Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in History

First Advisor

Mohammed B. Salau

Second Advisor

Zachary K. Guthrie

Third Advisor

Rebecca K. Marchiel


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



Leprosy was an endemic disease in colonial Southeastern Nigeria but became an epidemic between the 1920s and 1940s. Unlike malaria and sleeping sickness, its endemicity did not impede European penetration at the dawn of the twentieth century. However, its spread across Nigeria intensified during colonial rule, with acute prevalence in regions hitherto prone to the disease. Therefore, from the 1920s to 1960, Southeastern Nigeria became the epicenter of British policies tailored towards preventing, curing, and eradicating leprosy disease in Nigeria. Existing research has established the involvement of different actors in this course–including Christian missionaries, colonial officials, specialized agencies, and international organizations. However, this thesis examines the contributions of the Igbo people in the anti-leprosy campaign in colonial Southeastern Nigeria. Utilizing archival materials – mainly letters of petition and a plethora of correspondences between the indigenous population and colonial administrators – oral interviews, and other robust extant literature, it argues that Igbo people of Southeastern Nigeria were the focal point of leprosy control; they protested and collaborated in leprosy eradication. It concludes that the changing ideological underpinnings of leprosy from precolonial to colonial Nigeria influenced their variegated responses.



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