It examines the roles of native authorities in rural health services in colonial South-western Nigeria


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




This research explores the roles of the Nigerian native authorities, in the administration of medicine in rural communities of South-western Nigeria. These authorities mediated the relationship between medical missionaries, colonial medical officers and the rural African populace. The successes or failures of colonial medicine in parts of the country depended on the native authorities’ attitudes towards colonial medicine as well as towards African medical knowledge systems. In many instances, native authorities collaborated with the colonial government and medical missionaries in implementing health policies while at the same time supporting African traditional healers who adhered to the political patronage and relational networks of the chiefs themselves. This project, using archival sources reposed in conventional and digital archives, reinforces the argument that native authorities did not function within the colonial bureaucracy merely as colonial appendages, but that they used the loopholes in the colonial state towards specific local interests.