants trying to break up the federation – to what extent do these schisms have their roots in the extreme violence of Britain’s commercial exploitation of the territory and its colonial conquest ?
To tackle this question, Talking Africa podcast speaks to Max Siollun, author of What Britain Did To Nigeria; Barnaby Phillips, author of Loot : Britain and the Benin Bronzes , and Funmi Adebayo, an economist and publisher of the Black Monologues podcast series.
The publication of Siollun’s and Phillips’s books this year follows the surge of activism in 2020 against racism and demands for a rigorous investigation of the history, especially of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonialism, taught in schools and played out in the media.
READ MORE New research pokes holes in idea of ‘Bantu expansion’ in West Africa
Siollun, who has written two books on the political consequences of military rule, was struck by the dominance of the largely uncritical British accounts of colonialism in the Nigeria.
His latest book is a bold and well-researched analysis of Britain’s role covering its clashes with King Jaja of Opobu, Benin’s Oba Overami and the successors of Usman Dan Fodio in the Northern Resistance ; as well the role of figures such as Lord Frederick Lugard and George Taubman Goldie on the British side.
READ MORE Nigeria must acknowledge her own complicity in colonialism
Phillips’s book focuses on an attack by British soldiers, who had been earlier forced back, on the Oba of Benin’s palace and the looting of thousands of cultural artefacts in 1897. He teases out the political and cultural consequences of this looting and why hundreds of thousands queued to see the Bronzes in the British Museum in London.
READ MORE Nigeria’s Benin Bronzes: ‘It’s not the place of the British to decide their fate’
Many of the stolen Bronzes were sold to private collectors, most of whom, like the British government, have refused to return them to Benin.
The resurgence of debate about Britain’s role in Nigeria raises important questions about identity and justice in the fast-changing international order argues Funmi Adebayo, the daughter of Nigerian parents, who grew up in London but has worked around Africa and in the US. Adebayo’s Black Monologues series is documenting many voices in the African Disapora that are reclaiming their history in this new era.
This week’s Talking Africa is mediated by Patrick Smith.
‘What Britain Did To Nigeria’ by Max Siollun (Hurst & Company, London, 2021)
‘Loot – Britain and the Benin Bronzes’ by Barnaby Phillips (One World, London, 2021)
Both books are available from Roving Heights Bookshop in Nigeria which delivers worldwide. They are also available at all good bookshops and online services.
Talking Africa on Spreaker
Talking Africa on Soundcloud
Talking Africa on YouTube
Talking Africa on Apple podcast
Talking Africa on Stitcher
Talking Africa on Spotify
And our RSS feed
Understand Africa’s tomorrow… today
We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.
Give yourself a headstart:
Get full access to The Africa Report on all your devices.
In this week’s pick of some our favourite discussions over 2020-2021, we revisit the making of the nation of Nigeria. Its turbulent history has … plenty to tell us about the current malaise. After all, as the poet Maya Angelou once said: “If you don’t know where you have come from, you don’t know where you are going.”
In this week’s pick of some our favourite discussions of 2021, we go back to Nigerian governance campaigner Obiageli Ezekwesili. …
In this week’s pick of some our favourite discussions over 2020-2021, we revisit the ten-year anniversary of Egypt’s revolution on 25 January. … The uprising in 2011 put in motion an end to the 29-year rule of Hosni Mubarak. But looking back to the start of those unprecedented protests, was it all in naught or did some good come out of it?
In this week’s pick of some our favourite podcast discussions from 2020-2021, we revisit the documentary that tells the little known story of … the French Voulet-Chanoine mission in Niger that was a year of terror for locals. Despite its independence from France on 3 August 1960, the country still bears the scars from that one year.