The Administration Of Colonial Taxation In Zaria Province

Project and Seminar Material for History

The Administration Of Colonial Taxation In Zaria Province


This thesis is a study of the Administration of colonial taxation in Kagarko District 1902- 1960. The period chosen marked the incursion of British colonial activities into the area. The study of colonial taxation in the area revealed that taxation was used as an instrument for subverting the resources of the area. Colonial taxation has in no small measure rendered Africa dependent of the Colonial economy. Colonial taxation was a major tool used by the colonialists to achieve capitalist ambitions in Nigeria. It helped in the creation of the colonial economy whereby taxes were only allowed to be paid in British currency. In addition to all these, the use of forced labour in the tin mines and railway construction contributed immensely to the success of the colonial economy. Colonial taxation brought a setback on agricultural activities and other means of livelihood of the People such as mat making and bee-keeping. Colonial taxation led to forced migrations, increase in social vices like stealing and lying, child labour and slavery and other dehumanizing activities like the sales of children for money to pay tax. In a nutshell, the administration of colonial taxation in Kagarko District did not in any way adhere to the tenets of taxation as propounded by many economic scholars. It also impoverished the society of Kagarko.


This project- The Administration of Colonial Taxation in Kagarko District 1902- 1960‖ is a study of the way in which the colonialists collected taxes from Kagarko District. It examines the category of people taxed and the method in which these taxes were collected including the grave punishment unleashed on those who were unable to pay their taxes.

The First Chapter of this research work gives a background to the work at large, it therefore encompasses, the scope and limitation of the study, research methodology and theoretical framework which helps to give the work meaning. The Scope here covered the period of study from 1902-1960, the area of study, which is Kagarko District which was under Zaria Province in the colonial era.

The Second Chapter deals with the land and people of Kagarko District. It reveals the economic, political and social activities of the people in the area. It also discusses the intergroup relations that existed between the different ethnic groups around the area; Koro, Gbagyi, Hausa, Fulani and Jaba etc.

Chapter Three is a discussion centred on the incursion and domination of Kagarko District by the British imperialist. This was traceable to 1902 when the British conquered Zaria Emirate. Zaria Province was carved out in 1902 and it had Kagarko District as one of the Districts that made up the Province. The chapter also discussed the administrative structures put in place by the colonialists to ensure the success of colonial rule in the area. These structures were the Native Authority, Native Courts and Native Treasury.

Chapter Four deals with the British Colonial policies aimed at the effective exploitation and plunder of the colonized people. These policies were made on land, agriculture, tax, transportation and communication. These policies took the form of ordinances, acts and edicts all made by the colonialists to ensure the firm grip of the colonial economy in the colonies it dominated.

The Fifth Chapter is the main thrust of this research work. It is an in depth discussion on tax administration in Kagarko District. It reveals the tax assessment that was done to ensure the taxability of the area. More so, the type of taxes administered in the area was also discussed in this chapter. These included the poll tax, income tax, direct taxation and indirect taxation. The method of tax collection was also discussed. It showed the role of the District Heads, Village Heads, Mai Ugwas and other agents of colonial rule in the area. This chapter also highlighted the grave punishments meted out on tax defaulters such as severe beatings, sitting under the sun, being sold into slavery, the confiscation of properties like animals, food stuff, farmlands, children Etc

In Chapter Six, the social, political and economic implication of colonial taxation in Kagarko District was discussed. It was agreed that colonial taxation disrupted the means of livelihood of the colonized which was basically agriculture. Farm lands were turned into cash crop production farms, instead of food production, this diverted the initial agricultural activities such as the cultivation of sorghum, millet and the art of bee- keeping, mat making and so on. Migration was another important issue that came along with colonial taxation because some tax defaulters had to run away from their villages to other places they felt was more secured for them. Again there was a new identity that colonial taxation brought on the people; it was discovered that a lot of people strived to pay tax for fame, integrity and to earn respect and recognition in the society. No family wanted to become a laughing stock as a result of being unable to pay tax. All these changes were distinguishing features of colonial taxation in Kagarko District.

Chapter Seven is conclusion of this work. It encapsulates the thesis of this research work which is the administration of colonial taxation in Kagarko District and its implication on the different aspects of the peoples‘ life. Colonialism generally negated the social, economic and political identity of the colonized thereby imposing a new and unfavourable one to the subjugated people. On the whole, this research was a study of an important economic tool used by the colonialist to ensure the success of colonialism in Nigeria.

Chapter One

Introduction and Background to the Study

1.0. Introduction

By 1900, the partition of Africa among the colonizing powers of Europe -France, Britain, Germany, Belgium, Dutch, Italy and Portugal was practically completed. Though, the detailed demarcation of the colonial boundaries was still to be achieved, the general outlines were already clear and agreed upon.1 This accomplishment set the pace for a new form of imperial domination whereby, the whole of Nigeria area was subjugated under colonial rule, Zaria was a constituent of it. Thus, it was on this course of events that Zaria Emirate was conquered and Zaria Province and its Districts were created to facilitate the establishment of colonial domination.

The Northern region was divided administratively into provinces, and then subdivided into divisions and every division was further divided into districts.2 It was from these administrative Structures that Kagarko District was created. Zaria was made a Province in March 1902 with Captain Abadie as Resident in charge of the provincial administration3.This was in the reign of Emir Kwassau Muhammadu Lawal, son of Yero (1897-1902).4 Kagarko, the area of this study was one of the southern districts that made up Zaria province in 1902.5 This Southern Division comprised of Kajuru, Chawai, Lere, Kagarko, Kachia, Chikun, Zangon Kataf, Kagoro, Maroa, Jaba, Jema‘a, Gwantu, Ayu, Bishini, and Birakatu.6

1 Ajayi J. F & Crowther. M (Ed). History of West Africa Volume 11. Longman London, 1974.p.424. 2 Heussler.R. The British in Northern Nigeria. Longman, Oxford University Press, New York 1968.p.83 3 Smith .M.G Government in Zazzau 1800 – 1900. Oxford ,London. 1960.p.202 4 Green -Kirk. Gazetteers of the Northern Provinces of Zaria. Volume 1. The Hausa Emirates (Bauchi, Sokoto, Zaria, Kano) Frank Cass. London. 1972.p.14 5 Ibid .p.29

6 James .I. Studies in the History, Politics and Cultures of Southern Kaduna People‟s Groups. Landsomas Press Ltd, Jos, 1997. p.18

Kagarko is dominantly inhabited by the Koro speaking people.7 Other ethnic groups in the area include the Gbagyi, Jaba, Hausa and Fulani. The main focus of this thesis is a study of the administration of colonial taxation in Kagarko District from 1902-1960 AD. The study intends to unearth the various means by which the colonialists generated revenue in the area, taxation being the major source of revenue for the colonial government. Colonialism was not just for political conquest, but it was basically for economic gains. To achieve this economic gain, the administration of taxation was the key medium used by the colonialists. Thus, colonial taxation involved….

the assessment, levying and collection of a certain sum of money on fundamental aspects of peoples‟ lives. It involved taxing all people of determined age, and what they possessed in economic terms.8 So, British capitalist and imperialist motives were the main reason for the introduction of colonial taxation in Kagarko District. It is in light of this capitalist‘s economic motivation that this research work is aimed at bringing to lime light the type of tax assessment, levying and collection that took place in Kagarko District during the period chosen for this study.

Generally speaking, tax is a compulsory payment levied by the government on individuals or companies to meet the expenditure which is required for public welfare. Taxation has been the main source of revenue for governments for many years in areas where taxation was in place. Taxes were meant to fund valuable services for the public but it has also been an historic source of contempt for many citizens who consider it as nothing more than government extortion. So for many people taxation was not beneficial, it was rather extortion and exploitation especially in the colonial era. Theoretically, taxation is guided by the principles of equity, certainty, convenience and neutrality.

To buttress this point, Adams Smith in his book the wealth of nations, has it that taxes should be based on the individual‘s ability to pay and that there should be some equivalence between what the individual pays and the benefits he subsequently receives from governmental activities. However, this study contends that these principles were not followed in the administration of colonial taxation in Kagarko District. This is further substantiated in the subsequent chapters of this research work. More so, the political, economic and social implication of colonial taxation on the people of Kagarko will also constitute the thrust of this work. Therefore, this study intends to unravel the role of colonial taxation in the disruption of the developmental process in the area.

1.1 Statement of the Problem

The British conquest of Zaria in 1902 led to their incursion into Kagarko area. The British colonialists for proper and easy administration of the area conquered and introduced colonial policies. Among these policies introduced was the colonial tax policy. The colonial tax policy imposed colonial taxation in Kagarko.

The imposition of colonial taxation roped every means of the peoples‘ livelihood into the payment of taxes. The aftermath of this imposition of colonial taxation led to some visible changes in the area, such as forced migrations, cash crop farming, change in political organization and the decline of indigenous industries.

However, these changes rather than bring development in the area, disrupted the economic, social and political development process of Kagarko. The impact of these led to the underdevelopment of the area. Thus, it is these negative changes brought about by colonial taxation that constitute the problem of this study.

1.2 Aim of the Research Work

The aims and objectives of this research work are to:

  1. Explain and document the processes involved in the assessment, collection and administration of taxes in Kagarko District.
  2. Examine what the people used in paying their taxes (cash or kind) and who were the people taxed? Were they males or females, income earners, farmers and artisans?
  3. Critically assess the implication of colonial taxation on the people of Kagarko District since taxation was a major source of revenue for the British colonialist.
  4. Understand the changes brought about by colonial taxation in the area. Among these is the creation of the colonial economy and its devastating effect on the economy of Kagarko People.

1.3 Scope and Limitation of the Study

Kagarko District is located 110 miles due south of Zaria. The area is approximately 430 square miles.9 Kagarko lies between latitude 5o and latitude 7o east in the extreme end of south-western part of Kaduna state. River Gurara separates Kagarko from Kachia on the east by the present day Jaba local government area, the south by Nassarawa and Federal capital territory Abuja and the west by Niger State which bounds the north. In contemporary times, Kagarko is one of the 23 local government areas of Kaduna State, Nigeria.

In terms of period, 1902-1960 was chosen for this study because 1902 marked the beginnings of colonial rule in Zaria Province area. The period under study also experienced a lot of changes brought about by colonial domination in the area. For example, 1902 was the period when Zaria was conquered and made an administrative Province by the British colonialist. Meanwhile, Kagarko was one of the Districts that was carved out and incorporated into Zaria Province. In addition, there were a number of territorial reorganizations that characterized the period. For instance, in 1904, Kagarko District was transferred out of Zaria Province to Nassarawa Province by Sir Fredrick Lugard the Governor General.10 Again in 1914, Kagarko and Jere were transferred from Nassarawa Province back to Zaria Province. Similarly, Janjalla was transferred back to Zaria, and shared between Kagarko and Jere in 1917.

On the other hand, 1960 was chosen as the termination period for this study because this period marked the official end of British colonial domination in Nigeria Kagarko inclusive. The period 1960 also marked a new kind of taxation in the area which is post-colonial taxation.

Furthermore this research is characterized by different types of limitations. This includes time, finance, paucity of written materials on Kagarko and other personal issues which posed a challenge. In terms of time, so many problems encountered in the course of this research work affected the timing. These include obligations at the home front and insecurity challenges in the country. All these contributed in slowing down the pace of the work. On finance, this research work is really capital intensive which was not readily available. This also became a serious challenge for the researcher.

There is also paucity of written materials on Kagarko District, so the researcher had to rely more on archival materials and oral interviews to be able to carry out this research work. This too made the research work quite tedious to carry out with respect to the area of study. It is also important to note that the villages in Kagarko District have a very difficult terrain characterized by un-tarred roads, rivers and streams, thick forest and hills; this made accessibility hard for the researcher especially while travelling around to conduct the oral interviews. So as a result of this inaccessibility, the researcher was unable to tour all the villages in Kagarko.

Another limitation of this study is that most of the people interviewed were not actively involved in the colonial period. This is because some were not born and those born then were still children; so whatever information the researcher got from these groups was mostly transferred from their parents. However, this is accepted in history since information can be transferred from one generation to another generation. Notwithstanding, there were a few old men and women interviewed who experienced the colonial era.

1.4 Justification of the Study

The colonial era is indisputably the most studied in the historiography of Northern Nigeria area in contemporary times. Consequently, there exist on one hand several studies that highlight British colonial rule on Northern Nigeria area, but Kagarko is yet to benefit from such studies. The neglect is more on the issues of colonial policies such as taxation. It is hoped that this research work will contribute immensely to the historiography of Northern Nigeria with specific reference to Kagarko. It will also contribute to the historiography of colonial taxation which has often been ignored. This research is hopefully a pioneer study of the nature and operation of colonial taxation in Kagarko District.

Colonial taxation as the subject of study was chosen because colonial taxation was the major means of generating revenue for the colonialists. Kagarko was a resource area for this revenue generation, hence cannot be ignored. In other words, this research work intends to uncover how Kagarko was plundered and exploited since colonial taxation was about plunder and exploitation. It will also show how people in the area were forced to sell their food crops, cattle and mats so that they could pay the taxes imposed on them by the colonialist. There was also tax assessment which meant the monetization of the people‘s means of livelihood which includes farming, animal husbandry, bee-keeping and mat making. All these constitute the thrust of this research work. Consequently, it is an in-depth study of the processes involved in the administration of colonial taxation in Kagarko District and its implication on the economic, social and political life of the people that this research work seeks to carry out.

1.5 Research Methodology

Methodology involves the collection and interpretation of data. It is a means of achieving an aim in a definite way. In this research work both primary and secondary sources were used.

Primary sources are the raw materials used in historical studies and since a historical work is deemed scholarly and reliable according to the extent to which it is based on the basic, raw and imperfect evidence which is the primary source.11 This research work depended more on primary sources because they are first hand information and they provide the most important documented sources for historical reconstruction of this kind. The primary sources used included archival materials from the National Archives and Arewa House all located in Kaduna. In addition, oral interviews were conducted on those who have had a fair taste of the colonial era and the age range was from 70 years and above. However, concession was given to those who are below the age of 70, this is due to the fact that in history information can be transferred and preserved from one generation to another generation.

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