THE SCRAMBLE FOR….WHAT?

Why did the Europeans colonize Africa? The answer is not as simple as many people think. In university, I was certain—as is often the case, without having done any research or read anything that supported my view—that they were driven by a need to control the resources of the continent. A history professor of British... Continue Reading →

AND THIS TIME, NO ONE DIED

The Scottish doctor William Balfour Baikie led the first expedition up the Rivers Niger and Benue in which not a single European succumbed to malaria. The expedition was sent out in 1854 by a previous explorer, Macgregor Laird, who was supported by the British Government. There were 12 Europeans, and 54 “persons of colour” on... Continue Reading →

ANY GIFTS FOR THE BOYS?

On the 3rd of December 1795 the Scottish explorer Mungo Park left the town of Pisania in the Gambia with a few African attendants to begin his journey to locate the River Niger. He had traveled but a few miles on his donkey, when a number of local people came running up and stopped his... Continue Reading →

THE HUNGRY RIVER

In the age of West African exploration, the River Niger and the region around it devoured white men with unseemly relish. In the late 18th and early 19th century, the British sent out a number of expeditions to map the course of the mighty river, most of which ended predictably. In 1825, when Royal Navy... Continue Reading →

YES, WE CAN (MAKE GUNS)

Winston Churchill’s famous WW II speech, “We shall fight on the beaches…we shall fight in the fields and in the streets…” was often quoted by the Igbo-speaking people of Eastern Nigeria at the beginning of the civil war in Nigeria in 1967 (also known as the Biafran War).  We secessionist Igbos had just been invaded... Continue Reading →

BLIND TOURS IN THE WHITE MAN’S COUNTRY, PART 2

William Ansah Sessarakoo, nicknamed “Cupid,” was a huge celebrity in London. His name was constantly in the newspapers and news magazines, and he was in great demand for gatherings, invited everywhere in high society. Poetry and plays were written about him, and he had been presented at court. All the ladies of fashion knew his... Continue Reading →

BLIND TOURS IN THE WHITE MAN’S COUNTRY

Dom Domingos, a prince of Warri in southern Nigeria, traveled to Portugal to spend 8 years studying in Lisbon—and a total of 10 years in Portugal—before marrying a Portuguese noblewoman and returning to his home in West Africa. His father the Olu—meaning King—Sebastian of Warri, had sent him to Portugal to study the mysterious ways... Continue Reading →

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