Anglophonism

"Ereko Market, Lagos decorated for Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Nigeria in 1956 photo by Carl Mydans
“Ereko Market, Lagos during Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Nigeria in 1956. Photo by Carl Mydans

Anglophonism was the term used in pre-independence times to describe the tendency of the Nigerian to see self as naturally aligned with, or to show allegiance to the English. In Michael Echeruo’s account of Victorian Lagos, he writes about the African Renaissance that became a trend in Lagos through changes in name, dress, politics, among other things. “However,’ he said, ‘these individuals often maintained links to and admiration of the British anglicised way of life. Among the educated elites of the early 20th Century in southwest Nigeria, there was not a single questioning of the right of the British nation to rule. Grateful they seem, for the existence of their own social class, the possibility of which they attributed to the Britons. They continued to revel in the hope that they will one day succeed the colonial authority in the ladder of influence.”

Affinity for the British played out the most during the first World War. The Lagos Weekly Record, in response to the refusal of some Abeokuta people and Lagos people to contribute towards British prosecution of the war because of the Ijemo incidence, admonished the people against their sentiment.”Have we anything to offer in exchange for the benign influences of British imperial rule, whose watch words are liberty and progress?’ wrote the editor, ‘Do we not then owe a debt of gratitude towards Great Britain for the education, wealth and liberty she had so lavishly bestowed upon us?”

For Timothy Odutola, an Ijebu affluent businessman, the Empire day, celebrated on the twenty-fourth day of May was the most important event of the year. During the Second World War, rumours of Nazi Germany inheriting British territories were rife and prayers were publicly said against it. In Lagos, Oba Falolu organised fund raising activities through royal entertainment troupes; Efe and Eyo. “We are for the British,’ said a member of the regional legislative council, ‘and always shall we remain pro-Britain.”