Bandele Omoniyi – ‘A Defence of the Ethiopian Movement’

Primary source material reproduced from Bandele Omoniyi, A Defence of the Ethiopian Movement (Edinburgh, 1908), pp.20, 42 & 80.

Published in March 1908, after black Edinburgh medical graduates had been barred from employment in the West African medical service, Nigerian student Bandele Omoniyi’s Defence demanded the British empire be reformed to re-accommodate educated black elites. Prophetically, he warned of radicalisation if this did not happen.

The present system of government has some fatal defects which at some near or distant time must bring disaster not only to the Government but to the people on whose behalf it rules, for unless you unite the Government with the governed, the Government cannot and will never be safe, and any sweeping movement will overthrow it into confusion; and as for individuals, the British children at no distant generation will and must pay the full penalty which their fathers have purchased for them by regulating their duty and obligations to the people of Africa […]

Some of those who have read my other articles on the native question have mistaken the shell for the nut. I have never attempted, nor will I ever attempt to prove that the British rule is either unjust or impartial. But I have said and will say that the British representatives have been unfaithful to the charge committed to them. It is because we believe and rely on the sincerity and integrity of British rule that we call on the British public to reform their servants and to suggest to them that it will be more in accordance with British principle if every effort and every attempt were made to unite the government and the governed […]

If the black man be taught to look upon the white man as a friend and a neighbour, and not as a marauder and plunderer, and if respect for the British rule be cultivated in him rather than a dread of it, there need not be any fear for each will zealously strive to promote the interests of the Empire: but if the present state of things were to continue in which he simply lives in dread of the white man’s maxim guns, the least chance that he may have will be used in plotting against those he lives in constant dread of, and who can say what tomorrow may bring.