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COLONIALISM AND THE DECLINE OF INDIGENOUS AFRICAN INDUSTRIES: THE EXAMPLE OF CLOTH- WEAVING IN ESANLAND, EDO STATE, NIGERIA
Abstract: The paper examines the boom in the Esan cloth-weaving in colonial Nigeria and its dramatic decline in the last decade of colonialism. Cloth-weaving was the most popular, widespread and perhaps, most important indigenous industry in pre-colonial Esan. It was entirely a female industry, which origin predated the introduction of cotton into the area in the 15th century. In spite of the often over–dramatized influx of cheap European and Asian factory manufactured cloth, the Esan cloth-weaving industry experienced a boom up to 1950. Available evidence suggests that the industry suffered a dramatic decline only in the last decade of colonialism. The paper establishes a nexus between the rational economic behaviour of women and the decline of cloth-weaving in Esan. The Decline of cloth weaving in Esan was, thus, largely due to the rational economic behaviour of the women weavers, who abandoned cloth-weaving for, what they considered, other more modern, more lucrative, more respectable, more adventurous and less stressful economic activities, as colonialism became more encompassing. Keywords: Colonialism. Cloth-weaving. Indigenous. Decline. Industry.