Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A doctor in Nigeria (1948)

The 1940s and 1950s fascinate me no end. A joy to watch..


CodLiverOil said...

The video was enlightening, as now I know what Nigeria was like in my father's time. Parts of it were quite developed, they had roads, cars, phones, steam boats and airports.

However, it does reveal one of the myriad of disappointing aspects of post colonial Nigeria. Healthcare is not given much regard, and sadly things on the medical front have hardly improved, in fact they may have even got worse. Healthcare is definitely not a jewel in any crown of any post colonial administration. Shows where Nigerians have their priorities I guess... . It is truly a shame.

Anengiyefa said...

Hi CodLiverOil, its like when I was a boy chorister in an all male choir at a Cathedral in Lagos sometime in the 1970s, (my Dad and brothers too were in the choir), our choir received a visit from the choir of Kings College Cambridge, a similar all male choir, English boys and men. The boys from that choir I spoke to apparently couldn't stop expressing how shocked they were when they arrived in Nigeria to find houses and roads and cars, and my reaction was to ask them whether they had expected the air plane they travelled on to land on a tree..

No really, much as we loathe the fact that Britain was once our colonial master and think of them as having exploited our natural resources, (and controversial as this may be), I believe that they did in fact lay the foundations for us to by now be on the road to achieving real development, as some other former colonies are, for example Malaysia.

One sometimes wonders whether the discovery of oil in the Niger Delta in the 1950s is not a curse rather than a blessing, since it seems to be the root of many of Nigeria's problems, including the callous, selfish, blatant greed that has ensured that the majority benefit next to nothing from the nation's wealth.

CodLiverOil said...

Greetings Anengiyefa
Let me try and answer your last post.

I hadn't seen much footage of Nigeria in the period between 1900 and 1950. The only thing I can remember seeing was footage of Durbar festivals. I was mistaken at the level of development that had been achieved in some places.

I'm not too sure if Britain, did lay the foundations for the country to be a success. I think it was more convenience that the component parts of Nigeria were amalgamated into one nation. Little did we know, that the nation was more than viable. Regardless of the so-called viability of Nigeria. One would have expected Nigerians to have the presence of mind to arrive at a consensus to make the nation a success for future generations. We should not be looking over our shoulders worried about what others expect of us (be it a success or a failure). We can truly say that the latter is closer to the mark as regards social development.

Oil a curse. I don't think so. Many developing countries could use the excuse that the price their sole commodity, or two commodities they depended on were very low. That is why they are poor, according to them. Nigeria could never use that excuse, oil was for the most part well paid.

Why Nigeria was unable and still to this day remains unable to seize this opportunity. Lies in Nigerians penchant for the easy way to success, short cuts to development, a dislike of planning in short a lazyman's method of developing. The fact is there is no short cut to national development, you only have to look at China to see that they have been on an upward trajectory for 30 years and still haven't quite made it. One has to plan, diversify the economy, use oil revenues prudently and wisely and save for a rainy day. This is counter to the current way of thinking by those who have occupied the seat of power.

CodLiverOil said...

A continuation: 2

Sadly Nigeria is not alone with this inability to manage wealth wisely. All sub-Saharan oil producers are suffering the same fate. The jury is out on Ghana, (we wish Africa's lone black star success). Those people of sub-Saharan Africa have to question themselves, how is it they consistently throw up bankrupt leaderships who have managed to blow the oil revenues in such a spectacular manner? You can see the strides that Venezuela and Vietnam (yes they too produce oil) have made, to realise that there is something seriously wrong with sub-Sahara's leadership.

Anengiyefa said...

CodLiverOil, amalgamation of the component British territories that eventually made up Nigeria was one thing, and it is true that the railways, air transport systems, roads and other infrastructure were generally intended for the purpose of facilitating the ease of administration and the ease of evacuation of resources by the British. However, this is valid only up until the year 1960, when the country became independent. The British did not take the roads and railways away when they left.

Also, it can hardly be argued that the efforts of the British colonial administration to make modern healthcare available to the general population in Nigeria was intended solely to benefit the British.

They developed the mining sector, tin in Jos and coal in Enugu; they developed the agricultural sector, (cash crops such as cocoa, cotton, groundnut and rubber were the bedrock of the colonial Nigerian economy), even though these crops were intended for consumption in Europe. However, when one considers, for example, that countries like Australia and New Zealand consume only negligible amounts of the wool they produce, one sees that producing commodities for export is not a bad thing economically.

At independence these industries were still intact and the Nigerian economy at independence was a successful economy. Therefore my argument is that the framework for future success was already in place and it is post-independence Nigeria that has been the failure that we see today.

The role that oil has played in this is that it has provided the government with so much cash that there has been a failure to recognise the need to maintain diversity in the economy. Agriculture has suffered and it is sad to see a country so fertile as Nigeria being a net importer of food.

Also, the flush of money has engendered the culture of graft, which is why 50 years on, healthcare provision in Nigeria is not appreciably better than it was at independence in 1960. And that is only one of the many failings.

The unfortunate thing I find is that few of our leaders have the insight to understand the extent to which the country has failed and the amount of effort required to put things right.

CodLiverOil said...

What you say about the British establishing an economic base is true, but I do not think that they were entirely benevolent.

In conclusion then YES (you are right), I will say the British on the whole had a positive effect and did lay a basis for success, that post independent Nigeria has well and truly sabotaged.

Anengiyefa said...

I agree that they weren't entirely benevolent in their motive, since for them a prosperous colony would benefit the British Empire as a whole. They did the same things wherever they went in the world, but the fact is that they laid down the foundations for development in all those countries. Some countries took the opportunity and ran with it. In Nigeria, we became lazy because we discovered oil, and coupled with inept leadership we have this sorry situation today..

CodLiverOil said...

Great discussion Anengiyefa, you made your points well, to the extent that I was forced to concede you were right. Hope to talk again soon, thank you.