African Entrepreneurship in Jos, Central Nigeria, 1902-1985

By Reynolds, Jonathan T. | Journal of Pan African Studies, June 2012 | Go to article overview

African Entrepreneurship in Jos, Central Nigeria, 1902-1985


Reynolds, Jonathan T., Journal of Pan African Studies


A Review of African Entrepreneurship in Jos, Central Nigeria, 1902-1985 by S.U. Fwatshak (CAP African World Series. Durham: North Carolina, Carolina Academic Press, 2011. 249 pp., ISBN 987-1594608469) by Jonathan T. Reynolds (reynoljo@nku.edu), Professor of History, Department of History and Geography, Northern Kentucky University.

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Within the field of African Economic History, there are few topics more controversial than the legacy of African economic development under colonialism and since independence. In this carefully researched and well-written text, S.U. Fwatshak of the University of Jos Department of History provides us with an interesting insight into entrepreneurship and economic transformation in and around the city of Jos Nigeria. While a number of general studies of African Economic History exist, and various scholars have examined case studies of major urban centers such as Kano and Lagos in Nigeria, Fwatshak helps to address a gap in the literature by examining 20th Century economic transformations in Jos--a beautiful city that is nonetheless an otherwise under-researched example of a mid-sized Nigerian urban center. To this end, Fwatshak provides us with a broad chronological survey from roughly 1902 to 1985, divided into a series of smaller eras represented by four chronological chapters (Chs 3-7). Each chapter examines a variety of economic activities, grouped roughly under the headings of Agriculture, Commerce, and Industry.

Fwatshak begins African Entrepreneurship in Jos, with two chapters providing a brief survey on core works and debates in African economic history and sociology. In particular, these chapters focus on the extremes of proponents of colonialism as a source of economic development and on dependency theorists. While useful to those new to the subject, these chapters may seem a bit simple and familiar to others with more grounding in the field.

This text truly comes into its own when Fwatshak begins to offer insights into the Jos region's economic development. Chapter Four, which surveys the region's pre-colonial economy, establishes a useful baseline against which to compare later material relating to the 20th Century. Particularly interesting in this chapter is the information regarding the history of tin mining in the region. Indeed, Fwatshak's brief survey of the topic suggests that there is considerable research left to be done to help us understand this very important component of West Africa's pre-colonial metallurgy and economy. Fwatshak also helps to establish that the plateau region was integrated into wider systems of regional exchange, by citing examples of trade north to the savannahs and south to the rain forests nearer to the coast. Notably, these connections could also be a hindrance to economic development, and Fwatshak highlights the role of both the Jokun wars and expansion of the Sokoto Caliphate as creating climates of insecurity which undermined trade and production. …

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