Impact of British Currency In Colonial Annang Society, Calabar Province, Nigeria, 1900-1960


Toby, E.


The major task of this paper is to examine the introduction of British currency in colonial Annang society and how the currency was used to exploit the resources of the people during the said period. The introduction of modern currency during the colonial period helped to transformed the economy of Annang from subsistence level to a market oriented one, Trade between the Annangs and European in palm produce such as palm oil and palm kernel would not have been possible, but for improvement in the pre-colonial currency by the colonial authorities. The study interrogated how the currency was used to promote British economic exploitation of Annang during the colonial period. It adopted the historical method, relying extensively on primary information obtained from oral interviews and archival sources. The study finds that the introduction of British currency in Annang was a means to an end contrary to the colonial belief that the introduction of the British currency was meant to develop the Annang economy. The machinery of the colonial government was used to create modern currency facilities considered essential to the successful and profitable of British economic interest in Annang.


Impact, British, Currency, Colonial, Annang, Society, Calabar, Province


Annang people occupy the North-Western part of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria which lies 0 0 0 within the Cross River Basin, between latitudes 40 .25' and 70 North and longitudes 70 .15' 0 and 90 .30' East (Messenger, 1959). Pre-colonial Annang was made up of thirty-five clans (Aduk) (Ekong, 1983). Each of these had its own independent political institutions headed by a clan head (Okuku). Therefore, there were thirty five clan heads in Annang. During the colonial period, the Annang were majorly found in Ikot Ekpene and Abak Division in Calabar Province, with some other sub-set occupying 150 square miles in the north of Opobo Division in Rivers Province. These communities had a cultural bond and they all looked up to Afaha Obong where the Annang supreme deity was situated as their place of origin and traditional headquarters (Essien, 2013).To the North, Annang is bounded by lni and Ikono Local Government Areas and to the South by Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. To the West, Annang is bounded by Ngwa and Azumini communities of Abiastate and Ndoki community of Rivers State, and to the East, by Uyo and Mkpatenin Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State. Geographically, Annang lies almost entirely in the rain forest belt of Southern Nigeria. The area has a level landscape, covered by relatively low vegetation and myriad of palms. There is a mean annual rainfall of 2.030-2,540mm. Annang has a tropical climate with wet and dry seasons (Udo, 1970). The wet season spans from March to October when the monsoon winds blow from the South-West, while the dry season spans from November to February when the harmattan (ekarika) blows from the North-East. The landscape is generally flat and low-lying, with no point rising above 300ft and no part less than 100ft feet above sea level. It has a level landscape covered by relatively low vegetation and numerous palm trees. At present, Annang with a population of more than one million people is the second largest ethnic group in Akwa Ibom State. The Annangs are found in eight of the present thirty-one Local Government Areas in Akwa Ibom State, namely; Abak, Essien Udim, Etim Ekpo, Ika, Ikot Ekpene, Obot Akara, Oruk Anam and Ukanafun; yet they are culturally homogenous.


The economic exchange among human groups across the world is the function of the necessities of the insatiability of human wants, subjecting man to numerous forms of exchanges and trade. These exchanges and trade across the history are the factors, which informed the adoption of money of different kinds as means of exchange (Odior and Banuso, 2012; Achor and Robert, 2013). Various medium of exchanged were used in various Annang markets and trade centres before the imposition of colonial rule in the area. They helped to facilitate trade and exchange of goods and services in various forms and dimensions. The first major means of exchange among the Annang people was the barter system which involved the exchange of some quantities of one type of commodity with an acceptable quantity of another commodity. It is a form of exchange in which goods are exchanged for goods making it imperative, that exchange will only take place when the commodities to be exchanged had been accepted by the individuals involved ( Ikuseedun, 2006). Conducting an economic transaction in barter economies involved high transaction costs as considerable time and effort were required in finding a suitable partner (Odior and Banuso, 2012). However, with the increased in the volume of trade and expansion of the Annang economy due to the exchange rate and this made the barter system obsolete (Ikpe, 1992). With the major weakness of the barter system, particularly the double coincidence of wants (Afigbo, 1987), there was the need for a new means of exchange of goods which could enhance trade among the people. Beyond resolving problems of a barter system, another aspect in the evolution of money was the need for divisibility (Ajayi and Ojo, 2006).


The paper has shown that pre-colonial production was mostly aimed at satisfying personal needs. However, the idea of production for absolute subsistence is not very correct as evidence abound in favour of a surplus in production for exchange. The various currencies in the pre-colonial period facilitated the exchange of goods and services in pre-colonial Annang. The first means of exchange among the people was the barter system where, for example, some quantities of goods were exchanged for some other quantities of other items. But the problem of the double coincidence of wants which was a major weakness of trade by barter naturally led to the evolution of other means of exchange such as the piece of cloth and salt. Again, with increased in trade among the people and their neighbours, the commodity currency was not capable of coping with the volume of transaction between the people. Consequently, there was the need for the introduction of other means of exchange such as cowries, manila, brass rods, copper and iron money that would suffice for the level of the transaction of trade. This paper has focussed on the changes and evolution of modern currency during the colonial period which helped to transform the economy of Annang. The advent of British Pound Sterling marked a watershed in the economic history of Annang during the colonial period. It marked the transition of the area from a pre-colonial subsistence economy to monetised and a dynamic market-oriented one.


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