Social Development Under Colonial Rule


Social Development Under Colonial Rule in Nigeria (1900 – 1960)

During the period of colonial rule in Nigeria from 1900 to 1960, significant changes were witnessed in various aspects of social development. One of the key areas of focus was the administration of the protectorates, where the British implemented policies and structures to govern the territories effectively.

Administration of the Protectorates: The administration of the protectorates was marked by the establishment of central administrative bodies to oversee the governance of the regions. The introduction of legislative and executive councils aimed to provide a framework for decision-making and policy formulation. Additionally, the implementation of indirect rule was a crucial strategy employed by the British to maintain control while utilizing indigenous institutions.

Reasons for Indirect Rule: The adoption of indirect rule by the colonial authorities was driven by the need to reduce administrative costs and leverage existing traditional structures for governance. By ruling indirectly through native authorities, the British aimed to ensure continuity in local governance systems and mitigate resistance to their rule.

Effects of Indirect Rule: The impact of indirect rule on social development in Nigeria was significant. It led to the empowerment of native authorities and chiefs, thereby reinforcing traditional power structures. However, this system also exacerbated tensions within communities and marginalized groups that did not align with the British-backed leaders.

Resistance to Colonial Rule: Various resistance movements emerged during this period, such as the Ekumeku Movement, the Satiru Uprising, the Egba Anti-Tax Agitation, and the Aba Women's Riots. These movements represented the defiance of local populations against exploitative colonial policies, taxation, and forced labor.

Impact of Urbanization: Urbanization under colonial rule resulted in the concentration of economic activities and administrative functions in cities. This led to the growth of urban centers, increased migration from rural areas, and the emergence of new social classes with distinct livelihoods and interactions.

Social Integration: The level of social integration among the people was influenced by colonial policies that aimed to assimilate indigenous populations into Western modes of governance, education, and culture. While these efforts had some success in urban areas, rural communities often maintained their traditional practices and social structures.

Conclusion: The period of colonial rule in Nigeria from 1900 to 1960 witnessed significant developments in social aspects, ranging from administration and governance to resistance movements and urbanization. Understanding the impact of colonial policies on social development is crucial for recognizing the complexities of Nigeria's historical trajectory and its implications for the present day.


  1. Identify the Areas of Social Development Under Colonial Rule
  2. Examine the Level of Social Integration Among the People
  3. Examine the Impact of Urbanization on the People

Lesson Note

The era of colonial rule brought significant changes to many regions around the world. This period, which ranged from the 16th to the mid-20th century, had a profound impact on various aspects of life, including social structures, economic activities, and cultural practices. This article explores the different areas of social development under colonial rule, the level of social integration among the colonized people, and the effects of urbanization during this period.

Lesson Evaluation

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  1. What were the main areas of social development under colonial rule in Nigeria? A. Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce B. Mining, Healthcare, and Western Education C. Banking, Urbanization, and Transportation D. Education, Healthcare, and Infrastructure Answer: A. Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce
  2. How did colonial rule impact urbanization in Nigeria? A. It led to a decline in urban population B. It promoted the growth of urban centers C. It had no effect on urban development D. It led to the abandonment of cities Answer: B. It promoted the growth of urban centers
  3. What was the level of social integration among the people during colonial rule? A. High level of integration due to improved communication B. Low level of integration due to segregation policies C. Moderate level of integration due to cultural exchange D. Rapid assimilation of different ethnic groups Answer: B. Low level of integration due to segregation policies
  4. How did the colonial administration impact social development in Nigeria? A. It hindered social progress B. It facilitated social integration C. It had no significant impact on social life D. It promoted economic growth at the expense of social welfare Answer: A. It hindered social progress

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