One size does not fit all in Africa: a critical examination of explanations for the African growth tragedy through a micro study of resistance, health and education in colonial Nigeria
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Recent explanations for the “African growth tragedy” have often relied on cross-country regressions, which can provide one elegantly simple cause at the root of poor long-term economic performance. In recent years the development of particular kinds of institutions, the creation of ethno linguistic fragmentation as a result of colonialism and geography / factor endowments have all been identified as being key to explaining poor growth in Sub Saharan Africa. This study argues that such an approach is flawed, as at a micro level no overarching explanation is sufficient. In addition what most of this research neglects is the crucial importance of African agency on individual countries’ paths of development. This is not to say that such studies are not useful as they do provide avenues of research and theories to test. However this study will ague that contextually specific micro studies, which take local African agency into account are the best approach to understanding long term development. This study focuses on colonial era Nigeria from 1905 to 1932, examining education, health and resistance to British rule and examining long term trends in the post colonial era. It is concluded that in different areas of the country, education and health developed at different speeds and that to explain such differences a variety of factors are needed. In all areas resistance to colonial rule and African agency played a key role in determining the course of development.