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Slavery and the Birth of an African City: Lagos, 1760-1900
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Top Customer Reviews
The book achieves balance, not an easy thing to do when talking about a subject as emotionally charged as the mass-kidnapping of human beings. It examines both European and African complicity in the trade, looks at how coastal trading elites benefited from the system and, and examines the good intentions and moral compromises that characterized early British colonialism in West Africa.
The text is strong both in its economic analysis of how Lagos and its hinterland shifted from a slave-exporting economy to one built around agricultural exports and the internal use of unfree labor, and in its legal analysis of how the elites, both black and white, controlled this labor in the face of British law which declared slavery illegal. Without assuming a hectoring tone the book demonstrates very clearly how the British failed to properly apply their anti-slavery principles in the early years of their rule over Lagos.
For any student of African history or colonialism, this is a worthwhile text. Lagos is one of the world's major cities and Nigeria one of the most important nations in the developing world, and this book tells a big chunk of the story of how that city and the country of which it is the metropolis became what they are today.