THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 7th May 1946
5/7/2012 7:55:25 PM -
Herbert Macaulay, a Nigerian nationalist, passed away in Lagos, Nigeria. He is considered by many as the founder of Nigerian nationalism.
Macaulay came from a prominent background. He was the grandson of Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the first African Bishop in the Anglican church, and the son of Thomas Babington Macaulay, the first Principal of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) Grammar School in Lagos. CMS Grammar School is the oldest secondary school in Nigeria. Macaulay's heritage also links him to Sierra Leone as Ajayi Crowther, live part of his life there following his capture in Nigeria as a slave, and release in Freetown, where he married a local woman. His father, born in Freetown, married Ajayi Crowther's second daughter, Abigail.
Macaulay studied civil engineering in England from 1891 to 1894 after being awarded a scholarship. On returning to Nigeria, he worked as a surveyor for the colonial administration but subsequently resigned as his objections to British colonial rule and experience of racism grew.
Macaulay then turned his hand to journalism, writing in the Lagos Daily News. He used this organ to agitate for an end to colonial rule and raise nationalist awareness and sentiments in the people. Consequently, he was arrested for writing seditious articles criticising British colonialism in Nigeria.
In 1922 development of a constitution gave people in the colony the opportunity to elect a small number of representatives to a Legislative Council. Macaulay founded the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), Nigeria's first political party, on 24th June 1923, seeking to unify and promote the interests of Nigerians into a political whole.
The NNDP won elections for seats on the Legislative Council in 1923, 1928 and 1933 and was dominant in representing the political interests of Nigerians from it's inception until around 1938 when the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) took over as the leading nationalist force. Founding members of the NYM included Samuel Akinsanya, James Churchill Vaughan, Hezekiah Oladipo Davies and Ernest Ikoli.
With the demise of the NNDP Macaulay co-founded another political party with Nnamdi Azikiwe, the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), on 26 August 1944. Macaulay served as the first President of the NCNC until his death. Azikiwe, or Zik as he was more popularly, went on to become the first President of independent Nigeria.
The following video clip is the first of four which charts the history of Nigerian nationalism and opposition to colonial rule:
"Always bear in mind that people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone's head. They are fighting to win material benefits to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children." Amilcar Cabral