A History of Class Formation in the Plateau Province of Nigeria, 1902-1960 traces and analyzes the historical processes of class formation in the Plateau province under colonial rule in an attempt to locate the genesis of the present ruling classes and the structure of current political attitudes and contestations in that region.
The author argues that three major colonial institutions, in addition to the colonial economy, were mainly responsible for the distortion and deformation of the precolonial social classes as well as for the creation of new classes which, in due course, assumed positions of dominance in the politics of the colonial Plateau Province. The three institutions were the Native Authority, colonial education and the Christian missions and the churches that they founded. These, amongst other institutions, were concerned with the establishment of colonial social order and control but were also crucial in servicing colonial economic exploitation, a process that further intensified the formation of classes in the province. In its selective use of African agents to serve on these institutions of social control and economic exploitation, colonial capitalism groomed a crop of Nigerians who, over the period of colonial tutelage, developed into petty bourgeois and proto-ruling classes in that region.
The author demonstrates that the decolonization processes of the mid-1940s and the decade of the 1950s provided for the commencement of petty bourgeois politics through which these proto-ruling classes, by sheer political opportunism, consolidated and entrenched their own positions as 'leaders' of the Plateau masses (who, as the working peoples of the province, the former subordinated and stifled in favor of their own interest as local ruling classes up to and after independence).
This book is part of the African World Series, edited by Toyin Falola, Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities, University of Texas at Austin.