Sir Lord Lugard’s Promise to the Emir; How it affected christianity

By the end of this topic, you should be able to:
• explain whether the British rule was a help or a hindrance to the Christian Mission in the Northern Nigeria
• discuss the attitudes of the Englishmeno against Christianity
• discuss the attitudes of the white men in favour of the Islamic religion in the Northern Nigeria
• state the problems of finance that confronted the Missionaries in the spread of Christianity in the Northern Nigeria.

Sir Lord Lugard’s Promise to the Emir

By 1903, Sir Lugard had succeeded in imposing the British authority over various groups in the Northern Nigeria. He appointed Emirs who accepted to co-operate with his method of administration to rule the entire Northern Nigeria on his behalf. Lugard also logically used military power to suppress the Fulani people who would have kicked against the rule of the British government in their Kingdom. While the Hausa people submitted themselves to their Emirs who subjected them to the rule of the British. He promised them that his rule would be just and fair, and that every man would be free to worship God as pleased.
At the installation of the newly appointed Sultan of Sokoto in March, 1903, he promised that his government would not interfere with the 
Muslim religion in the Northern Nigeria. This statement caused satisfaction and pleasure to the people of Sokoto Caliphate. However, on the other hand, the promise of Lugard as stated above, became the source of controversy when Tugwell and his party made their journey to Kano to plant Christianity. but On the other hand, the coming of Christianity to Northern Nigeria coincided with the coming of the military to the region. For this reason, the Emirs were against the 
Christians and the Soldiers in their territories. Therefore, the 
Missionaries were handicapped in the planting of Christianity in the area. They could not plant Christianity in the area where they were being opposed by the Muslims who have been assured by the British government that no religion would be allowed in Northern Nigeria 
except Islam. Residents in Northern Nigeria attested to this by saying 
that the British authorities deemed it prudent to restrict Missionary 
enterprise in the Muslim emirates till the introduction of the railway communication that came which made the army’s presence in the area more secured. Ayandele believes that the administrators used the fear of Islam to counteract the influence of the Church Missionary Society with the Colonial office. The cautious attitude of Lugard caused great 
disappointment to the Missionaries in the Northern Nigeria. Apparently Tugwell assumed that Missions would follow the military expeditions in the Northern Nigeria just as they had in Ijebu area in the Southern part of Nigeria.

Why was Christianity not able to flourish in the Northern part of Nigeria?

The role of the British government cannot be over looked in the set back that Christianity suffered in the Northern Nigeria as you might have learnt in this unit. The promise that Lugard had made to the people of Northern Nigeria that gave them assurance that there w0uld be no other religion in the area except Islam probably made the Hausa- Fulani 
people to accept Christianity in the early period that the religion was introduced to them by the Missionaries. The promise made by Lugard to some of the Emirs in the Northern Nigeria on the restriction of other religions probably made some Emirs to kick against some Evangelists 
such as Tugwell and his party in Kano when they tried to plant Christianity in the area. However, the coming of the railway from the Southern part of Nigeria paved the way for some Yoruba workers and 
traders to plant Christianity in Kano, Kaduna, Ilorin and other parts of the Northern Nigeria.


The Governor of the Crown Colony in Nigeria needed the co-operation 
of the people of the Northern Nigeria to pay tax to the Government, for 
this reason, they allowed the religion of Islam which they met in Northern Nigeria as the only official religion of the people. Besides, the Colony wished to have the area as their colony, so they, in conjunction with the Emirs, were ruling the Northern area by what is called indirect rule. 

1.b What will you consider as the reason for the controversies on the introduction of Christianity in the Northern Part of Nigeria?
2.b Should the Emirs of the Northern Nigeria be blamed for the set back 
Christianity suffered in the North?. Discuss.

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