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“We Saw No Real Outstanding Leaders”: Britain’s Perception of Nigerian Nationalist Class in Colonial Nigeria
This article seeks to interrogate the perception and attitudes of the British colonial bureaucracy towards the educated elites who has been chosen to replace the traditional rulers after 1945. It looks at the views of colonial officials which reveal official contempt for this class whom the British referred to as “hybridized Nigerians” unqualified to guide the unlettered masses. Their national struggle according to the British were not the struggles of the rest of Nigerian society but the struggles about the plums of office. Examining the evidence of corruption and the emergence of ethnic politics - instead of true nationalism during the decolonization process, the paper seeks to re-appraise critically the activities of the nationalist leaders. It argues that the sudden change of official view towards the educated elites from contempt to recognition was not a smooth one because it was fraught with debates and contestations.