Flora Shaw-The British woman who named Nigeria

Flora Shaw, born Florence Shaw, was a British journalist, colonial administrator, and writer who lived from 1852 to 1929. She is best known for her influential work as a journalist and her role in shaping British colonial policy, particularly in Nigeria. Flora Shaw was born in England in 1852. She began her career as a journalist, working for several British newspapers and magazines. Her work caught the attention of prominent British colonial administrators, including Frederick Lugard, who would later become her husband.

Dame Flora Louise Shaw, Lady Lugard

In the late 19th century, Shaw accompanied Lugard to Nigeria, where he served as the British High Commissioner. Shaw played a significant role in the administration of Nigeria and was instrumental in shaping British colonial policy in the region. She advocated for the consolidation of various Nigerian territories under British control and coined the name “Nigeria” for the region, which was adopted as the official name in 1914.

Shaw’s writings on Nigeria and colonialism gained her recognition as an influential commentator on imperial affairs. She wrote extensively on topics related to the colonial administration, including articles, books, and pamphlets. Her works provided insights into the British Empire’s policies and strategies in Africa. Flora Shaw’s contributions to journalism and colonial administration were widely recognized during her lifetime. She held influential positions in the British administration and continued to write and publish on colonial topics until her death in 1929.

Colonial administrators in Lagos with messengers from the interior, c1910

It’s worth noting that Flora Shaw’s perspectives and actions need to be considered in the context of the time she lived in, as colonialism has been widely critiqued for its negative impact on indigenous peoples and cultures.

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