We are Nigerians and it is both a matter of duty and intelligence that we are aware of our own history, no matter how trivial the details. There was a particular time i needed to come up with some historical data on Nigeria and i stumbled upon the question, “the name Nigeria was given by who?”
I couldn’t come up with the answer.
That moment would send me on a search that in turn would take me to the colonial era, to that British journalist and writer who became the wife of Lord Lugard. A name that will always be associated with our colonial history.
She was the only woman reporter to cover the Anti-Slavery Conference in Brussels. She became Colonial Editor for The Times, which made her the highest paid woman journalist of the time.
Her name is Flora Shaw.
The journey that would lead to the name Nigeria began with an essay that first appeared in The Times on 8 January 1897, by “Miss Shaw”, in which Flora Shaw had suggested the name “Nigeria” for the British Protectorate on the Niger River. In that essay, She would make the case for a shorter term that should be used for the “agglomeration of pagan and Mahomedan States” to replace the official title, “Royal Niger Company Territories”.
Before the coinage of the name Nigeria, the area was already been called “Central Sudan”, by travelers and geographers.
In The Times of 8 January 1897, she wrote: “The name Nigeria applying to no other part of Africa may without offence to any neighbors be accepted as co-extensive with the territories over which the Royal Niger Company has extended British influence, and may serve to differentiate them equally from the colonies of Lagos and the Niger Protectorate on the coast and from the French territories of the Upper Niger.”
She got married to Sir Frederick Lugard on 10 June 1902 and they had no children.
Now you know the answer to the question, “the name Nigeria was given by who”, use it!