Transnationalism and nationalism in the Nigerian Seamen's Union.

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This article will examine the shifting tactics employed by Nigerian seamen in their struggles to improve their working conditions onboard Elder Dempster vessels in the late colonial period. Nigerian seamen successfully exploited opportunities arising within the context of colonialism to participate in globalised economies and cultures, exposing them to new solidarities and empowering them to seek an improvement in their lives. In crafting their onboard protests, African seamen historically forged ideological and organisational alliances with the wider world of the black diaspora. But the era of decolonisation shifted the balance of power between seamen and the union leadership as they negotiated with colonial shipping companies in the transition to independence. As ruling elites in both Europe and Nigeria took political, economic and ideological actions to secure lasting power and influence for themselves, seamen experienced a profound disempowerment. Although intent on engaging with the globalised world, African seamen were ultimately prevented from securing for themselves positions of power and autonomy as an effective labour movement in the post-colonial context.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)387-398
Number of pages12
JournalAfrican Identities
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2009


  • LABOR movement
  • black diaspora
  • decolonisation
  • labour unions
  • nationalism
  • nationalism, black diaspora
  • Nigeria
  • seamen
  • transnationalism


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