John E. Flint/Frederick Lugard: The Making of an Autocrat (1858-1943)

African Proconsuls. European Governors in Africa.
L.H. Gann & Peter Duignan, eds.

New York/London/Stanford. The Free Press/Collier Macmillan Publishers & Hoover Institution. 1978. 548 pages

John E. Flint
Frederick Lugard: The Making of an Autocrat (1858-1943)

In their political, constitutional, and legal history the British have rightly been characterized as a people not given to dogma and inflexible insistence upon the application of political theory to administrative practice. Rather, such characteristics have been assigned to the French, over whose fertile and ebullient minds logic and rationality are said to have held sway since the revolution of 1789; whereas the British muddled from one pragmatism to another-with infinitely preferable results, the Englishman would add. These generalizations have been taken to fit, with a special appropriateness, the evolutionary (and nonrevolutionary) history of the British empire, founded, developed, matured, and ultimately transformed into the Commonwealth in what Sir John Seeley memorably termed “a fit of absence of mind.”
In the development of British colonial administration in Africa, however, the period 1890-1945 exhibits quite the contrary appearance. Steadily the men and machinery of colonial administration, whether in London or in Africa, developed a credo of political theory upon which the administration of Africans was based and strove dogmatically to maintain and extend its practices and principles over peoples and territories to which its application was often singularly inappropriate. The extent to which the British had become adherents of a doctrine is shown by the precise meaning that came to be attached to the words “native administration.” In the English language these words carry no more meaning than that of categorizing all the ways in which locally born people might be governed. In British colonial jargon, however, “native administration” referred to a specific for integrating the traditional African rulers into the colonial administration, the system often more loosely termed “indirect rule.” In “discovering” the system, the British imagined they had lighted upon the secret of successfully ruling “Africans,” and they made of native administration both a blueprint for action and a moral and theoretical philosophy with which to justify imperial rule in twentieth-century conditions.
To assign the emergence of such a colonial doctrine to the career of one man would obviously be simplistic: the roots of the indirect rule philosophy run deep in British imperial history. But one man, Frederick Dealtry Lugard, exercised such a profound influence over the development of native administration in British colonial Africa that it is justifiable to speak of “the Lugardian system” and to term its philosophy that of “Lugardian principles.” It was Lugard who, after playing a significant role in the partition of Africa in the 1890s and in the transition of British public opinion to support of imperial expansion in Africa, himself set up the classical system of indirect rule in Northern Nigeria from 1900-1906, extended ifs principles into Southern Nigeria, when the country was “unified” by him after 1912, created the “blueprints” of “native administration” by the issuance of his “Political Memoranda” for the instruction of administrators, and finally formed indirect rule into a justification and apologia for colonial rule in The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa . No other British colonial governor in Africa had a comparable impact on the shape and nature of colonial rule.

Early Career

Lugard, born in 1858 , grew up in the period that has been described as “the climax of anti-imperialism” — the years in which the British colonies favored by white settlers increased their autonomy through the institutions of responsible government, in which the Manchester school of free trade pursued commercial expansion while avoiding territorial empire, and in which African annexations in particular were looked upon with disfavor. But these influences had no impact on the young Lugard; his family stamped on him a familiarity with Britain’s imperial role and propelled him toward an imperial career. His mother had been a Church Missionary Society worker in India and his father (the son of a soldier) served as East India Company chaplain at Madras. Both were evangelical Anglicans. And Luzard’s mother could be seen as a martyr to the cause: in 1863 ill health drove her back to England, where she died in 1865, when her son was seven years old. The Reverend Frederick Lugard had secured a modest living as rector of St. Clement’s, Worcester, and managed to provide his son with an indifferent education at Rossall, an Anglican public school that enjoyed little academic reputation.
At this time young Lugard’s hero was Livingstone, and his ambition was to enter the Indian civil service but he failed the entrance examination. Family background now determined Lugard’s choice of an alternative career; the most distinguished of the Lugards was his uncle, General Sir Edward Lugard, who from 1861 to 1871 had served as permanent undersecretary for war. With his advice Lugard took the army examinations at the end of 1877 and passed, sixth of nearly 1,000 candidates. In 1878 he entered the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and here followed nine years of service with the East Norfolk Regiment in India. He saw fighting in the Afghan campaign of 1879, passed the higher examinations in Hindi and Urdu, shot tiger, hunted wild boar, played polo, and immersed himself in the social life of the British in India. In 1885 he saw his first active service in Africa in the Suakin campaign, but this seemed to have made little impact on him; the next year he joined the Burma campaign. Early in 1877 it might have been expected that Frederick Lugard was well set upon a modestly successful military career.
Lugard now suffered a traumatic emotional experience, which was to prove the turning point in his life. He had fallen deeply in love with a remarried divorcée in Lucknow, whose identity remains shrouded in mystery by his biographer . That lady used him so badly that she almost drove him to suicide. In the middle of 1877, while still in Burma, Lugard received a telegram that she was dying after an accident in which she had overturned a coach. Rushing back to India, Lugard found the lady gone to England; he sailed for England, where he found her, hale and hearty, surrounded by a circle of “fast” friends, with her emotional needs quite satisfied elsewhere. The affair made him utterly desperate; he lost his religious faith and flung himself into a series of dangerous pursuits that may well have been designed to end his life in useful but hazardous work. For two months he fought fires as a volunteer with the new London fire brigade. Then he resolved to leave England, emulate his hero Livingstone, and seek danger and perhaps a noble death fighting the slave trade in East Africa.
He sailed for Italy on a rather wild plan to join the Italian forces preparing to attack Ethiopia but, finding that the Italians would not have him, took a deck passage on an Italian ship bound for Aden. There he picked up a British ship traveling down the East African coast and was forced to take second-class passage as white men were not permitted to travel with the Arabs and Africans as deck passengers. He thus was able to meet Colonel Euan Smith, the British consul at Zanzibar, who provided him with a letter of introduction to the British consul in Mozambique, in the hopes that he might find employment with the African Lakes Company then fighting Arab slave traders at the north end of Lake Nyasa in support of Scottish missionaries. These contacts bore fruit, and in May 1888 Lugard made his way to Lake Nyasa to lead a military attack on the Arab stockade at Karonga’s settlement. But these actions were hardly triumphant; repeated attacks, culminating in March 1889, failed to dislodge the Arabs, and Lugard returned to England to turn public opinion in favor of official British intervention in Nyasaland to establish a protectorate. His ambitions were already political. He hoped to make his name known by writing about his adventures in Nyasaland and arguing for British control there, and he had high hopes that he himself might secure the appointment to carry the policy through. In this he was disappointed; Britain did eventually, in May 1891, declare a protectorate over Nyasaland, but the new territory was to be administered by Harry Johnston, much to Lugard’s humiliation and bitter chagrin.

Uganda Pioneer

Lugard had made his mark in British African circles. He published four articles on Nyasaland in 1889 and had developed close relationships with Scottish humanitarians active in the antislavery movement, as well as with British officials on the East African coast. Through these, Lugard later that year secured a vague apoointment to serve the newly chartered Imperial British East Africa Company. After leading caravans and founding stations in Kenya, he was appointed in mid-1890 to lead an expedition into Uganda. By this time his ambitions had matured, and an imperious streak in his character displayed itself in his insistence that he should have complete command of the expedition, independent of the company’s administrator, Sir Francis de Winton.
Lugard’s experiences in Uganda, and even more his political activities in England that followed, were to place him in the forefront of British African politics. This was not because his activities in Uganda were particularly successful. As earlier in Nyasaland, Lugard overstretched the resources at his disposal and was Limself largely responsible for hastening the bankruptcy of the Imperial British East Africa Company, which employed him. In the process he also became the central figure in a bitter controversy with the French government. The kingdom of Buganda on the north shore of Lake Victoria had-since the entry of British Protestant missionaries in 1877 and that of the French Catholics two years laterbecome a battleground for religious factions. Lugard took the decision to arm the Baganda Protestants and help them with his company troops in their attack on the Catholics, No doubt the chartered company would eventually have bankrupted itself without Lugard’s help, and at some stage a struggle for power between Baganda Protestants and Catholics would have taken place. Nevertheless, the official report on Lugard’s activities by Captain J. R. L. Macdonald was highly critical, condemning Lugard for religious partiality, for leaving the capital city of Kampala virtually undefended while he wandered westward to collect Sudanese soldiers, and worst of all, in Macdonald’s opinion, for the fact that “by adopting a high-handed policy and by injudicious management of the crisis, he precipitated ciNil war in Uganda.”
Macdonald’s report was never published. For during the time in which Macdonald was conducting his investigations Lugard was assiduously at work in Britain, developing the techniques of self-advertisement that he had used after his return from the (likewise unsuccessful) foray into Nyasaland. This time, however, the Uganda question occupied a much more central position on the British political stage. The bankruptcy of the Imperial British East Africa Company, and the claims of the French government for compensation for its missionaries in Uganda, raised two questions for the British government in acute form. What were the responsibilities of the British government for the actions of chartered companies? And given that the Imperial British East Africa Company was bankrupt, should Britain withdraw from Uganda or assume direct colonial responsibility? Uganda became the catalyst for a central decision in British policy: would the “reluctant expansion” of the 1880s, achieved through vague methods such as “spheres of influence” dominated by chartered companies (which cost the British taxpayer nothing and supposedly relieved the imperial government of direct responsibility), have to be replaced by a direct and vigorous policy of imperialist expansion? As these questions became the center of public and parliamentary debate, Lugard was able to abandon his posture of defense against the charges of the French and take his stand for the British retention of Uganda, imperialism, and expansion. This was also the way in which British political forces were moving . In mid-1894, with Gladstone resigned and the Liberal imperialist Lord Rosebery prime minister and foreign secretary, the decision to retain Uganda was finally sealed. In the public mind Lugard had emerged as the prime mover in the campaign for retention.

Royal Niger Company

Political success did not bring the rewards of office for which Lugard had hoped. Repeated efforts to secure a high post in the new East African administration were rebuffed. As Lugard finally understood the position, “Lord Rosebery considered that my return would be regarded as an affront to the French government.” Lugard therefore accepted an offer from Sir George Goldie to work with yet another chartered company. His task was to protect the northwestern area of the territories of the Royal Niger Company in Borgu, where French incursions threatened to break the company’s control of the navigable portion of the Niger from Bussa to the sea. Lugard was to lead an expedition into Borgu to make prior treaties with the kings of Borgu in which they would cede their territories to the company.
The story of Lugard’s expedition to Borgu. from July 1894 until his return to England in May 1895 has been considered in detail elsewhere 10. Once again, however, this mission to Africa must be considered a failure, but a failure that was inevitable because of the constraints under which Lugard was made to operate. Goldie insisted that Lugard have only a small, inexpensive force, no “occupation” of the Borguan towns was contemplated; the French encroachments would be resisted with pieces of paper, not soldiers and officials, for the company made its money by trading, not administering. It was therefore inevitable that Lugard’s treaty making would be challenged by the French, whose forces were in a position to occupy the towns in which Lugard had claimed previously to have made treaties. Accordingly, the best Lugard could do was to establish legalistic claims for the company. Unfortunately, he failed even to do this convincingly. At the town of Nikki, which was later to become the focus of British and French claims to Borgu, Lugard was unable even to secure a meeting with the African king. Instead he obtained the signatures of a local imam, or holy man, and two of the king’s councillors (one of whom was the head butcher) to a preprinted, formula treaty. He nevertheless wrote in to the document that it had been made “between the King of Nikki (which is the capital of Borgu)” and the Royal Niger Company; the Arabic signature of the imam was described on the treaty as “signature of native ruler.” Lugard also inserted a name for the king in the treaty, which was later shown to be the name of a king who had been dead for six years 11. Shortly afterward he had to fight his way out of Borgu and abandon his original plan to strike further westward to make more treaties that would serve as counterweights to French claims.
Returning to England in May 1895 Lugard once again threw himself into writing and speaking, this time on West African affairs and the Royal Niger Company and Borgu in particular. His productivity was astonishing; articles in Blackwoods and the Nineteenth Century in June, a paper read at the Royal Geographical Society in July, two more pieces in the National Review in July and August, and five more articles in various magazines before the year was out 12. All this was interspersed with a round of speaking engagements, letters to the press, and interviews with colonial office and foreign office officials and politicians of the day. Again the times favored him; the Borgu question was slowly growing, in the years from 1895 to 1898, into the “Niger crisis,” and the British and French would not settle their differences over the frontiers of their West African colonies until August 1898. Indeed, the problem of defending the northwestern frontiers of Nigeria would eventually bring Lugard the official position he so eagerly desired. But not at once; throughout 1895, despite the patronage and persistent lobbying of Goldie, despite the lionization of London society, and despite the award of a C.B., the British government would offer him no post of consequence in either East or West Africa. Once again Lugard was forced to accept employment by a private company.
His new post was with the British West Charterland Company and his task was to lead an expedition to the area around Lake Ngami, in the Kalahari desert, to prospect for gold and diamonds. The terms were extraordinarily generous, £6,000 a year in salary, a seat on theboard, a post for his younger brother as second in command, and the right to resign at once if he should be offered official employment. His real interest in the post, however, lay in the possibility that the company might gain powers of government in the area, either by royal charter or by delegation from Rhodes’s chartered British South Africa Company, which had rival claims to the area. Neither of these prospects materialized, nor did the gold or diamonds, and throughout his stay in Ngami country Lugard longed for “a higher class of work, with greater results, the building of an Empire.”13 At the same time his ambition remained fixed exclusively on a post in which he would command and be under no man’s orders; he had “much misgiving that I am not suited to work under any man” 14 It was with bitter disappointment that in January, 1897 he received a letter from Lord Salisbury indicating that there would no post for him in the British administration of East Africa.

West African Frontier Force

In the colonial office, however, Lugard’s prestige was greater. The Borgu question and Anglo-French rivalry on the Niger bend were still unresolved, and Goldie’s Niger Company was not an effective instrument with which to face the increasing activities of French officers commanding small parties of trained African troops and proclaiming the doctrine of “effective occupation.” By July 1897 the imperialist colonial secretary, Joseph Chamberlain, had resolved to resist the French in West Africa with their own methods by the creation of a British West African colonial army. At the end of the month Chamberlain cabled Lugard in Ngamiland, offering him the command of the new force, with the title of commissioner and commandant and the local rank of lieutenant colonel 15. In choosing Lugard, whose reputation in France was still that of an archenemy, Chamberlain threw down the gauntlet to the French.
With the command of the West African Frontier Force, as it was later to be known, Lugard, at thirty-nine years of age, assumed his first government post. It was not a role exactly to his liking or ambitions for he wished above all to be a colonial administrator, had lost all desire for soldiering, and wanted political not military command. Yet the vague title of commissioner gave some promise of a political role, and the very fact that the British taxpayer was supporting an army to defend the Niger Company’s sphere made it clear that at some not distant future date Joseph Chamberlain’s direct brand of imperialism would establish colonial office control and abolish the Niger Company’s anachronistic powers 16. If Lugard carefully served Chamberlain, he could expect to assume the governorship of the company’s former territories in due course once the French threat had been contained.
It is revealing of Lugard’s imperious character, his will to domination and fanatical desire for autonomy of decision, that in this delicate position, from the outset of his first official appointment, he showed no disposition to accept the normal and recognized constraints of his office or even to cooperate with Chamberlain’s ideas and plans. At this time Lugard was much under the spell of Sir George Goldie and had accepted Goldie’s views of handling the situation even before he discussed the matter with Chamberlain. Goldie had particular axes to grind; with his company about to be taken over by the colonial office he wished to achieve a favorable financial settlement while the French pressure was most intense and the British government had need of his cooperation in providing men, transport, and supplies. But Chamberlain wanted the French question settled before he would turn to the problem of taking over the company’s administration. If Goldie would not cooperate, the business could be worked through the Lagos colony in the south, where the government was directly under the colonial office.
But now Chamberlain was to find Lugard obstructive to any such alternative and determined to play the game Goldie’s way. At his first interview with Chamberlain on November 12, 1897, the latter expounded the policy that he expdcted his subordinate to follow. Chamberlain’s plan was to resist the French with what was called the “chessboard” plan; where the French had occupied towns claimed as being within the British sphere Lugard was ordered to move parties of soldiers around and behind them, occupying towns and villages and running up the Union Jack, until “effective occupation” would become no more rational than treaties as a claim for jurisdiction and the matter would have to be settled by diplomacy, with the French position weakening daily. Chamberlain judged that the French would not fight, and his judgment was sound here.
To all this Lugard first stalled, saying that it would be months before he could train a force for such activity. Then, to Chamberlain’s annoyance, Lugard announced that his base would have to be at Lakoja, in the company’s territories (where he would need the company’s cooperation), and that he could not operate from Lagos. (“My main reason,” he wrote later in his diary, “was to be out of the jurisdiction of Lagos and its Governor.”) 17 Finally, Lugard insisted that he could not agree with the chessboard policy; he boldly put forward a completely different proposal, which was both naive and impudent, in which France should be told that British troops would advance up the river and that if the French did not withdraw from Borgu. there would be a “collision.” As a sop to France they could be offered the Sokoto empire north of twelve degrees latitude in return for a settlement of the Nile question. This so-called solution already had been proposed by Goldie and it angered Chamberlain, who could see it for what it was—a sacrifice of future British control of Northern Nigeria in return for the safeguarding of the Niger Company’s monopoly of the Niger waterway below the Bussa rapids. Not surprisingly, Chamberlain was incensed, and Lugard would have resigned had not Goldie insisted that he must not do so.
It is extraordinary that this conflict was never really resolved. Chamberlain to the last insisted on his chessboard scheme, whereas Lugard continued to oppose it. Lugard delayed and delayed his departure for the Niger and as the months dragged on became in effect a conspirator with Goldie against the colonial secretary. Goldie was still fighting for his company and hoped that it could continue as a purely administrative body, like the East India Company after 1833, with himself as a governor in England and Lugard as the administrator on the spot. The two even attempted to set the chancellor of the exchequer (who would have to find the money to buy out the Royal Niger Company) against Chamberlain on the issue, tempting him with their “cheaper” scheme of continued company rule. Meanwhile, Lugard was engaged in continual skirmishes of a lesser kind from his office in London; he would not be subject, as a soldier, to war office control and insisted on choosing all his own officers. He would have as his second in command Colonel James Willcocks, who would look after the actual operations in the field, leaving Lugard to concentrate on the paperwork and “administration” on the Niger. Lugard made it clear that if he were to be placed in any way under the authority of Lagos he would resign at once. On all these issues he had his way.
But on the main issues Chamberlain prevailed. Lugard was forced to go out to the Niger, at long last, leaving Liverpool in March 1898 with the question of compensation to the Niger Company unsettled and the chessboard strategy still in his orders. Arriving at Lagos, where he carefully avoided a “very civil” invitation to visit the governor 18, Lugard proceeded to the Niger, where he immersed himself in the creation of mountains of paperwork, plunging himself into the minutest details of organization and working such long hours that he became ill, delegating nothing—except the actual conduct of the chessboard policy in the field. This strategy was implemented by Colonel Willcocks and his soldiers, with all the successful results that Chamberlain had expected. The French did not fight; they came to terms and in June 1898 all the outstanding questions of Anglo-French frontier rivalry were settled by the signature of a convention 19

Conquest in Northern Nigeria

Chamberlain was now ready to proceed with the reorganization of Northern Nigeria. There were long and tedious negotiations with Goldie over compensation to the Royal Niger Company 20, but well before these were completed Chamberlain was forging ahead with setting up the new regime. It appears from the documents that early in 1898 Chamberlain had Goldie in mind as governor for the new region 21, but Goldie either withdrew or was dropped. In November 1898 Chamberlain offered the post to Lugard, who accepted 22
Already the main lines of policy for governing Northern Nigeria had been laid down in the report of the Niger committee in August 1898 23. Chaired by Lord Selborne, the colonial undersecretary, with Goldie and the governors of Lagos and the Niger coast protectorate as the “expert” members, the committee favored a policy of gradualness and moderation. There must be no attempt to take control of the Muslim emirates of the north by sudden military conquest, nor should there be any attempt to tax the people directly. The general tenor of the report was for continuity—military and political provocation must be avoided, authority established over the emirs one by one, and efforts concentrated on expanding trade, and therefore customs revenue, with Southern Nigeria the model for steady development. Its emphasis was therefore one of the gradual assertion of British overlordship in the region by peaceful means in which British influence would slowly be transformed into British control.
Lugard had played no part in the formulation of this policy, and when he assumed office on January 1, 1900, as high commissioner for Northern Nigeria he was determined to carry through an altogether different program. His was not the temperament to carry out policies designed by others. He had waited until middle age for this appointment; from it he intended to carve a place in history; and for him the slow process of peaceful penetration represented the road to obscurity. Moreover, Lugard’s long experience with chartered and would-be chartered companies had exhausted his patience with the vaguenesses of informal penetration, spheres of influence, treaty making, and such expedients. Though he frequently expressed to his friends and in his diaries his growing dislike of soldiering and fighting, he had developed to an almost obsessive degree a somewhat simplistic military view of the nature of colonial politics and administration, in which the hierarchy of command and the flow of decision down through the structure of administration remained the key to effective administrative action. Lugard saw his position as governor almost exactly upon the analogy of a general commanding an army. He was the general, the British members of the administration were his officers to carry out his orders, whilst the colony itself was seen as a region undergoing a long-term and beneficient military occupation by English officers and gentlemen imbued with a code of military chivalry. The Niger committee’s plans and policy called for an administration of tactful diplornatists with a keen eye for trade and commerce; with Lugard in charge, and with his insistence on controlling every detail of recruitment and local policy, a very different course would be set.
As Lugard assumed office there could have been no worse time for him to seek what he regarded as the key to successful administration: the military conquest of Northern Nigeria. The Anglo-Boer war in South Africa had erupted in October 1899, and British troops and money were being diverted there on an every increasing scale throughout 1900 and 1901. South Africa became the focus of British concern, and governors elsewhere in Africa were expected to lead a quiet life. Only three months after Lugard assumed office his troops had to be sent to the Gold Coast to assist in the campaign against Ashanti and did not return until December 1900. Nevertheless, Lugard was itching to establish some real control over at least some of the northern emirates. Steadily the colonial office resisted any such suggestions. In response to requests from Lugard to be unleashed 24 Chamberlain replied firmly, “We must not have another native war.” 25 But Lugard was not to be bound by these restraints. He knew that the man on the spot could, as the only man “fully informed,” wield enormous influence in the field and on British opinion by stressing the dangers of the situation and the need for effective and immediate action.
In addition, Lugard now developed a special tactic—the appeal to antislavery considerations. The theme of widespread slave raiding, developed in dispatches to the colonial office carefully written with a view to possible subsequent publication and stressed in the published Annual Reports of these early years, was one that Lugard played up for all it was worth. These accounts were often exaggerated to an absurd degree, as when Lugard in August 1900 described the effects of raids by Bida and Kontagora:

Large slave raiding bands have been out devastating the country during the last month or two. … The populous country to the north of the Niger is rapidly becom
ing as depopulated as the country to the south became, where, owing to Nupe raids a mere fraction of the people now remain, and the traveller passed deserted and ruined villages one after another 26

In the months that followed Lugard repeatedly railed against local rulers, adding to the antislavery argument that of the disastrous effects that delay in dealing with them would have on the prestige of the British administration. In January 1901, almost immediately after the troops returned from the Gold Coast, expeditions were launched first against Kontagora then in February against Bida. The dispatch on these actions was not written until March 12, and it was largely taken up with painting the horrors of the country laid waste by the wicked rulers, where “many thousands have been carried off as slaves” and the country “almost depopulated.” 27 Lugard used even more lurid terms in the Annual Report for 1900-1901, which ended by announcing (though the colonial office had sanctioned no such moves) that “there still remain the great slave raiders in the east—Yola and Bautshi—and these I propose to coerce this year.” 28
In April 1901 Lugard returned to Britain, where he was to spend the next 4even months. He did not, however, leave Nigerian affairs in the hands of Acting governor Wallace but installed himself in the colonial office and proceeded to direct the affairs of the colony from there. The conquest of the Benue valley was now undertaken, with Wallace supplying the information that Yola was the scene of the worst slave raiding in the protectorate, Lugard concurring, and Chamberlain eventually sanctioning the Yola expedition 29. Returning to the Niger in November, Lugard was soon informing Chamberlain that Bautshi “long … the scene of continued warfare and slave raiding” must soon be conquered 30 and that it was duly subdued early in 1902. The Bautshi expedition marched on to Bornu, where the French had deposed the sheik; the British invited him back, reinstated him, and secured his allegiance without bloodshed in the first major triumph of peaceful penetration of Lugard’s regime.
The Annual Repart for 1902 translated the need for military conquest into political-anthropoligical theory. Lugard announced: “It is unfortunately true that the African savage in his primitive state can, as a rule, understand nothing but force, and regards arguments and verbal lessons as weapons of the weak, to be listened to for the moment and set aside when convenient.” The purpose of such phrasing was purely propagandist; Lugard was well aware that the regimes over which he was establishing military control could by no stretch of imagination be described as “savage” or in a “primitive state” even by the Eurocentric standards of the time. Moreover, the sentiments contradicted his actions for at each conquered place he busied himself with installing Fulani rulers, usually close relatives of the leaders he had deposed. This he did “not without some reluctance” and “as an experiment,” yet he wished to “utilize, if possible, their wonderful intelligence, for they are born rulers and incomparably above the negroid tribes in ability.” 31
The conquests of 1900-1902 had resulted in the military control of the Niger and Benue riverine states; there still remained, however, the heartland of the Fulani empire, the sultanate of Sokoto, the suzerain head of the caliphate (the emirate of Gwandu controlling the western half of the empire). This northern region was the cultural and economic center of the Hausa-Fulani society and included the major city of Kano. From the early days of the West African Frontier Force the colonial office had consistently made it clear that a collision with Sokoto and the northern emirates was to be avoided. The fact that Sokoto was the religious head of the caliphate made the British doubly circumspect, for the murder of General Charles Gordon by the Mahdists in the Sudan was still remembered as a national disaster. Experienced hands like William Wallace, who had served for many years with the Niger Company, supported the view that gradual and peaceful development of relations with Sokoto was possible. Wallace felt that a resident might be appointed in Kano “with the consent of the people in a couple of years,” and at the end of 1901 he himself volunteered to undertake a mission to Sokoto as he thought it “only fair” that the sultan be approached with friendly advances 32
From the first Lugard seems to have been bent on settling matters with Sokoto by a military showdown. There is no evidence that he made any attempts to build a relationship with Sokoto or Gwandu by diplomatic overtures. He canceled the payment of the subsidies due to them under their treaties with the Royal Niger Company, obligations that the protectorate government assumed, with no explanation to the Fulani. The colonial office was told that this action was in retaliation for “the unfriendly attitude of these Emirs.” In the Annual Report for 1900-1901 Sokoto and Gwandu were described as dangerous and menacing, “great centres of the slave trade,” and it was suggested that their populations would welcome a British conquest 33. In a dispatch of March 1902 Lugard made reference to “the Sokoto faction, viz. the zealous Mohammedan and Fulani clique” 34—an extraordinary way to describe the governing class of one of the major states of Africa.
But it was from October 1902 that Lugard began to pile up the pressure to persuade the colonial office that he should be allowed to attack the sultan and the northern emirs. He now had provocation, with the murder in Zaria of Captain Maloney, the British resident. The murderer fled to Kano, where he was treated as a hero by the emir. At the same time Lugard was told to provide protection for the Anglo-French commissioners who were to delimit the frontier agreed upon in the convention of 1898. This, Lugard announced, would mean that a force would have to visit Sokoto “to put an end to the present unsatisfactory position.” 35 Toward the end of November 1902 Lugard warned the colonial office that the conquest of the remaining Fulani emirates “cannot be delayed” and that the arrival of the boundary commission would precipitate the conquest 36
In response to these proddings Lugard received no encouragement, let alone authorization, from the colonial office to proceed with an attack on Kano or Sokoto. Indeed, the colonial office seems not to have read his dispatches with sufficient care to realize that Lugard was likely to move. Thus, when on December 5, 1902, the London Times printed a Reuters report that Lugard was about to attack Kano there was alarm in the colonial office and not a little indignation when it was discovered that the plans seemed to be known in Liverpool and Paris but not at the seat of the empire. Lugard was telegraphed for an explanation and in reply alleged that Kano had prepared the war:

Safety of garrison of Zaria, prestige of British Government, possibility of delimitation of frontier, depend on energetic action. Paramount chiefs of this country await result and if action deferred they would attribute to fear of them possibility of deplorable result.

The colonial office attempted to pull in the reins:

“His Majesty’s Government are anxious to avoid military actions in West Africa. We have full confidence that you will not engage in them unless they are absolutely necessary for defensive purposes.”

Lugard was asked for a full report. 37
There followed almost a month of telegraphing, during which Lord Onslow, the undersecretary at the colonial office (Chamberlain was in South Africa) attempted to keep control of Lugard and delay the expedition until the office could be convinced of its necessity. The exchanges throw an interesting and revealing light on the autonomy that could be enjoyed by an authoritarian governor who was willing to act without too much concern for the truth. The colonial office shrank from positively forbidding the expedition because the safety of British officials had to be entrusted to the discretionary power of the man on the spot. Lugard repeatedly insisted that “for safety and defensive measures I am compelled to take energetic action.” 38 As the controversy raged on into January Lugard demanded that he be formally ordered to stop or allowed to go on, knowing of course that he alone was in a position to judge necessity. As Onslow continued to suggest alternative courses, including an attempt at diplomacy, Lugard became angry and aggressive and his descriptions of the situation grew ever more lurid. He suggested that those who advocated conciliation risked the murder of all the British in Northern Nigeria 39. On January 16, 1903, he described Kano and Sokoto as towns “ruled by an alien race [i.e., the Fulani, the same people whom he was installing as rulers in the conquered emirates] who buy and sell the people of the country in large public slave markets” and referred to his task as that of “prevention of the daily bloodshed which has already denuded this country o probably half its population.” 40 In the end Lugard had his way, being told that the government “regret[ted] the necessity” of the action against Kano but accepted it as “inevitable.” 41 The troops marched on January 29, taking Kano on February 13 and moving on to Sokoto in March. By early April the resistance of the northern rulers had collapsed and the Fulani empire was in British hands.

Paper Autocracy

The northern campaigns of 1903 did not put an end to the use of military force in Northern Nigeria; indeed, the last few months of Lugard’s tenure of office in 1906 were marked by fighting on the Benue and by the bloody massacre of peasant rebels in Satiru 42. But after 1903 the pattern of African resistance had changed; the Fulani became the staunch allies of Lugard’s regime, whereas those whom the Fulani had traditionally oppressed, like the pagans of the Benue valley or the peasant rebels of Satiru, resisted the British presence. The winning of the allegiance of the Fulani ruling class was a crucial factor lending credence to Lugard’s claim, steadily developed from 1900 to 1906 and again after 1912, that he had brought genius to the realm of colonial administration in Africa, that he had discovered mystical secrets of African administration, and that he had developed a model regime, which his biographer described in 1960 as “the most comprehensive, coherent and renowned system of administration in our colonial history.” 43 This was the system of indirect rule, or native administration. What was Lugard’s role in the creation and shaping of what was to become the characteristic dogma of British rule in twentieth-century Africa?
It may be accepted, in Dame Margery Perham’s words, that “Lugard’s policy of ruling ‘indirectly’ through the Nigerian Emirs cannot … as a general principle, be claimed as either inventive or original.” 44 British colonial rule over tropical areas and non-European peoples had never been strongly assimilationist, only mildly so in restricted enclaves, usually coastal towns, where traders and missionaries could have a decisive cultural impact on Asians or Africans. The partition of Africa brought vast areas under the control of tiny numbers of British officials and soldiers, and common sense brought to bear on limited resources quickly persuaded all the “experts”—Goldie, Mary Kingsley, all the West African colonial governors, the British traders, and the colonial office—to pursue the idea that Africa should be ruled through its traditional chiefs, its social institutions preserved, and “progress” introduced slowly and carefully. Even slavery could not be abolished at one fell swoop lest the social fabric disintegrate in chaos.
The fundamental problem in developing a system of indirect rule thus was the emphasis that must be placed on the two apparently contradictory words. How: “indirect” should the “rule” be? What power of decision should be left with the “native chief”? There was general agreement that certain elements of sovereignty must be taken away. Imperial control necessitated the removal of an African ruler’s right to make war, to command an army (as distinct from a police force), and to conduct foreign relations. These ideas were enshrined in the earliest protectorate treaties of the 1880s, as were assumptions that Britain must at once suppress “barbarous customs” such as trial by ordeal, human sacrifice, cannibalism, and twin murder. But beyond these limits there was implicit in the ideas current in the 1890s the theory that African states might continue to exist as living entities, with wills of their own, making some decisions on what should be preserved from tradition and how to effect modernization and “progress” in an organic way. In Southern Nigeria before 1912 there was considerable development along these lines in some of the states of Yorubaland and in the Niger delta.
Such an approach was well suited to British traditions; at the least it represented institutionalized muddling through and at best a sophisticated attempt to mitigate and control the destructive results of contact between alien cultures.
It is consistent with what has been said here of Lugard’s career and temperament to argue that he was essentially opposed to this tradition. In the sense just described Lugard was not an indirect ruler. He did not regard the imposition of British rule in Northern Nigeria (and later in his writings this attitude was extended to the whole British African empire) as an imposition of “protection,” with initiative left to the African precolonial states. His military conquests were designed to destroy all preexisting rights to sovereignty and to establish the British claim to rule by right of conquest. At the moment of conquest the precolonial state ceased to exist. If Fulani rulers were then installed by Lugard this was at his discretion; thereby the new sovereigns in effect became his officials and they could be removed by him at will. They had to swear to obey all “the lawful commands of the High Commissioner and of the Resident.” 45
Lugard’s speech to the elders of Sokoto on March 21, 1903, immediately after the occupation of the town, left them in no doubt that the new sultan and his emirs would be appointed and subordinate officials

They … have by defeat lost their rule which has come into the hands of the British … Every Sultan and Emir and the principal officers of state will be appointed by the High Commissioner. …
The Government will, in future, hold the rights in land which the Fulani took by conquest from the people, and if Government require land it will take it for any purpose. The Government hold the right of taxation, and will tell the Emirs and Chiefs what taxes they may levy, and what part of them must be paid to Government. The Government will have the right to all minerals. …
When an Emirate, or an office of state, becomes vacant, it will only be filled with the consent of the High Commissioner 46

In Lugard’s philosophy the Sokoto empire was not to be ruled indirectly in a fashion such that an overall British control would gradually influence the old system toward reform and progress. Instead, it was to be an integral part of the colonial regime, with a definitely subordinate status. At the same time, however, the traditional authorities ought to appear to the people as still in control and operating the old system so as to assure the population that no violence was to be done to their way of life. Thus, the residents appointed to each emirate must keep themselves in the background and appear not to interfere in the emir’s government. There was about this concept much of the essence of a confidence trick.
In reality, however, there was “indirect rule” in Northern Nigeria, and in the history of the country in the years to 1966 the indirect element increased at the expense of British (and after 1960, Nigerian) rule. Whatever might be Lugard’s theories, and his military concept of an autocracy with himself at the head, he lacked the men and the money before 1906 to do otherwise than allow the day-to-day government of the towns and countryside to remain in the administrative control of the emirs. There was little the residents could do except tackle the glaring abuses, and often this was of small effect. Indeed, the contrast between Lugard’s claims of achievement and the reality of Northern Nigeria when he left office in 1906 is staggering.
I. N. Nicholson has argued convincingly that Lugard’s major achievement was propagandistic; that by his Annual Reports, his dispatches to the colonial office, his “Political Memoranda” (published in 1906), and his and his wife’s (Flora Shaw) published writings and speeches, he created the myth of his own genius and the myth of Northern Nigeria as a model administration 47. Yet when Lugard left Northern Nigeria in 1906, there was little to show. The protectorate was unable to live off its own revenues. It had little external trade; no roads or railways of significance; no proper secretariat or government departments; and no colonial educational system or social services of any kind. Administration had consisted of military activities and mountains of paper issuing from Lugard’s own hand.
It was thus a paper autocracy, one in which Lugard exulted. “I love this turgid life of command,” he wrote to his wife, “when I can feel that the sole responsibility rests on me for everything.” 48 Indeed, it was his unreasonable desire for permanent control that led him to resign in 1906, when he failed to persuade the colonial office to accept his scheme for “continuous administration,” which would have allowed him to spend six months of each year administering Northern Nigeria from an office in London.
From 1906 to 1912 Lugard served as governor of Hong Kong. During these years the cadre of residents he had brought to Northern Nigeria developed its administration in a way that strengthened their own and the emirs’ autonomy and powers. This they were able to do under British governors whose main interests and experience were in supervising the construction of the Northern railway. One of the most important developments of this period was the growth of the system of native treasuries whereby local revenues, after payment of the share due the central government, became available for spending by the emir’s government. This policy introduced an element of initiative and autonomy into each emirate and brought the system much more into line with the ideas of indirect rule current in the 1890s 49
At the same time these developments, and the character and social background of the residents, continued to emphasize the growing divergence between Northern and Southern Nigeria. The north retained and even developed its feudal character, with the British serving as suzerains in the feudal sense. The system was essentially alien to tropical Africa for very few precolonial states rested on feudal principles. Southern Nigeria in these years saw the penetration of British and European capitalist activities and ideas and the spread of capitalist ethics through trade and missionary activities 50. Meanwhile, the contrasts became exceedingly awkward for the colonial office; while the revenues of the south grew and surplus could be invested in railway and harbor works, feeder roads, and other forms of economic development, the north remained poor, failing to balance its budge and in constant need of treasury grants-in-aid. Amalgamation, in which the south’s revenues could be used to create a balanced budget for a unified Nigeria was an obvious solution that could remove the awkward dependence on the treasury.

Nigerian Unification

In 1912 Lugard was brought back to unify Nigeria. There could hardly have been a worse choice for this task. It needed little imagination to visualize that the unity of Nigeria could have been a momentous turning point in the history of the country, a stage in the building of a new nation 51, yet there was scarcely any discussion along these lines in the colonial office. The plain facts ought to have been clear. Southern Nigeria, with its cash crops, expanding mission schools, growing numbers of wage earners and clerical workers, African entrepreneurs and petty capitalists, was a success in the terms of European imperialism, whose purpose was the integration of such regions into the British and world trading system. How was the feudal north, with its conservatism, Muslim law, and emirate government to be brought into this system and its administrative poverty brought to an end? The choice of Lugard in effect turned this question upside down. With his return to Nigeria there could be no question of devising measures whereby the northern administration would be adapted to the new conditions. Instead, the south would have to bend to northern dogmas.
Lugard in 1912 was still the same man, autocratic in temperament (he successfully insisted on his scheme for continuous administration as a precondition of his appointment) 52 and dominated by ideas of tidiness and hierarchy in government. The south repelled him as it always had, and he looked at its administration “with something very close to disgust.” 53 Its people, except perhaps the Yoruba (redeemed by their institutions of kingship, which he saw as capable of being “developed” toward feudalism), were of a “low and degraded type.” 54 The administration in Yoruba country was “perfect chaos,” 55 whereas in the southeast “native policy is nonexistent.” 56 These imperfections could not be tolerated merely because the south had made “astonishing” material progress, about which there was something immoral in the amount of revenue gained by taxing alcoholic beverages. The Northern administration was a “native policy whose aim was primarily administrative”; in the south, policy was “commercial and directed primarily to the development of resources and trade.” The contrast was meant to emphasize the “higher” considerations of Northern administration.
The south was blamed on almost every count: its provincial system was a failure; the regime was lethargic; it had no direct taxation; chiefs took “no effective part in the administration” (but at the same time Lugard attacked the semi-autonomous position of states such as Abeokuta); and the judicial system he implied was a farce 57. The north, by contrast, received no hint of blame on any score (even though Lugard privately disapproved of much that had happened in the north since 1906).
The most striking characteristic of Lugard’s proposals for amalgamation was that he did not really propose amalgamation. Only the railways, the marine department, and the customs service were to be unified. As the colonial office had raised the issue of amalgamation primarily to pool revenues and create a unified transport system, he could hardly have done less. Medical, postal, telegraphic, and survey departments were each to have a single head, and the West African Frontier Force would be under a single command; yet all of these entities would have separate Northern and Southern establishments as before. Lugard’s motive in retaining, in effect, two colonial systems was twofold. First, he needed time to “reform” the administration of Africans in the south on Northern lines. Second, the scheme concentrated amalgamation into the one overall, unifying office, that of the governor-general. Lugard himself would fill this post. Lieutenant governors would conduct administration under supervision from Nigeria or London by the scheme of continuous administration. Lugard in essence tried to create for himself the position of a controlling buffer between the colonial office and Nigeria.
The main substance of the amalgamation report concerned the Southern administration. In effect, Lugard recommended the introduction of the Northern system. He seemed completely unaware of the qualitative differences between Fulani feudalism and Yoruba kingship (as he had always in his writings on the north used the terms “chief” and “emir” interchangeably), let alone concerned with the problems of chiefless societies in the southeast. The south must be divided into provinces like the north, district officers granted executive and judicial powers, and in time chiefs would be “found and trained” and later “entrusted to exercise control.” Native courts must be established, and barristers excluded from them and the provincial courts. The supreme court’s powers must be restricted to the area of the coastal towns only and to cases involving foreigners or retrials ordered by the governor-general.
The historical spread of English legal ideas, traditions, and institutions in the south, a process regarded by educated Africans with a special concern, was thus to be reversed. Lagos, the cultural center and social capital of the educated element, Lugard especially challenged. It must never become the capital of Nigeria—its “native population” was too large for that purpose so that “segregation [was] practically not feasible.” It should be detached from the south, ruled separately by an administrator, and a new capital built in the north. To add insult to injury the legislative council, regarded by Africans as the nucleus and symbol of eventual democratic participation in legislation, was reduced in status to that of a town council for Lagos. There would be no legislative council for the new Nigeria, as there was in all other British colonies and protectorates, because the emirs of the north could not debate in English, the educated elements were unrepresentative, and the interests of the masses could not be subordinated to the will of an unrepresentative authority 58. Instead, there would be established a Nigerian council, composed of nominated notables, that would meet for three days in each year and hear addresses from the governor-general.
Lugard’s amalgamation proposals were adopted with hardly any fundamental discussion in the colonial office, though it may be added that they were not regarded with anything like the enthusiastic spirit in which Lugard made them. Official minutes described them as “hardly … a permanent solution” and as “temporary” and “tentative.” Most criticism was reserved for the scheme of continuous administration, which was still disliked in the office. The reduction of Lagos was even welcomed as “a bold new departure” by one official, who commented that the Southern provincial system “will die unlamented by me.” 59
The amalgamation of 1914 appeared to be a turning point in British policy, and to the Southern Nigerian educated elements it appeared that Britain had abandoned the liberal and humanitarian ideals of the nineteenth century. It was doubly unfortunate that these decisions were taken on the eve of the first world war, which unleashed new forces of nationalism that Lugard’s measures were expressly designed not to accommodate. His tenure of office was therefore marked with growing hostility and opposition from the Lagos press and the Southern elite, and his attempts to remodel the southern Yoruba kingdoms along Northern lines were to cause widespread popular resistance, especially after the introduction of direct taxation, which provoked riots and revolts. In the postwar period it was fortunate that Britain was able to find, in Sir Hugh Clifford and Sir Donald Cameron, courageous and able critics prepared to dismantle and reorganize much of Lugard’s dogmatic “reforms” in the south.

Lugard the Proconsul

To the end Lugard continued to maintain his own reputation through his published writings and in particular to use Annual Reports as a means of self-advertisement. His final report, published in 1920, was a kind of testament to his work since 1912, running through the theoretical basis of his administrative policies in the north, extolling their wisdom and subtlety, and going on to express their universal applicability “even to the most primitive communities,” where the “first step is to find a man of influence as chief,” from there “to group under him as many villages and districts as possible,” to establish his “native treasury,” and so forth. The story of the introduction of “principles” into the south was written up almost as an idyll. When taxation was introduced among the Yoruba, the people were so convinced of its “advantages,” Lugard confessed to the British public, that “there was something almost approaching enthusiasm in the way the money poured in.” From this happy circumstance, “The inauguration of Native Administrations was then a comparatively easy matter.” All would live happily ever after, for thus

the disintegration of Yorubaland was arrested, and the supreme authority of the Alafin recognised by all, to the immense benefit of the country.… A strong Native Government is in process of being built up under its own rulers, which will be able to resist the sinister influence of more or less educated aliens which was rapidly destroying it. The Native Courts are reported to be a ‘huge success.’ The difficult task still remains of extending these principles to the remainder of the Southern Provinces 60

Lugard’s career in Africa spanned almost exactly the years in which the European powers partitioned the continent and set up the rudiments of administration. His career illustrates the opportunities available to a determined, adventurous, and literate Englishman, for he lacked powerful or influential backers until Chamberlain appointed him first to the West African Frontier Force and then to the high commissionership in Northern Nigeria. Failing to secure official appointments until that time, Lugard used the opportunities presented by the chartered companies to build a career of action in Africa and skillfully capitalized on growing popular interest in African issues to put his name before the public view in his writings. During his career as a colonial official he showed from the first an imperious, autocratic temperament and a determination to command, control, and carry out his own policies, which involved him in constant conflicts with the colonial office. The success with which he maintained this position until his virtual dismissal from Nigeria in 1918 aptly, though in extreme form, illustrates the difficulties of maintaining imperial control over the man on the spot in the conditions of early administration in the African colonies. The local governor, with his skeleton staff and tiny military force, as the sole “reliable” channel of information, could present the fearful argument that if his proposal were not accepted the colony would be in imminent danger of revolt, war, bloodshed, and threat to European lives. It was a bold man indeed who was prepared to override such arguments from the comfort and security of his office in Whitehall.


Lugard left Nigeria in 1918, bitter at the colonial office, which he felt had sacked him 61. He would never again rule over a British colony. In retirement, however, he built a second career in which he remained active in African affairs until his death in 1945 at the age of eighty-six. With advancing age men generally are assumed to adopt increasingly conservative attitudes, but in Lugard’s case it appears that, bereft of power and authority, his attitudes and activities became increasingly contemplative, analytical, and, in the African context of the times, progressive.
Immediately after leaving Nigeria Lugard began writing extensively. The first task was the revision for publication of his “Political Memoranda,” his instructions to political officers in Nigeria, which set out the detailed structure of his indirect rule system. When this volume was published in 1919 Lugard was moving ahead with The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa 62, which came out two years later. This was his major work, in which he translated the specifics of the indirect rule policy into a political philosophy of African administration. The book may be seen as an apologia for British rule in Africa, set against the background of international criticism of imperialism emanating not only from Lenin and the Russian revolution but also from Wilsonian idealism in the United States, the social democrats in Europe, and the British Labour party. In meeting these criticisms the British and the French, in distributing the conquered German colonies after the first world war, had developed the mandates system in the League of Nations, accepting, in theory at least, the doctrine that these territories were held in trust for the benefit of their inhabitants and the world at large. Lugard’s essential argument was that the British colonies in Africa, and more particularly those in West Africa, which were ruled on his principles of native administration, had in effect long exhibited the principle of the dual mandate. Britain’s task was to develop them economically to produce for the world, while administering them through their traditional rulers and institutions so as to protect Africans against exploitation, loss of their land, and destruction of their culture. In following this line of argument. Lugard naturally felt the need to criticize policies of direct rule and even more the alienation of land and the “detribalization” of Africans in places such as Kenya. Rhodesia, and South Africa.
The Dual Mandate was not a popular book; it was directed at the specialist. Though it went through four editions by 1929, it was expensively produced and sold only 2,242 copies 63. Yet its impact was significant in the quarters to which it was directed. It affected colonial office and parliamentary opinion, including that of the Labour party, and became a standard work for students of Africa. It also made an impact in League of Nations circles, and this affected Lugard’s subsequent life.
In 1922 the colonial secretary (the Duke of Devonshire) nominated Lugard as British representative to the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission. where he served for thirteen years. This post formed a base from which Lugard developed interests in, and membership of, several committees (both British and international) concerned with African affairs. In all these activities Lugard slowly moved to more and more reformist and progressive opinions, generally because he adopted British West African policies, and those of Nigeria in particular, as a yardstick to judge other territories. He was harshly critical of South African policies in the mandate of (formerly German) Southwest Africa and more and more adopted an anti-white settler stance. After 1924 he joined the International Labour Organization’s committee of experts on “native labor.” The year before he joined the colonial office advisory committee on education in tropical Africa and through that body developed close links with Dr. J. H. Oldham, the gray eminence of the missionary party, which was busily resisting settler demands for increased political control in Kenya. This was to throw Lugard directly into the controversies over Kenya politics in the years 1923-1931, during which he would even establish friendly contacts and occupy some common ground with Labour politicans like Sidney Webb. From his educational work and interests Lugard became active in the governing bodies of academic and research institutions such as the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the International African Institute 64
None of these positions was salaried, Lugard continued his journalistic activities, publishing more than 100 articles between 1919 and 1940, but these, and his book royalties, hardly provided a secure income. After 1922 he obtained his livelihood from company directorships, each of which was linked in some way with his African interests. The first and most important of these was a directorship of the Colonial Bank, which in 1925 became Barclays Bank, the major British imperial banking institution. In 1928 Lugard was elevated to the central board of Barclays. He also accepted directorships of the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation, its subsidiary the Kassala Cotton Company (which operated in the Sudan), and the Huileries du Congo belge, the Belgian subsidiary of Unilever. His decorative value to these companies was enhanced in 1928, when he was raised to the peerage and took his seat in the House of Lords. These commercial connections seem little to have influenced Lugard’s attitudes on land, labor, and educational questions; rather, they appear to have served as a financial base that allowed him to devote time and energy to his political and academic interests.
Lugard may be seen as a man with two interrelated careers. In the first—the career of action in Africa as soldier, conqueror, and governor—he emerges as a successful opportunist, imperious, disdainful of superiors, manipulative in his exploitation of situations, determined to push through his own policies. A superb self-propagandist, Lugard elevated his own pragmatic practices into a theory of native administration, which during his period as governor-general of Nigeria he imposed upon the south. Through his policies, and in his writing, he did more than any other individual to fix the concept of indirect rule firmly in British policy as a conservative philosophy, hostile to the ambitions of educated Africans and those influenced by Christian missionaries, to urban growth, to the spread of the money economy, and to the vision that new African nations were in the making. Yet after his enforced retirement, stripped of authority, while still striving to perpetuate the myths of his own creative administrative philosophy, the wider stage of memberships in League of Nations and colonial office committees had the curious effect of mellowing Lugard’s views into a progressive, reformist mold. The elaboration of a defense of his policies in British West Africa inevitably implied, as the arguments were developed, hostility to alienation of African land, forced or manipulative labor arrangements, the destruction of African culture and chiefly authority, and the neglect of education—which characterized settler dominated Kenya, Rhodesia, and South Africa. From the 1920s the imperial debate over African questions had shifted ground; imperialist expansionists and little Englanders had become irrelevant, and as yet the grand question of decolonization lay over the horizon. The question had become not whether to have an empire but how should it be best governed and in whose interests. In this debate Lugard firmly stood with the paternalistic school of trusteeship, and this moved him steadily into closer sympathy with the missionary lobby, the humanitarian tradition, and even the Labour party. This was the Lugard whom Margery Perham knew so well, and loved. After his death she became the upholder of his tradition and the leader of an academic and intellectual school of Africanists who helped to orchestrate and perform the overture to decolonization.

1. The “Political Memoranda” were printed and circulated to officials in 1906 but published as Revision of Instructions to Political Officers on Subjects Chiefly Political and Administrative (London, 1919). A. Kirk-Greene, The Principles of Native Administration in Nigeria: Selected Documents, 1900-1947 (London, 1965), reprints extensive portions of the “Political Memoranda.”
2. F. D. Lugard, The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa (London, 1922).
3. This chapter, like all writings on Lugard, must draw heavily on the biography of Lugard by Dame Margery Perham, vol. 1: Lugard: The Years of Adventure, 1858-1898 (London, 1956); vol. 2: Lugard: The Years of Authority, 1895-1945 (London, 1960) (hereinafter cited Perham I and Perham 2). The work is monumental, with massive documentation from the Lugard papers, British official sources, and other private papers. Dame Margery writes with strong sympathy for Lugard but uses and quotes the evidence in such a comprehensive way that it is clear that she has made no attempt to conceal unfavorable information. Thus, views expressed in this chapter that are highly critical of Lugard’s career and character can often be supported by evidence quoted in Miss Perham’s work.
4. R. L. Schuyler, “The Climax of Anti-imperialism in England,” Political Science Quarterly 37 (September 1922):415439.
5. Perham 1:61-67, 253, 563.
6. Macdonald’s report, 7 April 1893, p. 13, Foreign Office (hereinafter cited F.O.) 2/60.
7. See D. A. Low, “British Public Opinion and the Uganda Question: October-December 1892,” Uganda Journal 18 (September 1954). Perham 1:422 n. lists Lugard’s heavy round of speaking engagements.
8. Perham 1:477.
9. For details of Goldie’s life see J. E. Flint, Sir George Goldie and the Making of Nigeria (London, 1960).
10. Perham 1: part 4; Flint, Goldie, pp. 220-225.
11. Flint, Goldie, pp. 224-225.
12. Perham 1:544, n. 1, gives a list of these.
13. Ibid., p. 613.
14. Ibid., pp. 613-614, from Lugard’s diary 17 January 1897.
15. Text in ibid., pp. 616-617.
16. This had been clear to those in government circles and to Goldie since Chamberlain assumed office in 1895; see Flint, Goldie, pp. 214-215.
17. Entry for 13 March 1898, quoted in Perham 1:640.
18. “Very civil” was Lugard’s own comment on the letter, yet in his diary he made the almost paranoic remark that “[the governor] wants to make it appear, I suppose, that I am his puppet, who is to dance to his tune” (ibid., p. 680).
19. For details of the convention see Flint, Goldie, chap. 12.
20. Ibid., pp. 307 ff.
21. Ibid.
22. Perham 2:7.
23. Report of the Niger committee, 4 August 1898, Colonial Office (hereinafter cited C.O.) 446/3.
24. Lugard to Chamberlain, 5 August 19M, p. 41, C.O. 879/58 580.
25. Minute by Chamberlain in Lugard to Chamberlain, 23 August 1900, C.O. 446/10, quoted in Perham 2:89.
26. Lugard to Chamberlain, 8 August 1900, C.O. 879/58 580.
27. Lugard to Chamberlain, 12 March 1901, C.O. 879/58 580.
28. Northern Nigeria, Annual Report, 1900-1901, p. 116.
29. Wallace to Chamberlain, 3 July 1901, C.O. 879/58 580.
30. Lugard to Chamberlain, 28 December 1901, C.O. 879/72 684.
31. Quoted in Perham 2:46-47.
32. D. J. M. Muffett, Concerning Brave Captains (London, 1964), pp. 53-55.
33. Northern Nigeria, Annual Report, 1900-1901, p. 114.
34. Lugard to Chamberlain, 15 March 1902, C.O. 879/72.
35. Muffett, Brave Captains, p. 63.
36. Lugard to colonial office, 21 November 1902, C.O. 879/79 712.
37. The telegrams, reproduced in C.O. 879/79 713, were exchanged 10 to 13 December 1902.
38. The words are those used in a telegram of 24 December 1902.
39. Lugard to Chamberlain, 15 January 1903, C. 0. 879/80 718.
40. Perham 2: 10 1.
41. Ibid., p. 103.
42. “Massacre” is not too strong a word. Two thousand peasants, armed for the most part with hoes and axes, were destroyed. A Sokoto chief described the scene tersely: “Someone gave an order, everyone fired, then a whistle blew; everyone stopped and there was no one left alive in front” quoted in ibid., pp. 259-260).
43. Ibid., p. 138.
44. Ibid., p. 141.
45. Emir’s oath of allegiance reproduced in ibid., p, 149.
46. For full text see Kirk-Greene, Selected Documents, 1900-1947, pp. 43-44.
47. I. N. Nicholson, The Administration of Nigeria, 1900-1960: Men, Methods, and Myths (Oxford, 1969). Nicholson’s book is written in language extremely hostile to Lugard, and at times the author resorts to sarcasm, emotionalism, and innuendo. But the fundamental thesis summarized here is argued with trenchant insight and conviction. Nicholson argues that Lugard’s influence on Nigerian history was a baleful one and, using different evidence and approaches, comes to very similar conclusions to those in J. E. Flint, “Nigeria: The Colonial Experience, 1880-1914,” in L. H. Gann and Peter Duignan, eds. Colonialism in Africa (Cambridge, 1969), vol. 1.
48. Lugard to Lady Lugard, 2 February 1906, quoted in Perham 2:248.
49. For detailed treatment of the period 1906-1912 see Mary Bull, “Indirect Rule in Northern Nigeria, 1906-1911,” in K,. Robinson and F. Madden, Essays in Imperial Government Presented to Margery Perham (Oxford, 1963), pp. 47 ff.
50. See Flint, “Nigeria: The Colonial Experience,” pp. 244 ff.
51. Such thinking in many ways dominated the discussions of the federation of the British North American colonies in 1867 and of Australia in 1900.
52. Perham 2:364-365. Lugard asked for agreement to his working six months in Nigeria and six in London. The colonial office accepted this arrangement for the first year but modified it later to eight months in Nigeria and four in London for subsequent years.
53. Dame Margery Perham’s phrase; Perham 2:422.
54. This and subsequent phrases in quotation marks, not footnoted, are taken from Lugard’s amalgamation report, C.O. 583/3, enclosure in Lugard to Harcourt, 9 May 1913, also printed as C.O. Confidential Print 1005.
55. Perham 2:392, quoting Lugard to Lady Lugard, 13 November 1912.
56. Lugard to Lady Lugard, 12 December 1912, quoted in ibid., p. 198.
57. Nicholson, Administration of Nigeria, p. 198, describes Lugard’s characterization of the Southern Nigerian administration as a “gross travesty of the facts,” and Nicholson’s discussion of the nature of administration in the south reveals a totally different picture, making it difficult to believe that Lugard was not engaged in deliberate distortion of evidence.
58. This was an extraordinarily misleading argument: at this time there were no elected members of the legislative council whatsoever, and its purpose was specifically to do that which Lugard opposed, viz., to give some voice to minority, unofficial interests such as British traders and educatec Africans. His argument therefore condemned the whole historical evolution of representative institutions in the British empire.
59. Minutes on Lugard to Harcourt, 9 May 1913, C.O. 583/3.
60. Report by Sir F. D. Lugard on the Amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria and Administration, 1912-1919, Parliamentary Command Paper (hereinafter cited as Cmd.) 468 (London, 1920); extracted in Kirk-Greene, Selected Documents, 1900-1947, pp. 46-47.
61. At the end of November 1918, during the course of a bitter controversy with the colonial office over his proposed scheme for “continuous administration,” Lugard remarked in a letter that his work in Nigeria was completed. The colonial secretary immediately took this as a resignation offer and accepted it despite Lugard’s protest that it was not meant as such. Perham 2:633-636.
62. Useful extracts are reproduced in Kirk-Greene, Selected Documents, 1900-1947, pp. 149-173.
63. Perham 2:645.
64. These details of Lugard’s activities after retirement and those in the following paragraph are based on the account in part four of Margery Perham’s biography, the only source that discusses this phase of Lugard’s life.



Bienvenue dans mon monde d'exploration et de découverte ! Je suis Ingrid Allain, une voyageuse passionnée avec une curiosité insatiable pour la riche tapisserie de la culture africaine. Pour moi, l'Afrique n'est pas juste une destination ; c'est une fascination de toute une vie et une source d'inspiration. Des rythmes vibrants des cercles de tambours d'Afrique de l'Ouest à la perlerie complexe des artisans Maasaï, chaque coin de ce continent détient un trésor de traditions à découvrir. À travers mes écrits, je vise à partager la beauté, la diversité et la résilience des cultures africaines avec le monde. E-mail: [email protected] / Linkedin
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