Renaming Of Imo Government House And Douglas Road To IKONSO

source: oup
12

Renaming of Imo Government house and Douglas Road by Chris Obiekwe. I came across the news that IPOB has “renamed” Owerri landmarks, Douglas road and Douglas house (government house) to Ikonso way and Ikonso house respectively, in memory of the slain ESN commander (RIP, bro.). Got me thinking - who is Douglas? Is he a black man or a white man? Is he an early missionary or a colonizer? Why would Igbo people name such prominent landmarks after a foreign name? I did some digging and it turns out that these Owerri landmarks were named after a very wicked British colonizer named Harold Morday Douglas who served as a District Officer from 1897 to 1920 in the British colonial administration. Douglas ruled like a despotic king over the eastern areas and waged punitive wars against the Igbos of present Imo and Abia states who resisted British rule. This British colonizer, Douglas loved dishing out public floggings to those who resisted his forced labour decrees. He focused on building roads through forced labor. When he paid wages, he paid peanuts. He made it clear that white supremacy must be respected. The head of the colonial administration, Frederick Lugard praised him for his performance saying, “there is no danger of such men falling prey to that subtle moral deterioration which the exercise of power over inferior races produced in men of a different type and which finds expression in cruelty”. The mean and oppressive actions of HM Douglas provoked protests and deep resentment culminating in the capture and killing of a white doctor by the people of Ahiara around 1905. The oppressed people mistook Dr.Stewart for HM Douglas. His body was never found. As expected, HM Douglas wreaked vengeance on the people of Ahiara. Villages were leveled. People were arrested and killed. Well, I find it most shocking and deplorable that the people of Imo state still honour this white man who practically enslaved their ancestors by naming or retaining his name for their prominent landmarks. Is this colonial mentality at its best or what? (Ref: Colonialism & violence in Nigeria by Toyin Falola)

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