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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>Frederick Lugard: Excerpts from - The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa
Tuesday, 19 February 2013 00:28

Frederick Lugard: Excerpts from - The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa

Written by Frederick John Dealtry Lugard
Frederick Lugard Frederick Lugard Photo copy by W.J. Carrow, after Unknown photographer oil on canvas, 1936 (1929)

Excerpts from Frederick Lugard's book -  The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa, he wrote in 1926.

As Nigeria is gearing and making arrangements to celebrate 100 years (centenary) of founding from 1914- 2014.  It is logical to understand Frederick Lugard, the man that amalgamated Northern and Southern Protectorate into one entity in 1914.


"Frederick John Dealtry Lugard, 1st Baron Lugard GCMG, CB, DSO, PC (22 January 1858 – 11 April 1945), known as Sir Frederick Lugard between 1901 and 1928, was a British soldier, mercenary, explorer of Africa and colonial administrator, who was Governor of Hong Kong (1907–1912) and Governor-General of Nigeria (1914–1919). The name Nigeria was taken from the Niger River running through the country. This  name was coined by Flora Shaw, the future wife o f Baron Lugard." - Wikipedia




On Nigeria (Black Africans), Page.70 :


In character and temperament, the typical African of this race-type is a happy, thriftless, excitable person. Lacking in self control, discipline, and foresight. Naturally courageous, and naturally courteous and polite, full of personal vanity, with little sense of veracity, fond of music and loving weapons as an oriental loves jewellery. His thoughts are concentrated on the events and feelings of the moment, and he suffers little from the apprehension for the future, or grief for the past. His mind is far nearer to the animal world than that of the European or Asiatic, and exhibits something of the animals’ placidity and want of desire to rise beyond the State he has reached. Through the ages the African appears to have evolved no organized religious creed, and though some tribes appear to believe in a deity, the religious sense seldom rises above pantheistic animalism and seems more often to take the form of a vague dread of the supernatural"



“He lacks the power of organization, and is conspicuously deficient in the management and control alike of men or business. He loves the display of power, but fails to realize its responsibility ....he will work hard with a less incentive than most races. He has the courage of the fighting animal, an instinct rather than a moral virtue...... In brief, the virtues and defects of this race-type are those of attractive children, whose confidence when it is won is given ungrudgingly as to an older and wiser superior and without envy.......Perhaps the two traits which have impressed me as those most characteristic of the African native are his lack of apprehension and his lack of ability to visualize the future.




IF continuity and decentralisation are, as I have said, the first and most important conditions in maintaining an effective administration, co-operation is the key-note of success in its application-continuous co-operation between every link in the chain, from the head of the administration to its most junior member,-co-operation between the Government and the commercial community, and, above all, between the provincial staff and the native rulers. Every individual adds his share not only to the accomplishment of the ideal, but to the ideal itself. Its principles are fashioned by his quota of experience, its results are achieved by his patient and loyal application of these principles, with as little interference as possible with native customs and modes of thought.


Principles do not change, but their mode of application may and should vary with the customs, the traditions, and the prejudices of each unit. The task of the administrative officer is to clothe his principles in the garb of evolution, of revolution; to make it apparent alike to the educated native, the conservative Moslem, and the primitive pagan, in his own degree, that the policy of the Government is not antagonistic but progressive-sympathetic to his aspiration and the guardian of his natural rights. The Governor looks the administrative staff to keep in touch with native thought and feeling, and to report fully to himself, in order that he in turn may be able to support them and recognise their work. When describing the machinery of Government in African dependency in chapter vi., I spoke of the supervision and guidance exercised by the Lieut. Governor, Residents, and the District Officers over the native.

In this chapter I propose to discuss how those functions should be exercised.


Lord Milner's declaration that the British policy is rule subject races through their own chiefs is generally applauded but the manner in which the principle should translated into practice admits of wide differences of opinion and method. Obviously the extent to which native races are capable of controlling their own affairs must vary proportion to their degree of development and progress in social Organisation, but this is a question of adaptation not of principle. Broadly speaking, the divergent opinions in regard to the application of the principle may be found to originate in three different conceptions.


The first is that the ideal of self-government can only be realised by the methods of evolution which have produced the democracies of Europe and America,-viz., by representative institutions in which the comparatively small educated class shall be recognised as the natural spokesmen for the many. This method is naturally in favour with the educated African. Whether it is adapted to peoples accustomed by their own institutions to autocracy--albeit modified by a substantial expression of the popular will and circumscribed by custom--is naturally a matter on which opinions differ. The fundamental essential, however, in such a form of Government is that the educated few shall at least be representative of the feelings and desires of the many--well known to them, speaking their language, and versed in their customs and prejudices.


In present conditions in Africa the numerous separate tribes, speaking different languages, and in different stages of evolution, cannot produce representative men of education. Even were they available, the number of communities which could claim separate representation would make any central and really representative Council very unwieldy. The authority vested in the representatives would be antagonistic (as the Indian Progressives realise ) to that of the native rulers and their councils,--which are the product of the natural tendencies of tribal evolution,--and would run counter to the customs and institutions of the people.


An attempt to adapt these principles of Western representative Government to tropical races is now being made in India. It is at present an Eastern rather than an African problem, but as a great experiment in the method of Government in tropical countries, the outcome of which "many other native races in other parts of the world are watching with strained attention," it demands at least a passing reference here.


Though the powers entrusted to the elected representatives of the people are at first restricted under the dyarchical system (which reserves certain subjects for the Central Authority), the principle of government by an educated minority, as opposed to government by native rulers, is fully accepted. It must be admitted that there is a considerable body of well-informed opinion in India and England-voiced here by the India Association, Lord Sydenham (who speaks with the authority of an ex-Governor of Bombay), and otherswhich expresses much misgiving as to the wisdom of placing all political power " in the hands of a disaffected minority unrepresentative of India," and regards it as " an attempt to govern India by the narrowest of oligarchies, whose interests often conflict with those of the millions."


pp. 197-204


The subject races of Africa are not yet able to stand alone, and that it would not conduce to the happiness of the vast bulk of the people-for whose welfare the controlling Power is trustee-that the attempt should be made.


The verdict of students of history and sociology of different nationalities--such as Dr Kidd, Dr Stoddard, M. Beaulieu, Meredith Townsend and others is, as I have shown (p. 82), unanimous--that the era of complete independence is not as yet visible on the horizon of time. Practical administrators (among whom I may include my successor, Sir P. Girouard, in Northern Nigeria) have arrived at the same conclusion.


The danger of going too fast with native races is even more likely to lead to disappointment, if not to disaster, than the danger of not going fast enough. The pace can best be gauged by those who have intimate acquaintance alike with the strong points and the limitations of the native peoples and rulers with whom they have to deal.


The Fulani of Northern Nigeria are, as I have said, more capable of rule than the indigenous races, but in proportion as we consider them an alien race, we are denying self -government to the people over whom they rule, and supporting an alien caste-albeit closer and more akin to the native races than a European can be. Yet capable as they are, it requires the ceaseless vigilance of the British staff to maintain a high standard of administrative integrity, and to prevent oppression of the peasantry. We are dealing with the same generation, and in many cases with the identical rulers, who were responsible for the misrule and tyranny which we found in 1902. The subject races near the capital were then serfs, and the victims of constant extortion. Those dwelling at a distance were raided for slaves, and could not count their women, their cattle, or their crops their own. Punishments were most barbarous, and included impalement, mutilation, and burying alive. Many generations have passed since British rule was established among the more intellectual people of India-the inheritors of centuries of Eastern civilisation--yet only to-day are we tentatively seeking to confer on them a measure of self-government. " Festina lente " is a motto which the Colonial Office will do well to remember in its dealings with Africa.


That the principle of ruling through the native chiefs is adopted by several of the governments of British Tropical Africa can be seen from recent local pronouncements. The Governor of Sierra Leone, in his address to the Legislative Council. last December (1920), remarks that "nine-tenths of the people enjoy autonomy under their own elected chiefs . . . European officers are the technical advisers, and helpers of the tribal authority." The Governor of the Gold Coast on a similar occasion observed: " The chiefs are keenly appreciative of our policy of indirect rule, and of the full powers they retain under their native institutions." The powers retained by the Kabaka of Uganda and his Council are very wide indeed.


The system adopted in Nigeria is therefore only a particular method of the application of these principles--more especially as regards " advanced communities,"--and since I am familiar with it I will use it as illustrative of the methods which in my opinion should characterise the dealings of the controlling power with subject races.


The object in view is to make each " Emir " or paramount chief, assisted by his judicial Council, an effective ruler over his own people. He presides over a " Native Administration" organised throughout as a unit of local government. The area over which he exercises jurisdiction is divided into districts under the control of " Headmen, " who collect the taxes in the name of the ruler, and pay them into the "Native Treasury," conducted by a native treasurer and staff under the supervision of the chief at his capital. Here, too, is the prison for native court prisoners, and probably the school, which I shall describe more fully in the chapter on education. Large cities are divided into wards for purposes of control and taxation.


The district headman, usually a territorial magnate with local connections, is the chief executive officer in the area under his charge. He controls the village headmen, and is responsible for the assessment of the tax, which he collects through their agency. He must reside in his district and not at the capital. He is not allowed to pose as a chief with a retinue of his own and duplicate officials, and is summoned from time to time to report to his chief. If, as is the case with some of the ancient Emirates, the community is a small one but independent of any other native rule, the chief may be his own district headman.


A province under a Resident may contain several separate Native Administrations," whether they be Moslem Emirates or pagan communities. A " division " under a British District Officer may include one or more headmen's districts, or more than one small Emirate or independent pagan tribe, but as a rule no Emirate is partly in one division and partly in another. The Resident acts as sympathetic adviser and counsellor to the native chief, being careful not to interfere so as to lower his prestige, or cause him to lose interest in his work. His advice on matters of general policy must be., followed, but the native ruler issues his own instructions to his subordinate chiefs and district heads-not as the orders of the Resident but as his own,-and he is encouraged to work through them, instead of centralising everything in himself -a system which in the past had produced such great abuses. The British District Officers supervise and assist the native district headmen, through whom they convey any instructions to village heads, and make any arrangements necessary for carrying on the work of the Government departments, but all important orders emanate from the Emir, whose, messenger usually accompanies and acts as mouthpiece of a District Officer.


The tax-which supersedes all former "tribute," iregular imposts, and forced labour--is, in a sense, the basis of the whole system, since it supplies the means to pay the Emir and all his officials. The district and village heads are effectively supervised and assisted in its assessment by the British staff. The native treasury retains the proportion assigned to it (in advanced communities a half), and pays the remainder into Colonial Revenue.


There are fifty such treasuries in the northern provinces. of Nigeria, and every independent chief, however small, is encouraged to have his own. The appropriation by the native administration of market dues, slaughter-house fees, forest licences, &c., is authorised by ordinance, and the native administration receives also the fines and fees of native courts. From these funds are paid the salaries of the Emir and his council, the native court judges, the district and village heads, police, prison warders, and other employees. The surplus is devoted to the construction and maintenance of dispensaries, leper settlements, schools, roads, courthouses, and other buildings. Such works may be carried out wholly or in part by a Government department, if the native administration requires technical assistance, the cost being borne by the native treasury.


The native treasurer keeps all accounts of receipts and expenditure, and the Emir, with the assistance of the Resident, annually prepares a budget, which is formally approved by the Lieut.-Governor.


In these advanced communities the judges of the native courts-which I shall describe in a later chapter-administer native law and custom, and exercise their jurisdiction independently of the native executive, but under the supervision of the British staff, and subject to the general control of the Emir, whose " Judicial Council" consists of his principal Officers of State, and is vested with executive as well as judicial powers. No punishment may be inflicted by a native authority, except through a regular tribunal. The ordinances of government are operative everywhere, but the native authority may make by-laws in modification of native custom-e.g., on matters of sanitation, &c.,-and these, when approved by the Governor, are enforced by the native courts.


The authority of the Emir over his own people is absolute, and the profession of an alien creed does not absolve a native from the obligation to obey his lawful orders; but aliens other than natives domiciled in the Emirate and accepting,, the jurisdiction of the native authority and courts-are under the direct control of the British staff. Townships are excluded from the native jurisdiction.


The village is the administrative unit. It is not always easy to define, since the security to life and property which has followed the British administration has caused an exodus from the cities and large villages, and the creation of innumerable le hamlets, sometimes only of one or two huts, on the agricultural lands. The peasantry of the advanced communities, though ignorant, yet differs from that of the backward tribes in that they recognise the authority of the Emir, and are more ready to listen to the village head and the Council of Elders, on which the Nigerian system is based.


Subject, therefore, to the limitations which I shall presently discuss, the native authority is thus do facto and do jure ruler over his own people. He appoints and dismisses his subordinate chiefs and officials. He exercises the power of, allocation of lands, and with the aid of the native courts, adjudication of disputes and expropriation for offences against the community; these are the essential functions upon in the opinion of the West African Lands Committee, which, the prestige of the native authority depends. The lawful orders which he may give are carefully defined by ordinance, and in the last resort are enforced by Government.


Since native authority, especially if exercised by alien conquerors is inevitably weakened by the first impact of civilised rule, it is made clear to the elements of disorder, who regard force as conferring the only right to demand obedience, that government, by the use of force if necessary, intends to support the native chief. To enable him to maintain order he employs a body of unarmed police, and if the occasion demands the display of superior force he looks to the Government-as, for instance, if a community combines to break the law or shield criminals from justice,-a rare event in the advanced communities.


The native ruler derives his power from the Suzerain, and is responsible that it is not misused. He is equally with British officers amenable to the law, but his authority does not depend on the caprice of an executive officer. To intrigue against him is an offence punishable, if necessary, in a Provincial Court. Thus both British and native courts are invoked to uphold his authority.


The essential feature of the system (as I wrote at the of its inauguration) is that the native chiefs are constituted as an integral part of the machinery of the administration. There are not two sets of rulers-British and native-working either separately or in co-operation, but a single Government in which the native chiefs have well-defined duties and an acknowledged status equally with British officials. Their duties should never conflict, and should overlap as little as possible. They should be complementary to each other, and the chief himself must understand that he has no right to place and power unless he renders his proper services to the State."


The ruling classes are no longer either demi-gods, or parasites preying on the community. They must work for the stipends and position they enjoy.












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