What Britain Did to Nigeria

A Short History of Conquest and Rule

Max Siollun

A revelatory account of British imperialism’s shameful impact on Africa’s most populous state.

Bibliographic Details
What Britain Did to Nigeria Hardback
February 2021£20
8 pp b&w illus

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Most accounts of Britain’s rule over Nigeria were written by British officials who presented colonialism as a civilising mission to rid Africans of barbaric superstition and corrupt tribal leadership; to educate them and convert them to Christianity. Yet–strangely for a colonised people openly described this way by their oppressors–many Nigerians today still view their country’s time in the Empire through rose-tinted glasses.

Max Siollun offers a bold rethink: a clear-eyed, unromanticised history of colonial Nigeria. He argues compellingly that colonialism was not a system with benevolent intentions. It may have ended practices such as slavery and human sacrifice, but those who resisted were violently repressed; Britain’s disruption and forceful remoulding of longstanding customs permanently altered the belief systems, culture and internal politics of indigenous Nigerian communities. The aftershocks of this British interference have been felt for decades since independence, as the country continues to suffer from economic and political turmoil that Britain has laid at the doorstep of Nigeria’s own leaders.

This book is a definitive, head-on confrontation with Nigeria’s experience under British rule, deftly showing how the country was forever changed by colonialism—perhaps cataclysmically.


Max Siollun is a historian and author who specialises in Nigeria's history. He has written some of the most acclaimed books on Nigeria's history, and has been described as standing 'unchallenged, in contemporary times, as the Chronicler-in-Chief of the Nigerian military' by the Special Assistant on New Media to Nigeria's President Buhari, Tolu Ogunlesi.