History of Nigeria: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 Early Residents of Nigeria
  • 0:56 England's Influence
  • 1:40 Nigerian Independence
  • 2:07 Democracy Is Established
  • 2:27 Nigeria Today
  • 3:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michael Gott

Mike is a veteran of the New Hampshire public school system and has worked in grades 1-12. His role has varied from primary instructor to special needs support.

In this lesson, learn about the history of the young country of Nigeria, which gained independence from Britain in 1960. Nigerians enjoyed a few years of democracy before rule by various military dictatorships. A dynamic political scene continues to this day.

Early Residents of Nigeria

Have you ever had to choose between two options you did not like? Sometimes there's no good choice. After being controlled by England for hundreds of years, the people of Nigeria established an independent government that soon became corrupt. Most Nigerians, though, choose to support the corrupt government over the terrorist group kidnapping their children.

On the land now known as Nigeria, the earliest settlement was formed in roughly 800 BCE at the Jos plateau by the Nok people. Their civilization and culture continued to expand until the 1400s, when Portuguese explorers reached the western coast of Africa. This contact led to the Atlantic slave trade and sent millions of Africans to the Americas for the next 200 years. The Atlantic slave trade involved Europeans taking slaves from Africa and traveling to the Americas to sell them. They would return to Europe with the money before leaving for Africa again to get more slaves.

England's Influence

In the early 1800s, the tribes within Nigeria began a series of civil wars based mainly upon tribal identity and the ability to control areas of land. In this climate, the British arrived. Through sheer military force, England took control of the land. Once English dominance was established, the land became known as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. This was the first time the land was known as Nigeria in any form.

The British banned slavery and established indirect rule, meaning England chose people and groups to control areas in Nigeria. These groups were allowed to stay in power as long as they raised enough money and resources for England. These chosen groups were often accused of exploiting the people of Nigeria in order to continue paying England for the authority to rule.

Nigerian Independence

Nigeria gained its independence in 1960 and then separated into three distinct regions, with Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa overseeing them. The regions were divided for both geographical reasons and ethnic identity. However, separating along ethnic lines led to distrust. The death of Balewa in 1966 caused war to break out in Nigeria, which continued until 1975, when Murtala Ramat Mohammed took control of Nigeria.

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