Colonial meltdown, Northern Nigeria in the Great Depression (book review)

Susan M. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article reviewpeer-review

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For the past 20 years, historians of colonial Africa have paid relatively little attention to the impact of the Great Depression both upon African lives and upon the relationship between the rulers and the ruled. The hypotheses advanced by French and British historians in the 1970s and 1980s have been allowed to stand by default. With the publication of this forcefully argued and original contribution, focusing on the experiences of non-Muslim peoples in the Middle Belt of colonial Northern Nigeria, Moses Ochuno re-opens the debate. His contribution is especially valuable given that historians of Europe and America are currently drawing parallels between the commercial and financial trends of the 1930s and potential future trends in the evolution of the world economy, following the banking crash of 2008. Ochuno’s evidence lends fresh support to the view previously advanced by many Anglophone historians that the Depression intensified the tensions between the rulers and the ruled in the colonies and protectorates of British West Africa, while countering the view often found in the Francophone literature that such tensions arose from the increasingly effective exploitation of Africans. Ochuno argues eloquently that the Depression was a period of manifest colonial failure which saw the withdrawal of many rural Nigerians from the global economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-162
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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