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1.0        Introduction

Tsamiya and Lolo Markets existed since the pre-colonial period. They are located at the extreme end of Nigeria's international border with Benin Republic in the north-west. The attainment of independence of the two countries by their former colonial masters has contributed significantly in the economic development of those two border markets. The geographical proximity of these border markets facilitates cross-border trade in the area.

It would be recalled that the European partition and eventual colonization of Africa created a lot of tariff walls within West African sub-region, particularly between the Francophone and English speaking countries. With the attainment of independence, the pattern of trade relations developed across the border areas of Nigeria and Benin. Citizens of these areas eagerly entered in to the cross border trade as an easy means of living. Consequently, there developed large markets with full of goods traded and people who come daily from across areas of the two countries to buy and sell. Tsamiya and Lolo are typical of these border markets which developed out of this economic necessity. The large-scale economic activities taking place in Tsamiya and Lolo towns attracted a large number of people to settle in the towns. Eventually, the same ethnic groups are virtually found along the border areas of the two countries namely Nigeria and Benin.


Geographical proximity and historical relations are two must important factors that led to the growth of the two border markets. The River Niger also has been another important factor in the development of cross-border trade in both Tsamiya and Lolo. The fertility of the land consequently attracted the earliest inhabitants in the area and serve as a basis for large-scale commercial activities.

1.2        Statement of the Problem

Tsamiya and Lolo are among the oldest towns along the Middle Niger Valley and today falls under Bagudo Local Government area of Kebbi State. The people of the area contributed a lot to the economic development of not only Kebbi State but the entire country general. They have also been playing a significant role as an important cross - border markets of the area where the exchange of goods and service is taking place. There is acute paucity of documented historical of these societies especially the history covering not only the political aspect but the socio-economic sphere. The little that had been written on the area is more or less on the development of the political institutions. This study is therefore hoped to fill this vacuum.


1.3        Aim and Objectives of the Study

The major aim of this research is to examine the role of Tsamiya and Lolo border markets in facilitating economic cooperation in the area. It intends to:

(i)            discuss historical origin of Tsamiya and Lolo border markets;

(ii)            examine the factors responsible for the development of Tsamiya and Lolo border markets;

(iii)            identify the role of Tsamiya and Lolo border markets in promoting economic relations between the two countries (Nigeria and Benin);

(iv)            analyse the socio- economic impact of the two border markets on the border communities of the areas.

1.4        Significance of the Study

This research is significant in the sense that there is no any academic research on the historical origin, growth and development of Tsamiya and Lolo border markets. The research shall equally throw some light on the significance of border markets and its role towards economic integration in West Africa. The research will also critically examine the role of border population to the development of Tsamiya and Lolo border markets. The work will serve as a vital reservoir for information which will otherwise be lost with the death of elderly and resourceful people in the society.


1.5        Scope and Limitation of the Study

The research is limited to Tsamiya and Lolo border markets. It examines the growth and development of the two border markets from 1960 to date; and their role towards socio - economic development of the area. The choice of the 1960 is significant to the study, since Nigeria got its independence in the same year. It has also served as an important period when cross-border trade in the area became intensified. Since 1960, there had been important transformations in cross-border trade between Nigeria and her neighbours.

1.6        Research Methodology

In the course of writing this project, both primary and secondary sources were fairly consulted and used. Oral interviews were conducted and first hand account from some active people who contributed in shaping the history of the area are obtained and analyzed. Secret and deliberate observations of the activities at the markets have equally made a lot of contributions in compiling this research.

In addition however, archival documents particularly district note books were equally been used. Moreover, the secondary sources complement the primary sources. They include both published and unpublished materials such as textbooks, newspaper, gazettes documents, journals, articles, etc.


1.7        Literature Review

It is quite imperative to admit that a lot has been written about the history of Hausaland including the Gwandu Emirate and Kasar Kebbi particularly their histories, socio-economic and political activities from the pre-colonial period to the present. However, most of this literature concerned mainly with the emirate levels, with little concern on micro issues like the district and village levels. This study is therefore aimed at filling these gaps with particular reference to the Tsamiya and Lolo border towns.

One of the earliest works on international boundaries of Nigeria is that of Anene1 and later followed by Asiwaju who enumerated five asymmetry factors in the social-economic and political relations of two adjacent states of Nigeria and Benin Republic. Koko2 testified the work of Asiwaju with some slight modification to fit Nigeria -Niger Republic relation and therefore outline the factors as the existence of common local language which is Hausa for communication and homogeneity of population between the neighbouring states. Imbalance in human and material resources as well as unequal level of development of Nigeria in comparison to Benin Republic and other ECOWAS countries in general.3

1 J.I. Anene, The International Boundaries of Nigeria, 1885-1960: The framework of an emergent African states, London, Longman 1970.

2, Nuhu-Koko, A., A Geographical analysis of Trans-border spatial interaction: A study of transborder trade between Nigeria and Niger border settlements, Asiwaju, A.I. and B. M. Barkindo (eds), The Nigerian-Niger Trans-Border Co-operation, Longman, Lagos, 1993.

3E. Nwokedi, ‘Nigeria and Niger: The mechanism of compatibility and consensus: in B.A. Akinterinwa, (eds),

Nigeria and its immediate neigbours: constraints and prospect of sub-regional security in the 1990s, NIIALagos, 1992.


The work of Abdulkadir is very relevant to this project. He discusses on the economic importance of River Niger to agricultural activities of Lolo as well as the trading activities in the town since 19th century. Abdulkadir also explain how the Lolo market became border market. But fail to explain how these commercial activities helped to integrate the people in the area. Also, the work of Paul E. Lovejoy is another important work that highlighted on the general aspect of the economy of West Africa. The work specifically commented on the origin and development of market trade in West Africa.4

Another look by Asiwaju titled Local Government in the border Regions is very relevant to this discussion, because it highlighted special functional requirements of Nigeria's gateway states.5 This, so many things were discussed concerning the border issues. The importance of the work by Okoro K'ojwang can not be over emphasized. The work has talk about the response of Africa to British penetration of South-West Nigeria. Although the work is unpublished one, it is also very important to this work.6

One among the recorded literatures on the histories of Lolo and Tsamiya towns was that of P. G Harris7 the Sokoto provincial gazettee, which documented some of the available information of the local histories of various peoples and

4 P.E. Lovejoy: The general aspect of the economy of West Africa.

5  Asiwaju, A.I.  Local Government…..op.cit.

6  Okoro K’ojwang “Society, trade and politics in Badagry 1841-1891.

7  Harris, P.G. (compiled) Sokoto provincial gazetteer, Sokoto 1932 p.333.


communities in the then Sokoto province which included the present day Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara state.8

Harris outlines and discusses the historical origin of Illo area, which comprises our area of study. The work also traces the various socio-economic activities carried out by the people of the area. Another work of Asiwaju problem solving borders: the African region with particular references to the Nigeria-Benin case since 1987 was found very crucial in the cause of this study.

Another article in the journal of Nigeria-Niger trans-border cooperation, which defined international boundary as "line of demarcation that exclude one nation state from another".9 The exclusion of one nation from the other is said to be practice both in terms of legal demarcation and actual demarcation. What is important to not in this definition is the legal and physical aspect of boundary separating nation state. Ajwewe O. Godwin enumerated conditions for integration and considered commonality of history; economic symmetry, political stability and cultural homogeneity.10 The work of Frank Akinola is one of relevant works on the area. Akinola highlighted on the diplomacy between Nigeria and Benin Republic. He further discusses steps taken by the two independent countries with the regard to their western border.11

Hill "Geographical effects of Dahomey- Niger Boundary: is the work that lay emphasis on the geographical location of Benin and Nigeria boundary, how

8 Ibid.

9 “Nigeria-Niger trans-border cooperation. Daily Times, Lagos, 1st February 1987 p. 25.

10 Ajwewe O. Godwin “Economic symmetry, political stability and cultural homogeneity. 1987

11 Frank Akinola: when diplomacy was taken a step further. The Benin Nigeria western border, Daily Times Lagos February 18, 1968. P.161.


the geographical location affected one another and the discussion on the boundary issues. Dahomey which is now under Benin Republic and Togo share the same boundary likewise Yoruba speaking are found in both independent countries including Nigeria. According to Igwe, this makes it very simple to have the cooperation between the countries.


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