Colonialism within Colonialism:
The Hausa-Caliphate Imaginary and the British Colonial Administration of the Nigerian Middle Belt
explores three interrelated issues; the origins and development of a
Hausa-Caliphate imaginary in the intertwinements of caliphate and British
discourses and its subtle entry into official British colonial policy in
northern Nigeria; how the search for administrative coherence prompted British
colonialists to craft an administrative policy envisioned to normalize and
spread this Hausa-Caliphate socio-cultural and political model to the Middle
Belt; and the on-ground unfolding and implementation of this policy in the
non-Hausa speaking part of the Middle Belt. 
colonial administrative project of politico-cultural uniformity sought to make
the Middle Belt more like the Caliphate sector, which was deemed more suitable
for the British administrative policy of Indirect Rule.
It was not aimed at achieving cultural sameness for its own sake but as a
vehicle for ultimately strengthening Indirect Rule in all of northern Nigeria.
This was largely a pragmatic administrative project, although pre-existing
British and Caliphate narratives about the sociology and politics of northern
Nigeria contributed to its formulation as an ideology of colonial rule. But the
accentuation of ethno-cultural difference was indispensable to Indirect Rule.
How then did difference and homogeneity co-exist in British colonial
administrative practice? To tease out the paradox in the British creation of
both ethnic difference and functional cultural homogeneity is not to suggest
that the British consciously thought about or crafted these ideas in those
terms; that would concede more coherent intent and intellectual deliberateness
to British colonialists than they actually exhibited in their encounter with
Africans. The argument here is
that the two fundamental prerequisites of Indirect Rule—ethnic difference
and a pre-existing, centralized system of rule—necessitated the creation,
witting or unwitting, of both difference and politico-cultural sameness across
northern Nigeria, using the colonially-approved Hausa-caliphate model as a
reference. The most notable site of this colonial policy was the Middle Belt,
which, while possessing the desired ethnic difference, lacked the centralized
political and cultural institutions and symbols of the emirate system, deemed
crucial to Indirect Rule.
illustrate this British colonial phenomenon of using a Sokoto caliphate idiom
to "civilize" those considered not civilized enough for Indirect Rule, I will
focus the empirical discussion and examples of this paper on the Tiv-Idoma
(Benue) axis of the Middle Belt. The choice is informed by the fact that this
was a part of the Middle Belt where Hausa was not spoken or understood to any
significant degree and where Caliphate culture had not penetrated as much as
was the case in other parts of the Middle Belt. As a result of these
interpellations, this colonial policy of engineering administrative sameness
was more contested here, and its outcome a lot messier than was the case in the
Hausa-speaking parts of the Middle Belt.
literature on colonial political constructions of ethnicity in Africa has
focused largely on the emergence of politically charged ethnic categories as a
function of colonial practices and ideologies of ethnic differentiation for the
purpose of Indirect Rule. Ethnic and cultural difference was central to
Indirect Rule because of the centrality of tradition and customs to its
working. The standard argument identifies a key site of struggles over
ethnicity and culture: the bureaucratization of "created" or reified ethnic
difference, the witting and unwitting imputation of privilege and marginality
into these categories of ethnic difference, and the colonial and postcolonial
appropriation of difference as a claim-making device by Africans. It is argued that European
colonialisms, for a variety of reasons, were obsessed with ethnic and cultural
difference among their African subject populations; that they proceeded to make
cultural difference the centerpiece of colonial administrative policy; and that
the legacies of colonial ethnic differentiation have been tragic for
postcolonial Africa, inspiring ethnic hatred, civil war, fierce political
competition, and even genocide.
Nigeria, James Coleman argued as early as 1958 that the divide-and-rule ethos
of Indirect Rule compartmentalized the "diverse elements" of the Nigerian area
and subsequently made national unity difficult.
Emmy Irobi asserts that Indirect Rule "reinforced ethnic divisions."
Echoing the same thesis, Davis and Kalu-Nwiwu remind us that "the structure of
British colonial administration" and the drawing of arbitrary boundaries
delineating "[ethnic] territor[ies] restricted development of a national
consciousness within the broad expanse of Nigeria's borders."
Indirect Rule is analyzed as a catalyst for ethnic differentiation and the
postcolonial problems of national unity that are rooted in it.
argument correctly identifies colonial administrative and anthropological
practices of ethnic and cultural differentiation as sites from which much of
contemporary African ethnic politics and conflicts emanate. However, the
creation and bureaucratization of ethnic and cultural difference was not the
only preoccupation of colonial powers in Africa—or, for our purpose here,
northern Nigeria. Integral to the British colonial project of cheap,
convenient, indirect administration was a utilitarian and ideological preoccupation
with the simultaneous creation of ethnic difference and cultural homogeneity.
Ethnic and cultural difference was not always a colonial administrative asset.
It was not in post-conquest northern Nigeria. Although Indirect Rule was
founded on amplified ethnic and cultural difference, its implementation, as
this paper will demonstrate, ran into problems in the Middle Belt area
precisely because of an actually existing ethno-cultural difference, a difference that the
British deemed unsuited, if not injurious, to the goal of convenient, cheap,
and coherent administration. Subsequently, both cultural difference—which
was indispensable to Indirect Rule—and the engineering of homogeneity,
considered necessary for a uniform implementation of Indirect Rule in the
region, came to simultaneously and contradictorily sit at the heart of British
colonial administrative policy in northern Nigeria.
contradictory British commitment to a functional cultural homogeneity was a
catalyst for administrative crises, ethnic suspicion and conflict in the Middle
Belt. This paper argues that the pursuit of an instrumental, albeit illusive,
politico-cultural homogeneity through the ironical enlistment of an Indirect
Rule system underwritten by a supposed hierarchy of ethnic and cultural
difference was fraught with serious problems and that it had serious
consequences for both colonial power relations and inter-ethnic group
historians of Africa and northern Nigeria, scholars of British colonialism in
South Asia have long recognized the existence of British-supervised indigenous
colonialisms or sub-colonialisms. The princely states of British India were
political contraptions that exemplified this arrangement. In several of these
states, the British recruited or recognized pre-existing martial and princely
races, Muslims in many cases, and gave them significant administrative sway
over Hindu peasants. Although
this divide-and-rule administrative mechanism was founded on pre-existing
configurations of power, it recognized, for the purpose of British rule, a
British-approved power structure rather than the indigenous socio-political
norms of the Hindu peasantry. Official adoption of Hindu political institutions
and traditions would have conformed better to Indirect Rule in its pure form.
But its implementation as an administrative policy would have been expensive,
inconvenient, and messy. Hausa-Caliphate sub-colonialism in the Nigerian Middle
Belt was thus not unique or without precedent in British colonialism. In fact,
the expedient policy of instrumental homogenization in northern Nigeria
appeared to have been transferred from British India. In 1931, when Donald
Cameron, who had recently assumed the governorship of Nigeria, embarked on an
extensive administrative reform to dismantle the emirate-modeled administrative
policy and restore autonomy to the Middle Belt ethnicities, he accused his
predecessors of having formulated a flawed "policy..of thinking of the
[northern Nigerian] Muslim emirates in terms of the Indian States." What made the fallouts of
sub-colonialism more dramatic in northern Nigeria than in India was the newness
of the arrangement in the former—the previous absence of an established,
uncontested Hausa-Caliphate suzerainty and influence over the Middle Belt.
with a mapping of the convoluted historical processes through which
Hausa-Fulani identity and its associative connotations emerged. This discussion
will pay prominent attention to the emergence of the Sokoto Islamic Caliphate
and the ways in which it transformed Hausa identity and conflated it with a
notion of imperial citizenship and privilege. I will then discuss the ways in
which Sokoto Caliphate Imperial imaginations of itself and the Middle
Belt—articulated in Caliphate writings—and the narratives of
European travelers and explorers meshed to produce a British colonial knowledge
system that privileged the notion of a paradigmatic Hausa-Caliphate
politico-cultural sophistication and its supposed Other—the backward
Middle Belt. Finally, I analyze the implementation of a colonial policy founded
on the Caliphate-Hausa imaginary and on the necessity for Middle Belt
conformity to it; the on-ground manifestation of this administrative policy in
Tiv and Idoma Divisions; and the crisis and contests that it triggered.
Hausa: More Than a Language
not just a language; it is a category that has become synonymous, and now
correlates, rightly or wrongly, with certain ways of acting, expressing
oneself, making a living, and worshipping God. Hausa now carries with it a
constellation of cultural, economic, and political connotations. As a language
of trade and social contact in West Africa, and as the language of an ethnic
group known as Hausa, it approaches what Ali Mazrui calls a cosmopolitan language.
The presence throughout much of West Africa of people who speak Hausa as a
second language, and the role of the Hausa language as a lingua franca in much
of northern Nigeria, speaks to the utilitarian importance of a language whose
intertwinement with trade and itinerant Islamic practices dates back to a
remote Nigerian antiquity.
inhabited the savannah grasslands of West Africa, hemmed between the Songhai
and Bornu Empires. A receptacle of influences from both empires since perhaps
the 15th century, Hausaland, then politically constituted into
several Hausa city-states, remained largely defined by the linguistic primacy
of various dialects of the Hausa language. After the Fulani Jihad of 1804-08,
the variegated existence of the Hausa people was subsumed by the Sokoto Islamic
caliphate, which was largely constituted by the territories of the old Hausa
"Hausa," "Hausawa," and "Kasar Hausa," denoting the language, people, and land
of the Hausa respectively are actually fairly recent coinages; their modern
usage probably originated from the writings of Othman bin Fodio, leader of the
Fulani Jihad who, before and during the Jihad, homogenized the Hausa-speaking
but autonomous peoples of the different Hausa states in what he defined as an
undifferentiated collective of bad Muslims.
The peoples of these states, and ordinary Fulani migrants who lived in them
were more likely to refer to the Hausa States' citizens by their state of
origin, e.g "Katsinawa," for those from Katsina; "Kanawa" for those from Kano;
"Gobirawa" for those from Gobir, etc. Following Dan Fodio, his brother,
Mohammed Bello, discursively formalized "Hausa" as a term of reference for the
inhabitants of the former Hausa states.
Islamic reform jihad of 1804-08 superimposed a central political and religious
authority on the fragmented Hausa states of present-day Northwestern Nigeria
and, through conquest and discourse, disciplined them into one
politico-linguistic unit. More importantly, the Jihad inscribed Islamic piety
as one of the most important markers of Hausa identity. Thus, as John Philips
argues, to be Hausa gradually came to mean that one was a Muslim, even though
not all Muslims in the Caliphate were Hausa and not all Hausa were Muslims. 
What the Jihad did was to initiate the process of homogenization and the
construction of a politically useful narrative of Hausa identity, a narrative
which was underwritten by religious and cultural associations.
religious content of the Hausaization process was coterminous with the new
fortune of Islam as the defining ideal of citizenship within the Sokoto
Caliphate, whose core was Hausaland. The new Fulani rulers and their minions
adopted the language and culture of their Hausa subjects as well as the
administrative infrastructure of the conquered Hausa (Habe) kings. By this
process, most of the urbanized Fulani became Hausa in linguistic and cultural
terms, although a quiet co-mingling of the two peoples had been taking place
before the Jihad. Thus,
despite the protest of many Hausa people today about the use of the term
"Hausa-Fulani" to describe the Hausa speaking peoples of today's northern
Nigeria, it is a historically valid terminology, and it seems that their
protest rejects the recent appropriations of the term by Southern Nigerian
intellectuals rather than its historicity. For the purpose of this paper,
however, I will use the term "Hausa" to denote this compound ethnic category.
Islamization of Hausa identity is perhaps best underscored by the fact that
post-Jihad Hausa identity became synonymous with assimilation into an Islamic
consciousness that was packaged, consecrated, and policed by the Jihad leaders
and the inheritors of their authority. Thus, the Maguzawa, Hausa traditionalists who either
managed to escape the Islamizing influence of the Jihad or became dhimis who traded Jizya tribute for Caliphal protection
under Islamic law, were excluded
from the post-Jihad narrative of Hausa identity.
has an etymology rooted in the Islamic distinction between Muslims and
non-Muslims, and in a Hausaized rendering of this distinction, and although its
use to distinguish between Muslim and non-Muslim Hausa, and between urban and
rural Hausa, was fairly current in the precolonial period, it acquired
additional valence in the post-Jihad period as Islam and its shifting
interpretations and consensuses became more central to the definition of Hausa
cosmopolitan nature of Islam in West Africa meant that being Hausa became more and more about
Islamic piety and an ability to speak the language than about any originary
affinity with Kasar Hausa or Hausa ethnic ancestry.
By expanding the frontiers of a
cosmopolitan Islamic tradition, the Sokoto caliphate enhanced the cosmopolitan
and incorporative character of Hausa, enabling non-Hausa members of the
Caliphal Islamic community to become Hausa in geographical contexts that lacked
Hausa ethnic heritage. Indeed, because of the socio-political importance that
the jihad invested Hausa with, it became, at least within the Sokoto Caliphate,
a political identity denoting belonging, acceptance, privilege, and access.
Being Hausa in the Caliphal context cost little. Islamic piety, an acceptance
of the religious orthodoxy of the Caliphate founders, and an ability to speak
Hausa even as a second language granted one entry into Hausahood. It thus
became an appealing identity from a purely pragmatic perspective. Geographic
proximity (but not necessarily contiguity) to the Hausa heartland in today's
Northwestern Nigeria as well as Islamic piety facilitated social and political
access to an increasingly coveted Hausa identity.
of cultural, attitudinal, and performative indicators sprung up to reinforce
the linguistic and religious indicators of Hausa identity. It is this
constellation of cultural, religious, economic, and political indices and
significations that I call a Hausa-Caliphate imaginary. Steven Pierce argues
that this amplification of Hausa identity as a total worldview and way of life
is underwritten by the belief among the inheritors of the Sokoto Caliphate
Islamic tradition that "Hausa identity.also encompassed particular ways of
making a living.notably Hausa people's fame as traders.and a particular
approach to agriculture: certain technologies, certain modes of labor
mobilization." As a result
of these associative reification of Hausa, being Hausa or becoming Hausa gradually came to denote being
or becoming many functional things; Islamic conversion or reaffirmation was
only the beginning point, as well as the fundamental action, on the path to becoming Hausa.
cumulative outcome of the transformation and elaboration of Hausa as a category
of identification was that Hausa became even more fluid and context-determined
than it had been prior to the Jihad. This fluidity and indeterminacy that came
to characterize Hausa identity was crucial because it reinforced the power of
the Hausa language and Islam as the supreme indicators of belonging, relegating
autochthony to the background. The spread of Hausa linguistic and religious
influence made Hausa a category of power, since anyone whose claim to Hausa
identity was consecrated by the invocation of these attributes could
potentially enjoy the privileges and status that came with being regarded as
Hausa in "non-Hausa" contexts like the Middle Belt. Because the Caliphate was
marked out by Islam and its local lingua franca, Hausa, the acquisition of
these attributes rightly or wrong associated one with the might, attributes,
and privileges of the Caliphate. In the Middle Belt, these attributes
functioned as a metaphor for the Sokoto Caliphate and its emirate or Fulani
system of political administration, as Alvin Magid has called it.
the situation that the British met in 1900, when Frederick Lugard declared the
Protectorate of northern Nigeria. The associational attributes of Hausa had
been fairly settled in and out of the Caliphate. In the Caliphate it functioned
as an idiom of unity for a multi-lingual religious community. Outside the
Caliphate in the Middle Belt, the Hausa language was welcomed and adopted by
many for its communicative utility and for the commercial access that it
facilitated into a vast trans-regional world of exchange. The religious
associations of Hausa identity were however widely rejected in the Middle Belt.
Hausa-Caliphate Imaginary In Precolonial Middle Belt
came to northern Nigeria desirous of identifying and collaborating with a group
of rulers representing a cultural and political entity that they deemed
"civilized" and sophisticated enough to be partners in the colonial project.
The Hausa-Caliphate worldview and those who best represented it—the
Hausa-Fulani emirs and the Caliphate aristocracy—were recruited into this
role. In this British thinking, little thought was devoted to the perception of
the Hausa-Caliphate worldview in the Middle Belt.
had, through the writings of explorers, missionaries, and other European
adventurers, acquainted themselves with the political, economic, and
administrative technologies of the Caliphate as well as with what being
Hausa-Fulani connoted within the Caliphate. What they seemed either not to know
or not to have paid attention to are the precolonial struggles that occurred on
the Caliphate's non-Muslim frontiers (the frontier Middle Belt communities)
over conversion to Islam and/or submission to the control of the Caliphate.
These struggles helped establish the reputation of the Hausa-Caliphate
socio-religious and political system in the Middle Belt.
ambitious agents seeking to extend the sway of the caliphate to the non-Muslim
areas of northern Nigeria attacked the sovereignty of states in the Middle
Belt, the category of Hausa came to simultaneously assume the position of a
feared and awe-inspiring political presence. The various peoples of the Middle
Belt devised numerous strategies to either keep Hausa-Fulani Caliphate slave
raiders and state-builders at bay or to selectively bow to their sway in the
interest of peace. For instance, as Michael Fardon explains in regard to the
Chamba engagement with the Fulani encroachment on their domain, these
inhabitants of the Middle Benue hills and plains managed to co-exist, albeit
uneasily, with militant Fulani settlers and proto-states through the careful
alternation of the strategies of calculated and half-hearted submission and
The Tiv kept Hausa-Fulani Caliphate agents in check by carefully monitoring
their activities on the frontiers of Tivland, by attacking their isolated
outposts and trade caravans, by strategically interacting with them, and by
building a feared warring infrastructure founded on the infamous Tiv poisoned
The Doma, a branch of the Agatu Idoma had to adopt an ambivalent survival strategy
against the raids of Hausa-Fulani Caliphate agents from Keffi.
They, like the Chamba, had to succumb to some measure of Hausa-Fulani influence
as a gesture of political self-preservation.
obtained in the precolonial period, then, in terms of the Middle Belt's
engagement with Caliphal expansion, was a series of complex stalemates, fluid
accommodations, and tense, frequently violated treaties of co-existence that
Nengel calls the Amana system. These
stalemates and negotiated tribute-payments in exchange for peace were not only
desired by the Middle Belt polities but also by the raiding emirates. Wars were
difficult and expensive to execute; armies were difficult to recruit and
maintain; repeated raids resulted in diminished booty; and endless war
detracted from other matters of statecraft.
So, the emirates, especially those on the Caliphate frontiers, had a vested
interest in some form of negotiated co-existence that ensured the supply of
slaves and economic goods to them as tribute. Of course, self-assertion and
rebellion on the part of a Middle Belt subordinate was often met with fierce
military retribution. These precolonial relational tensions created
ambivalences of resentment and fear-inspired accommodations among Middle Belt
peoples. Kukah sums it up this way: "Around the Middle Belt, the [Hausa-Fulani]
Jihadists seemed more preoccupied with slavery, economic and political
expansionism than the spread of the [Islam]. As a result, all forms of
alliances came into being, but economic considerations were paramount."
as Kukah argues, the winning of converts to Islam in the Middle Belt gradually
took a backseat, the spread of Islamic and Hausa-Fulani cultural influence did
not. And although this was truer for the frontier non-Muslim communities of the
Southern Kaduna and Bauchi corridors than it was for the Benue Valley, the fate
of Doma and Bagaji in the southernmost part of the Middle Belt shows that
Jihadist aggression and Caliphate influence spread to all of the Middle Belt.
In fact, Doma and Bagaji, two Agatu Idoma states, would become satellite
vassals of Zazzau in the mid-19th century by a combination of military defeats
and strategic self-preservation through the acceptance of Caliphate influence
Caliphate slave raiding and the spread and policing of Caliphate culture was
assured in the Middle Belt because of the influence and military might of the
southern Fulani sub-emirates of Keffi, Suleja, Lapai, Nassarawa, and others,
and because of the presence of numerous other enclaves of garrisoned
Hausa-Fulani settlements in the Middle Belt.
It is this pre-existing,
rather complicated, status of the Hausa-caliphate worldview, with all its
cultural and religious corollaries, that the British encountered in the Middle
Belt at the turn of the twentieth century. It is not clear if the British
understood the troubled precolonial status and semiotic resonances of Hausa as
a socio-political category in the non-Muslim sector of northern Nigeria. If
they did, it didn't stop them from crafting a colonial policy that privileged
the emirate system of administration and social organization and sought to
spread it to the Middle Belt, where several ethnic groups had either resisted
it or were suspicious of it.
be acknowledged that the Hausa-Caliphate imaginary was not the only
ethno-symbolic system that the British admired in northern Nigeria. There was
for a time what one could call a Jukun imaginary in the colonial officialdom.
It was founded on the ancient Jukun (Kwararafa) kingdom which, in its heyday,
conquered territory as far as Kano and much of the Middle Benue region. The
British fascination with the Jukun imperial system lasted into the 1930s and
spawned many quasi-ethnological and historical writings by British colonial
officials and their underlings, the most notable of which is A Sudanese
Kingdom by C.K
Meek, the official anthropologist of colonial northern Nigeria.
However, as Margery Perham, herself a major actor in the northern Nigerian
colonial scene, noted, the attitude of the British was largely one of "mournful
fascination in studying this relic of an empire." Although the northern Nigerian colonial
bureaucracy had at one time toyed with the idea of reviving the "imperial
technique" of the Jukun, "the hope was not fulfilled" because the Jukun system
did not offer an administrative model "except that of decay."
not selected for a functional role in British colonialism a priori; nor was
there a dearth of other candidates for the role. However, an Hausa political
imaginary was, as far as the British were concerned, the only viable candidate,
and, as a matter of historical fact, the Hausa model was the only one that made
it into the administrative toolkit of the British, all other fascinating indigenous
cultural and imperial systems having been discarded or discredited by the fact
that their military and political power had been subsumed by the Sokoto
Caliphate or had collapsed before the caliphate's emergence.
embrace of the Hausa-Caliphate system was the product of a convenient
confluence of administrative expediency and prior understandings of the
sociopolitical system of the Caliphate. The British veneration of the
Hausa-Caliphate model of social, political, and economic organization was
consistent with a British colonial fixation on the administrative utility of
so-called martial races and their assumed ability to act on behalf of the
British as agents of socio-cultural tutelage and as proxy colonial
administrators. This ideological component of British colonialism in northern
Nigeria originated, as earlier noted, largely from India, where the system of
identifying and using "martial races" had been in operation in the British Raj
for more than a century.
and British Origins of the Hausa Imaginary
indicated earlier, the British pioneers of the colonial enterprise in northern
Nigeria were interpreting the protectorate through the lens of earlier
experiences which bestowed a utilitarian political importance on the idea of a
ruling class, a higher race, and other similar categories. This ethnological
taxonomy was inspired by similar British classifications in India.
However, there were two important factors that reinforced the British
functional preoccupation with sociological and anthropological categories in
the northern Nigerian area. The first factor was Caliphate imperial discourses
which represented the Caliphate-Hausa formation as a benign hegemon and the
Middle Belt as its subordinate Other. The second was the elaboration of these
discourses by British travelers and, subsequently, colonial ethnographers, a
process which was not teleological but is nonetheless discernible.
major effort to discursively delineate the Sokoto Caliphate as an exclusive
religious and political community and to define its Other was the Infakul
Maisuri of Mohammed
Bello. That important piece of Caliphate writing is best known for its
exposition of what one may call the Caliphate mind; its explanation of the
theological and political vision of the Caliphate; its detailed narration of
the course of the Jihad; and its discussion of the epistolary efforts to place
the Caliphate above Bornu in the hierarchy of state Islamic piety. Much less
known is the fact that Mohammed Bello's Infakul Maisuri was the first treatise to
articulate a Sokoto imperial hegemony over some areas of the Middle Belt. In
the section dealing with states, kingdoms, and peoples, Mohammed Bello brings
within Caliphate administrative jurisdiction several areas of the Middle Belt.
For instance he defines the emirate of Zauzau as encompassing "many places
inhabited by barbarians"—barbarians being a derogatory euphemism for the
non-Muslim peoples of the Middle Belt located on Zauzau's frontier.
He projects Zauzau's sway all the way to the entire Gbagyi country, the Bassa
plains in the lower Benue, and as far south as Attagara (Idah) in Igala
The oral traditions of the Bassa and the Igala do not attest to these claims,
nor do any written non-Caliphate sources.
Mohammed Bello imagined his imperial sway to include the Niger-Benue confluence
zone of the Middle Belt, telling Clapperton: " I will give the King of England
a place on the coast to build a town..God has given me all the land of the
semi-imperial vision may not have been an accidental occurrence. There appears
to be a contradictory assertion of the Caliphate's benign hegemony over the
Middle Belt and an affirmation of the Middle Belt's alterity in the Infakul
Maisuri. The travel
journal of Hugh Clapperton, the first British traveler to visit the Caliph in
Sokoto, corroborates Mohammed Bello's imperial vision.
It also shows that this may not have been an idle imperial fantasy but a part
of a strategic, if misleading, cartographic and discursive exercise by
Clapperton's aristocratic Caliphate informants. Clapperton journeyed through
the Sokoto Caliphate in the 1820s, reaching Sokoto in 1825 and befriending
Sultan Bello, son of Usman dan Fodio, who had succeeded to the throne at the
latter's death in 1817. It was Clapperton who brought excerpts from the Infakul
Maisuri back to
England in 1825. Mohammed
Bello was Clapperton's biggest source in his discussion of the non-Caliphate
world of the Middle Belt.
More importantly, Clapperton's maps of the Caliphate and its Niger-Benue
frontier, the first to be published in Britain, were drawn for him by Mohammed
Bello, given to him from Mohammed Bello's collection by a member of his
household, and drawn by Clapperton or others on the instructions of Mohammed
and their accompanying narratives reveal a strategic inclusion of the
Niger-Benue zone in the sphere of influence and jurisdiction of the Sokoto
Caliphate, and a simultaneous Othering of the human communities of that zone.
The Kwara River, for instance, is presented as the "largest river in all of the
territories of the Houssa[Hausa]."
Beyond the equation of the Caliphate with Hausa, this discourse, and the
cartographic imagination that it may have sought to concretize, amounted to the
discursive annexation of vast territories in the Niger-Benue confluence and
Kwara non-Caliphate areas into the Sokoto Caliphate realm. How much of this
cartographic and discursive annexation comes from Clapperton and how much came
from Mohammed Bello and his other caliphate informants is not clear.
the trajectory of knowledge production and transfer from the Caliphate to the
British in the early 19th century seems fairly clear thus far: the
Caliphate's representation of itself and its values and of the peoples on and
outside its frontiers made it into the canonical knowledge base of Britain
regarding northern Nigeria. It is unlikely that British views on the people of
the Middle Belt were shaped solely by Mohammed Bello's characterization of the
Middle Belt as a land of barbarians since the British had their own
distinctions between the centralized Islamic Caliphate and its non-Muslim,
politically fragmented others—views which were largely formed on account
of the narratives of European travelers. What is clear is that there was a
coincidental—and instrumental—convergence of Mohammed Bello's and
British travelers' characterizations of the Caliphate/Middle Belt dichotomy.
The two narratives reinforced each other and sustained British and Caliphal
imperial imaginings of the Middle Belt and its peoples.
Clapperton's materials made it to London after Clapperton's death in 1827
through Richard and John Lander, the next British travelers who journeyed to
Sokoto and met the Caliph. Clapperton had left instructions before his death
that Richard Lander, who was his servant, take possession of all his materials
and deliver them to the Colonial Office, which sponsored the Sokoto expedition.
The Lander brothers would later depend on Clapperton's connections to the
Caliphate leadership for sustenance, logistical help, information, and
investigative and cartographic guidance.
mentioned earlier, Clapperton drew the first known British map of the Sokoto
Caliphate based on information provided to him by Mohammed Bello, and thus
initiated the tradition of equating the Sokoto Caliphate and its frontiers with
"Houssa [Hausa] Territory," as he called it.
This cartographic and descriptive convention seems to have stuck in subsequent
British travel writing on the Caliphate as subsequent British travelers relied
on the pioneering work of Clapperton and the Lander brothers. The British were
subtly investing the Caliphate and its fringes in the Middle Belt with a
Hausa-emirate imaginary. This reification of a growing notion of precolonial
Hausa-Caliphate hegemony was important for the subsequent veneration of Hausa
as veritable socio-linguistic category of colonial rule in northern
British travelers relied on earlier depictions and accounts of the Sokoto
Caliphate's symbolic and physical relationships with the Middle Belt to
reinforce impressions of Hausa-Caliphate primacy. An accumulated body of
British-produced knowledge emerged from a succession of European explorers who
traversed the Benue Valley, the Plateau, the hills of Southern Kaduna, and the
Adamawa hinterland. The pronouncements and claims of these explorer-travelers
underwrote initial British insights into the sociological makeup of northern
Nigeria. The travelers either submitted their findings to the Colonial Office,
published them in Britain, or both. The most famous of these explorers was Dr.
Baikie, whose observations about the people of the Middle Belt often bordered
on social Darwinist contempt. For instance, in 1854, he described the Tiv
ethnic group who, along with the Idoma, Bassa, Junkun, Igala, and other groups,
occupied the lower Benue valley as an: "unfortunate tribe [whose] being against
everyone, and everyone against it, has rendered it extremely suspicious of any
visitors, their crude minds being unable to comprehend anything beyond war and
raping.the Mitshis as far as we could judge, are wilder and less intelligent
than any of the African races with whom we had intercourse except Baibai and
above represent the articulation, however crudely, of a certain negative
perception of the Tiv in particular, and the peoples of the Benue Valley and
Niger-Benue confluence area in general. The evolutionary insinuations in
Baikie's description of the Tiv, the Middle Belt's largest ethnic group, and
the largest non-Hausa ethnic group in northern Nigeria, is symptomatic of a
larger strategic perception in which the people on the margins of the Caliphate
and 'outside' the Hausa zone emerged as definitive Others. Baikie's
representational universe, and his allusions, must be understood as part, and a
culmination, of a subtle, stealthy process of inscribing the Sokoto Caliphate's
geographical and sociological space as the administrative core of northern Nigeria.
This characterization could only emerge convincingly through the simultaneous
and contrapuntal characterization of its periphery—the Middle Belt.
use of the derogatory Hausa epithet Mitshis to describe and demarcate the Tiv
as a people is instructive. It is possible that in the mid 19th century, when
most ethnic groups were named by their more powerful neighbors or by regional
hegemons, Baikie was using Mitchis as a purely descriptive term. It is therefore possible that
his use of the term is not implicated in the demeaning associations inherent in
the Hausa term Munchi, which he corrupted into Mitchis. Baikie's affirmatory amplification of the meanings
associated with the Hausa/Fulani name for the Tiv, however, reads like a
conscious effort to flesh out and give evidentiary and observatory credence to
what essentially was a nomenclature connoting the supposed aggression,
cattle-snatching, and xenophobia of the agriculturally-inclined Tiv.
Baikie's detailed description of the Tiv as a "wild," uncivilized, and
unintelligent people belies the possibility that he was a neutral repeater of
an existing cliché. The uncanny congruence between his descriptions and the
anecdotal associations surrounding the Hausa word Munchi is too carefully constructed to be
a mere rhetorical coincidence.
as Dr. Baikie's rendition of the Tiv personality was, its preoccupation with
comparison and deviation must inform any critical understanding of his and
other British explorers' thinking. This cultural narrative, which served to
erect a hierarchy of evolutionary maturity (or lack thereof), operated on two
levels; it utilized both absence and presence. First, by casting the Tiv as the
wildest and least intelligent of the peoples of northern Nigeria, Baikie's observations
indict the entire non-caliphate sector of the region for a supposed racial and
cultural inferiority. That he positioned the Tiv in particular at the lowest
rung of this ladder of evolutionary backwardness does little to diminish the
larger indictment handed to the Middle Belt. Second, Dr. Baikie's absent
referent and comparative framework in this elaborate collage of cultural
backwardness is clearly the Sokoto caliphate, described by most 19th
century British explorers as the core of northern Nigeria.
caliphate, both in its geographical, ethno-linguistic, and religious
connotations, represented the unspoken paradigmatic cultural formation in the
evolutionary hierarchy that was slowly emerging through British discourses
about the northern Nigerian area. These narratives presented civilization, as
far as its possibility in Nigeria was concerned, as being synonymous with Hausa
acculturation. The Sokoto Caliphate occupied the upper perch of an emerging
socio-political evolutionary ladder, with the Tiv and others like them at the
Baikie's observations about the Tiv, Idoma, and other peoples on the lower
Benue and Niger confluence regions fit into a continuum of cultural hierarchy
that European travelers to northern Nigeria in the 19th century erected and
used to make sense of their observations. There is no evidence that there was
an ideological or programmatic conspiracy on the part of the 19th century
European explorers of northern Nigeria with the expressed purpose of
subordinating the Middle Belt to the Caliphate. However, since explorers often
organized their materials and their subjects in light of the earlier
observations of other European travelers, who were sometimes compatriots,
Baikie's ethnic and cultural categories, and the ways in which they foreground
a pre-existing European perception of northern Nigerian historical sociology,
is a significant subject for interrogation.
Baikie, Hugh Clapperton and Hienrich Barth both traversed the Sokoto caliphate
in the early and mid-19th century respectively. The former visited both Kano
and Sokoto, the headquarters of the Caliphate.
The latter was in Borno, Kano, Zaria, Katsina, and parts of Bauchi.
Richard Lander and his brother, John Lander, also undertook a quest for the 'mouth
of the Niger River' in 1828-29, a mission designed to fulfill the dreams of
Richard Lander's mentor, Hugh Clapperton, who died near Sokoto in 1827 on his
way to "discover" the source of the Niger.
Other European explorers and sponsored adventurers traversed the Sokoto
Caliphate in the early to mid-19th century. The journals of these European
travelers are insightful as much for what they do not reveal as for what they
do. The marginal presence of, and, in some cases, the erasure of the
non-caliphate world of dar-al-harb (the abode of war), from the narrative of these travelers
constitute the genealogical foundation of the discourses of Baikie and other
explorers of the precolonial Middle Belt region. In these narratives the
"pagans," as the vast humanity of the Middle Belt are often represented, make
occasional appearances as abodes of slave raiding by powerful, relatively
civilized, Muslim emirates presiding over the dar-al-Islam (abode of Islam).
A notion of
the Middle Belt's peoples' inferiority to the peoples of the Caliphate began to
take shape under the weight of these representations, which were very
influential in Britain as anthropological references on the Middle Belt. As E.P.T Grampton puts it, "there was a
general belief [in colonial circles] that pagans [Middle Belters] were of
inferior stock." Such is the
subordination of the Middle Belt to the Hausa-Fulani Caliphate cultural zone in
colonial discourse that some scholars believe that British colonialism and
Indirect Rule helped "institutionalize" what they see as a structural
inferiority of non-Muslim peoples of the Middle Belt.
administrative valorization of the Caliphate Islamic political tradition
emerged even before the conquest of northern Nigeria was completed, a clear indication
that the narratives of British explorers, which were heavily dependent on
Caliphal representations of Fulani power, influenced later colonial
administrative policy that privileged the Caliphate model. In 1902, before the
conquest of Sokoto, Frederick Lugard, commander of the British conquering force
and the future Governor of northern Nigeria and Governor-General of Nigeria,
signaled that the British regarded the Hausa-Fulani Islamic political
institutions of the Caliphate as the administrative model for all of northern
The future of.. this Protectorate lies largely in the
regeneration of the Fulani. Their ceremonial, their coloured skins, their mode
of life, and habits of thought appeal more to the native population than the
prosaic business-like habits of the Anglo-Saxon can ever do.nor have we the
means at present to administer so vast a country. This then is the policy to
which in my view the administration of northern Nigeria should give effect: viz
to regenerate this capable race..so that...they become worthy instruments of
repeating and enunciating the dual British justification of the British
adoption of the Hausa-Caliphate model of colonial administration: one was
racio-evolutionary; the other was logistical expediency and pragmatism.
Lugard's wife, Flora Shaw, a major contributor to early colonial policy, saw
the Fulani as an "aristocratic," race. They were "European in form," had Arab
blood, which "penetrated as far as climate could allow" and were of "races. higher
than the negroid type." Most importantly, they were a conquering and ruling
race that occupied their present location in the Central Sudan by "driv[ing the
original inhabitants] Southwards" into areas that the "higher type could not
This fundamental misunderstanding of precolonial political realities in the
northern Nigerian area—the early assumption that Fulani migrants and
conquerors, either as nomads, adventurers, or Jihadists, had conquered or
defeated the peoples of the Middle Belt and had established a recognized,
undisputed regional political hegemony—inflected future British
administrative policies and choices in northern Nigeria. These policies,
understandably, treated the Middle Belt—even areas of it that had not
physically encountered the Hausa-Fulani operatives of the Caliphate, not to
speak of being conquered by them—as precolonial vassalages of the
Caliphate. In fact, Lady Lugard believed that the Fulani were destined to rule
over the peoples of the Middle Belt: "The ruling classes [of the Fulani] are
deserving in every way of the name of cultivated Gentlemen, We seem to be in
the presence of one of the fundamental facts of history, that there are races
which are born to conquer and others to persist under conquest."
narrative of Fulani-Caliphate political primacy was established, the
formulation of colonial policies and discourses that subordinated the Middle
Belt to that administrative paradigm followed. The Middle Belt's status as a
periphery had to be discursively formulated, so that "civilizing" and preparing
its peoples for Indirect Rule through the infusion of Caliphate-emirate symbols
and agents would be possible and appear legitimate.
conflation of Hausa identity with a host of cultural and political practices
and attributes had a profound effect on colonial administration in the
non-Hausa speaking parts of the Middle Belt. Its manifestation resulted in a de
facto bifurcated colonial administration: the Caliphate administration and what
the British called "pagan" administration.
of "pagan" administration had a special valence in British administrative
policy in the Middle Belt. At conquest, the British had the option of utilizing
the existing chieftaincy systems, which ranged from fairly formed chieftaincies
in the Igala and Kabba areas, and the rather fragmented, weak chieftaincies,
and elders' councils of the Tiv, Idoma, Adamawa, Plateau, and Southern Kaduna
corridors. But these
systems hardly showed any promise of being amenable to the demands of Indirect
Rule as envisioned by colonial British officers eager to collect taxes,
maintain order, and establish the frameworks of colonial governmentality. The
British opted for a hybrid which combined these institutions with a
superstructure of the emirate system of administration. This was a unique
contraption in that what was being embraced was a system with two, instead of
one, African intermediate set of institutions and personnel. The British
planned to supervise the emirate layer of this arrangement.
element of this colonial arrangement was the notion of tutelage and
remediation. If the so-called pagan administration was a compromise birthed by
expedience, the task of integrating the "pagan" areas into the northern
Nigerian political mainstream—the emirate system of the Caliphate
areas—was its ultimate goal. The notion of preparing "pagans" to be more
like the Hausa subjects of the defunct Sokoto Caliphate, and to thus be ready
for Indirect Rule in its supposedly pure form, was germane to this system of
administration. Such preparation and tutelage could only come from contact with
the Muslim Hausa subjects of the defunct caliphate. The idea was to import
these "Hausa" colonial subjects into Middle Belt as a full-fledged sub-stratum
of the colonial administration, and to bestow on this cadre of colonial
middlemen the task of civilizing and preparing the "pagans" for Indirect Rule.
This strong commitment to Indirect Rule thus sought to create a unique
administrative arrangement in which there was a civilizing mission within the
civilizing mission, and in which there were two sets of colonials—the
British and the Hausa.
not unique to northern Nigeria. In fact the British fondness for identifying
and utilizing a "ruling race" was a defining principle of British colonialism
in other parts of Africa. Lloyd Fallers' example of how the British imported
Western educated Buganda chiefs into the territories of the Busoga and the
Bunyoro (in present-day Uganda), who were seen as lacking in centralized
political institutions, is similar to the northern Nigerian situation. The
Buganda chiefs were "mandated to remodel the political systems of the
neighboring Busoga territories along Ganda lines" in order to achieve political
sameness and uniformity in colonial administration.
Roberts' more specific exploration of Buganda "sub-imperialism" in colonial
Uganda provides further analytical proof of the prevalence of the phenomenon of
British enlistment of "alien" African agents of imperial tutelage.
What was unique about the northern Nigerian case was that the Hausa colonials
who were imported into the so-called pagan regions were, as we shall see
shortly, not just chiefs; they included a whole coterie of
specialists—interpreters, traders, Muslim scholars, clerks, messengers,
policemen, bodyguards, and "political agents." Each group of specialists was
expected to contribute its expertise to this minor civilizing mission within
the larger civilizing mission. This was an army of "foreign" administrative
personnel, an imported sub-colonial infrastructure, which had a similar mandate
as the Buganda chiefs, but which, unlike the latter, constituted a whole new
layer of the British administrative contingent in the Middle Belt. More importantly,
the importation of a new strata of Hausa specialists who were mandated to
effect the social, economic, and political transformation of the people of the
Middle Belt amounted in practice, and in its subsequent rhetorical elaboration,
to a program of cultural and political make-over.
Interpreters in the Benue Valley
adoption of the Hausa language as a colonial lingua franca in northern Nigeria
was regarded in the British officialdom as a pragmatic, cheap, and expedient
It also necessitated a British reliance on Hausa-speaking intermediaries and
interpreters who also knew the local languages of the Middle Belt. For this
reason and others, Hausa generated ambivalence in British officialdom; it was
both celebrated and lamented. Its manifestation in the quotidian relational
realities of the colonial situation was what one British official described as:
"an unsatisfactory position [of] the European official having to commune with
the Idoma through an [Hausa] interpreter."
He went further to record the assertion of one of his Idoma messengers, Itodu:
"During his 17 years with Europeans he had not yet worked with an admin officer
who knew the language, A couple could say 'come,' 'go,' 'bring,' etc, etc., but
no one has been here yet who could understand a complaint or follow a
conversation in Idoma."
linguistic conundrum made the Hausa colonial interpreters an indispensable part
of the colonial enterprise, furthering the friction between the British and the
Idoma on the one hand and between the Idoma and the Hausa colonials on the
other. The fact that most Idoma people didn't speak Hausa and the Hausa
interpreters didn't speak Idoma very well made colonial interpretation a
particularly charged arena of colonial misunderstanding.
Division, the situation was hardly different. Hausa interpreters were part and
parcel of British colonial activities in Tiv country from the time of the
conquest in 1906. For that reason they emerged early as the visible and
vulnerable face of British colonialism in Tivland. The destruction of the
trading station of the Royal Niger Company (RNC) at Abinsi in Tivland in 1906
is generally regarded as the trigger or alibi for the British conquest of the
The events that led to the attack on the station are as interesting for our
purpose as the British reaction. The Tiv and the Jukun combatants attacked the
station not as a British-owned enterprise, and not necessarily to dislodge the
British from their staked-out territory. They attacked it to uproot the
hundreds of Hausa traders, merchants, and auxiliaries that had been imported to
the station and had formed, through their association with the British
chartered company, a visible underclass of colonials. The Tiv perceived the
Hausa traders, workers, and interpreters at Abinsi as opportunists who were
taking advantage of the well-armed RNC to exert concessions from the Tiv
communities around Abinsi.
Given the tense precolonial encounters between Hausa-Fulani traders and herders
and the Tiv, this perception served as a Tiv rallying point against the Hausa
interpreters and the British merchants who were their protectors and
benefactors.  About
seventy-six Hausa colonial auxiliaries were killed and about 113 were taken
captive in the attack. Apart from the destruction of the physical structures of
the trading station, which was populated largely by the Hausa, there is no
record of the targeting of British traders.
on the Hausa allies and underlings of the British drew the latter into the
fray. The subsequent military expedition against the Tiv was devastating, but
of more significance was the fact that the declarations and activities designed
to restore order and establish the rudiments of a colonial administration were
supervised and mediated by Muslim Hausa interpreters, the victims of the
earlier Tiv-Jukun raid who came back to Tiv territory with the British military
as powerful agents of British colonialism, and with vengeance on their minds.
that the "interpreters were Hausa, Nupe, and Yoruba."
But it is clear that interpreters who were of Yoruba and Nupe ancestry would
have had to become sufficiently Hausa through their Islamic faith and
proficiency in Hausa and through their familiarity with emirate administration
for them to have been taken on as interpreters by the British. The declaration
of victory by the British, and the plea for calm and order made to the Tiv
after the end of the military action, was written and read in Hausa. It was
then translated into Tiv by two Hausa interpreters, Mohammed and Maradu, Hausa
Muslims who spoke Tiv. These were symbolic politics acts with probable
implications for colonial power relations in Tiv Division.
incidents like these suggest that the Hausa colonial presence in the non-Hausa
speaking Middle Belt was more profound and more widespread than the narrow role
of linguistic interpreters might suggest, and that the British placed a
significant degree of importance on the idea of tutelage-by-residence, an idea
which was responsible for the direct importation of Hausa specialists, as well
as the encouragement of their migration, to the so-called backward Divisions of
northern Nigeria. In the next section, I look at the extent of the Hausa
colonial presence in Idoma and Tiv Divisions.
Colonials in Idoma and Tiv Divisions
presence in early colonial Idoma and Tiv Divisions was a complex assemblage of
personnel. It included traders, chiefs, interpreters, messengers, clerks,
cooks, sanitary inspectors, and other colonial auxiliaries. The groups which
had the most transformatory, and thus the most volatile, impact on these
Divisions, were the traders and chiefs.
earlier, the activities of Hausa traders affiliated to the British Royal Niger
Company was the catalyst for the confrontations which led to the conquest of
the Tiv area. In Idoma Division, Hausa traders were also at the center of early
confrontations between the British and the Idoma. Hundreds of Hausa came to
both Tiv and Idoma lands with the British, most of them traders. Mahdi Adamu has shown that in Tiv
country, the British actively encouraged the Hausa—ethnic or
assimilated— to settle in Katsina Ala, a town close to the frontier
between the Tiv and Jukun.
This active recruitment of the Hausa into Tiv country rested on assumptions
inherent in the British Hausa-Caliphate imaginary: the presence of the more
economically rational and politically sophisticated inheritors of the Caliphate
traditions would have a civilizing influence on the "primitive" Tiv.
Division, a more profound version of this logic was at work. Hausa traders came
in hundreds along with the British. This caused an immediate economic disquiet,
quite unlike the reception granted the small number of Hausa elephant tusk
buyers who used to visit the Idoma heartland in the precolonial period.
Unlike the precolonial Hausa traders who came in insignificant trickles, the
Hausa who came to Idomaland in the first two decades of the 20th century were what
one colonial official described as "peddlers and rubber dealers."
The "opening up" of Idoma Division by the colonial conquest meant that even
forests could now be penetrated to extract rubber and other economic products.
These "peddlers" were visible bearers of the economic logics associated with
the Hausa worldview. They carried the burden of propagating this worldview:
that of instilling in the Idoma the virtues of economic rationality while
banishing subsistence production and helping to create a monetized and
market-oriented economy. They were envisioned by their British allies as
economic proselytizers, much as other Hausa specialists were expected to
propagate their specific skills and attributes.
belief that the Idoma, like other non-Hausa Middle Belt peoples, required a
cultural and political make-over was elevated to an orthodoxy within British
colonial officialdom. This orthodoxy stemmed, in part, from what was cast as a
corpus of empirical observations made by British colonial officers who served
in the Middle Belt and who were always willing to testify to the region's
backwardness. The sentiments of Robert Crocker, an Assistant District Officer,
capture the prevailing British thinking regarding the Idoma economy. Crocker
argued that Idoma modes of exchange were grossly underdeveloped, were not based
on money but barter, and thus lagged behind the protocols of economic exchange
in the Caliphate areas.
standard leitmotif in the British characterization of the Idoma world has as its
referent the Caliphate/emirate model of social and economic organization.
Thereafter, the British sought to create an emirate-type economy in Idoma
Division—an economy dominated by cash crops, geared towards monetized
exchange instead of barter, and driven by trade. This was an economic vision
which the Hausa traders were expected to promote through their acts of buying
and selling. In theory, this system of utilizing Hausa colonials to do the work
of civilizing the Idoma, made up for the massive personnel requirement that the
British plan of a wholesale make-over entailed. And since the Hausa traders
were not paid a salary but thrived on their profits, it seemed to be a
reasonable, cheap way of fulfilling the British desire to make the Idoma
amenable to British colonial economics. In practice, it was convoluted, and its
consequences were serious for both Idoma-British and Idoma-Hausa relations.
British, the presence of the Hausa colonial auxiliaries and their activities
were pedagogical and symbolic acts that contributed to the civilization of the
Idoma and prepared them for Indirect Rule and other aspects of British colonial
governmentality. The British monitored the Hausa auxiliaries but not strictly.
Consequently, the Hausa traders engaged in trade practices that, by all
accounts, bordered on economic insensitivity. Along with Sojan Gona (unauthorized taxation and
exactions), the practices of the Hausa traders, even by accounts of colonial
anthropologists and administrators, took away much of the colonial currency
that managed to get into Idoma Division, causing an inability to pay colonial
taxes and to replenish the instruments of production. This made the Hausa
traders the objects of Idoma resentment.
As in the
Tiv area, the opposition to the Hausa sub-colonial presence triggered the
formal British conquest of Idomaland. The destruction of the village of
Odugbeho in 1899, an incident which inaugurated the British conquest, was
causally connected to the murder of a Hausa trader by the Agatu villagers of
Odugbeho. As A.P Anyebe has argued, the Idoma had a pre-existing historical
grievance against the Hausa, stemming from the failed attempt of adventurous
Caliphate flag bearers to capture Idomaland during the 1804 Fulani Jihad, an
effort which resulted in the "loss" of the two Idoma states of Doma and Bagaji.
Thus the incident at Odugbeho stemmed at once from residual resentment and new
realities; realities that probably merely reinforced old suspicions. The new
reality was the perceived impoverishing economic partnership of the British and
the Hausa traders. The Idoma, Anyebe argues, "regarded the Hausa as their old
foes returning with a more powerful ally, the British." The present crisis
reminded the Idoma of their earlier confrontations with the Hausa-Fulani: "when
the Idoma saw the Hausa they remembered with nostalgia (sic) the Fulani Jihad
of the nineteenth century."
But the newness of this crisis is also underscored by the fact that the Idoma
were, "angry particularly at the Hausa aliens that came with the British," and
by the fact that many of the Hausa traders who came with the British were not
Hausa by ethnicity but were Muslim and Hausa speaking and were thus adjudged to
be socially and economically superior to the Idoma.
There is no
evidence that the Hausa traders were the targets of Idoma angst for merely being
Hausa. On that
point, Anyebe may be exaggerating the longevity of precolonial grievance. What
is implicated in these incidents of hostility towards the Hausa traders is a
new regime of partnership between Hausa auxiliaries and British officials. This
formed the backdrop of the alleged economic exploitation of the Idoma
hinterland by the Hausa traders, produce buyers, and currency dealers. What
fueled the suspicions was a new Idoma perception of the intertwinement of Hausa
trading and British colonialism in Idomaland.
also no evidence that Hausaized Nupe, Yoruba, and Gbagyi attracted special
suspicion. The fluidity of Hausa identity, which started with the spread of the
Hausa trade and religious diaspora in West Africa, was accentuated by the
adoption of Hausa as a regional lingua franca by the British. Thus many Muslim
northern Nigerians originating in the non-Hausa caliphate areas, who were Nupe,
Ilorin Yoruba, or Gbagyi, insinuated themselves to the colonial administration
their Hausaness. That Hausa-speaking persons who were not ethnically Hausa were
able to pass themselves off as Hausa and were officially regarded as such
underscores the British obsession with Hausa as marker of socio-political
distinction. It didn't necessarily exacerbate or mitigate the perception that
"Hausa" traders were conspiring with the British to take out currency and
products from Idoma Division and leaving peasants unable to pay taxes or
fulfill other colonial obligations. What it shows is that, as Kukah argues, the
Hausa language and its associative attributes was one of instruments of a
subtle Hausa-Fulani hegemony.
In the British administration's pursuit of this hegemony, the Hausaized Gbagyi,
Nupe, and Yoruba who served as British colonial agents in Idomaland were as
much victims as they were agents of this "Anglo-Fulani hegemony."
Hausa claims of these colonial Hausa persons received colonial blessings, they
assimilated, at least officially, into the colonial functionality of Hausa
identity (joining ethnic Hausas recruited by the British). The British regarded
them as individuals who embodied a certain socio-economic imaginary that only
exposure to the Caliphate's traditions and to Islam bestowed on a person.
Within the colonial system therefore, the Idoma saw these assimilated Hausa as Abakpa—the Idoma name for Hausa
people—and treated them as such. As Anyebe notes, "As far as the Idoma
were concerned any black man who came with the British and spoke to the white
man in any language which was Hausa.. straight away became Hausa."
resentment of the Hausa colonial presence was profound. Because the British
neither acknowledged the problem nor took steps to assuage the suspicions and
resentment of the Idoma, the attacks on Hausa traders continued. In 1906
another Hausa trader was killed at Aku, a village close to Odugbeho. A British
reprisal expedition was quickly assembled. It marched on both Odugbeho and Aku,
destroying them both.
The following year, eight Hausa traders collecting rubber from trees in Adoka
territory were murdered. As a reprisal in defense of their Hausa allies, the
British attacked Adoka, killing more than twenty people, razing twenty three
Adoka villages, and confiscating the Adoka people's livestock and food to
support to expedition.
confrontations were frequent and rife throughout Idomaland; the Idoma targeted
the Hausa colonial auxiliaries, drawing reprisals from the British, leading to
the destruction of more Idoma villages and more vengeful targeting of the Hausa
auxiliaries in a destructive cycle of violence. In 1912, the people of
Onyangede were severely punished by the British for an attack on British-backed
Hausa traders and colonial scribes in Onyangede. The attack resulted in the
burning down of the houses of Hausa residents of the town.
The British Resident had arranged a quick evacuation of the Hausa traders and
interpreters to prepare for the British assault on Oyangede so as to remove
them from the danger of further Idoma attacks.
the Ugboju people, led by Ameh Oyi Ija, the deputy to the chief of the
district, attacked the residents of the Hausa traders at Ombi, an attack which
resulted in the death of "a large number" of Hausa. Four years earlier in 1910,
one of the most violent rebellions against the British and their Hausa allies
was put down at Ugboju. A British expedition sent to pacify the Oyangede and
Ugboju people was ambushed by several Ugboju warriors led by Amanyi, the deputy
Chief of Ugboju. The ambush was crushed, and the Ugboju combatants defeated.
Amanyi was captured and deported to Keffi in 1912, but was restored to his
position later that year.
Amanyi is an interesting case study in the pitfalls of the administrative
implementation of the Hausa-Caliphate imaginary, for he was a chief appointed
by the British after passing through a period of tutelage under a Hausa chief
appointed by the British. The story of Amanyi is also a good point of transition
to the phenomenon of Hausa chiefs in Idoma and Tiv Divisions.
most important plank of the British implementation of the program of cultural
and political makeover in the Middle Belt was the cultivation of a chieftaincy
sensibility through the establishment of chieftaincy institutions deemed
amenable to the demands of Indirect Rule. The aim was to integrate the Middle
Belt into what was considered the political mainstream of northern Nigeria: the
centralized chieftaincy system represented by the emirate tradition.
Robert Crocker, a District Officer in Idoma Division remarked that, "in a Hausa emirate" one of the Idoma chiefs
he encountered and had the "misfortune" of working with "would not be given the
job of a headman on a roadwork let alone a District Headship."
He went on to describe the native court system (modeled after that of the
emirate areas) as a charade and a poor, incomplete copy of the
emirate/Caliphate prototype. For him, these quasi-colonial institutions in
Idoma Division were undermined by an endemic problem of weak chieftaincy, and
an innate Idoma disregard for order, legality, and leadership.
Another Idoma chief who worked with Crocker was "a dreadful person" who did
nothing but "yawn[ed] like an animal and scratche[d] himself."
Another Idoma Chief was so ineffective as a chief that he was caught "in a much
tattered cloth" being beaten by a subject of his. One Idoma chief chased down a
man "with his staff of office" illustrating the "ways and doings of the Idoma
nobility." The subtext
to all these characterizations was a lamentation about the absence of an
emirate-type system of political and social organization, and the resultant
difficulty in forging Indirect Rule. The unspoken empirical referent in these
lamentations was the emirate/Caliphate chieftaincy system.
earlier, the Tiv were similarly characterized as a chiefless people, lacking
order, social cohesion, and political leadership. Makar has described the
British attitude as a product of a preconception that was removed from actual encounters with the Tiv. This
perception, which cast the Tiv as the civilizational antithesis of the Hausa
emirates as well as the initial difficulty of "pacifying" the Tiv "frustrated
[the British] into neglecting the study of the people's political
institutions." At work was
the deployment of a notion of Tiv political backwardness, which was constructed
against the backdrop of an established notion of Hausa-Caliphate political
and Tiv Divisions were seen as epitomes of deviation from the preferred
caliphate political typology, which was regarded as the political raw material
for Indirect Rule, there was a concomitant belief in the possibility of
redeeming these Divisions from their backward political histories, and in the
ability of Hausa political tutelage to correct this political deficiency. Thus
in both Idoma and Tiv, Hausa chiefs were foisted on the people, saddled with a
finite mandate of inculcating in their Idoma and Tiv subjects the virtues of
political order symbolized by a central chiefly authority.
Audu Dan Afoda, a Nupe, Hausa-speaking Muslim who had served as an interpreter
and political agent for a succession of British District officers was appointed
the Sarkin Makurdi (Chief of Makurdi). The appointment of a Hausaized Nupe to
govern the Tiv of the Makurdi area underlined the British commitment to the
idiom of Hausa as a principle of Indirect Rule in the Middle Belt. It validates
Mahdi Adamu's assertion that "the Hausa ethnic unit.is an assimilating ethnic
entity and the Hausa language a colonizing one."
Makurdi was a burgeoning colonial town on the River Benue, in Tiv territory.
Many Tiv from the adjourning Tiv communities and towns migrated to Makurdi in
the late 19th century and early 20th and gave it a Tiv urban character. It also
became a locus of an emerging sense of urban Tiv political imagination. Between
1914 and 1926, the British government systematically brought the surrounding
Tiv districts under Dan Afoda's leadership, approving the appointment of his
Hausa messenger, Garuba, as the Village Head of the strategic Tiv border town
of Taraku in 1924.
appointing Dan Afoda to the supreme position of ruler of the Tiv, the British
hoped that his chieftaincy would tutor the Tiv in the ways of centralized
emirate-type leadership. In 1926, the Resident of Benue Province reaffirmed the
necessity of this sub-colonial tutelage, stating that Audu Dan Afoda's
chieftaincy was "still useful," since the hope that it "would exert an
educational influence [on the Tiv] is being fulfilled."
In fact in 1937, when there was a growing agitation for an appointment of a
"chief of Tiv," the Resident at the time echoed a similarly pedagogical view of
the presence of Audu as a symbol and instrument of political tutelage. He
believed that Dan Afoda's mandate of politically civilizing the Tiv was not yet
accomplished, since "Central Administration was yet at its infancy" in Tivland,
although he also believed that "gradually as a higher education marches with a
growing feeling of nationality, a real central administration may be evolved"
as a culmination of this evolution toward political centralization.
Subsequently, Dan Afoda was accorded further preeminence by leading the Tiv
delegations to the periodic northern Nigerian chiefs meeting in Kaduna, the
regional colonial headquarters.
Afoda died in 1945, setting off a firestorm of agitation by the Tiv for a Tiv
to succeed him as the supreme chief of the Tiv. The initial attempt by the
British to appoint a relation of the dead chief, another "Hausa," and the
belief among the Tiv that the Hausa had too much influence in colonial Tivland
contributed to the outbreak of street riots in Makurdi in 1947. The riots quickly
degenerated into open street clashes between the Hausa and Tiv populations of
Makurdi. The riots were the deadly culmination of a long period of Tiv
resentment of the imposition of Hausa chiefs and a perceived colonial
preference for governing Makurdi with the active participation and consultative
input of Hausa auxiliaries. The Tiv, Makar posits, "[R]esented the Hausa
influence in Makurdi Town although they did not object to their presence. The
Tiv resented the Hausa control of the courts, political power and landed
property.scarcely could the Tiv secure plots of land or find accommodation in
Makurdi when they were in transit."
clashes were put down by the British, and the nascent Tiv uprising was crushed.
Subsequently, the British decided not to appoint a replacement for Dan Afoda,
and to move away from the Hausa system of centralized leadership in Tivland in
the interest of peace. Makurdi remains without a Chief until today, although
the Tiv now have a central Chief, the Tor Tiv, who is based n Gboko.
Division, the appointment of Hausa chiefs did not result in such dramatic
backlashes, but they were equally contentious. In 1907, a Hausa-speaking Muslim
Yoruba trader from the Caliphate town of Ilorin, Alabi, who had become Hausaized
and had adopted the Muslim name Abubakar, was appointed by the British as the
District Head of Ugboju.
The difference between this and the Makurdi case in Tivland was that an Idoma,
Amanyi, was installed as Abubakar's political apprentice. This was a clear
expression of British commitment to the civilizing influence of Hausa/emirate
chieftaincy and their commitment to an administrative philosophy governed by
the Hausa-Caliphate imaginary.
lower in the hierarchy of Hausa colonial specialists in Idoma Division, but
almost as influential in the colonial power relations were the messengers,
clerks, scribes, and policemen. Like the Hausa traders and chiefs, they were
often Muslim men of emirate origin who were either ethnic Hausa or had 'become
Hausa' in name and in self-portrayal. They were responsible for the everyday
details and nitty-gritty of the colonial administration, collecting taxes,
taking censuses, touring villages to compile agricultural statistics, and
carrying out other duties delegated to them by their British employers and
administrative buffer between the British and the Idoma, these groups of Hausa
colonials exerted enormous influence on colonial power relations, and, in many
districts, they were put in charge of tax collection, the most volatile
colonial task in much of colonial northern Nigeria. By the late 1920s, most of
the Hausa chieftaincies in Idoma Division had given way to the ascension of
trusted and apprenticed Idoma chiefs and headmen. The Hausa clerks, messengers,
and scribes, however, remained the bedrock of colonial administration in Idoma
Division until the economic depression of the 1930s, when the imperative of
cost-cutting led to their replacement by cheaper Idoma colonial auxiliaries.
involvement of the Hausa clerks in the task of tax collection sat uneasily with
their already tense presence and with the peculiar difficulties that the Idoma
experienced with British taxation—a difficulty caused mainly by their
need-based system of commercial agricultural production and their cultivation
of food crops that were much less marketable than the cash crops cultivated in
the emirate sector of northern Nigeria.
clerks did not disrupt the economic lives of the Idoma, but their role in
British taxation was a dreaded one. As a result they, too, attracted a measure
of hostility from the Idoma. Another source of friction was that, like the
Hausa traders, the scribes and clerks led lives that were physically,
attitudinally, and materially removed from their host milieus. The British set
them up in separate, relatively elegant residential quarters funded by Idoma
tax payer money and built by Idoma labor. Anyebe claims that they also
exhibited an air of superiority that was coextensive with the declared and
codified superiority of the British. Anyebe's description of the situation in
the Igedde area is telling:
another strange element—the messengers, scribes or clerks who manned the
courts and the administration. They were not even Igedde but 'Hausa' and
Muslim. Like the white colonialist these black imperialists would not live
amongst and mix with the people. They stayed on their own. They had their own
quarters just as the Whiteman had his own Government Reservation Area...In Oju
I was shown the former abode of these colonial agents near the site of Ihyo
market. It is now fully overgrown with trees and grass. The Igedde hated this
"Hausa" class most. They looked upon them as collaborators with the British.
the Hausa agency in the de facto residential and social segregation that
resulted from the British reliance on the Hausa colonials. He also ignores the
fact that, in many ways, the Hausa auxiliaries too were victims of a colonial
administrative policy shaped by the racist notion of the more civilized natives
helping to civilize the less civilized ones. But the hostility that he
describes is real. It prompted the Igedde to take up arms against both the
British and their Hausa allies in 1926. The rebellion was led by Ogbuloko
Inawo, a young man reputed to possess magical powers. Ogbuloko had briefly been
deputized for a Hausa colonial tax collector, a job which exposed him to the
novel resentments that British taxation generated among the Idoma. Subsequently
he became an anti-tax agitator, relinquishing his employment with the British
to begin plotting an uprising against the British and their Hausa
administrative allies. The Ogbuloko uprising of 1926-29 was the bloody outcome
of built-up anti-British grievances of which the Hausa colonials were the
visible and vulnerable symbols and reminders.
The uprising was so popular that it took a massive military operation by the
British to crush.
has examined one aspect of a very complex historical problem; the ideological
origins and colonial administrative motivations for the political and
economically consequential presence of Muslim, Hausa-Fulani colonial
auxiliaries in Nigeria's Middle Belt. While the presence of Hausa and Hausaized
Muslims in the two Divisions focused on predated British colonialism, it was
reified and elevated by British colonial administrative practices into a
quasi-colonial community. I argued that through a long process of articulation,
elaboration, and implementation, a novel corpus of significations founded on
real and constructed socio-economic and political attributes of Hausa
sociolinguistics was foisted on the non-Hausa speaking, non-Muslim peoples of
the Middle Benue area of the Middle Belt. These impositions provoked violent
backlashes in many cases. But more importantly, they complicated Idoma and Tiv
engagements with British colonialism, victimizing both the Idoma and Tiv, and
the Hausa auxiliaries—who were perceived and treated by the Idoma and Tiv
as the visible and vulnerable embodiment of British colonialism.
analysis complicates an important paradigm of African colonial studies: the
consensus that colonialism was an ideology founded starkly on divide and rule,
and that colonial powers created and reified ethnic boundaries and differences
to suit colonial bureaucratic, documentary, and administrative aims. This
important and correct observation has been well documented.
However, this study shows that British colonialism sometimes prioritized a
unitary and totalizing doctrine of rule, and that the British sometimes pursued
cultural, economic, and political uniformity and sameness with as much vigor as
they reified and accentuated the difference between African peoples in order to
rule them. In the area under consideration, the British did not so much seek to
formalize and codify difference as to use difference (between the Hausa-Caliphate
model of social, political and economic organization and the material and
symbolic universe of the Middle Belt) to achieve a measure of sameness and
uniformity and in colonial administration. The aim of this project, I argue,
was not to inscribe a new administrative system onto northern Nigeria but to
prepare those perceived as being to "backward" for integration into the
Indirect Rule system.
The aim of
the British in seeking to engineer cultural and economic sameness by
socializing the Idoma and Tiv into the administrative mainstream in northern
Nigeria was the achievement of the highest possible degree of Indirect Rule.
The aim of the more analyzed British magnification and codification of ethnic
and cultural difference was the same: to establish a firm foundation for
Indirect Rule. Indirect Rule was the overarching colonial obsession in both
approaches. For it was precisely the thinking that the worldview and practices
of the Idoma and Tiv were incompatible with Indirect Rule which birthed the
idea of tutoring them into the readiness for the administrative system through
the use of Hausa auxiliaries.
particular case, the desire to save money and personnel (which a different
system of administration for the Middle Belt would have required), and a
British belief in the potential of 'native' civilizing 'native' through British
supervision authorized and sustained the British commitment to the
The Hausa-Caliphate imaginary is
actually a Hausa-Fulani caliphate imaginary. Starting from the late 18th
century when commingling and intermarriages between the Hausa and the Fulani
increased, a new ethnic category emerged. This category is linguistically Hausa
but it is a hybrid of Fulani and Hausa culture. After the Othman bin Fodio
Islamic Jihad, the mutual assimilation of the Hausa and Fulani accelerated.
Presently, apart from small pockets of ethnic Fulani in the Adamawa area,
smaller pockets of transhumant Fulani all over northern Nigeria, and the Maguzawa
non-Muslim Hausa in the Northwestern states of modern Nigeria, much of the
population of the pre-Jihad territory of Hausaland is made up of people who can
be called Hausa-Fulani. Indeed, this is the term in use in contemporary
Nigerian political and ethnic taxonomies and discussions.
competing definitions of the Middle Belt abound, especially since the Middle
Belt is a geographically fluid existence. In general it is agreed that a
conservative territorial estimation of the Middle Belt (as opposed to the idea
of a Greater Middle Belt, which is a largely political construct appropriating all
non-Hausa-Fulani and Kanuri peoples of northern Nigeria) comprises of Benue,
Plateau, Kwara, Kogi, Southern Kaduna, FCT, parts of Niger, Adamawa, and Taraba
states. Even this territorial definition is imperfect, since in all these
states, there are significant numbers of Muslim non-Hausa as well Muslim Hausa
peoples, who may or may not be captured by specific delineations of the Middle
Belt. Similarly, "Muslim Hausa" states like Kebbi, Gombe, Bauchi, Borno, and
even Katsina and Kano contain pockets of non-Hausa, non-Muslim populations that
may qualify as Middle Belters in the political sense of the word, since Middle
Belt identity is often politically constructed against Hausa-Fulani, Sokoto
Caliphate Muslim identity. There were and still are non-Hausa, non Muslim
peoples in the Jos Plateau, parts of Bauchi, Taraba, Adamawa, and Southern
Borno who historically spoke Hausa as second or third languages, and these
non-Caliphate people who did/do not share in Hausa ethnicity either by
inheritance or assimilation were also subjected to the British policy of
cultural erasure and assimilation. The non-Hausa speaking, non-Muslim sector of
northern Nigeria, on the other hand, is a narrower descriptive category which
consists of districts in the former Benue, Ilorin, and Kabba Provinces, whose
populations, for the most part, didn't speak Hausa at all.
By assimilation I do not imply that
the British wanted to convert, by fiat or process, one ethnic group into
another, or that it entailed losing one's ethnic consciousness—that would
contradict the principles of indirect rule. Rather, I use the term to describe
the process of making a people acquire the socio-economic and political
attributes of another people for purely functional (in this case, colonial
Davis and Kalu-Nwiwu, 2001.
Cameron to Passfield, 10th
December 1931, Colonial Office Papers, London, CO 583/173/842. Cited in Chunun
Mazrui and Mazrui,1998.
For the scope of Hausa as a
linguistic category, and for a discussion of its origins and spread in West
Africa and in northern Nigeria, see Philips, Spurious Arabic,
2000. For a history of the Hausa ethnic
group and of the spread of Hausa identity and influence in Nigeria and West
Africa, see Mahdi Adamu, 1978.
See for instance, M. Hiskett, Kitab
Al-Farq 'A work on the Habe Kingdoms Attributed to Uthman dan Fodio', Bulletin
of the School of Oriental and African Studies
23:3 (1960), 558-579.; see also Bivar, "The Wathiqat
Ahl Al-Sudan: A Manifesto of the Fulani Jihad," The Journal of African
2:2 (1961), 235-243. This document, a chancery letter written by Othman bin Fodio himself
to the Fulani Flagbearer of the Jihad in the Daura area, uses 'Sudan' and
'Hausa States' interchangeably to refer to the geographical area we now call
Arnett, The Rise of the Sokoto
Fulani: Being a Paraphrase and in Some Parts a Translation of the Infaku'l
Maisuri of Sultan Mohammed Bello
(London: School of Oriental and African Studies, 1922),
hereafter Infakul Maisuri
; see also Hugh Clapperton, Into the Interior of Africa:
Record of the Second Expedition 1925-1927
, edited by Jamie Bruce Lockhart and Paul Lovejoy
(Leiden: Koninklyjke Brill N.V, 2005), which contains Mohammed Bello's
cartographic and discursive efforts to delineate a Hausa-Islamic political and
geographic entity and its frontiers and Others.
See for instance the Infakul
Bello. His own testimonies and the many earlier texts that he quotes and
consults attest to this history of ethnic Hausa-Fulani intermingling in the
can still be found in small
communities in Kano, Jigawa, and Katsina States of Northernwestern Nigeria.
Their unique, non-Islamic culture has come under sustained assault from the
governments of these states; they are a constant target of Islamization
campaigns, which have converted many of them to Islam, especially many of their
young ones, who see Islamization as an access to urban life. This author has
observed these Islamization campaigns. Islamization has also eroded many
aspects of their culture. The adoption of the Sharia criminal legal code in
many northern Nigerian states in the last seven years has had a devastating
effect on their way of life as several aspects of their culture, including the
brewing of grain beer, were deemed un-Islamic and banned.
was used to denote non-Muslim Hausa
people who submitted to the authority of the Sokoto Caliphate and paid tribute
in exchange for being allowed to keep their identity and culture. The word
itself is a Hausa version of "Majus" or a "Magian", one of the peoples of the
book that, according to the ethics of Jihad in Islamic doctrine, could be
accorded protection in an Islamic state in exchange for loyalty and the Jizya
. See Murray Last, The Sokoto
Longman, 1967), 67 fn. 18. The
term "Majus" was also used by the Jihad leaders to refer to the Zamfarawa (the
people of Zamfara), before the Jihad because they were seen as mostly
non-Muslims as opposed to the people of other Hausa states who were constructed
as nominal Muslims. See Mohammed Tukur b. Muhammad, Qira al-ahibba
(1908), cited in Last, The
Arnette, Infaku'l Maisuri
. Mohammed Bello's narrative on the
expeditions on the frontiers of Idomaland (Doma) is a rather triumphalist
rendering of the encounters between the Agatu Idoma and the Fulani raiders in
that it masks the stalemated outcome of the wars. The wars produced uneasy
stalemates and fluid triumphs for Keffi, the Zazzau-controlled raiding
sub-emirate in the area. The stalemates nonetheless resulted in the partial
adoption of Islam and Hausa-Fulani culture as a strategy of survival and
This is a Hausa term denoting trust
but which, according to John Nengel, was enunciated into a political doctrine
that allowed expanding Muslim polities and migrants from different parts of the
Sokoto Caliphate to coexist peacefully with the non-Muslim peoples of the
Central Nigerian Highlands. The terms of amana
included stipulated tributes paid
to the neighboring Muslim polities of Bauchi and Zazzau by the non-Muslim,
non-Hausa Fulani states and mini-states on the Southern frontiers of the
Caliphate as well as the reciprocal offer of protection from the emirates and
sub-emirates. See Nengel, 1999. Although the works of Professor James Ibrahim
cast some doubt on the extent to which the amana
system was the normative relational
model on the non-Muslim Southern frontier of the Caliphate, there is evidence
to suggest that amana did hold informally in some areas and over certain
I owe this point to Professor Murray
Last who drew my attention to it in a personal conversation. Also see Professor
Last's essay: "The Idea of 'Frontier' in the Nigerian Context," 1982.
Meek,1931. C.K Meek was the
Anthropological Officer of the northern Nigerian Colonial Administration in the
late 1920s and wrote for the British much of the ethnological notes on the
ethnic groups of northern Nigeria. By 1931, he had risen to the position of
Anthropological Officer, Administrative Service, Nigeria. One of Meek's
assistant, Bitemya Sambo Garbosa II, wrote a history of the Chamba of the Benue
based on research he conducted in Donga in 1927. It was published in two
volumes as Labarun Chambawa da Al' Amurransa
and Salsalar Sarakunen Donga
. The two were published privately
at about 1960 and were microfilmed by the University of Ibadan. For more
bibliographic information on this, see Fardon,1988, p.78 and p.345.
See Streets, 2004; Barua,1995; Leopold, 1974.
Arnette, Infaku'l Maisuri
Far from being controlled formally
of informally by the caliphate zone, the Idah court was in fact building and
consolidating its control over Nsukka Igbo and other peoples within its
vicinity. In fact, as Shelton argues, the Igala were, like the Sokoto
Caliphate, an imperial power in their own right. See Shelton, 1971.
E.W Bovil, 1968, p.132-134.
Arnette, Infaku'l Maisuri
, introduction (i)
See Clapperton, 2005, Appendix
v-vi, pp. 485-486; p.493. Much information came from Mohammed Bello himself or
members of his household. The map of the Caliphate's Hausa core given to
Clapperton and published in his journal, for instance, came from one Musa, a
member of Mohammed Bello's household.
Ibid., appendix v, p.485; p.491; p.493.
Ibid., p.515. See p.488-511, for
the maps used by Clapperton to represent the Sokoto Caliphate, its many
emirates, trade routes, and Borno.
Ibid., p.397; p.486.
Ibid., "Appendix 5: Contemporary maps."
The word Munchi or Munci means "We
have eaten[the cattle]," a Hausa expression which the Tiv allegedly used to
explain to the Hausa-speaking Fulani pastoralists that their cattle had been
taken. That the Tiv used Hausa to communicate with the Tiv pastoralists that
they encountered is evidence of the fact that Hausa was a linguistic idiom
which mediated relations between Hausa-speaking peoples and the non-Hausa
speaking peoples of the Benue Valley in the precolonial period. The etymology
of the 'munci' label is a poignant metaphor for the troubled and tense
encounters which the Hausa-Fulani presence in the Tiv area produced.
For a full account of Clapperton's
two phase travels in the Sokoto Caliphate, see his published journal, Journal
of a Second Expedition into the Interior of Africa from the Bight of Benin to
(Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Carey,1829). Clappperton made his first journey
to the Hausa States, the core of the Sokoto Caliphate, in 1822-1825. He met
with the Shehu with whom he exchanged gifts and signed 'a treaty of trade and
friendship.' He died on his second expedition, which he described as a quest to
discover the mouth of the Niger River. His death occurred near Sokoto on April
13, 1827 before he could accomplish this mission.
See Barth, 1890; Ochonu, 2001.
For a full account of the Lander
brothers' travels, see their published journal titled Journal of an
Expedition to Explore the Course and Termination of the Niger, with a Narrative
of a Voyage Down that River to its Termination,
2 vols. (New York: J & J Harper, 1832-37).
Margery Perham, 1960, p.148-149.
Flora Shaw, 1905, pp. 83-84; p. 454.
For the Idoma and Tiv examples of
leadership patterns and political organization, see Magid, 1976: p.35-39 and
Makar, 1994 p.23-30.
See Fallers, 1965, pp.145-6.
W.R Crocker, journal, Rhodes House
Mss. Afr. S. 1073, 1. (hereafter 'Crocker's Journal')19/11/1933.
Most of the Hausa interpreters were
not ethnic Hausa but Hausaized Nupe, Gbagyi, and Ilorin Yoruba, but they were
all Muslims and were chosen because of their understanding of, and/or prior
participation in, Caliphate administrative practices, and because they had
lived or traded in the Benue valley and had interacted with the Idoma.
The Royal Niger Company (RNC) was
reconstituted from the National African Company in 1886 as a conglomerate
uniting the major British trading firms on the Niger. The company grew through
the brinkmanship of its first head, George Goldie, who oversaw the formation of
the company's army, the RNC constabulary, signed most of the treaties that gave
the British a foothold on the Niger, eliminated French and German trade rivals,
and engaged in informal imperial practices such as expeditions and interference
in African political affairs. All this was possible because the company had a
royal charter. The charter was withdrawn by the British government in 1899,
leading to the taking over by the inchoate British colonial authority in
northern Nigeria of the assets of the company and the compensation of its
shareholders. George Goldie was succeeded by Frederick Lugard, who presided
over the company's liquidation and its transformation into a colonial
administrative and quasi-military entity. Lugard also oversaw the formal
annexation and routinization of the territories that the RNC had established
informal colonial administrative control over.
These encounters involved alleged
Tiv theft of Hausa-Fulani cattle and Tiv raid of Hausa merchandize along the
Abinsi trade corridor. See Ikime, 1977, p.169-177.
See Adamu,1978, for a discussion of
the Elephant tusk trade pioneered by the Hausa in the Niger-Benue area.
Crocker's Journal 11/11/1933.
Crocker, 1971, p.31.
See NAK/OTUDIST ACC26 'Eastern
District of Okwoga' by N.J Brooke.
Crocker's Journal, 18/11/1933.
NAI, E.S Pemberton, 1929, CSO
26/12874, vol. viii, quoted in Tseayo p.41.
H.H Wilkinson, 1937: NAI CSO
26/12874 vol. XI.
For more detail on the day-to-day
administrative activities of the Hausa auxiliaries, see the journals of Hugh
Elliot (Journal of H. P Elliot, Assistant District Officer, Rhodes House Mss.
Afr. S. 1336), and that of W.R Crocker (Rhodes House Mss. Afr. S. 1073, 1,). In
these journals the Hausa dogarai
(scribes and tax collectors), and messengers feature
prominently in the daily records of administrative proceedings in Idoma
Division. The malleability of Hausa as category is underscored by the fact that
some of these auxiliary colonial actors were identified as Muslim Nupe, who were
"Hausa" enough for the task of administering Idoma Division by virtue of their
descent from the Caliphate tradition.
Ochonu, 2004, chapter 5.
Anyebe, 2002, p. 81.
See for instance, Mahmood Mamdani,
2002, and 1996. In both works, he discusses the ways in which colonialism
created little ethno-cultural autocracies and bureaucratized them as an
essential element of the colonial system. In the former work, he argues that
the Belgian colonial creation of Hutu and Tutsi ethnicities, and their
bureaucratization and politicization was one of the remote causes of the 1994
M. The Hausa Factor in West African History. Ibadan: Oxford University Press,
Adiele E. The Warrant Chief: Indirect Rule in Southeastern Nigeria. London: Longman, 1972.
R.A. Power and Diplomacy in
northern Nigeria, 1804-1906. New York: Humanities Press, 1971.
E.J. The Rise of the Sokoto Fulani: Being a Paraphrase and in Some Parts a
Translation of the Infaku'l Maisuri of Sultan Mohammed Bello. London: School of Oriental and
African Studies, 1922.
A.P. Man of Courage and Character: The Ogbuluko War in Colonial Idomaland. Enugu: Fourth Dimension
A.H. The Fortunes of Wangarin. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999.
W.B. Narrative of an Exploring Voyage up Rivers Kworra and Benue, 1854. London, 1854.
Hienrich. Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa. New York: Ward, Lock, and Co,
Barua, Pradeep. "Inventing Race: The British and India's Martial
Races," Historian: Journal of History 58 (1995), 107-116.
C.A. Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
A.D.H. "The Wathiqat Ahl Al-Sudan: A Manifesto of the Fulani Jihad," The
Journal of African History 2 (2), 1961, 235-243.
Bovil, The Niger Explored. London,1968.
Niels. Constructing the Colonial Encounter: Right and Left Hand Castes in
Early Colonial South India. Surrey: Curzon Press, 1999.
H. Journal of a Second Expedition into the Interior of Africa from the Bight
of Benin to Soccatoo.
Philadelphia: Carey: Lea and Carey, 1829.
the Interior of Africa: Record of the Second Expedition 1925-1927, edited by Jamie Bruce Lockhart and
Paul Lovejoy. Leiden: Koninklyjke Brill N.V, 2005.
James. Nigeria: Background to Nationalism. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1958.
W.R. Nigeria: A Critique of
British Colonial Administration. Freeport: Books for Library Press, 1936, 1971.
Thomas J and Azubike Kalu-Nwiwu, "Education, Ethnicity and National Integration
in the History of Nigeria: Continuing Problems of Africa's Colonial Legacy." The
Journal of Negro History 86: 1 (winter 2001), 1-11.
L. Bantu Bureaucracy: A Century of Political Evolution among the Busoga of
University of Chicago Press, 1965.
Michael. Raiders and Refugees: Trends in Chamba Political Development
1750-1950. Washington and London: Smithsonian
Institution Press, 1988.
E.P.T. Christianity in northern Nigeria. London: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1975.
M, Kitab Al-Farq. 'A Work on the Habe Kingdoms Attributed to Uthman dan Fodio',
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 23:3 (1960) 558-579.
T. Nigerian Perspectives: An Historical Anthology. London: Oxford University Press,
Obaro. The Fall of Nigeria. London: Heinemann, 1977.
Emmy Godwin "Ethnic Conflict Management in Africa: A Comparative Case Study of
Nigeria and South Africa," 2005. http://www.beyondintractability.org/case_studies/nigeria_south-africa.jsp?nid=6720
Ibrahim. Studies in the History, Politics and Cultures of Southern Kaduna
Jos, Nigeria: Crest, 1997.
M.H. Religion, Politics, and Power in northern Nigeria. Ibadan, Nigeria: Spectrum Books
Richard and John. Journal of an Expedition to Explore the Course and
Termination of the Niger, with a Narrative of a Voyage Down that River to its
vols. New York: J & J Harper,
Murray. The Sokoto Caliphate. London: Longman, 1967.
Idea of 'Frontier' in the Nigerian Context." Paper presented at the conference
on "Political Crises on West Africa's Islamic Frontier," SAOS London, June
Karen. "Reassessing Indirect Rule in Hyderabad: Rule, Rulers, or Sons-in-Laws
of the State?" Modern Asian Studies 37: 2 (2003), 363-379.
Leopold, Joan. 1974. "British Application of the Aryan Theory of
Race to India, 1850-1870." English Historical Review 89 (1974), 578-610.
Logams, Chunun. "The Middle Belt Movement in Nigerian Political Development: A Study of
Political Identity, 1949-1967." PhD Diss., University of Keele, England,1985.
F. The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa. Hamden: Archon Books, 1926;1965.
A. Men in the Middle: Leadership and Role Conflict in a Nigerian Society. New York: Africana Publishing
T. The History of Political Change among the Tiv in the 19th and
20th Centuries. Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishers, 1994.
M. Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late
Princeton: Princeton University Press,1996.
When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in
Princeton University Press, 2002.
Alamin and Ali A. The Power of Babel: Language and Governance in the African
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.
Meek, C.K. A Sudanese Kingdom: An Ethnological Study of the Jukun Peoples of
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd, 1931.
C.K. The Northern Tribes of Nigeria: An Ethnological Account of the Northern
Provinces of Nigeria Together with a Report on the 1921 Decennial Census. New York: Negro Universities
P.L. De Saint-Louis a Tripoli par le Lac Tchad. Paris: F. Alcan, 1895.
John Garah. Precolonial African Intergroup Relations in the Kauru and
Pengana Polities of the Central Nigerian Highlands 1800-1900. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang,
M.E. "A Colony in Crisis: northern Nigeria, British Colonialism, and the Great
Depression." PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2004.
_______. "Cloth Production and Textile
Aesthetics in Barth's Travel Account of Nineteenth Century Kano," FAIS Journal
of Humanities 1 (3), 2001, 105-19.
V.G. "The Establishment of Colonial Administration in Idomaland 1921-1930," Savannah 5(1), 1976, 29-44.
J. Spurious Arabic: Hausa and Colonial northern Nigeria. Madison: African Studies Center,
Margery. Native Administration in Nigeria. New York: Oxford University Press, 1962.
Lugard: the Years of Authority 1895-1945 (London: Collins, 1960), 148-149.
S. Farmers and the State in Colonial Kano: Land Tenure and the Legal
Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2005.
Roberts, A. D. "The Sub-Imperialism of the Baganda," Journal of African History, 8: 3, (1962), 435-50.
Flora L. A Tropical Dependency: An Outline of the Ancient History of the
Western Soudan with an Account of the Modern Settlement of northern Nigeria. London: J. Nisbet & Co., 1905.
Austin. The Igbo-Igala Borderland: Religion and Social Control in Indigenous
Albany: State University of New York Press, 1971.
Heather. Martial Races: The Military, Race and
Masculinity in British Imperial Culture, 1857-191 4. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004.
C.L. Native Races and their Rulers: Sketches and Studies of Official Life
and Administrative Problems in Nigeria. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd, 1968.
and Incorporation in Nigeria: the Integration of the Tiv. Zaria: Gaskiya Corporation Ltd,
Sam. The Origins of the Nigerian Army: A History of the West African
Frontier Force, 1897-1914. Zaria, Nigeria: Gaskiya Corporation, 1987.
P. Colonial Subjects: An African Intelligentsia and Atlantic Ideas. Charlottesville: University Press
of Virginia, 2000.
is an assistant professor of history at Vanderbilt University. He specializes in the modern history of Sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on the colonial and postcolonial periods. Although he teaches survey and topical classes on all regions of Africa (and on all periods), his research interest lies in Nigeria. He has published several articles on subjects ranging from the impact of colonial medicine on northern Nigerians, to the impact of the Great Depression on Nigeria, as well as a theoretical and empirical examination of the personalization and performance of political power in contemporary Nigeria.
Reference Style: The following is the suggested format for referencing this article: Moses Ochonu, "Colonialism within Colonialism: The Hausa-Caliphate Imaginary and the British Colonial Administration of the Nigerian Middle Belt," African Studies Quarterly 10, nos. 2 & 3: (Fall 2008) [online] URL: http://africa.ufl.edu/asq/v10/v10i2a5.htm