Sir George Goldie ( 20 May 1846 – 20 August 1925)

Sir George Dashwood Taubman Goldie Facts:

The British trader and empire builder Sir George Dashwood Taubman Goldie (1846-1925) created the Royal Niger Company, which secured British claims to the lower Niger and Northern Nigeria.
The son of the Speaker of the Manx Parliament, George Goldie was born on the Isle of Man. His family were influential landowners on the island. The family name was Taubman, but Goldie adopted his mother’s family name when he was knighted in 1887.

In the 1860s Goldie trained as a royal engineer at Woolwich but afterward used a legacy to visit Egypt, where he took an Arab mistress. He went to the Sudan, living an idyllic and isolated life for 3 years, learning Arabic and reading extensively in African travel literature. He also met Hausa pilgrims from Nigeria and began studying that country.

Returning to England, Goldie ran away to Paris with the family governess, Mathilda Elliot, and they were caught in the Prussian siege of 1870 and were married in July 1871. Goldie’s escapades and an avowed atheism cut him off from an official career and the highest circles of Victorian society.

In 1875 the Taubman family purchased a near-bankrupt firm which traded on the Niger River. Goldie was given the task of putting its affairs in order and visited the Niger for the first time. He concluded that over competition was ruining all the British firms on the river, and he set out to create a single monopolistic organization. By 1879 he had succeeded in amalgamating the British firms into the United African Company but thereafter had to face competition from the Africans and French.

Goldie then decided to secure administrative rights by treaty from Africans to establish his company as a government which could exclude competitors by administrative measures. In 1882 he formed the National African Company for this purpose and began treaty making. By 1884 Goldie had ruined the French competition, and at the Berlin Conference (1884-1885) Britain was given the task of administering the lower Niger. The British government was unwilling to spend money for such a purpose and in 1886 gave a royal charter to Goldie’s company, which was renamed the Royal Niger Company.

By 1892 the company had established a complete monopoly of trade. The British government ignored the opposition this provoked because the company was expanding and establishing British territorial claims in Nigeria at no cost to the taxpayer. In 1895, however, a commission of inquiry investigated the company, and Joseph Chamberlain, the new colonial secretary, determined to take over Goldie’s administration. This was delayed by struggles with the French on Northern Nigeria’s frontiers, but eventually in 1900 the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria took over the company’s administrative functions.

Thereafter Goldie played little part in public life, rejecting various offers of colonial governorships and turning down an offer to take control of the British South Africa Company after Cecil Rhodes’s death. He died in London on Aug. 25, 1925.

Goldie destroyed his papers during World War I and never wrote his intended memoirs

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Art: Out of Africa (TIME Magazine Monday, Sept. 04, 1950)

Modern artists from Picasso to Jacob Epstein have found inspiration in carved African idols, masks and fetishes. Last week a London gallery was showing the works of bearded Ben Enwonwu, an African carver who reversed the process.
Born 29 years ago in Nigeria, Enwonwu carved his own toys as a child. He was teaching art at 18, and five years later the
N’gerian government sent him abroad for further study. Since then he has won a Diploma of Fine Art from the University of London, has been made a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and has become more European than African in his approach to art.
Enwonwu’s ancestors carved for magic purposes, not for exhibition. They gave force to their whittled gods by using many of the tricks of modern art: violent distortion of figures into angular cubistic shapes, mingling of naturalistic features with wholly abstract ones, the surrealist shock-value of giving vaguely human figures some of the attributes of animals and birds. The results struck at least one art historian, Roger Fry, as “great sculpture—greater, I believe, than any we have made . . .”
Enwonwu has broken from the faith of his fathers: like most European artists since the Renaissance, he works to express human emotions, not to hint at supernatural forces. Suffering, supplication, exuberance were typical themes of his London show—themes ill-suited to violent distortion. Enwonwu sometimes let the shape and grain of the wood guide his chisel, to produce partial abstractions that merely pleased the eye. “Sometimes,” he told admirers at the show’s opening, “I see the form in my mind and it grows and grows as I work. I am happy when I am hacking out; I never want to stop.” Smoothing the thigh of his Dancing Figure with a pink-palmed hand, he sighed and added: “But when I must finish off my work, smooth the surface and polish—then I get bored. The creation is gone.”

London Sunday Times Critic Eric Newton decided that “only when hand and chisel and imagination are in complete harmony can such confidence [as Enwonwu’s] occur.” If the’same harmony existed between his African heritage and his European training, Enwonwu’s art might have had punch to match its polish.

R.I.P Professor Chinua Achebe

I have just heard about Professor Achebes passing and my prayers are with his loved ones at this time.

It all makes sense now, It is very clear !….In Chinua Achebes book ‘There was a country’ Achebe, lamented on the fact that his publishing company the Citadel Press had not published the manuscript given to him by Major Ifeajuna, on his account of the January 66 military coup. Achebe felt the account was highly exaggerated, but no doubt he regretted not publishing it- for one reason, by the end of the Nigerian Civil war the main plotters had been killed…and dead men can’t talk.

The 82 year old knew his time was coming to an end and as an ultimate griot who new his duty to his people he knew he had to pass on his version of events.

Knowing what researchers of history face in our nations national archives he put into words what only he could, HIS OWN ACCOUNT of what he experienced – For posterity’s sake !

National archives are meant to give us a glimpse of history and depending on the author of the document or the angle the photographer took, it will always be a VERSION that could be seen in so many different ways.

For all those who believed Professor Chinua Achebe’s book ‘There was a country’ was personal (tribal) attack. It wasn’t – it was his contribution to our deficient archival system.
He gave us his version of events and that’s all he could have done FOR POSTERITY’S SAKE.

“Things fall apart” , “No Longer At Ease” “Arrow Of God” “Man Of The People” “Anthills Of The Savannah” books that take pride of place on my book shelf and has taught me so much about my heritage.

Thank you Sir. You have left a beautiful legacy.


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