A History of the Eastern Niger Delta 1885-1960. Challenges and Responses of a Society in Transition".

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Abam, S.A
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University of Lagos
The major factor in the history of the Eastern Niger Delta is not just the increase of the trans-Atlantic trade from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries and the momentum it gathered, but colonialism which that trade eventually ushered in with revolutionary changes in the twentieth century. Although the formal colonial period itself was short, yet its consequences were profound and decisive, resulting as they did in the over-thrown of indigenous rule. An outstanding implication of the loss of political and military power by the Delta rulers was the way it altered previous historical relationships both with Europeans, and African neighbours in the delta hinterland. That is what has been stressed in the main body of this work. Although there was economic interdependence between coastal communities and their hinterland neighbours, (and this was a crucial factor in the events of the period) the superior position of the delta middlemen before the colonial era was never in doubt. The nineteenth century saw the coastal communities at the height of their economic primacy but the colonial conquest with the cooperation of European merchants and Christian Missionaries dealt fatal blows on their political and economic power. Colonialism ushered in new power and economic relationships between the Ijo communities and the British and between them and their economic pre-eminence to their hinterland neighbours. While colonialism is generally regarded as exploitation of the economic resources of the colonised, this did not happen in the case of the Eastern Niger Delta Communities. Rather it was a case of neglect due to the non-availability of the resources demanded by the colonial power. The colonial period was therefore marked by a gross neglect of the Eastern Niger Delta Communities in matters of Socio-economic development. Colonialism however, tended to unify the people politically, and the effect of the challenges posed by the colonial situation reduced inter-community clashes and paved the way to a common platform for political action in the late 1940s for a demand for a Rivers State among others. Indeed, like an army with no line of retreat or hope of escape; the people of the Eastern Niger Delta Stoutly fought the many odds of their changing economic and political environment, developments which established the conditions for the ultimate creation of states in Nigeria in the first decades of the post-colonial era. But these events should not only be seen as part of the general link in the endless chain of history, they also make it copiously manifest that the historical past of the Eastern Niger Delta had been a record of continuous dialogue between economic and political forces.
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Interdependence , Socio-economic
Abam, S.A (1988) A History of the Eastern Niger Delta 1885-1960. Challenges and Responses of a Society in Transition". University of Lagos School of Postgraduate Studies Phd Thesis and Dissertation Abstracts. 292pp