chapter  2
Missionaries, merchants, and explorers, 1840s–1880s
Pages 33

In 1874, Samuel Crowther journeyed up the Niger river to meet the emir of Bida, ruler of a territory situated in the west-central portion of what would soon become the colony of Nigeria. On his trip, he wore three hats. The first, a bishop’s miter, signaled his position as an Anglican bishop and head of the Church Missionary Society in West Africa, in which capacity he sought to extend Christianity to the largely Islamic northern parts of the region. The second, a Victorian top hat, marked him as a representative of Her Majesty’s government, charged with strengthening diplomatic ties with the emir by presenting him with gifts and entreaties to end slave trading. A broad-brimmed straw hat designated Crowther as an agent assisting a contingent of European traders, translating for them as they sought to gain the emir’s permission to expand commerce inland from the coast.