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Colonial boundary making and local communities in the Niger-Nigeria borderland

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The denunciation of the supposed artificiality of African boundaries has long prevented work on how they were built. The boundary making was considered as the sole result of European diplomatic issues decided in Europe in which Africans had no say. Accordingly, many studies focused on the consequences and impact of African boundaries, without asking how and why they were drawn that way. By looking at the practices of European and African local actors of the boundary making this paper will question the role of African authorities and local history in the drawing of today’s Niger-Nigeria borderland. This boundary has the specificity that from the very beginning it was decided that it would follow the limits of an African state, the Sokoto Caliphate. From their first treaty in1890 until the 1910’s, France and Great Britain discussed for almost 20 years the exact extension of Sokoto. Several missions were dispatched to the field to ascertain through local inquiries who regarded Sokoto as their leader and who considered himself independent from Sokoto. This presentation will focus on very local negotiations, sometimes violent, sometimes pacific, between several villages of the Dallol Maouri, French and British military, Kebbi and Sokoto.

This talk is part of the Centre of African Studies Lent Seminar Series series.

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