Colonialism by Proxy

Colonialism by Proxy

Hausa Imperial Agents and Middle Belt Consciousness in Nigeria
Moses E. Ochonu
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/14/2014
Format: Paperback 5 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-01161-9
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Finalist, 2015 African Studies Association Herskovits Award

Moses E. Ochonu explores a rare system of colonialism in Middle Belt Nigeria, where the British outsourced the business of the empire to Hausa-Fulani subcolonials because they considered the area too uncivilized for Indirect Rule. Ochonu reveals that the outsiders ruled with an iron fist and imagined themselves as bearers of Muslim civilization rather than carriers of the white man's burden. Stressing that this type of Indirect Rule violated its primary rationale, Colonialism by Proxy traces contemporary violent struggles to the legacy of the dynamics of power and the charged atmosphere of religious difference.

Author Bio

Moses E. Ochonu is Associate Professor of African History at Vanderbilt University and author of Colonial Meltdown: Northern Nigeria in the Great Depression.


“Changes the ways in which we understand the practice of indirect rule and balances the formal structures of colonial power against less formal correlates such as trade. A fundamentally new reading of colonialism in the region.”
 — Steven Pierce, University of Manchester

“Without exaggeration, this book has transformed the way I think about Northern Nigeria and the Middle Belt. It will reshape how I teach British indirect rule.”
 — Douglas Anthony, Franklin and Marshall College

“Colonialism by Proxy is a truly impressive volume. Analytically sophisticated in its conceptualization and profound in its engagement of Nigeria's complicated power configurations, Ochonu has written an authoritative book on a subject of great importance in Nigerian history. ”
 — American Historical Review

“The standard narrative of European colonial governance in Africa posits that indirect rule became the de facto model of colonial administration and that northern Nigeria was the quintessential example of indirect rule in action. Historian Ochonu . . . challenges this truism by examining 'subcolonialism' in the Middle Belt of northern Nigeria. . . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

“Colonialism by Proxy represents a well-researched and significant intervention in the political history of Nigeria, and more broadly in analyses of the functioning and legacy of colonial rule in sub-Saharan Africa. By placing Hausa proxies at the center of his analysis and highlighting the inherent volatility and incompleteness of the British colonial project in Nigeria, Ochonu offers an important corrective to analyses that overdetermine the ability of colonial administrators to affect change. ”
 — Journal of West African History

“Ochonu’s work is grounded and searching in its sensitivity to both political power and histories used to support it. His pioneering and invaluable contribution should inspire scholars to no longer ignore non-Muslim Northern Nigerians as political actors.”
 — Journal of African History

“Ochonu’s well-researched study makes good use of a variety of archival and oral sources. It is concisely written and case studies from across the Middle Belt effectively demonstrate how converging local experiences made for a broader regional consciousness.”
 — Ufahamu

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by John Gakau Date Added: Friday 31 January, 2014
Reframing the past, opening new doors to understanding and expanding possibilities! I found the author's first book, Colonial Meltdown, to be enlightening and powerful for its re-framing of British colonialism (goals, achievements and how things played out on the ground). I can't wait to read Dr. Ochonu's second book, Colonialism by Proxy, as I have to assume it is a must read for anyone interested in richer and fuller explorations of Nigerian history and past...

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars [5 of 5 Stars]

Table of Contents

Introduction: Understanding "Native Alien" Sub-colonialism and its Legacies
1. The Hausa-Caliphate Imaginary and Ideological Foundations of Proxy Colonialism
2. Zazzau and Southern Kaduna in Precolonial and Colonial Times
3. Emirate Maneuvers and "Pagan" Resistance in the Plateau-Nasarawa Basin
4. Hausa Colonial Agency in the Benue Valley
5. Fulani Expansion and Sub-colonial Rule in Early Colonial Adamawa Province
6. Non-Muslim Revolt Against Fulani Rule in Adamawa
7. Middle Belt Self-Determination and Caliphate Political Resurgence in the Transition to National Independence
Conclusion: Sub-colonialism, Ethnicity, and Memory

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