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The Port of Lagos, 1850–1929: The Rise of West Africa’s Leading Seaport

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Atlantic Ports and the First Globalisation, c. 1850–1930

Part of the book series: Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series ((CIPCSS))

Abstract

A common feature of the West African coastline is the limited number of natural harbours because of the lack of major indentations. This contrasts sharply with the coastlines of Western Europe and Japan, for example. Hence, only Dakar and Freetown have ‘good natural harbours’ (White, 1970, 14). Consequently, port development in the region has involved extensive engineering works to create or expand port facilities. This chapter details the development, administration and trade of Lagos (Nigeria) from the mid-nineteenth century to the late 1920s. The period begins with British colonisation between 1850 and 1861, and ends with the onset of the Great Depression of 1929–33. A combination of the institutional, technological, legal and commercial changes wrought by British colonialism, the transition from a local economy based upon the transatlantic slave trade to one driven by the so-called ‘legitimate’ trade in non-human commodities, the migrations and settlement of returnees from the African Atlantic Diaspora, urbanisation and port development, and global dynamics propelled the former lagoon port into the leading port-city of West Africa (Olukoju, 2004). By 1880, Lagos had earned the appellation of ‘the Liverpool of West Africa’, a reference to its pre-eminence in the maritime economy of the region.1 It was also a clear allusion to its role in cementing the trade and products of the hinterland to the industry of Britain, the mother country.

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© 2014 Ayodeji Olukoju

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Olukoju, A. (2014). The Port of Lagos, 1850–1929: The Rise of West Africa’s Leading Seaport. In: Bosa, M.S. (eds) Atlantic Ports and the First Globalisation, c. 1850–1930. Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137327987_6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137327987_6

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-46031-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-137-32798-7

  • eBook Packages: Palgrave History CollectionHistory (R0)

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