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Series 5: Lord Sir Frederick Lugard & Royal Niger Company “the creator of Nigeria”


As you have been informed verbally, it is just possible that you may, before leav­ing Jebba or Bajibo, receive a cablegram ‘Lugard Kuka’, meaning char instead of proceeding westward, you will retrace your steps to Lokoja and make your way to Bornu and Lake Chad. There are several routes by which you can do this. You might ascend the Benue to Lokoja, thence to Zaria, Kano and Kub. Or you might go to Ibi and thence to Yakoba (in Bautshi) and Kuka. This would be the most interesting route. Or you might ascend the Bcnue to Yola and thence to Kuka. To meet this last possibility, I enclose the itinerary of Mr. Charles Mclntosh’s journey to and from Kuka.But one point must be noted. He started from Ribago, which was then a station of The Company but has since been ceded to Germany. You have a map showing the Anglo-German frontier, which starts from a point Five Kilometres (3 1/8 miles) below the confluence of the Faro with the Benue and runs to a point on the southern shore of Lake Chad. It is very desirable that you should slightly modify the route of the previous expedition so as not to cross into the German sphere.


The conquest of Bornu by Rabeh and the subsequent defeat and death of the latter has no doubt created great changes, of which we are still unaware, in the political conditions of the country hitherto known as Bornu. Your work would be to ascertain in whose hands power now rests; to conciliate and if possible obtain treaties with the person or persons holding such power; to obtain every information which may enable you to report fully to our Council on the present state of affairs and the probable course of events in the imme­diate future; to perform the same work of mapping and obtaining astronomi­cal observations which you would have carried out on the itinerary westward; and, generally, to exercise your discretion in doing your best in the interests of The Company and Great Britain.
If a special crisis were to occur, which should render your remaining in Bornu desirable, you would be at liberty to do so, and utilize any native allies you could gain for the purpose of extending the effective jurisdiction of The Company over those regions; but it must be distinctly and positively under­ stood that The Company is not prepared, without full knowledge and consid­eration of the facts, to incur large expenditure for this purpose. The Council cannot delegate to anyone, no matter how competent and experienced, the authority to involve The Company, on his own responsibility, in undertakings or liabilities which would seriously involve the prosperity of The Company.


As our Council’s representative deputed to arrange matters with you, it is my duty to put formally on record, what is already fully understood between us, that you go our altogether as a Special Agent of The Company and in no way of Her Majesty’s Government, to whom our Council and our Council alone are responsible, as the Governing Body of the Royal Niger Company.
Believe me, Yours sincerely,
(Sgd.) George Taubman Goldie
Deputy Governor.


In Frederik Lugard’s  early journal entries,  the soldier and  colonial civil servant assessed what he considered  his disappointing  career; his period of African service, however, provided a dramatic  professional  turning point Lugard (1858-1945) raised and commanded the West African Frontier Force (1897) and was appointed commissioner of northern  Nigeria in 1900. Lugard and his wife, Flora Shaw, were obliged to leave Africa, due to her adverse reaction to the African climate. Lugard was appointed governor of Hong Kong (1907-1912), where he founded the University of Hong Kong. When the opportunity to return to Africa came about, Lugard accepted it; he served as governor-general of Nigeria from 1912 to 1919. On his return to England, Lord Lugard was appointed a member of the Permanent Mandates Commis­sion of the League of Nations (I923), the International Slavery Committee (1924), and the International Labour Organization Committee on Forced Labour (1927). He was made a Peer of the Realm in 1928. Frederick Lugard also served as the chairman of the International Institute of Languages and Cultures from 1926 to 1945.)

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