Zungeru: British protectorate of Northern Nigeria from 1902 until 1916 - Global Quest Magazine


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Zungeru: British protectorate of Northern Nigeria from 1902 until 1916

Zungeru is a town in Niger State, Nigeria. It was the capital of the British protectorate of Northern Nigeria from 1902 until 1916. It is the site of the Niger State Polytechnic and is located on the Kaduna River.
Aerial view of Zungeru town, 1929

British colonial stamps for the Northern Nigeria Protectorate used at Borgu and Zungeru, 1905

According to local oral history, "Zungeru" is a corrupted form of the word "Dunguru". Tradition holds that British colonialists came upon a Gwari man playing a Dunguru (a musical instrument used by the Nupe and Gwari) in the area of what is now Zungeru. They asked him what it was he called, he told them "Dunguru", and the corrupted form "Zungeru" became the name of the settlement.

British forces occupied Zungeru in September 1902, which was then populated by Gwari. Colonial administrator Frederick Lugard chose the town as capital of Northern Nigeria over Jebba and Lokoja due to its central location.

The British cleared the forest in the area and established a market, military barracks, and hospital, among other things.

In 1916, two years after the 1914 union of the colonies of Northern and Southern Nigeria into one colonial entity, Lugard moved the north's capital to Kaduna. The same year, the Chief of Wushishi was given the position of ruler of Zungeru, and he passed on the position to his son, Abubakar. After the capital was moved to Kaduna, Zungeru was administered from Minna as part of Niger province.

Sites in modern Zungeru include the Nnamdi Azikiwe Centre, a now-abandoned tribute to Nigeria's first President Nnamdi Azikiwe built by Ibrahim Babangida's military regime, the market built by Lugard, which is still in use, and Niger State Polytechnic. 
Work is ongoing on the proposed hydroelectric dam as at 2015. The dam is being constructed by a consortium led by Sinohydro. The dam is proposed to produce 700 MW of electricity at full operation.

Notable individuals from Zungeru include:

Nnamdi Azikiwe, first President of Nigeria
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, leader of secessionist state Biafra
David Mark, Nigeria former President of the Senate

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