There are important events and personalities that contributed immensely to the development of the Nigerian press. One of the significant contributors was John Payne Jackson. He established the Weekly Record after a quarrel with Blaize.
At the end of this unit, you should be able to:
- write the profile of John Payne Jackson
- discuss the formation of Lagos Weekly Record
- state categorically the issues that attracted the attention of the Weekly Record.
3.0 MAIN CONTENT
3.1 Profile of John Payne Jackson
Born in Gape Palmas (at about 1847) in the small African colony of Maryland, which united with Liberia to the north in the late fifties, Payne inherited his father’s painstaking disposition and incisive intellect. His father who migrated from Maryland USA was known as Thomas Jackson.
At the age four, he lost his father. This tragedy is assumed to have made Payne self-assertive and independent early in life. Payne attended the training institute on the Cavalla River and showed great capacity in Liberal subjects and printing. His love for travels made him go to Gold Coast and eventually ended up in Lagos in the 1860’s. He worked with the merchant L.S Leigh and was posted to the Brass river in the 1870’s. He worked with his employer and started to trade in palm produce on his own. Payne suffered business setbacks and described the losses he incurred as the cruel greed of European commerce on the lower Niger. He abandoned trade and got employment as a bookkeeper with the Lagos Times and Gold Coast colony advertiser in 1887.
3.2 The Formation of the Lagos Weekly Record
The relationship between Blaize/Jackson, which was to poison the relations of the two families for a long time, had a significant effect upon the history of the record. Jackson appeared to have resolved not only to outsell the rival Lagos Times, drive it into a second and final collapse and force his former boss out of the newspaper trade, but also to father a newspaper organisation, which would be commercially successful and possibly overshadow Blaize’s financial prestige.
It should also be noted that the background of disagreement and dispute would give a new dimension to Jackson’s editorial and propagandist competence with popular implications. The above circumstances led to the establishment of the Lagos Weekly Record in1891.
3.3 Issues that Attracted the Attention of the Weekly Record
The activities of the Lagos Weekly Record cut across all spheres of human endeavour including political, economic and social. Host of the areas of focus can be outlined as follows.
a. Colonial administration
b. British attitude to native chiefs in the course of the system of indirect rule
c. New system of land tenure
d. Policy of discrimination against Africans in some areas like politics, education and employment
e. Type of education and work ethics summation of other issues that attracted comments from the record are as follows.
• Introduction of Water Rate: During this period the colonial government for undisclosed reasons decided to introduce water rate. The policy did not go down well with the record, which saw it as an imposition. Not only did the paper describe the policy as exploitation it called on Lagosians to resist the exploitative device.
• Use of public money to build churches and mosques for worship to the exclusion of Nigerian was attacked by the record. The paper disapproved that public money be used to build places of worship where Africans are banned from entry.
• The record propagated for the amendment of the Nigerian Constitution, which at the time did not provide for any real legislative authority in the country. The then governor Lord
Lugard, appointed few government officials in legislative council without authority. Their only duty then was to meet once a year to listen to the governor’s address and give him rousing ovation.
Summarily, the record by all standards was a radical Newspaper and advocated for aggressive nationalism. In the words of Ezra, Jackson “… was uncompromising by nature and fanatical by conviction!” Jackson died on 1st August 1915 and the editorial chair moved to his son Horatio Jackson who maintained the status quo until the demise of the paper in 1935.
What were the circumstances that led to the establishment of the Weekly Record?
3.4 Comments on the Weekly Record
The quality and characteristics of the paper, The Weekly Record can be deduced from the description given to the paper by eminent mass communication scholars.
• Dr. Kalu Ezra, a historian of international repute, described the Record as the first militant nationalist paper.
• B. Laotan, a journalist, said that the Weekly Record was so powerful that at one point because of its uncompromising attitude in the national interest foreign advertisements were withdrawn. However, the paper stood its ground.
• Robert Julie, another historian, said of the record editor, “Jackson was a thoughtful student of current affairs and an exhaustive commentator of their significances for almost a quarter of century. His columns provided influential and instructive help to contemporaries even as they do to modern observers.
• Nnamdi Azikwe, in his book “Odyssey,” attributed his interest in journalism partly to the influence of The Weekly Record editorials. This reflected in the way the West African Pilot was edited because the paper was full of “Jacksonian phrases and expressions.” The record with the editorial policy “Be just and fear not” strongly believed in propagation of racial consciousness.
Payne Jackson succeeded in laying a solid foundation for the Nigerian press. He also set the pace for Nigerian nationalists who eventually used the press as a strong instrument to fight colonialism.
The Weekly Record became an organ of reference for budding journalists.
This unit discussed the life and contributions of John Payne Jackson to Nigerian journalism and the establishment of the Weekly Record.
6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT
- Briefly discuss the relationship between J.P Jackson and B. Blaize emphasising the effect on the press.
- Write a brief profile of the Jacksons.