Country Post #1 – Nigeria and Eritrea

The colonization of the African countries Nigeria and Eritrea had a major effect on the development of each country’s internal infrastructure. Before colonialism, both Nigeria and Eritrea were two African countries located along the different parts of the African coastline that contained rich histories of beneficial trading with European countries. However, due to their potentially high values for trade and resources, European powers such as Italy and Great Britain immediately took advantage of acquiring dominance in these countries. Although these two countries share similar pre-colonial situations, the different ways in which each country was colonized by their European powers significantly influenced the way in which each country gained its independence as well as each country’s internal politics.

Although Nigeria and Eritrea were both colonized by European powers, there were different reasons behind the colonization of each country as well as different courses of action taken by the European powers colonizing them. In Nigeria, Great Britain greatly focused on establishing trade stations within Nigeria so that they could have access to the valuable palm oil that was prominent along the Niger River that passes directly through Nigeria. Great Britain did this by enacting British anti-slavery policies that freed many slaves from the grasps of other European powers in the region as well as strategically allowing for there to be “indirect rule” within the country, which allowed for traditional leaders to continue in power while owing allegiance to the colonial authority. This course of action would proceed for the next 40 years while Great Britain concurrently would split the country of Nigeria into three separate regions (North, East, and West) until the later 1950s when Nigeria gradually achieved its own political infrastructure with the creation of a federal prime minister and the Northern, Western and Eastern regions being granted internal self-government. By 1960, Nigeria would gain its full independence. However, due to Great Britain’s initial separation of Nigeria into separate regions, this would cause great internal conflict within the country and eventually lead to a bitter and intense civil war that is the first post-independence African war to receive widespread coverage.

In Eritrea, however, Italy would have much different intentions for colonizing as intended to strategically use Eritrea in order to invade Ethiopia. After failed attempts to colonize Ethiopia, Italy shifted its focus and had more administrative involvement in the country as Italian would segregate the educational systems within between Italians and Eritreans, preventing the Eritreans from a proper education that would allow them to grow and develop their own native country. This sort of apartheid that was established by the Italians would force Eritreans to rely on other colonial powers to help them eventually gain their own independence. Once Great Britain eventually dismantled Italy’s rule in Eritrea, it would still take Eritreans thirty years (1991) to gain their own independence due to the hostility between the Eritreans and their neighboring country of Ethiopia who had previously annexed them in 1961.

Ultimately, the different ways in which European powers initially controlled these Nigeria and Eritrea would greatly affected the ways in which these two similar countries would gain their independence.

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