October 1, 1960

Nigeria Gains Independence from the United Kingdom

Though the British established a presence around Lagos during the 1850s, the country was officially a British colony from 1914-1960. During colonial rule, the English influenced Nigeria in myriad ways, including the advent of Western style education, Christianity, and the English language. The Nigerian economy also became heavily dependent upon the export of cash crops during the time of colonial rule.

In 1960, newly independent Nigeria established a parliamentary system of government that consisted of a ceremonial head of state and an elected prime minister. Each of the three main regions also retained a large amount of self-governance power. However, despite a somewhat brief period of peace following independence, Nigeria then descended into a more problematic state due to ethnic competition, regional imbalance, inequalities in educational opportunities, and economic disparities. In an effort to avoid ethnic conflict, the government created a new region, the Mid-West, by splitting the existing Western region. Nonetheless, the country was still regionally divided based predominantly on ethnicity: the Hausa-Fulani controlled the north, the Yoruba controlled the west, and the Igbo controlled the east.

Still from British Movietone news, "Nigerian Independence."
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Movietone news: “Nigerian Independence – 1960