Author:       Tijani, Hakeem Ibikunle,
Title:        "Britain and the development of leftist ideology and organisations
              in West Africa: The Nigerian Experience, 1945-1965"

Date:         2005
Institution:  University of South Africa
Advisors:     Toyin Falola and Japie Brits
Degree:       Ph.D.


Although organised Marxist organisations did not emerge in Nigeria until the mid-1940s, leftist ideology had been prevalent among nationalist and labour leaders since the late 1920s. Both official documents and oral histories indicate deep-rooted support for leftism in Nigeria and anxiety among British colonial officials that this support threatened the Colonial Office?s own timetable for gradual decolonisation. This study analyses the development of leftist ideology and attempts to establish a nationwide leftist organisation in colonial and post-independent Nigeria.

The role of the Zikist movement is retold in light of new evidence, while other leftist organisations are salvaged from the footnotes of Nigeria nationalist history. More importantly, the adaptability of Marxist-Leninist ideology to colonial reality by the different leftist groups in Nigeria is emphasized. The reaction of Anglo-American officials in Lagos and the metropolis towards the Communist Party of Great Britain and other leftist organisations? sponsorship of Marxist groups in Nigeria are discussed. Lastly, the continuity between the departing colonial power and the Balewa administration is addressed to juxtapose the linkage between the two governments. The study thus provides a lucid explanation for the failure of leftist ideology and organisations in Nigeria during the twentieth century.

In this eight-chapter thesis I consistently argue, based on official documents from England, Nigeria, and the United States, that the role of Marxists and Soviet Cold War interests in colonial territories are relevant to nationalism and decolonisation in Nigeria; that the issue is not to determine or measure whether or not Anglo-American policies are direct response to Soviet interests; that there are political, economic, and diplomatic policies carried out as part of the transfer of power process; and that the success of these is partly a result of collaboration with local subaltern leaders and official resolve to institutionalise imperial preferences before independence on October 1, 1960.

Britain, Nigeria, decolonisation, ideology, leftist, nationalism, politics and government, Cold War, colonialism, post World War II, Anglo-American relations, Anglo-French relations, West Africa, 1945-1965. Hakeem Ibikunle Tijani.

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First Online Edition: 1 March 2005
Last Revised: 1 March 2005

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