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Nigeria in the 1970's

I am an art historian by training.  Sometime during my undergraduate work in the 1960's, I "discovered" African art.  That did it for me; my life's work was decided.  I've been studying, admiring, collecting, documenting, and loving African art ever since.  Most of what we knew in those days were wood sculptures with an expressive power and directness unequaled in my experience.  I was moved to the extent that I went there and spent ten good years in Nigeria - the decade of the 1970's. 

Anyone who lived there and then will tell you it was the best of times.  The country had celebrated Independence from Britain in 1960, and within a few years, had descended into Civil War.  My husband accepted the post of Professor of Psychology at the University of Lagos.  We arrived in August, 1970, not long after the end of the War.  We lived in Lagos, then the Federal as well as the commercial capital of the nation.  Lagos was a "happening" place.

For the first time in centuries, the country was enjoying peace, independence, freedom, and prosperity.  Colonial oppression was over. The oil boom was on.  Shops were full.  Jobs were plentiful.  Imported goods of every description from canned peas to Mercedes Benz poured into Nigeria through the Lagos port at Apapa.  A nation was being built that was to be a beacon for the future of the Continent. 

At one point, Apapa docks became so congested ships couldn't unload cargo.  From Bar beach we could see them anchored off shore, lights blazing at night like a city at sea.  General Benjamin Adekunle, nicknamed "The Black Scorpion" for his ruthlessness during the Civil War, was ordered by the military government to clear the docks, which he did … with bulldozers. 

In 1973, Nigeria introduced a new decimal currency, the "naira" which was equal to 10 shillings or half the old Nigerian pound.  At that time one naira was valued at $2.50 US.  Now, 40 years later, the naira is worth less than one US cent.  What happened?!!!

Well, here is at least part of the answer - a large part: On March 19, 2013, Joel Brinkley published an article in the Los Angeles Times titled " Nigeria’s Squandered Opportunity".  http://premiumtimesng.com/opinion/126117-nigerias-squandered-opportunity-by-joel-brinkley.html   Brinkley calls Nigeria simply, "the most corrupt nation on earth." Press doesn't get much worse than this.
 

1 Comment to Nigeria in the 1970's:

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