The Politics of Improvement, 1947–1960

David Pratten

in The Man-Leopard Murders

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780748625536
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670659 | DOI:
The Politics of Improvement, 1947–1960

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The final months of the man-leopard murder investigations in late 1947 represented a key moment in the political trajectory of south-eastern Nigeria. They marked a shift in relations between the ‘educated elements’ of the improvement unions like the Ibibio Union and the colonial state. Coinciding with the Local Government Despatch of 1947, a secret review was under way in the Eastern Provinces of the political fallout of the Second World War. Its focus was to explain why the Native Administration reforms of the 1930s had failed and how the emerging political threat of the improvement unions, which were buoyed by their recent affiliation to the National Council, could be channelled into local administration. This review of the improvement unions in 1947 is a vantage point from which to focus on the historical trajectory of power formations in south-eastern Nigeria to this point. Despite colonial attempts to divert the elite's energies away from nationalist agitation, the Annang and Ibibio ‘reading public’ became fully engaged in the party politics of the 1950s, thus realigning regional alliances, remaking collective histories, and reinforcing the link between development and the politics of identity.

Keywords: Nigeria; man-leopard murders; colonial state; improvement unions; Annang; Ibibio; party politics

Chapter.  12805 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: African Studies

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