Colonization: “civilized nations” & “barbarism”, a page from British/India’s encounter – Tola Adenle

July 14, 2016

Asia & Oceania, Nigeria



Above is a widely-circulated document of Colonial India under the British. Not unexpectedly, it has been criticized as not being what Lord Macaulay, a Cambridge-educated historian, who served in the Indian Colony, actually said. 


Above speech is naturally denied. A letter/paper – url link below – is supposedly what Lord Macaulay proposed.

Readers can make their own judgments as to the intended meaning and/or implications of the lengthy purported submission of Lord Macaulay on the direction he would prefer for India’s educational plan and cultural thrust compared to what the document above that has irked Indians for generations, contains.

While most who have lived as colonized people would tend a pattern here, my feeling is still to allow  allow you to reach your own conclusion.

A simple reference here comes to mind on Rev. Johnson’s epic History of the Yorubas …  a book he worked on in the mid-1800s and which, on completion, he sent the hand-written manuscript to an English publisher. Rev. Samuel Johnson,  Ayinla Ogun, would die in the early years of the 20th Century but before his demise, he paid a visit to England during which he visited the publisher.

Let’s pick up the story at the Foreword to History of the Yorubas as contained in the 1937 edition, a book that had to be rewritten from pieces of notes and information found by his younger brother, Dr. O. Johnson,  Ajani Ogun: 

Please allow me to quote three paragraphs from Dr. O.  Johnson’s preface to the book:

“A singular misfortune, which happily is not of everyday occurrence, befell the original manuscripts of this history, in consequence of which the author never lived to see in print his more than 20 years of labour.

 The manuscripts were forwarded to a well-known English publisher through one of the great Missionary Societies in 1899 and – mirabile dictu – nothing more was heard of them!

 The editor who was all along in collaboration with the author had occasion to visit England in 1900, and called on the publisher, but could get nothing more from him than that the manuscripts had been misplaced, that they could not be found, and that he was prepared to pay for them!  This seemed to the editor and all his friends who heard of it so strange that one could not help thinking that there was more in it than appeared on the surface, especially because of other circumstances connected with the so-called loss of the manuscripts.  However, we let the subject rest there.  The author himself died in the following year (1901), and it has now fallen to the lot of the editor to rewrite he whole history anew, from the copious notes and rough copies left behind by the author.” 

The whole essay on “The Manuscript that got lost …”, first published in blogger’s weekly essays for THE COMET ON SUNDAY in 2002, a paper that metamorphosed to THE NATION ON SUNDAY, can be accessed below:

The evil of colonization and the burden that colonized peoples of the past bear, can never really go away.


THURSDAY, JULY 14, 2016. 8:53 p.m. [GMT]







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