Peasants, merchant capital and the state : Colonial Northern Nigeria, 1900-1939.
This thesis examines the nature of the transformations engendered
under the impact of the demands of the state and European merchants' .
capital within the colonial political economy of Northern Nigeria until
1939. It examines, in'particular, the effect 'of these transformations
upon three groups: the peasantry, the merchant class and the aristocracy.
It is placed within the current debate on the nature and impact of European
capital, operating within an imperial framework, on the political economy
of colonies. It seeks to analyse the dialectical effect of the intercourse
of European merchants' capital with peasant producers, indigenous merchant
and an indigenous ruling class incorporated within the colonial system of
Beginning with an examination of the basic pre-colonial economic
structures (peasant and slave agriculture, long-distance and internal trade
and manufacture) it analyses the immediate effects of the subordination
of the pre-colonial state structure under the colonial state, and of the
colonial states' policies towards land;~labour and taxation. It then
examines peasant involvement in the increased'. production of export commodities,
and the role of European, Levantine and African merchant capital
in the trade. It then examines the effect of this involvement on the
structUre of peasant relations of production, and finally examines the
implications of intensified export commodity production within the wider
context of a maturing colonial economy. It concludes that the twin demands
to ensure initial political control and financial solvency by the state
combined with the existence of a form of capital that intensified pettycommo~
ity production to create in Northern Nigeria a state system centred
around:a class of non-producers, committed to a controlled, guided change,
dependent upon surplus from a peasantry, and class relations that aimed at
perpet~ating the political subordination of the peasantry.
Material for the thesis vas gathered from actual sources in the'
National Archives,'Kaduna, Nigeria, Public Records Office in London,
and from published boQks and journals from the University of Sussex,