Ethnic Relations in Lokoja in the Colonial Period
AbstractLokoja is situated in the middle belt of Nigeria in the confluence of the Niger and Benue River. It lies on Latitude 7 50 N and Longitude 6 44 E. In this area temperatures are generally high. The highest temperature are usually recorded in the afternoon.1 Lokoja rose to fame due to its location at the confluence of the two great waterways in West Africa the Niger and Benue Rivers. These natural waterways served as major means of communication and transportation especially for the riverside dwellers during the colonial period. Because of its location at the confluence, Lokoja served as a commercial rendezvous during the east-west kolanut trade in West Africa. With the arrival of the Europeans, Lokoja rose to international fame when it served as the first British settlement in Nigeria and as a major inland port for European companies. The town grew to become a cosmopolitan settlement peopled mostly by different ethnic groups from the middle belt and Hausa from northern Nigeria. This cosmopolitan nature remains to date the dilemma of Lokoja as various ethnic groups - notably the Oworo, Nupe, Igbirra, Hausa, Igala - lay claim to the ownership of the town. These claims and counterclaims have affected the development of the town since Nigeria’s independence.
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