General issues: British protectorate 1900-1906, British colony & protectorate 1906-1914
Country name on general issues: Southern Nigeria
Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1900-1914
Population: 7 855 000 in 1911
Political history Southern Nigeria
Southern Nigeria is located in western Africa. The population consists of different Niger-Congo peoples – large population groups being the Yoruba, the Ebo and the Igbo. The first Europeans to explore what would become Southern Nigeria are the Portuguese in the 15th century. Trade posts are set up, from the 16th century, by several European nations and companies – the trade mainly being the slave trade. The settlements of Lagos and Calabar – formerly called Old Calabar – develop into the main trading centers. By the mid 19th century, the British focus their interest on the lower Niger basin. In 1862, the colony of Lagos is established in the western part of the future Southern Nigeria. Trade is more and more dominated by the British – the trade, since the abolition of the slave trade, having become trade in palm oil.
By the end of the 19th century, the ‘Scramble for Africa’ is at its height. To secure their trade interests and to prevent the French and the Germans from moving into the lower Niger basin, the British rapidly increase their efforts in the region. In 1884, the British proclaim the Oil Rivers protectorate – the Niger Delta and the coastal region east of the Niger Delta to Calabar. At the 1885 Berlin conference – where the colonial powers divide their respective spheres of interest in Africa – Great Britain claims and is awarded the entire lower Niger basinThe current Nigeria, then called the Niger Districts..
In 1886, the development of much of the Niger Districts is contracted out to the Royal Niger Company – a chartered company. In 1893, the Oil Rivers protectorate is renamed Niger Coast protectorate. The territory of the Niger Coast protectorate is extended to also include the coastal region west of the Niger Delta and the lands to the north, up to the headquarters of the Royal Niger Company in Lokoja. The Niger Coast protectorate is cut in two by the Niger Territories under the administration of the Royal Niger Company: part of the Niger Delta and, to the north, a strip on either side of the Niger River.
Because the Royal Niger Company was not the proper vehicle to establish British rule, the charter was revoked in 1899, and in 1900 the territories administered by the Royal Niger Company reverted to the British government. The Niger Coast protectorate and the Niger Territories were joined to form the protectorate of Southern Nigeria, to the north of which the protectorate of Northern Nigeria was established. In 1906, Lagos is joined to Southern Nigeria to form the colony and protectorate of Southern Nigeria.
Effective British rule over Southern Nigeria has, in part, already been established and, in part, has yet to be established when Southern Nigeria is formed. In the former Lagos protectorate, the Yoruba kingdoms have, by 1893, accepted British rule. In the central part of Southern Nigeria the powerful Edo kingdom of Benin – centered around the city of Benin – has been conquered in a campaign in 1896/1897. When, in 1902, the Aro Confederacy – a federation of Igbo kingdoms – accepts British rule, Southern Nigeria is largely brought under British sovereignty. To administer Southern Nigeria, the British would establish indirect rule through the existing royalty.
In 1914, Southern Nigeria is joined with Northern Nigeria to form the colony and protectorate of Nigeria. Nigeria gains independence in 1960. The former Southern Nigeria is currently split up to form a number of states in present day Nigeria.
Postal history Southern Nigeria
The first postal service in the future Southern Nigeria was established in Lagos in 1852 – the first stamps used are those of Lagos from 1874. In Calabar, a post office was set up in 1891, first using British stamps – the Oil Rivers and Niger Coast protectorates have issued stamps from 1892 and 1894 respectively.
Niger Coast stamps will be used in Southern Nigeria until, in 1901, the first set of stamps is issued for Southern Nigeria – and again during a period of shortage in 1902. The first set of stamps issued shows the portrait of Queen Victoria. Further sets – of a similar design – are issued, from 1903, with the portrait of King Edward VII and, in 1912, with the portrait of King George V. After Lagos has been joined to Southern Nigeria in 1906, the remaining stock of stamps of Lagos is used up concurrently with the stamps of Southern Nigeria. The stamps of Southern Nigeria are superseded, from 1914, by the stamps of Nigeria.