American culture of basketball enters Nigeria through a chemistry teacher at Queens college in Lagos, who here plays basketball with her students of the college, a secondary school for girls. Rosenberg introduced the sport to the country.
1962,  Sherman Rosenberg of Chicago, a chemistry teacher at Queens college in Lagos, plays basketball with her students of the college. Rosenberg introduced the sport to the country. The basketball was donated by an American. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Americanism, the propensity of the Nigerian to lean towards American ideologies increased after independence from the British. However, the year 1938 marked the formal beginning of cultural relations with other countries by the United States government as well as the formal opening of the Ogbomoso People’s Institute (OPI) in Nigeria. This was the first school in Nigeria that was patterned after the Tuskegee, and Hampton models in the United States. By the time of President Babangida’s regime, the rudiments of American free market economy and semblance of some American socio-political institutions had been introduced into the Nigerian polity.

Nigeria’s colonial experience made it extremely difficult for the Americans to have a firm grip over it. However, immediately after 1960 when the country achieved political independence, Nigeria became a contested cultural terrain. Educational exchanges became the only effective tool available to the Americans in their attempt.

American Baptist missionary presence in the South West Nigeria could be said to be the first point of culture-contact between Nigeria and the Americans. Like the European Christian mission, the main objective of all missionary education programs was religious instruction and only little emphasis was laid on higher education. Many Nigerians who nevertheless travelled to the U.S. on their own for further studies later returned home to be at the vanguard of agitation for the introduction of semblance of American system of education in Nigeria. Between 1945 and 1960, President Azikiwe who had himself studied in the United States mid-wived the University of Nigeria, Nsukka into an American patterned school. In 1980, a semblance of the American systems of education was officially introduced in Nigeria

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer