The Beginning of British Imperialism in Nigeria

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The Beginning of British Imperialism in Nigeria

Adam Coleman

History 210: World History

October 19, 2011

The novel Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, depicts the Igbo culture of Nigeria in the 1890’s, as well as the beginning of the British colonization of these people. Achebe describes the Igbo culture in fairly great detail in the novel, including different portions of the society and many of the laws and beliefs of the culture. The spread of Christianity brought by British missionaries is also described in a fairly detailed way, and this spread is shown to be the driving force behind the British dominating the Igbo culture. In order to understand why and how Christianity aided the British in their conquest one must first understand why some parts of Igbo society were so receptive to the British missionaries and why some were so opposed to them.

The first group of Igbo society which needs to be discussed are the ones who were very much opposed to the intrusion of Christian missionaries into their lives. The main people who were opposed to the missionaries were the leaders of Igbo society; these people being the priests, the elders, and the men of high title in each village. These different groups’ reasons were all valid and varied from one group to the next. The priests oppose the Christian missionaries for an obvious reason, because their religious beliefs are in stark contradiction to the beliefs espoused by the priests and believed by the Igbo people. The missionaries are attempting to convert the Igbo people to Christianity and therefore away from the animistic religion that these priests represent. On multiple occasions people who have been converted by these missionaries directly assault religious symbols of the Igbo, such as when Okoli kills the royal python or when Enoch rips the mask of off one the egwugwu. The elders’ reason for not welcoming the missionary is that if their sons were to convert to Christianity then there will be no...
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