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Factors That Led to the Growth of Nationalism

Factors That Led to the Growth of Nationalism

Nationalism may be defined as a certain form of unity which grows out of historical experience. It is the sense of oneness that emerges through the act of trying to control a nation’s destiny and defending her interest against competing groups.

It can also be defined as the strong awareness of belonging to a nation, which leads to the struggle against foreign rule and domination. There are two (2) main factors which are:

  1. The internal factors.
  2. The external factors.

1. The Internal Factors:

  • Activities of educated elites like Nnamdi Azikwe, H. O. Davies, Obafemi Awolowo, etc. mobilised the masses for support during the struggle for independence.
  • Formation of Political Parties: Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM), Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), National Council for Nigerian Citizens (NCNC), etc. were formed and they played leading roles in the growth of nationalism in Nigeria.
  • The Influence of Christianity and Establishment of Schools: These made the nationalists realise that all men were actually created equal by God.
  • Discriminatory Attitude of the Europeans to Nigerians: There was racial discrimination and limited opportunities for Nigerians in the Civil Service.

2. The External Factors:

  • Impact of the Second World War: The war exposed the myth surrounding the whites’ supremacy. The whites were in no way superior to the blacks.
  • British Labour Party: The labour party in Britain opposing the conservative parties’ policy on colonialization influenced the growth of nationalism in Nigeria.
  • Activities of the Pan-African Leaders/Organisation: The activities of the prominent individuals and organisations such as some black American leaders and other blacks in diaspora like Dubois and George Padmore, as well as organisations like West African Students Union (WASTU), Negro World Movement, etc. gave inspiration to Nigerian nationalists.
  • Economic Depression: The effects of the Second World War included the world’s economic depression and this aided the nationalists in their struggle for political independence.

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