Nigeria: A case Study

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This is a research essay and documentation of the main arguments is imperative. Essays must be analytical. They must use relevant concepts to explain the significance and interrelatedness of the main issues dealt with. The main thesis must be clearly stated at the beginning and the conclusions made obvious at the end. Use relevant explanatory concepts from readings and lectures. Reference all sources of information (not only quotations) used.

Use at least 4 books or 6 book chapters or journal articles (combination of both chapters and journal articles is acceptable) to develop your analysis. This should be in addition to the pertinent readings in the course reader. Because the essay topic is very broad, it is essential that you focus on writing in a focused, clear and succinct way. Make a clear argument, focus on a clear set of issues and make sure that your essay is carefully organized and systematic in presenting the analysis. This will allow you to be selective in succinctly focusing attention on the most important issues, on the use of specific evidence and on clear argumentation.

Essays will be submitted exclusively in electronic form, through and by email directly to the TA. Before submitting your essay, you must also review the Academic Integrity Checklist, included at the end of this document, and make sure that you are able to check every category on this checklist. By submitting your essay, you are pledging that you have read the checklist and can check every item.


Provide a succinct analysis of the organization and evolution over time of political authority during the colonial period in an African country/colony of your choice, and link this colonial experience to one or more challenges encountered after independence. Your analysis should:

i) Identify the key political and administrative arrangements through which colonial state authority was maintained;
ii) Capture the ways in which colonial political organization changed over time
iii) Reflect on the implications of these colonial arrangements for one or two aspects of the challenges and developments experienced after independence.

In linking the legacies of colonial rule to contemporary developments you should focus on one or two relatively contemporary political challenges in the country of your choice – that is, on aspects of politics since around 1990. It will thus be necessary to track the ways in which colonial rule had relatively long-term legacies, rather than simply focusing on what happened immediately following independence. In some cases this will involve discussing events immediately after independence as an intermediate step towards understanding more recent developments.

In other cases it will be possible to link features of colonial rule more directly to recent developments. In some cases you may also wish to comment on pre-colonial forms of political organization, and their continuing impact on contemporary challenges, but this is not required, is not a substitute for exploring colonial political organization and thus should only be pursued if there is a particularly compelling connection that you wish to draw linking the pre-colonial, colonial and independence periods.

In addition to country-specific material, your analysis must demonstrate an appreciation of the core of the analysis of the colonial state and transition to independence offered by Mahmood Mamdani ( “Decentralized despotism” in Citizen and Subject, Princeton: Princeton University Press (1996), Chapter 2, pp 37-61 and by at least one of Aristide Zolberg Aristide R Zolberg, “Introduction” and “The emergence of dominant parties” in Creating Political Order, Chicago: Rand McNally and Co. (1980), Introduction and Chapter 1, pp 1 – 36) or Jackson and Rosberg (Robert Jackson and Carl Rosberg, “Personal rule: Theory and practice in Africa’ Comparative Politics, 16, 4 (1984) pp 421-442. That is, you are required to include explicit reference to their work at some point in the paper, in order to contribute to your analysis of your individual case. That said, these references can be brief – the core task of the assignment is to present a compelling and detailed understanding of a particular case.

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