The 1945 General Strike and the Struggle for Nigeria: A Critical Review of Issues and Literature
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Author: Ahmed Aminu
The 1945 General Strike, the first of its kind in Nigeria, lasted for 44 days in the capital and 53 days in the regions. It was the first Pan – Nigerian anti-colonial struggle for national independence that was initiated, organised, and executed by workers, strongly supported by market women, widely publicised by the nationalist politicians, and internationalised by Africans in the Atlantics. It broadened the struggle for Nigeria’s independence from a mere Lagos (capital city) affair to a national affair, radicalised it from merely newspapers battle to workplace and street struggle, and transformed it from elitist business to a popular - ordinary peoples’ – business. The 1945 General Strike was indeed a “dramatic opening,” a “tremendous event,” a “watershed,” a “landmark” and an “outlet for the steam” of not only workers’ activism and militancy but also of the struggle for national independence. It was, indeed, the struggle that initiated the struggle for Nigeria by Nigerians. Yet, despite the historical significance of this strike, it has been totally ignored, if not erased, from the history of democratic struggles in Nigeria. The reason, partly, been in the fact that it has not received adequate scholarly attention. Even the studies that currently exist or touch on the strike focuses mainly on issues of personalities, participation, etc., at the expense of the historical context and social conditions that gave rise to, informed, and influenced the 1945 General Strike, the issues the workers and their unions raised, demands they put forward, the ideas they advanced, the sources of these ideas, the responses of the state and society to the workers’ struggles, and the significance of these struggles to the state, the economy and society. In this paper, intend to give a critically review existing literature on the 1945 General Strike, and, in so doing, re-examine the issues raised.
Struggle, resistance and nationalism