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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 39, Issue 1, 2016

General Edition

Issue cover


The Role of Indigenous Collaborators during the Anglo-Ekumeku War of 1898-1911

Towards the later part of the nineteenth century and early part of twentieth century, the British colonial government’s attempt at conquering the Western lgbo people and bringing them under her effective imperial control was met with stiff resistance. In order to subdue the people, the British resorted to the use of military force that eventually culminated in the outbreak of Ekumeku War between the British and the people in Asaba hinterland from 1898 to 1911. Extant literature on the British colonial administration’s incursion on the Western lgbo area and the peoples’ display of patriotic bravery in confronting the superior weaponry of the British troops by prominent historians such as Ohadike and Igbafe overly concentrated on the British conquest and the peoples’ resistance movement as exemplified in the Ekumeku movement. These scholars had given marginal attention to the roles played by the indigenous people who were either coerced by the British officials or driven by mundane benefits, cooperated and collaborated with the British in crushing the Ekumeku forces, and assisted them in realizing their economic and political interests. It is against this background that this paper examines the nature of co-operation the British received from the “loyal” local people in the course of establishing their presence in that part of southern Nigeria. The paper further looks at the factors that made locals collaborate with the British by abandoning the popular struggle of their people. The paper assesses the consequences of action of the indigenous collaborators in terms of how they were perceived by their people throughout the period of British colonial control of the area. The paper concludes that the British colonial government’s conquest and subsequent colonization of Western lgboland and Nigeria as a whole should not be treated only as one of indigenous traditionalist resistance, but largely an era, when the co-operation and collaboration of the indigenous people were significant in the British imperial conquest and consolidation of colonialism in that part of southern Nigeria.