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The main features of proto-nationalism

Definition of Nationalism
Nationalism can be described as the African’s quest to free his country from the influence and domination of colonial rule and to become an independent state. Nationalism is classified into two; Proto-nationalism and Modern-nationalism.

Proto-nationalism refers to the activities geared toward inclusiveness in the administration of the colonies before the commencement of the Second World War. Modern-nationalism on the other hand refers to the quest, after the Second World War, for the absolute removal of colonial rule and the granting of independence.

One of the features of the Proto-nationalist movement was that its leadership was not limited to any one party. It was led by a host of them. This included the National Congress of British West Africa and the Aborigines Rights Protection Society.

It was non-violent
Another feature of the Proto-nationalist movement was that it adopted non-violent approach to its agitation. It used the structures and channels that were available, at the time, to push for its demands. For example, they sent petitions to the Secretary of State for the Colonies who resided in London to press home for the withdrawal of the Land Bill of 1897.

No demand for independence
The Proto-nationalists did not demand for the independence of their respective countries, rather they were interested in the improvement of their lot under colonial administration. For example, they demanded for the representation of Africans in the executive Council since there were none. They also demanded for the increment in the number of Africans in the legislative Council.

It was urban based
The membership of the Proto-nationalist movement was limited to the urban areas of the various colonies. They did not extend to the rural areas. For example, in the Gold Coast, the activities of the proto-nationalists were limited to Accra, Cape Coast and Sekondi-Takoradi. In Nigeria, it was mainly in Lagos and a few cities.

The membership of the Proto-nationalists was mainly the educated professionals like lawyers, teachers and journalists. There were also some business men who joined them in pushing for their goals. One can conclude that it was elitist in character.

Excluded chiefs
Another feature of Proto-nationalism was that the traditional chiefs did not play any role. They were conspicuously absent. This was so because the chiefs were also engaged in the implementation of Indirect Rule and therefore did not see the need to joint in the fight against their own masters.

1. a. What is Proto-nationalism? [2 marks]
    b. Highlight five features Proto-nationalism. [10 marks]  

2. Explain six characteristics of the nationalist activities that were practiced before the Second World War. [12 marks]

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