BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The people of Azigbo, in Nnewi South Local Government Area of present Anambra State came under the influence of British colonial rule, which took form from 1900 up until 1960 when colonial rule officially came to an end. The emergence of the British presence in Azigbo, no doubt wrought many changes in every facets of the peoples’ existence, which traces are still very much present among the people even in the twentieth-first century. Needless to say, most societies across what is today known as Nigeria later found themselves under colonial rule with varying changes as a result of the infusion of totally different ideologies in both socio-political, economic, cultural as well as trado-religious angles.
Nevertheless, while British colonial rule in Igboland influenced the entire pre-colonial structures, this work is a historical examination in a bid to underpin the changes and continuity British colonial rule brought upon the economic life of Azigbo people. However, since the economic aspect is to be examined, the role of environment cannot be overemphasized. History has been said to be the study of man’s events in his environment in time perspective. In addition, Anthony Nwabuoghuguo explains that the concept of economic history is an unending interaction or dialogue between man and his environment for his continuous survival. This is to state that the people of Azigbo has long before the coming of colonial rule engaged in the art of relating with their environment for their continuous survival.
It is against this background that the research conducts a review of what was obtainable in pre-colonial Azigbo society. In addition, to be examinedis what later became the trend in a colonial setting with the mindset of moving from generalities to specifics since there are multitude of literatures on the impact of colonial rule across Igboland, yet not so much have been done in respect to Azigbo’s economic lifestyle before and during colonial rule.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Eurocentric scholars had hastily concluded that Africa had no history. Their position was informed by the fact that African societies could not provide sufficient documents to back their claims of having histories, outside the histories of Islamic scholars and those of Europeans whom traversed the length and breadth of the African continent. G.W.F. Hegel described Africa as no historical part of the world, since she could not show any signs of art, science or even culture. Stanley, whom was sent to search for David Livingstone barely entered Africa when he concluded that Africa is a dark continent.
The positions as given by both GWF Hegel and Stanley informed Trevor Roper, a Distinguished Professor of History , wrote in 1962 that:
Perhaps in the future there will be some African history to teach. But at the present there is none; there is only the history of Europeans in Africa. The rest is darkness…and darkness is not a subject of history.
Roper, in spite of his historical training barely saw beyond his nose since he had been trained in a typical European setting where they had been taught that Africa had no history since “history began when men took to writing”. Moreover, since Africans had not there histories written down, it was dismissed that African societies had no history.
However, with the help of Jan Vasina, the idea of Oral Tradition was enunciated and adopted in the understanding of African history. Thereafter, the concept gained currency among other scholars from both the African extraction and non-African with the view to propagating the African history otherwise known as New African Historiography through which most of those misconceptions about Africa were able to be debunked and are still being debunked.
Therefore, it is in light of the above that this research attempts to fill the lacuna in the aspect of the history of Azigbo people with specific reference to the economic spheres.