Nation on Board
Becoming Nigerian at Sea

By Lynn Schler

“This is an outstanding piece of social historical research and a significant addition to Nigerian labour and industrial/business history. Schler has made excellent use of a range of archives and interviews and crafted an attractively written book that will be accessible to a range of readers. I take my hat off to her.”

Peter Waterman, advisor, Global Labour Journal

“Schler places the sometimes abstract notion of nationhood into a fresh and dynamic context, and the testimony she presents provides wonderful insights into the textures of life aboard ship and in foreign ports

Douglas Anthony, Franklin and Marshall College

In the 1940s, British shipping companies began the large-scale recruitment of African seamen in Lagos. On colonial ships, Nigerian sailors performed menial tasks for low wages and endured discrimination as cheap labor, while countering hardships by nurturing social connections across the black diaspora. Poor employment conditions stirred these seamen to identify with the nationalist sentiment burgeoning in postwar Nigeria, while their travels broadened and invigorated their cultural identities.

Working for the Nigerian National Shipping Line, they encountered new forms of injustice and exploitation. When mismanagement, a lack of technical expertise, and pillaging by elites led to the NNSL’s collapse in the early 1990s, seamen found themselves without prospects. Their disillusionment became a broader critique of corruption in postcolonial Nigeria.

In Nation on Board: Becoming Nigerian at Sea, Lynn Schler traces the fate of these seamen in the transition from colonialism to independence. In so doing, she renews the case for labor history as a lens for understanding decolonization, and brings a vital transnational perspective to her subject. By placing the working-class experience at the fore, she complicates the dominant view of the decolonization process in Nigeria and elsewhere.

Lynn Schler is a senior lecturer in African history in the Department of Politics and Government, and the director of the Tamar Golan Africa Centre, at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.

Order a print copy

Paperback · $26.36 · Add to Cart

Retail price: $32.95 · Save 20% ($26.36)

Hardcover · $64 · Add to Cart

Retail price: $80.00 · Save 20% ($64)

Find at a local bookstore


Download an electronic copy

Amazon Kindle Store Barnes & Noble NOOK Google Play iBooks Store

Availability and price vary according to vendor.

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon


Desk Copy Examination Copy Review Copy

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center

Downloads & Links



In Series

New African Histories

Related Subjects

African History · Labor History · Colonialism and Decolonization · Maritime History · African Studies · Nigeria



Retail price: $32.95, S.
Release date: May 2016
8 illus. · 264 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: World


Retail price: $80.00, S.
Release date: May 2016
8 illus. · 264 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: World


Release date: May 2016
8 illus. · ≅ 264 pages
Rights: World