Nigeria’s War

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This stamp is one from the Nigerian definitive issue that came out in 1953. We see a benevolent monarch looking on as a native toils in a tin mine. Colonial stamps often extolled the resources that the colonisers extracted and a toiling native was usually on hand to show how it’s done.

During the Second World War, Britain extracted a great deal from its colonies to help in the war effort and Nigeria was no exception. Nigerians were encouraged to contribute to the Spitfire Fund. Nigerian soldiers served in the Far East, giving their lives for Britain and its empire. And, naturally, there were important resources to be found in Nigeria such as cocoa, palm oil, groundnuts and tin. The entire Nigerian economy was directed towards supporting wartime Britain, resulting in shortages in Nigeria itself.

The tin miner shown here could have been one of the thousands the British conscripted during the war to extract the strategically important metal. Due to poor working conditions many of these men died. The Germans were not the only ones to employ forced labour and work them to death.

These contributions to Britain’s defence in its time of peril have been forgotten. Indeed, it was not acknowledged at the time and it is doubtful the British public ever knew. The next time you hear some English nationalist braying about how it was the bulldog spirit that won the war, do tell them about the contribution made by the tin miners of Nigeria.