03 November 2020

Colonial Nigeria

Theodore in Kano, Nigeria
Last month I travelled to the United States to sort through my late father's office. While there I found a fascinating account of his years in British-ruled Nigeria some seven decades ago. I thought it worth posting here. He wrote this in 2010.

When I was 18 years old, I left Cyprus, my birthplace, for Benin City, NIGERIA, then a British colony, to take over a company owned by a family friend who was old and ready to retire. There were only forty families of white Europeans in Benin then, and they all lived a lonely, miserable and separate existence from the Nigerian natives.

From the first day of my arrival there, I noticed that the Europeans did not treat the natives fairly and humanly. They paid them very low wages, exploited them in every way possible and kept a social and cultural separation from them, something which I, the youngest of all the businessmen there, considered both cruel and ignorant. Understandably, I embarked on an endless campaign of heated and deliberate discussions whenever and wherever the occasion arrived.

Although privately several of the men and most of the women would agree with me, openly nobody would join or even support me during open discussions at dinners or other social gatherings restricted to Whites only. After six months in Benin City, I accepted an offer from a leading Greek businessman to join his organization and soon moved first to Lagos where I stayed for six months, then went North to Kano, Nigeria, where I spent two more years before I came to the United States.

Nigeria became independent in 1960, nearly a decade after my father left the territory to study in the States.

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