MACAULAY, Sir. Herbert Samuel Heelas (1864-1946)

Born 14 November 1864

Broad St., Lagos



Statesman, Relentless Fighter by (Dapo Thomas). Death was indeed unfair to Herbert Macaulay. Not that he was cut down in his prime, hewas infact,eighty-two years old when he died. But he never reaped the benefits of the struggle he inspired and engi neered. Destinyhas, however, compensated him. He is a man ofgood fortune: a fortunate man whose life spanned two centuries. His activities in the 19th cen tury had a spill-over effect on his activism in the 20thcentury. Hewas born inthe 19thcentury, 1864 to be precise. Till the end of the last century, Macaulay lived a very private and professional life and rarely displayed any traits ofpolitical activism. At the beginning ofthe 20th century (when he was only 36), Macaulaystarted to see himselfas the man to reshape the political direction ofthe country by becoming a full-time politician. We cannot, therefore, reconstruct the history of African nationalism, nor can we discuss the issue of African emancipation without an appraisal of Macaulay's pioneering role and indelible contribu tions to the struggle. Though Macaulay died before the end ofthe first half ofthe 20"'century (1946), his charismatic leadership and inspiring aura were some of the qualities ofthe enduring legacy he left behind as an African nationalist. Herbert Samuel Heelas Macaulay was born in 1864 to a Sierra Leonean father, Reverend Thomas Babbington Macaulay(who founded the CMS Gram mar School, Lagos), and Madam Abigail Crowther Macaulay, one of Samuel Ajayi Crowther's daugh ters. Despite his noble background, Macaulay shunned all the trappings ofopulence which would have hindered the pursuit ofhis dream for a better, freer, and politically - organized society. He received his.early education at the Lagos CMS Grammar School and later proceeded to the British Institute of Architects, London, where he qualified as a surveyor. Macaulay's background as a surveyor probably informed his enduring national istic spirit that could never be.weakened by the instrumentalities of oppression. Whatever the achievements of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo in Nigeria's struggle for independence, they were contingent on Macaulay's pioneering efforts. Some post-independence historians and political analysts havecreated the misconception intheir accounts ofthe independence struggle that itwas Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Chief Obafemi Awolowo who conceived the vision of an independent Nigeria; and that it was these men and some other radicals like ChiefAnthony Enahoro who really deserve to be called nationalists. Their con tention was that Macaulay's political activism and opposition against the British was mainly a Lagos affair. As a result of this misreading of events, they concluded that Macaulay was at best a local agitator pursuing the cause of his immediate environment with little or nothing to show for national mobiliza tion. Aside from the misconception inherent in this view, the mischieflacing its motive shows that it is a deliberate attempt to ridicule the achievements of a man regarded as a colossus against British imperi alism and oppression. Macaulay's dissatisfaction with the way workers were treated in the Civil Serv icethat hejoined after hequalified as anengineer in Plymouth in 1893,marked the beginning ofhiscon sistent agitation and articulate struggle. In 1925, he established a newspaper, the Lagos Daily News, which served as a medium of propaganda against the British. Indeed, he was sentenced to three years imprisonment by the British for exposing the plot to kill Eleko's supporters in his daily news report titled 'Gun Powder Plot'. These surely are not the characteristics of a local agitator. While it may be true that Lagos remained Macaulay'soperational base, the fact that Macaulay's political actions were directed at the British showed thatthe objective ofhisstruggletranscended the fron tiers of the local terrain. Between 1900 and 1946, he stamped his personality upon the Nigerian national ist movement more than any other Nigerian. On 30 August 1910, he convened the inaugural meeting of the Lagos Auxiliary of the Anti-slavery and Abo rigines Rights Protection Society. Although he was atypical Victorian gentleman, he became the spokes man for the anti-colonial malcontents. It is significant to observe that Macaulay's Ni gerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) was the first political party, not only in Nigeria, but in the whole of West Africa. The party was formed on 24 June 1923, and it dominated Lagos politics by sweeping all the seats that were allocated in the Legislative House. The formation of the party was a direct response to the Clifford Constitution of 1923 which established elector alguide lines and created the Legislative Council. Three of the seats were allocated to Lagos while Calabar had only one. The formation of the party provided Macaulay the much-needed platform on which to air his agitation. It made it possible for him to plan his strategy for opposing British domination and maltreatment of Nigerians. He saw it as an opportunity to formalize his grievances and negotiate for the political freedom of the country. With the party,Macaulay was able to mobilize people of like minds who also thought it was time they did something to stop the British over lords and agitate for total control of their political affairs. Those who claim that Macaulay's political activities were mainly centred a round Lagos may have underestimated the influence of Lagos in the geopolitical calculus of Nigeria.Lagos,at that time(and even till now), was the centre of political networking from where other activists and nationalists were getting their inspiration. This explains why people like Dr. J.C Baughan, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, H.O Davies, Dr. Kofo Abayomi, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and Ernest Ikoli, the first editor of the Daily Times, decided to form the Lagos Youth Movement which was later changed to Nigeria Youth Movement.That these youths were overwhelmingly inspired by Macaulay's pioneering political activism was reflected in the awe with which they held him. Though the formation ofthe Nigeria Youth Movement was regarded in some circles as a direct challenge to Macaulay's NNDP, which at that time was beginning to lose focus and was becoming less vocal on national issues, it should be noted that at this period, Herbert Macaulay had started gettin gold and his vibrancy was waning. For instance, at the time the National Council of Nigeria was in augu rated at Glover Memorial Hall on26August 1944, Macaulay, who was elected the President, was al ready 80 years old;and Zik,who was the secretary, was just40 years old. The combination of Dr. Azikiwe and Macaulay at the NCN,which later became National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons(NCNC), afforded the party, effective organization.While Macaulay's wisdom served as a kind of motivating spirit for the party, Azikiwe's organizational sagacity and charismatic leadership helped in the mobilization of the citizenry into the party which incontestably became the first truly national party in Nigeria. Despite Macaulay's old age, he still led the NCNC on a nationwide tour to protest the Richard's Constitution which introduced regionalism for the first time by bifurcating Nigeria into regional enclaves.Thus, we had the Northern,Eastern and Western regions, with the north having an advantage in terms of size. It was twice the size of the other two. Though the Richard's Constitution came into effect on l January1947,Macaulay and his party had mobilized against it in 1946,and it was during the tour that he accidentally fell down in Kano. He was quickly rushed to Lagos where he eventually died on7May 1946,at the age of 82. Whatever inspiring role Lagos is playing to day in nation-building was made possible by Macaulay's initiative.Macaulay's foresight and doggedness,and his opposition to the British served as the stimuli for national mobilization and the convocation of national political consciousness. He was a committed patriot, a vivacious orator, a relentless fighter,and a nassiduous nationalist who never compromised the freedom of his country and people,even in the face of death.He was a daring fellow who called the bluff of the British and their tools of coercion;an egregious politician whose major weakness was his love for the people and his country; and a local nationalist who regarded the entire African continent as his constituency. Macaulay's activities as a nationalist and a nation builder can be better understood if they are contextualized within the framework of idealistic pragmatism. What is clear,however,is that he was not a demagogue. As a leader, he did not exploit popular prejudices, neither did he distort the truth, nor make empty promises to gain power.He was embraced by the voters and he never managed or attempted to capture power by other means, fair or foul. He could be called a citizen-leader because he decisively influenced the course of political events in his country.His unique dedication to a cause,his personal magnetism and even out right courage garnered for him a considerable political following. Above all, Herbert Macaulay was a states man; a wise leader; a man of rare quality who displayed an overriding concern for the public good; a man who possessed a variety of political skills and exhibited practical wisdom.In times of crisis, Macaulay provided crucial leadership that made an important difference in the well-being of the society. He was a preserver and saviour to whom the survival of the Nigerian State could be ascribed.
Gender: Male
Name of Spouse Caroline Pratt,
Father's Name Thomas Babington Macaulay
Mother's Name Abigail Crowther.
Profession Politician , musician , surveyor , Architect , Engineer , Journalist
Working Experience surveyor of Crown Lands.
St Paul's Breadfruit School, Lagos and CMS Faji School, Lagos.CMS Grammar School, Lagos.. Royal Institute of British Architects, London.. Trinity College, London..Music International College, London

7 May 1946
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