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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Struggle for Transport Labor in Northern Nigeria, 1900-1912: A Conflict of Interests
Author:Swindell, Kenneth
Year:1992
Periodical:African Economic History
Volume:20
Pages:161-179
Language:English
Geographic terms:Nigeria
Northern Nigeria
Subjects:porters
road transport
Labor and Employment
History and Exploration
Economics and Trade
colonialism
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3601634
Abstract:This paper examines the struggle for labour in northern Nigeria in the early 1900s in terms of the mobilization, management, and control of carrier labour, especially by the government, up to the time the importance of porterage was reduced by the arrival of the railway in Kano in 1912. The government's labour difficulties were exacerbated by the demands of other employers. This was a region in which the Hausa were famous for long-distance trade using pack animals and porters, while the Royal Niger Company from which the Protectorate had devolved was already established as an employer of local labour. The first part of the paper begins with an overview of the demand for transport labour in 1900, followed by a discussion of relations between the British administration and the Niger Company. It was the recruitment of labour and the payment of wages which became an important arena of conflict between the government and the Company. This was part of a wider conflict of interests which embraced local merchant capital, international capital, petty commodity traders, farmers, indigenous rulers, local chiefs, and the government itself. The latter part of the paper dwells on these wider issues and the question of whether British policy toward land, taxation and the abolition of slavery further constrained the supply of carriers and the development of a permanent wage labour force. The transport problem was solved by the railway, but not before the government had embarked on an extravagant experiment with ox-cart roads. Notes, ref.
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