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The partition of West Africa by European powers in the last
twenty years of the 19th century is the most important event in its
history. This is because it-was the culminating event in a series of
movements in the 19th century which finally brought West Africa
c (and in fact the whole of Africa with the exception of Ethiopia
and Liberia) under European colonial rule. Again, the partition is
the genesis of West African history in the 20th century, for the
European rule of West African states and their struggle to regain
their independence which form the major themes .of West African
20th century history are the results of the partition.
The partition is often referred to as the Scramble for Africa. This
is because of the haste and the hectic struggle with which the
European powers Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Germany,
Belgium, and Italy carried out the partition of the continent among


Before we examine the causes and nature of the scramble it is
necessary to remember that several European nations had
settlements (mainly forts) and spheres of influence in West Africa
before the movement began in the 1880s. Where were these
settlements? What was the attitude of the major European powers
towards their respective settlements before 1880? Why did the
scramble not begin before 1880? Let us attempt some answers to
these questions.

Britain had settlements or colonies in the Gambia (abandoned but
reoccupied in 1815),'Sierra Leone (founded in 1787 and made a
crown colony in 1808), the Gold Coast (the southern states had
been declared a Crown colony in 1874) and Lagos (annexed as a
Crown colony in 1861). In the Oil Rivers, Britain wielded
supreme influence through the activities of her traders and
missionaries, but had not as yet established a claim over the area.

Britains Attitude towards Her Settlements: Britains policy

towards her West African settlements during the period (1807-
1880) changed at various times from a policy of advance to that of
retreat. This vacillation in policy was most noticeable in the Gold
Coast. Whereas in 1821 the Government assumed direct control of
the forts it relinguished this control to the Company of Merchants
in 1828, only to resume control again in 1841. By the 1860s, there
was an outcry against all forms of colonial responsibility in West
Africa except perhaps Sierra Leone.
This swing in policy is even reflected in-the pronouncements of
high-ranking government officials. In I860; Palmerston the
Foreign Office Secretary maintained that it was governments
responsibility to afford protection for British trade in West Africa.
The extension of our trade on the West Coast of Africa generally;
and upon the Niger in particular, is an object which ought to be
actively-and perseveringly pursued, but it cannot be accomplished
without physical effort for the protection of that trade. By 1863,
T. F. Eliot was singing a contrary note when he asked rather
indignantly are we forever to extend our boundaries?
On the whole however, the British government was against
colonial possessions or expansion in West Africa before 1880. The
main reason for this was that colonial possessions in West Africa
were regarded as expensive and troublesome or even UseIess.
The British Treasury, that, soulless miser as Sir Harry Johnson
called it, was not yet prepared to finance colonial expansion in
West Africa.

The 1865 Committee: British governments policy of retreat

reached its climax in 1865. In that year, the government set up a
elect Committee of the House of Commons on West Africa
Popularly called the 1865 Committee to consider Colonel Ords
report. Colonel Ord had been appointed to investigate and report
on the affairs of British West African settlements in 1864.
The Committee recommended that the British government should
not extend its rule or protection over new territories in West
Africa; that it should try to economise by uniting Lagos, the Gold
Coast and the Gambia under a single administration headed by the
Governor of Sierra Leone; and that in view of the proposed
withdrawal, it should encourage Africans under its protection or
rule to prepare for self-government.
The Committees recommendations were influenced by recent
events on the Gold Coast and governments chronic policy of
economy of expenditure on colonies. In 1863 the Asante invaded
the coastal protectorate and the British had failed to defeat them in
two successive campaigns. The humiliation resulting from this
gave rise to a violent criticism of governments West African
policy. The Committee was therefore of the opinion that Britains
West African colonies involved her in useless loss of money and
life; that trade was the primary object of Britains presence in West
Africa; and that the Oil Rivers and the Niger had shown that
profitable trade could be carried on without recourse to political
control over a territory. In other words, the government was being
called upon to accept a policy of commercial expansion without
colonial expansion.
The government accepted the Committees recommendations. Let
us see how far they were implemented. The union of the
settlements under the Governor of Sierra Leone was effected in
February 1866. But the others were not implemented. In reality,
British statesmen at home and British officials on the coast
pursued policies which were diametrically opposed to the
recommendations about encouraging African self-government,
gradual withdrawal from the colonies and non-extension of
In the Gold Coast, an attempt by the Fante to prepare to assume
the responsibility of self-government in the event of British with-
drawal by forming the FANTE CONFEDERACY was ruthlessly
destroyed by British officials. Again, instead of withdrawal, the
British, bought over the Dutch forts in 1872 and this increased
prospects of customs revenue. Moreover, in 1874, the coastal
states were annexed to the colony, and Kumasi capital of Asante,
was sacked but not occupied. The Gold Coast was separated from
Sierra Leone and its Legislative Council was established.
Similarly, in Nigeria, a forward policy was pursued. There was no
move to withdraw from Lagos or the Oil Rivers. Trade in Lagos
was growing and this led to increase of revenue for administration.
By 1870, the revenue amounted to 41,684 as against an
expenditure of 42,379. So the argument for withdrawal was
Again, Britain was drawn by her local officials more and more
into the affairs of the Yoruba and the Delta states. A typical
instance was the opposition of British officials .to the Egba United
Board of Management which like the Fante Confederacy was
formed to take over the administration in Egbaland in the event of
British withdrawal. Because of Britains forward policy in the
Bights of Benin and Biafra, she was able to proclaim a
protectorate over the Oil Rivers Districts in 1885.
Considering these, facts, Dr. Dike said, Within a decade of the
adoption of these resolutions by Parliament, the logic of facts'
drove the British Government towards a vigorous policy of
economic and political expansion, not only on the coast but in the
West African interior. This is why he concluded that the precepts
of the 1865 Select Committee were at variance with the
circumstances then prevailing on the West Coast.
The fact was that the Select Committee did not reckon with the
views and feelings of British officials, traders and missionaries on
the spot in West Africa. Consequently, while the Committee was
recommending withdrawal, British officials and traders were
pursuing a vigorous policy of expansion in West Africa especially
in Nigeria.

The French had settlements in Senegal St. Louis and Goree which
they re-occupied in 1817. In 1857, they founded Dakar. During
Faidherbes administration, they expanded inland along the
Senegal valley, while the states of Futa Toro and Cayor were
annexed to the colony.
On the Ivory Coast, they had established themselves by treaties
with African chiefs at Grand Bassam and Assini in 1842 and had a
military fort at Dabou. They also had a trading station at Whydah
and in the 1860s, they obtained several other posts on the
Dahomean coast, and declared a protectorate over Porto Novo in
1863 and Cotonou in 1868. She also held a naval station at Gabon
where she founded a settlement of liberated Africans at Libreville.
This was the position before 1880.
French Attitude towards her settlements: Apart from the period
of Faidherbe in the Senegal (1854-65), France did not show much
enthusiasm in colonial expansion in West Africa in the 19th
century until after 1879. The reason for this was that France could
not achieve political stability before 1879 as a result of the
aftermath of the French Revolution. Her post-revolution
governments could not secure consistent support for a policy
favouring colonial expansion. The brief enthusiasm which
Faidherbes activities in the Senegal inspired faded out following
the disastrous defeat of France by Germany in the 1870-71 war.
The period 1870-79 was one of great uncertainty and Frances
main pre-occupation during this decade was the recovery of
Alsace-Lorraine lost during the Franco-German war and colonial
expansion was out of the question until 1879 when colonial
conflicts came to appear as an aspect of European rivalries.

Other Nations on the West Coast before 1880

Portugal: She possessed a settlement in Portuguese Guinea with
its capital Bissau.

Spain: She held the island of Fernando Po.

Germany: She had not developed colonial ambitions in West
Africa before 1880. In fact, Bismarck was opposed to colonial
possessions in Africa until 1884 when he reluctantly yielded to
pro-colonial pressure groups.
This was the situation in West Africa on the eve of the scramble.
Britain and France which had each a number of settlements or
colonies along the coast were as yet unwilling to undertake
colonial expansion in West Africa. Thus by 1880, large parts of
West Africa still remained sovereign under African rulers.

Between 1880 and 1900 however, all West Africa with the
exception of Liberia had been shared among European powers.
We shall now look at the causes which precipitated the scramble
for and partition of West Africa during these two decades of the
19th century. But before this, let us see what delayed the scramble
till 1880.


Although the dating of the beginning of the real scramble for
territories in Africa has been a controversial issue among
historians, it is now generally accepted by many authorities that
the movement did not begin seriously on a large scale until about
1880. In fact, is now popularly accepted as marking the beginning
of the scramble. One reason for this was that France, one of the
major actors in the scramble drama, did not achieve political
stability until 1879. France was troubled with revolutions in 1830,
1848 and with the Franco-German war in 1870-71. But in 1879,
the monarchists were ousted from power by the Republicans who
favoured imperial expansion. Jules Ferry the, great French
imperialist was appointed Prime Minister. In that year 1879, he
despatched the explorer Savorgnan de Brazza to secure the north
bank of the- Congo for France in order to counter the activities of
King Leopold of Belgium in the Congo. This race for territories in
the Congo by the two powers together with its international effects
sparked off the scramble.
Several other factors contributed in delaying the scramble until
this time. Tropical diseases and climate took a heavy toll of
European lives until 1857 when quinine began to be used as
protection against malaria. Again, Europeans had other areas
which appeared richer and more attractive than West Africa. For
instance, Britain was busy colonising Australia and New Zealand
and expanding West of Canada. She was also pre-occupied with
Indian questions after the 1857 mutiny.
Other European nations were absorbed with domestic problems
which precluded all thoughts of colonial activity. For example,
Germany and Italy did not become unified nations until 1870.

Thus by 1880, the political contour of Europe had changed. Strong

nations had emerged and the events in the Congo had set the stage
for the scramble drama.


As we noted above, the last twenty years of the 19th century
(1880-1900) saw the independent states of West Africa (with the
exception of Liberia) pass under European colonial rule. This was
the outcome of the scramble for territories in Africa by European
nations during this period. The motives behind the European
scramble for colonies in Africa are complex. However, they can be
traced Uneconomic, social, and political factors prevailing in
Europe at the time.

Economic Factors
The first major economic factor was the Industrial Revolution in
Europe. It influenced the scramble because it created the need for
new markets for the sale of surplus manufactured goods and for
the purchase of raw materials. Indeed as the Industrial Revolution
spread from (England to France, Germany, Russia and later Italy
during the second half of the 19th century; each country began to
produce more goods than she needed locally. The need therefore
arose for new markets for the disposal of the surplus goods. The
possession of colonies in Africa seemed to offer a solution to the
Similarly, the competition for raw materials for their industries
intensified the scramble for African colonies to serve as sources of
supply. Englands pre-eminent position in industry seemed to
confirm the need for the possession of African markets, for other
European powers notably France and Germany felt that England
owed her industrial supremacy to her control of the external trade
of her African settlements.
The Industrial Revolution also influenced the scramble in another
way by creating the need for the investment of surplus capital.
As the Industrial Revolution led to the accumulation" of much
profit in these European countries, the need arose for new areas
where the surplus capital could be more profitably invested. The
possession of colonies in Africa seemed to offer opportunities for
investment, hence the scramble.
The influence of the Industrial Revolution upon the scramble is
evident in the words of Jules Ferry the French Prime Minister
(1879-1883) who said/Colonial policy is the daughter of
industrial policy. European consumption is saturated; it is
necessary to. raise new masses of consumers in other parts of the
globe, else we shall put modem society into bankruptcy and
prepare for the dawn of the 20th century a cataclysmic social
liquidation of which one cannot calculate the consequences.
Again, he said, Colonies are for rich countries one of the most
lucrative methods of investing capital. J. A. Hobson in his book
Imperialism published in 1902 maintained that the objective of
imperial expansion is commercial profit.
A second economic factor that influenced the scramble was
pressure from European merchants and trading companies in West
Africa upon their home governments to give them protection.
Such trading firms as the Liverpool merchants in the Oil Rivers,
the Royal Niger Company in the Niger territories, and the French
trading house of Regis on the coast of Dahomey often called upon
their home governments to give .them protection against hostile
African middlemen or the arbitrary, exactions of African chiefs,
and to provide peaceful conditions for trade by extending their
political control over African states.
Although, the Governments continued to resist this pressure from
mercantile interests for long because of financial considerations,
by the 1870s onwards, public opinion was adding weight to this
pressure and Governments could no longer continue to resist
especially when men like Britains Palmerston had declared, It is
the business of Government to open and secure the roads for the
merchant. In Germany, it was the German Colonial Society
(founded in' 1884 by mercantile interests) that brought pressure
upon Bismarck to join the race for colonies in Africa.
A third economic factor .was the prospect for the discovery of
large mineral deposits in West Africa. This quest for minerals
owed its origin to the discovery in 1886 of the largest gold
deposits in the world in the Rand in South Africa. Thereupon,
rumours went afloat of large deposits of copper in Katanga and
other minerals in various parts of Africa. So there was a race by
European nations to carve out territories for themselves in Africa
in order to control the undiscovered mineral wealth of such

Political Factors
Some have even argued that the political factors played a more
important role in precipitating the scramble than the economic
One of these political factors was the influence which
contemporary European rivalries had on the scramble. Surely, the
competition for African territories among European powers
between 1880 and 1900 was to some extent an extension of their
international rivalry and struggle for power and supremacy in
France had lost Alsace-Lorraine to Germany in the Franco-
German war of 1870-71. After achieving political stability in
1879, France under Jules Ferry began to look upon Africa for
colonies to .substitute her losses in Europe.
Germany was at first not keen on colonisation of African
territories. Later however, she joined the scramble because her
nationals did not want to be left out in the race for colonies. So in
1884 Bismarck declared protectorates over Togoland and
Britain had before 1880 been content in creating spheres of
influence on the West Coast. She joined the scramble for reasons
of prestige because she felt that French and German activities
were a threat and a challenge to her dominant position on the West
Coast. In the Niger territories for instance, the French tried to sign
a treaty with Bonny; the Germans attempted to secure a treaty
with,-the Sultan of Sokoto and Emir of Gwandu; and in 1885,
Germany actually declared a protectorate over Mahim Beach near
Lagos. Although, these threats were forestalled, they had the effect
of whipping reluctant Britain into action, hence the rush for
treaties with African rulers by her Consuls and traders during this
A second political factor was King Leopolds occupation of the
Congo. It is generally believed that King Leopold II of Belgium
sparked off the scramble by his activities in the Congo. In 1879,
he had sent out the explorer Stanley to prepare the wav for his
occupation of the Congo by concluding treaties with the rulers.
Says A. J- Hanna, Manoeuvring carefully behind a screen of
philanthropy, internationalism, and desire to promote scientific
discovery, he made his way, step by step. from the information of
the African International Association in 1876 to the proclamation
of The Independent State of the Congo, with himself as
Sovereign in 1885 it was to counter Leopolds activities in the
Congo and protect French interests in the Gabon that Jules Ferry
despatched de Brazza in the same year (1879) to secure by treaties
with African rulers the north bank of the Congo for France. The
scramble thus, began with the arrival of Stanley and de Brazza in
the Congo in 1879.
The activities of these two powers had international repercussions
for they alarmed Britain and Portugal, the latter having had
hitherto an exclusive influence over the Lower Congo. To forestall
Leopold and France, Britain recognised Portugals claim to the
region, and sent Hewett to declare a protectorate over the lower
Niger districts.
A third political factor similar to the above, namely, the, British
occupation of Egypt in 1882 also helped to speed up the scramble
even in West Africa. Up till 1882, Egypt had been under the
French sphere of influence. The motives behind the British
occupation cannot be discussed here, but suffice it to say that her
action had the effect of annoying France into trying to strike a
blow at Britain in Egypt by linking up her colonies of Senegal in
the west, Somaliland in the east,, and Algeria and Tunisia in the
north. This, they hoped, would give them the control of the upper
Nile to the discomfiture of Britain in the lower Nile in Egypt. This
explains the speed with which the French occupied the Sudan and
central Africa during this period.
The Berlin West African Conference of 1884-5 was a fourth
-Political factor that influenced the scramble. By giving legal
recognition to the European occupation of territories in West
Africa, and by laying down the conditions for such occupation 11
encouraged the scramble and partition of West Africa. It did
Create the feeling among the European powers particularly Britain
France that speed was necessary in the scramble. We shall say
more about this Conference later in this Chapter.
Finally, the growth of nationalism in Europe was a political factor
that influenced the scramble. The second half of the 19th century
saw European nationalism at its peak just as the second half of the
20th century saw the apogee of African nationalism. One way by
which this intense national feeling expressed itself was the urge
for imperial acquisitions. The possession of colonies overseas
became a matter of prestige for European powers and of great
honour to their nationals who helped in acquiring such colonies. In
the words of a French national in 1882, Colonisation is for France
a question of life and death; either France will become a great
African power or she will be no more than a secondary European
power. National prestige and economic interests were the driving
force responsible for the imperial activities of men like Goldie.
Lueard. Harry Johnston of Britain, Nachtigal and Dr. Kaarl Peters
of Germany. Biere,delIsle and J. S. Gallieni of France.

Social Factors
The scramble was not motivated by the desire for economic and
political gain only. There were many people in Europe who
supported the scramble and partition of Africa for purely
humanitarian reasons. The fact was that the reports of explorers
and missionaries had aroused a new interest in the continent of
Africa. -Many humanitarian-minded people therefore urged their
Governments to colonise parts of Africa so that the internal slave
trade could finally be wiped out there and-the material and
spiritual benefits of European civilisation extended to African
Secondly, social conditions in Europe resulting from the growth of
the Industrial Revolution played some part in the race for colonies.
-The Industrial Revolution had produced a situation in which
many people became unemployed. For as more and more
machines were invented and put into use, more and more workers
were displaced in industry. By the 1870s, there were over a
million paupers in Britain alone. The situation was even worse in
France, Germany and Italy. It was partly to solve this problem of
mass unemployment that me acquisition of colonies for settling
the surplus population was embarked upon. We find such
settlements in South, Central, East and North Africa by various
European powers, but thanks to the mosquito with its deadly
malaria fever, West Africa was spared the scourge of similar
European settlements.
Finally, some racial theories prevailing in Europe at this time did
have some effect on the scramble and partition. The theory that
Europeans were superior to all other races especially Africans and
so had a divine mission to rule them was propounded by many
'European writers. Although this was an absurd theory with no
basis m truth, it did fire the zeal of many European empire-
builders in Africa.


As we have already seen, by 1884, Britain, France, Germany and
Leopold of Belgium were seriously competing for colonies in
But by far, the most explosive issue that arose from the scramble
was the rivalry over the Congo. Portugals claim over the Congo
supported by Britain was opposed by Leopold and France. Fearing
that the rivalry might degenerate into war, Bismarck summoned a
conference in Berlin of the Powers concerned with the scramble to
discuss their claims to African territories and to reach agreement
on a peaceful way' of partitioning the continent among
themselves. Since rivalry over the Congo and the Niger territories
dominated the Conference, it is often called the Berlin West
African Conference. It sat from November 15, January 30,
The chief powers at the Conference were France, Britain,
Germany, Portugal, and King Leopold of Belgium representing his
International African Association for the Congo. It should be noted
that there were no African representatives at a Conference that was
to decide the fate of Africans.

Decisions of the Conference

The Conference decided among other things:
(i) that any power claiming territories on any part -of the African
coast-line should formerly notify the other powers taking part in
the Conference;
(ii) that any such claims to territories must be backed by effective
occupation, that is, by the establishment of an effective degree of
authority or administration in the area concerned before such
claims could be recognised as valid;
(iii) that there should be freedom of trade in the Congo basin and
freedom of navigation for the peoples of all nations on the, Niger
and Congo rivers; (iv) and that free access into the interior of
Africa by traders, missionaries and other agents of all countries
should be guaranteed by the occupying powers so that the slave
trade would be finally eradicated and the material and moral
benefits of European civilisation extended to Africans.
On the 26th February 1885 the Act containing these decisions was
signed by the participating powers. It should be noted therefore
that the Conference did not partition Africa. It only laid down
general rules to govern the acquisition of new territories.
Territorial questions were not dealt with at the Conference but
settled in a series of bilateral agreements extending over many
An Appraisal of the Conference
The so-called Berlin West African Conference was a failure in
many respects, hence it has been referred to by someone as a
memorably absurd gathering.
First, its decision on effective occupation did not help much in
solving the problem of the partition. It referred only to the coast
line, most of which had already been occupied by one European
power or the other. By excluding the interior from this decision,
the Conference created a possible cause of war, which it set out to
prevent. It was found necessary to supplement "this decision by
another Conference at Brussels in 1890 where it was stipulated
that effective occupation should be applied both to the interior of
Africa as well as the coast.
Secondly, even though the Conference declared navigation and
trade on the Niger and Congo free to all nations, no practical steps
were taken to enforce this decision. The result was that "Leopold
and Goldie established monopolies on the Congo and Niger
respectively, thus keeping out traders from rival nations.
Thirdly, the signatories to the Act took no practical step to see that
freedom of access to the interior was realised. In actual fact, most
of the powers restricted this freedom to their nationals.
But it would be wrong to dismiss the Conference only as an
absurd gathering which achieved nothing. In fact, the Conference
made some valuable contributions to the way in which the
partition was carried out. First, the Conference, as pointed out
above, had the effect of speeding up the partition. It prepared the
way for the newcomers to the African scene (Germany, Leopold
and Italy) by its theory of effective occupation, and so created the
feeling among the powers that speed was essential for success in
the scramble.
Again, as a result of the effective occupation theory, European
powers began to establish administrations either directly or
indirectly through Chartered Companies in their respective
territories. Thus the era of vague spheres of influence created by
Britain and France along the coast came to an 6nd.
Furthermore, the Conference confirmed the claims of Leopolds
International African Association over the Congo which was
accorded international recognition as the Congo Free State.
Above all, the Conference ensured that their rivalries
notwithstanding' the partitioning of Africa by European powers
was carried out without open conflict. Indeed, in no other sphere
of activity had the European powers co-operated so effectively
among themselves as in their occupation of Africa. This co-
operation ensured that no European power allied with an African
state against another European power.


The partition of West Africa by European powers had certain
outstanding features which deserve note. One of these features
was that the, scramble in West Africa was dominated by France
and Britain. The rivalry between these two powers began in the
1870s when prospects of interior trade brightened and was
intensified during the scramble from 1879. The entrance of
Germany on the African scene in 1884 altered the situation to
what looked like a three-cornered fight. But since Germany made
no more territorial claims after her seizure of Togoland and the
Cameroons, the struggle reverted to what it was before. It should
be noted that Portugal clung to her small enclave of Portuguese
Guinea and made no serious efforts to expand in West Africa
during the Gamble.
Another feature lay in the area of West Africa occupied by the
partitioning powers. France acquired the largest area (about
1,800,000 square miles) which came to be known as French West
Africa. It comprised modem Senegal, Mali, Upper Volta, Guinea,
the Ivory Coast, Dahomey, Niger and Mauritania. Much of this
territory lay in the Sudan which was one continuous block joining
the coast through the coastal colonies. Britain came second with
an area of about 480,000 square miles consisting of the Gambia,
Sierra Leone, Gold Coast and Nigeria. Unlike France, her
territories were not one continuous block, but made up of areas
separated from each other by intervening French colonies.
Germany came third with Togoland (33,000 square miles) while
Portugals Guinea was only 14,000 square miles.
In terms of material wealth and resources, the British gained more
than the French. Whereas most of the French territories lay in the
arid wastes of the sub-Saharan Sudan, most of the British colonies
were located in the rich tropical forest. Moreover, all British West
African colonies lay along the important rivers which made access
to the interior easy. Regretting the nature of the French colonies,
an elderly French economist remarked, We want annexations,
and we care only for their size, not troubling about their quality.
A third feature has to do with the method by which these
territories were acquired. The powers involved in the scramble
acquired their territories by treaty or by conquest. Some based
their claims to African territory on treaties with African rulers.
Most of these treaties were fake and their contents were hardly
understood by African rulers who did not realise that they were
signing away their sovereignty. Bribery, persuasion and
intimidation were used to obtain such treaties. Britain applied both
methods of treaty and conquest in Nigeria and Ghana but the
French acquired most of their territories by conquest.
A fourth but very important feature was that no consideration was
given to African interests and feelings during the scramble. In the
boundary negotiations between European powers, Africans were
never consulted. The result was that the new political boundaries
cut across old tribal and political boundaries without regard to
ethnic groupings. For instance, the Nigeria-Dahomey boundary
split the Yoruba into .two, while the Ewes were split between
British Gold Coast (Ghana) and German Togoland.
Finally, following their policy of divide and rule' none of the
imperial powers ever established a colony large In area and
population, to become a. strong and powerful state as the British
had done in India, Australia and Canada. The result is that today
West Africa is broken up into small inconsequential states whose
individual influence on world affairs is very little.


The point is sometimes made by some colonialist historians that
many African peoples saw the European occupation of their
territories as a welcome relief from the oppressive rule of their
African chiefs. But the true story of African resistance to the
partition belies this view. For, when the full significance of the
European advance dawned on African rulers, they rallied up their
people and resisted with a tenacity that delayed the progress of the
advance for many years. Among West African rulers who played
notable roles in this resistance, such names stand out: Samori
Toure, Ahmadu (Ahmad) of Segu, Behanzin of Dahomey,
Prempeh I of Asante, Lat-Dior of Cayor, Jaja of Opobo and Nana
the Itsekiri chief. Let us examine the nature of the resistance put
up by some of these patriots. We have already seen in some detail
the role of Samori Toure in Chapter 3.

King Jaja of Opobo

He was perhaps the most fascinating figure of the West African
coastal belt in the 19th century. Born at Amaigbo in Orlu Division
of the East Central state of Nigeria about 1821, Jaja was sold to a
Bonny chief as a slave. In a society where the achievement of
social distinction depended upon success in trade rather than birth,
Jaja rose to become about 1863 the head of the Anne Pepple
House of Bonny.
Soon, intense rivalry developed between Jajas House and that led
by Oko Jumbo, and eventually culminated in civil war in 1869.
Following this, Jaja and his supporters withdrew from Bonny and
founded Opobo from where he controlled the better part of the oil
markets in the hinterland. Through sheer force of his own
personality and rare business acumen, he became the wealthiest
African trader in the Oil Rivers. In a treaty dated 4th January Jaja
was recognised by the British Government as King of Opobo.
Although Jajas spectacular rise from a slave boy to a king
impresses us much, yet it is his unrelenting struggles to preserve
his sovereignty and the integrity of his dominion against
encroachments by British traders and imperialists that impresses
us more. As we have noted, the 1880s was the period when the
European scramble for African territories was in full swing and
treaty-making with African rulers was one of the means for their
acquisition of territory.
In the first place, Jaja fought to preserve his kingdom and
sovereignty by refusing to sign any treaty of protection and
demanded to know first the full meaning of protection'. He
wanted to be assured that protection would not imply his loss of
the government of his territory. Jaja alone of all the coastal
chiefs, asked for a full explanation of what was meant by,
protection.J. C. Anene: Eminent Nigerians, of the 19th-
Again, Jaja struggled to preserve for himself the monopoly of the
trade in the districts around Opobo as the Royal Niger Company
had done for itself in the Lower Niger. In the treaty; With Britain
in 1884, he insisted that the article providing for fee trade should
be removed. It was again he alone of all the coastal chiefs that
made and was granted this demand.
But Jajas powerful position could not remain long unassaulted in
the face of fast advancing British imperialism in the Niger
districts. From 1885 when British declared a protectorate over
the Oil Rivers, steps were taken to break down Jajas opposition to
British incursions into the hinterland markets. To achieve their
objective, the British traders and the Acting Consul Harry
Johnston employed character assassination, perfidy and treachery.
Jaja was accused of making moves to sell his country to the
French of terrorizing the natives of the hinterland. But these were
false accusations. Dr. Dike says that he had the goodwill of the
majority and was served by the best talents in Iboland.
In 1887, Johnston treacherously lured Jaja into a warship and
deported him to the West Indies in spite of the fact that he had
promised that he would not detain him against his wish. I pledge
you my word wrote Johnston to Jaja, that you will be free to
come and go. But Johnstons word of an Englishman was
shamelessly dishonoured.
From his exile, Jaja continued to appeal to the British Government
against his deportation. The demand for his return continued to
grow in Opobo. But when eventually he was allowed to return in
1891, he died on the voyage home undoubtedly at the hands of his
imperialists oppressors. His body was returned to Opobo where it
was buried. Like Samori and other African rulers of his age, he
was a victim of the scramble and partition.
Jajas career is of great significance in West African history. His
spectacular rise from slave boy to king; his great qualities and
success as an African ruler and merchant, and his dogged defence
of his sovereignty against European imperialism earn for him a
place of honour among West Africas heroes. Dr. Anene says we
should regard him as the first Nigerian nationalist of the 19th
century; No doubt, West African nationalists of the 20th century
have drawn inspiration from his opposition to European
imperialism in his own time.

Nana the Itsekiri

Unlike Jaja who rose from slave status Nana Olomu was bom of a
wealthy father. His father Olomu had been Governor of the Benin
river from 1879 to 1883 and a successful merchant. Bom about
1852, Naha succeeded his father as Governor in 1884 and rose to
be the last and one of the greatest and most powerful of the 19th
century traders of the Niger Delta.
On what did Nanas greatness and power lie? Like Jaja, he had a
wonderful organising ability as was evidenced by the way he
organised his trading empire in the Benin river area. The result of
this rare talent was the acquisition of immense wealth and power.
It is on record that when his town Ebrohimi was captured by the
British in 1894, various trade goods found in his store fetched
6,700 when sold. The town was very strongly fortified and
defended with 106 cannon, a machine gun, and over 2000 other
types of guns together with a large stock of ammunition for these
guns. He also had a fleet of 100 war-canoes and over 200 trade
canoes. It was this power that gave him virtual monopoly of the
trade of the Ethiope and Warri river areas.
Nana was also a successful Governor of the Benin river. As
Governor, he maintained law and order in the River and protected
European traders. For instance, he stopped Ijaw piracy and put an
end to the raiding of European factories in the area. Again, he
opened and developed new markets m the interior to the benefit of
the people living far away from the sea.
Why then, in spite of all this, did Nana fall out with the inceptive
British administration? The fact was that Nana, like Jaja, was a
victim of the European scramble for African territories and so the
clash between him and the British in the Bight of Benin was
inevitable. Nana had created an extensive market empire and
established a monopoly of all the trade of his markets. This
monopoly was irksome to the British traders and Consuls in the
area. Excuses had to be found for exiling Nana. He was therefore
accused of terrorizing the neighbourhood, engaging in slave trade
and of enforcing a trade monopoly in opposition to the British,
administrations declared policy of free trade. And Nana, had
signed a treaty in 1884 accepting British protection of his territory.
These accusations should be viewed with caution as they come
from an interested party British merchants and officials. Nana, it
has been said was a just man and did not organise terrorist
activities in the interior. He was a trader who valued the goodwill
of his customers and would hardly engage in activities which
would antagonise them. Obaro Ikime says that Urhobo elders
claim that Nana was by far the best customer among the Itsekiri.
Similarly, the slave trade accusation was exaggerated and
distorted. Nana, like all Itsekiri traders kept slaves because slaves
were necessary in Itsekiri economy of the 19th century and they
made no secret of it. As regards his breaking the treaty of 1884, by
his monopoly of the Benin river trade, it must be pointed out that
Nana had promptly rejected the free trade clause of that treaty.
And, as Peter Lloyd points out, he maintained a monopoly of all
trade at all markets established by himself.
However, the British had to remove Nana because, like Jaja before
him, his position and power gave him an influence over the area
which threatened to make British penetration difficult.
So, on September 25, 1894, his town Ebrohimi was stormed and
captured. Nana after a brave resistance, escaped but surrendered
himself to the British in Lagos. He was tried, found guilty on all
counts, and exiled first to Calabar and later to Accra. In 1906, he
was allowed to return to the Benin River where he founded
another town which he named America perhaps to spite Britain.
He lived here until his death in 1916.
Nana undoubtedly has an honourable place in West African
history. His claim to historical greatness rests firstly on his
inimitable organising ability which was responsible for his success
as an African businessman. Secondly, it rests also on his personal
qualities. He has been described even by British officials as
astute, energetic and intelligent, and by elderly Itsekiri people as
a kind and just man The fact that when he returned in 1906, his
people welcomed him with great jubilation and many of his ex-
slaves went back to him testifies to his excellent qualities.
The British , traders too acknowledged his great qualities as a
leader of his people. After his exile, the trade of the Benin river
collapsed and. chaos returned'. British traders had to appeal for his
immediate return. .Above all, Nanas heroic resistance to British
imperialism makes him a great African patriot. Obaro Ikime says,
he must take his place among African patriots of the 19th

Wars of Resistance in the Ivory Coast

The unprecedented resistance of the people of the Ivory Coast to
French imperial advance is of special interest and significance
because of its widespread nature, its intensity and long duration
(1891-1918). In its duration and strength, it can be likened to that
of Samori.
One of the reasons for this memorable resistance was French
dishonour for treaties with-African rulers during the partition. In
the treaties of protection, the French, like the British, had
promised not to interfere in native affairs especially with
succession to the chieftaincies. But in their hid to introduce direct
French rule by eliminating African chiefs, the French aroused
bitter resentment among the African populations.
Secondly, the French antagonised the people by their demand
African stave labour seizing tribal lands for railway construction
plantations, and by imposing poll tax on them in 1900. Thirdly, the
recruitment of the people tor military service in Europe from 1916
during World War I renewed and stiffened the resistance.
That this resistance was successful is evidenced by the fact that it
lasted for 27 years during which period French occupation of the
Ivory Coast was delayed. In fact, so successful was this resistance
that by 1908, the French had been forced to abandon the interior
and were only precariously clinging to a small strip of the coast.
One reason for the success of this mass resistance was that small
states of the Ivorv Coast did not engage in pitched battles with the
French armies. They adopted the guerilla strategy of hit and run.
This, together with the forested nature of the country rendered
French firepower ineffective.
Again, the resistance was wide-spread. While the French were
dealing with a section of the country and trying to gain control,
other sections renewed the struggle, and this .made it difficult for
them to subjugate the whole country as early as they 'would: have
Eventually however, the resistance collapsed finally in 1918 in the
face of superior military might and ruthless military occupation of
the country. French success was however, mainly due to the
annihilation of African chiefs and leaders, destruction of African
village communities and disarming of African peoples. By 1915,
the French had seized as many as 100,000 guns.
The results of these prolonged wars revealed the worst aspect f
European imperialism in Africa. First, by the time the wars ended
in 1918, nearly the whole African leadership class con-sisting of
chiefs and priests had been eliminated by death or deportation. In
addition to this, the population was greatly decimated as hundreds
of villages were destroyed and the survivors herded into
settlements where they lived under the most intolerable conditions
under inhuman French army guards. Imagine what happened when
people formerly living in 247 villages were crowded to seventeen
hurriedly improvised settlements!
The significance of this resistance is important in West African
history especially as it was a mass effort to preserve African
independence. Even though the French won in the end, they did
not win the peoples heart. This mass resistance was only driven
underground to erupt again in the 20th century in the form of
African nationalism which finally dealt the death-blow to French
imperialism in the Ivory Coast.


Political, military and economic factors combined to ensure the
success of European occupation and control of West African states
in the age of partition.

Political Factors
One political factor which contributed to their success was
European diplomacy which showed itself in the treaty-method -of
acquiring African territories. By means of treaties, African rulers
were made to place their states under the protection of one
European power or the other. But most of the rulers were illiterate
and hardly understood the contents of the papers upon which they
put their thumb-prints, more especially as these treaties were often
written in the language of the protecting powers. African rulers
soon learnt to their regret that they had in those treaties signed
away their sovereignty to the so-called protecting powers, for
these treaties were often used by the latter as a pretext for
deposing African monarchs who opposed their imperialist designs
and establishing European control.. This is evident in the cases of
Jaja of Opobo, Nana the Itsekiri chief and Prempeh I of Ghana to
name just a few.
Again, contemporary political situation in most African states
were exploited by European powers to establish their control.
Disputes over succession to the chieftaincy which were common;
resentment of conquered peoples against their African overlords;
and wars between African states were exploited by colonial
powers to interfere in the affairs of those states, and eventually to
establish their control over them. For instance where there was a
disputed succession, a rival candidate did not scruple to invite
European assistance to achieve his end. European officials often
used opportunities to place on the throne a candidate of their
choice who became their puppet. The French did this in Dahomey
and the British in Nupe in Nigeria. Again, the subject peoples of
Ahmads Tukolor empire and Samoris Mandinka empire, went
into alliance with the French invaders against their imperialist
overlords. Similarly, where there was inter-state way, one group
sought European alliance if only to gain ascendancy. In Nigeria,
Ibadan allied with the British against Ijebu with which she was at
war. In the Gold Coast, the Fante allied with the British against
Asante their traditional enemy.
Another political factor was absence of the spirit of nationalism in
most contemporary African states. If this spirit had been
developed, the peoples of most West African states would have
risen like one man in defence of their states as could be seen in the
strong and prolonged resistance of the people of Ivory Coast,
Dahomey and Asante which had come close to the development of
the spirit of incipient nationalism. Apart from these, the peoples of
most West African states were still individualistic in their attitude
towards their states interests and therefore could not easily unite
for organised and long resistance. It is not surprising therefore that
once they were assured of their personal freedom by the
occupying European power, they gave up fighting in defence of
their states. Similarly, West African peoples of the 19th century
lacked the feeling of a common race which could have generated
inter-state alliances against the European invaders. In contrast to
this, the European invaders from different nations regarded
themselves as a people of one race, and this realisation prevented
their scramble for African territories from developing into wars
between them.

Military Factors
These played the most crucial role in the European success.
First, African states were in general militarily weak Their armies
were no match to the well-trained, disciplined and better-armed
colonial armies. It is significant that Samori with 4000 men could
hardly resist the French general Desbordes with only 250 men
equipped with repeater rifles and machine-guns. The machinegun
(Maxim or Gatling) inspired such fear of and respect for
Europeans that many African peoples submitted without much
resistance. Military weakness of West African, states therefore...
gave the European mvaderTremendous advantage.
" Military weakness of West African states was "aggravated by
another factor lack of natural defensive barriers such as mountains
and deserts which could have been of immense advantage in a war
of resistance. For most parts of West Africa lie in the savannah
belt which presented no difficulties to the movement of the
invading European troops. In the south, the 'forest belt offered
little protection to the people who were poorly armed and were
easily over-awed in their forest hideouts with the sounds of rifles
and machine-guns, and so submitted.
Economic Factors
These added to the military weakness. Most West African states
were in the 19th century and still are dependent upon an
agricultural economy. They therefore lacked the necessary
resources to finance a total war. .In this regard, they could not
compete-with the industrialized nations of Europe which
manufactured their-own arms and ammunitions, while African
states depended upon export of agricultural produce or slaves for
the purchase of their own arms needs.' It is not surprising that in
the age of partition, European governments strictly restricted the
importation of arms into West Africa to prevent such arms being
used against them.
Moreover, most West African states were small in size and
population in comparison with their European counterparts and
therefore had not adequate manpower resources to resist European
advance for long. The majority of the citizens were farmers and
any attempt to draft "a large proportion of the male population into
the army naturally led to famine.


We have seen that by 1900, the whole of West Africa, with the
exception of the independent republic of Liberia had come under
the rule of the various European nations which took part in its
partition. The division has remained exactly as it was in 1900 with
this important difference. After World War I (1814-18), the
German colonies of Togoland and Cameroons were divided
between France and Britain.
The partition of West Africa was a most momentous episode in its
history, and no doubt, it has had far-reaching political, social and
economic results on the lives of the peoples. While in many
respects, the peoples of West Africa were adversely affected by the
partition, in some respects too, it has proved to be a blessing in
disguise. We shall examine both aspects of the results. ''

Bad Results of the Partition

Political: The partition definitely altered the course of the political
history of West Africa. It brought to an end (though for a time) the
long period of independence of West African states and. replaced
it with European foreign rule. This imposition of foreign rule was
so humiliating and irksome to West African peoples that it was
successfully resisted and overthrown by their nationalists in this
20th century.
In. many areas, European occupation was .accompanied by the
elimination .of African rulers and leaders by death or deportation
or their replacement with stooges, who tried to co-operate with the
occupying power. A typical example was in the Ivory Coast where
African chiefs were most thoroughly annihilated than in any other
part of West Africa by the French. In Benin, Oba Ovonramwen
was deported and died in exile, and the British left the throne
vacant and made no effort to recreate the Bini Political system. In
Sokoto, the Sultan was forced to flee and later killed in battle. The
imperialists rather preferred to rule directly through willing
African agents. The net result of this Interference in the internal
affairs of West African states was the real down of tribal authority
as the chiefs lost their power over their people. This in turn
resulted in the breakdown of law and order which the imperialists
were forced to restore by more killings people in the name of
Worse still, the partitioning powers ignored ethnic groupings
while carving up West Africa among themselves. The result was
that peoples with the same ancestory were divided into two re
states under different European governments. Examples are the
Ewes who were split between German Togoland and British Gold
Coast; the Yorubas who, were divided between French Dahomey
and British Nigeria; and the Mossi and Dagomba of Ghana who
were cut off from their related groups in the French territory. And
when imperial boundaries solidified in the 20th century,
neighbouring Africans with virtually identical cultural traditions
now found themselves subject to different laws, learning different
languages and different doctrines in schools, using new transport
routes which carried them towards different ports and capital
cities. (Hargreaves: Prelude to the Partition of West Africa, p.
349). These divisions keenly dissatisfied Africans.
Social: The social evils resulting from the partition were no less
serious. Atrocities committed upon the African population during
the period of conquest definitely disorganised African social life
and led to depopulation in many areas. This was particularly the
case in French territories where resistance was stiff and long and
the French colonial army ruthless on African peoples; Already, we
have noted how several villages were wiped out in the-Ivory
Coast. In the Congo which-is outside West. Africa, the cruelty and
bad government of Leopold reduced the population from 20
million to 10 million in just over-twenty years.
Again, the superiority of European weapons of warfare such as the
Maxim-gun inspired Africans with profound respect for the
European and all he stood for. The result was that Africans
developed an inferiority complex and began to copy blindly
European culture and ways of life, and to despise African
traditions and customs. Thus a great deal of what was good in
African culture such as respect for truth and honesty, and respect
for tribal law and customs were superseded by the bad aspects of
European character.
Economic: .Most important of all were the economic injustices
and cruelties meted out to the African population by the
imperialist powers. First, they regarded their colonies as
possessions to be used mainly for the economic benefit of the
powers that owned them. This led to the ruthless exploitation of
African labour, lands and other .resources for the benefit of the
imperial powers. In some French territories, the lands of the
natives were seized and African slave labour was used to develop
them. This looked like a renewal of the European trans-atlantic
slave trade in another form. Commenting on this result of the
partition, a Lagos editor wrote in 1891, a forcible possession of
our land has taken the place of a forcible possession of our
Furthermore, in many parts of West Africa, the colonial armies
carried out a systematic destruction of chiefs palaces and whole
villages and towns. A lot of very valuable property was destroyed
and Africans were impoverished. But the worst economic injustice
was the looting of invaluable African works of art. For instance,
when the British army captured Benin in 1897, they looted about
2,500 bronze plaques and ornaments from the Obas palace. Many
of these famous treasures are now scattered throughout the
museums of the world. When it is remembered that five of these
Benin art works fetched 2,899 in a sale of African art in London
(1957-59) and that an ivory mask was sold to Nelson A.
Rockfeller in 1958 for 20,000, then the enormous wealth thus
lost to Africa can be assessed. ,

Good Results of the Partition

Yet the significance-of the partition in terms of its good results on
West Africa should not be under-estimated.

Political: In a political sense, the partition did immense good to

West Africa.
First, the occupation of West Africa by the European powers
helped in bringing to an end the era of tribal wars, of fear and
insecurity which had plagued many communities for long. Thus,
after the chaos and ^confusion that immediately followed the
scramble as a result of the vacuum created by the elimination of
African rulers, peace and political stability returned as European
rule gained ground. For many, it was indeed the beginning of a
new lease of happy life.
Secondly, many African tribes that had long remained separate and
hostile to one another were brought together under one
government by the colonial powers. Nigeria and Ghana are typical
examples. The inhabitants of these new states were made to adapt
the European idea of the state. In this way the modern states of
West Africa are the products of the partition.

Social: From the social viewpoint, the partition has been very
beneficial to West Africa. First, it finally laid to rest the evil ghost
of the internal slave trade and slavery. In Nigeria, for instance,
when the British Government took over the administration of
Northern Nigeria from the Royal Niger Company in 1900, one of
the first laws it made for the protectorate was the Slave-dealing
Proclamation of 1901 which abolished the legal status of slavery,
prohibited slave-dealing and declared all children born after 1st
April 1901 to be free. In 1902, an expedition destroyed the Long
Juju of Aro Chukwu in Eastern Nigeria where slave-dealing was
still going on. In this way this evil practice which had for many
centuries laid waste large parts of West Africa was brought to an
Secondly, in the fields of health and education. West Africa has
gained enormously by European rule. Europeans have brought
scientific methods of healing and preventing diseases through the
establishment of hospitals and dispensaries, and through
inoculation and vaccination. Attention has been given to research
in tropical diseases. In 1896, the French established the Pasteur
Institute in Dakar while the British opened' schools for-Tropical
Medicine at Liverpool and London in 1899. Even though medical
facilities were grossly inadequate in all West African countries, the
foundations for future development had been laid. The greatest
contribution of the colonial powers was perhaps the introduction
of Western education into West Africa. It is needless repeating
here how West Africa has benefited from this Western education.
The adoption of French or English (the two main vehicles for the
spread of this education in West Africa) has helped West Africans
not only to communicate with other peoples of the world but also
with their fellow African peoples.
Thirdly, the establishment and development of towns or urban
communities was another contribution of the colonial powers in
the social sphere Such towns as Dakar, Abidjan, Accra and Port
Harcourt owe their origin to the partitioning powers, while such
traditional towns as Lagos, Kano, Kumasi and Wagadugu owe
their development to the activities of the colonial governments.
The impact of these urban centres upon the social, economic and
political life of West African states has been tremendous.

Economic: Economically, the partition has done enormous good

to West Africa in spite of European economic exploitation
mentioned above.
First, to facilitate the movement of their troops, officials and
traders goods, the colonial powers developed transport and
communication by building of railways, roads and ports. Between
1890 and 1926, the French and British had built long lines of
railways in their territories. Roads and harbours were being built
at the same time. By 1922, Ghana had 3,150 miles of motorable
roads. The role which these means of transport and
communication have played in the development of trade and in
opening up the countries to modem civilisation cannot be over-
Secondly, in the development of agriculture, the colonial powers,
perhaps for selfish economic reasons, have contributed immensely
by promoting the production of cash-crops such as groundnuts
palm oil and kernel, cotton, coffee, rubber, cocoa and so on. They
established schools for teaching improved methods of agriculture
and introduced new varieties of crops and animals. In these ways,
they stimulated interest in agriculture among their ' subjects.
Thirdly, the development of transport and promotion of agriculture
resulted in increased trade both internally and overseas-with
Europe and the world. In 19-51, Nigerias exports were worth
127,000,000 and her imports 83,200,000. By that year also, the
value of the export and import trade of French West Africa
combined was approximately 204,000,000. Surely, this meant
increased prosperity and higher standard of living for the peoples
of West Africa.
Fourthly, the development of mining industry West Africa by
the colonial governments has also led to increased prosperity.
Until about 1880, gold was the only mineral mined by Africans
and exported to Europe. With the advent of colonial rule, the
Mining of gold, iron, coal, manganese, bauxite and diamonds
began on a large scale. For instance, the value of Sierra Leones
mineral export rose from 252 in 1929 to 13.7 million in 1955,
while Ghanas gold export rose from 5.6 million in 1946 to 8.7
Million in 1950.
Finally, very important among the valuable economic changes
introduced by the colonial governments was the coin currency.
This replaced the barter system and cumbersome currency of iron
bars and cowries which had prevailed for long in West Africa. The
first silver coins were introduced by the British in their colonies
from 1886. In 1912, the West African Currency Board was set up
to supply currency to British West African colonies. In 1915, it
issued various denominations of coins and currency notes. Other
colonial powers followed suit. Then came the commercial banks
the Bank of British West Africa in the 1890s and the Colonial
Bank in 1917.
Yet, it must be pointed out that during the colonial era, the
colonial powers made no effort to establish secondary industries
for the local processing of agricultural products. 'So, West Africa
continued to be the market for the manufactured goods of Europe
and the producer of raw materials of Europes industries. Again,
there was no effort made by them to plough back some of the huge
profits they made into the economy of the colonies. Furthermore,
the mining industry has remained the exclusive monopoly of
European mining combines. Thus, it can be said that on the whole,
the colonial period was a period of economic exploitation of West
Africa, though West Africa gained somehow through this

From the foregoing, it is clear that West Africa lost a great deal as
well as gained much by the European partition and the subsequent
imposition of European rule upon its peoples. Whether West
Africa lost more than she gained or vice versa is an interesting
topic for debate.
Again, the partition pulled West Africa on to the stage of world
history. In its wake came new currents of thought and
technological skills. The question now is could West Africa, left to
herself, have assimilated these western influences without the
partition? Historians hold opposing views. Rooney and Halladay
in The Building of Modem Africa' say, It is certain that if Africa
had been left to herself, sooner or later, she would have
assimilated Western influence in a way suited to her own
particular genius. But in many respects, especially as far as the
political map of the continent is concerned, Africa would have
been very different today.

But A. J. Hanna in European Rule in Africa' says, Yet it is

virtually certain that conditions in Africa would still be roughly
what they were a century ago, had it not been for the introduction
of European administration, European instruction, and contact
with the European economy.
These opposing views should again be another theme for a lively
class debate or symposium. In the next chapter, we shall examine
the policies of the various colonial powers in practice in their
respective West African territories.

1. Write a brief note on the 1865 Select Committee. To what
extent did its recommendations reflect British attitude towards her
West African settlements before 1880?
2. Why do you think the year 1879 is now generally accepted as
marking the beginning of the real European scramble for West
African territories? ,
3. What were the major causes of the European, scramble for and-
partition of West Africa in the 19th century?
4. What do you understand by the Berlin West African
Conference? Give a brief assessment: of its achievements and
5. Describe the main features of the partition in West Africa.
6. Write notes on either (a) Jaja of Opobo or (b) Nana the Itsekiri,
and show his significance in West African history in the 19th
7. Discuss the Wars of Resistance in the Ivory Coast (1891 -1918).
8. Why were European powers able to establish their control over
the states of West Africa in the age of partition?
9. Give a concise assessment of the results of the partition on West
The imposition of European rule on West African states in the age
of partition was both a bane and a boon. Discuss.