A Revisitation Of The Emergent Forms And Stages Of Imperialism In Africa

By | July 24, 2014
Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Terhile Thaddeus Ityonzughul

Department of History

Benue State University Makurdi, Benue State




African and European imperialism has been a dominant theme of African History or Afro-European incursion in World History. This has been a dominant historical phenomenon in the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries in historical documentations. In this wise, the article delves into the challenge of reconstructing the concept of imperialism with particular reference to the continent of Africa. This is done with a view of ascertaining the forms of imperialism such as the pillage of Africa’s natural resources, trade and colonization. Under these stages, the work lays credence to the mercantile era, the colonial stage, neo-colonial stage, and globalization. The study reveals that in whatever form and at any stage of imperialism, the basic aim has been the exploitation of Africa. In this regard, the chapter concludes that in order to justify their claims of imperial activities in Africa, the European deploys different arguments to explain the causes of imperialism namely: economic arguments, humanitarian arguments, strategy, and moral grounds.




The greatest desire of most nations across the globe is to achieve national development and this they do virtually everything to ensure that this historic task is accomplished whether it takes a form of imperialism. The imperial activities of European nations in Africa have a long historical antecedent. As it is rightly referred to European expansion, it entails among other things, the phenomenal spread out of European nations, cultures, political and economic systems beyond the boundaries of Europe. This expansion was necessitated by some changes or developments in the national economies of these various European nations. Various parts of the world, especially Asia, Latin America, Africa, and a host of others experienced this wave of European expansion as dictated by  development in the economies of Europe, especially Great Britain, Portugal, Belgium, France Germany, Spain, to mention but a few. For instance, in Africa, it began with the pillage of Africa’s natural resources, trade and colonization (Ake, 1981). It should be noted that this European expansion has its roots in imperialism. In order to effectively understand the topic under review, the chapter conceptualized the core variable for easy comprehension.



Conceptual Analysis of the Key Issue

Imperialism is the core variable on which the analysis of this work will be anchored. The word imperialism derives from the French Word imperialiste, originally coined in 1830. It later became identified with British Colonialism (Bonn, 1937).Like virtually any other concept, imperialism lacks a precise, generally agreed upon definition. Hence, it has been subjected to various definitions by scholars of different background and persuasions. For example, Ake (1981) notes that Brown in his book  entitled The Economics of Imperialism defines imperialism as:

The outward derive of certain peoples…to build empires-both formal colonies and privileged positions in the markets, protected sources of materials and extended opportunities for the profitable employment of labour..(resulting from)…unequal economic relationships between states, not simply the inequality between large and small, rich and poor trading partners, but the inequality of political and economic dependence of the latter on the former.


In the words of Ake (1981) imperialism is the economic control and exploitation of foreign land arising from the necessity for counteracting the impediments to the accumulation of capital engendered by the contradictions of domestic capitalist economy. Sharing his view on the concept of imperialism (Chikendu 2004) cites Lager, saying:

Imperialism is the rule or control of political or economic, direct or indirect of one state, nation or people over other similar groups…the disposition, urge or striving to establish such rule or control.

This is a bourgeois view of the concept, bringing out just the common sense notion of imperialism without alluding to the dynamics of the phenomenon. Elucidating further (Hobson 1992) posits that imperialism is:

The endeavour of the great controllers of industry to broaden the channel for the flow of their surplus wealth by seeking foreign markets and foreign investments to take off the goods and capital they cannot sale or use at home.


This definition brings in the main propellant of imperialism namely, economic motive but fails to highlight the basic issue of economic inequality between the imperial master and his servant. It is on this premise that we shift our attention to Marxist scholars who focus mainly on the economic variables, which determine modern imperialism. Here fits in the definition by Lenin (1961) the Russian communist revolution leader who declares that:

Imperialism is capitalism in that stage of development in which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital has established itself, in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance, in which the division of all territories of the globe has been completed.


Although Lenin has been criticized as been motivated by the desire to justify some of his political programmes and activities than to present a balanced analysis of contemporary European expansion, his on the spot assessment of the activities and the technological economic happenings within Europe at that time made his definition a most widely accepted of modern imperialism, the apogee of our discussion.

To amplify the above, it becomes necessary to see modern imperialism as an unequal relationship (mostly by force) as a result of prevailing circumstance (mainly economic) between nations, people, groups or states, interim of socio-cultural, economic, and political domination of the weak by the strong.

Causes of Imperialism

In their modem form, arguments about the causes of imperialism can be classified into four groups. The first group contains economic arguments and often turns around the question of whether or not imperialism pays. Those who argue that it does, point to the human and material resources and the outlet for goods, investment capital, and surplus produce, provided by an empire. Their opponents, among them, Adam Smith, David Ricardo, J.A Hobson often admit that imperialism may benefit a small, favoured group but never the nation as a whole (Holsey, 1994). Marxist theoreticians interpret imperialism as a late stage of capitalism when the national capitalist economy has become monopolistic and is forced to conquer outlets for its over production and surplus capitalist state. This is the view held, for instance, by Vladimir Lenin and N.I Bukharin to whom capitalism and imperialism are identical. The weakness of the above view is that, it fails to explain pre-capitalist imperialism and communist imperialism.

A second group of argument relates imperialism to the nature of human beings and human groups, such as the state. Such different personalities as Machiavelli, Sir Francis Bacon, Ludwig Gumplowicz, Adolf Hitler, and Benito Mussolini, reasoning on different grounds, nevertheless arrived at a similar conclusion. Imperialism to them is part of the natural struggle for survival. Those endowed with superior qualities are destined to rule all others (Halsey 1994).

The third group of argument has to do with strategy and security. Proponents of this view point, say to obtain bases, strategic materials, buffer states, “natural” frontiers, control of prevent communication lines for reasons of security, or to prevent other states from obtaining them those who deny the value of imperialism for these purpose point out that security is not achieved (Halsey, 1994). Expansion of states’ control over territories and peoples beyond its borders is likely to lead to friction, hence insecurity, because the safety zones and spheres of influence of competing nations are bound to overlap sooner or later. Related to this second argument is the argument that nations are imperialistic in search for power and prestige for their own sake.

The fourth group of argument is based on moral grounds, sometimes with strong missionary implications. Imperialism is excused as the means of liberating people from tyrannical rule or of bringing them the blessings of a superior way of life. (Halsey, 1994).

Extrapolating from the above, it is clear that imperialism results from a complex of causes in which varying degrees of economic pressures, human aggressiveness and greed, search for security, derive for power and prestige, nationalist emotions, humanitarianism and many other factors are effective. This mixture of motivations makes it difficult to eliminate imperialism but easy for states considering themselves potential victims to suspect it in policies not intended to be imperialistic.

Forms and Stages of Imperialism in Africa

Having attempted to present the preceding debate on the causes of imperialism in Africa, the chapter treats the clux of the mater by analyzing the different forms, and stages of European imperialism in Africa.



Imperialism: The Mercantile Era 13th to 18th Century.

Consequent upon the improvement in science and technology which enabled European nations to build large sea going vessels, compass to direct sailors and maxim guns to provide securities, Europeans by the 13th and 14th centuries made successful attempt to establish their military and commercial powers. Commercial companies such as the Royal Niger Company, John Holt, among others were chartered and financed by their home government, to go and establish economic and political authority in oversea territories in what was referred to as “classical imperialism.” This form of imperialism was occasioned and supported by the theory of mercantilism. Mercantilism, according to Plano and Olton(2004) is “the economic philosophy and practice of government regulation of a nation’s economic life to increase states’ powers and security. It was a prevalent practice among European states from the 13th Century through the 18th  Century whereby each state sought to build up its treasury by maintaining a surplus of exports over import so that the favourable trade balance would result in inflow of gold and silver.

This situation was what brought Africans into contact with Europeans as early as the 13th Century. This state of imperialism marked the beginning of what is today referred to as Modern Imperialism. As earlier stated, advance in science and technology gave European nations opportunities to exploit other nations, including Africa as firmly captured (Rodney, 1972) thus:

European used the superiority of their ship and cannons to gain control of the world’s waterways, starting with the Western Mediterranean and the Atlantic Coast of North Africa.


This advantageous position of the Europeans gave them total control of the international trade. First, they sought with some success to replace the Arabs as the merchants who tied East Africa to India and the rest of Asia. Having cut off the Arabs, Europeans assumed a dominate role in direct trade with the Africans. Although they were involved in other forms of trade such as ivory, pepper and  slave trading (initially used for domestic purposes), the need to acquire more gold and silver to meet up demands by European capitalist money economy drove them into more intensive search: a demand that was met by the Gold Coast and East Central Africa. Besides the pillage of this Africa’s natural resources, trade between Africa and Europe took a different dimension as a result of the discovery of deposit of gold and silver in the America. Following this discovery and the difficulties faced in the use of aboriginal American Indians in the mining industries, Europeans who were hitherto less interested in the buying of African slaves began an intensive search and buying of black Africans to meet up labour demands in the Americas, thus, flagging off the notorious Trans-Atlantic Slave trade.

The point to note here is that the trade between Africa and Europe was on  unequal basis. While Europeans exported to Africa cheap and mostly outdated or used  goods such as mirror, beads, muskets brandy, cast off uniforms technological outdated fire arm etc. such goods were exchange for slaves to be used to produce further wealth in the Americas and transferred to Europe. In fact, as far as the trade was concerned, Africa was dependent on what European could tell them to produce and export, that was an expression of European power. However, it would be a mistake to believe that it was an overwhelming military power. Europeans found it impossible to conquer Africans during this period of trade except in isolated spots on the coast. For example, was the defeat of Queen Nzinga of Matamba in present day Angola by the Portuguese in 1630 (Rodney, 1972). Apart from this and other few examples, Europeans were relatively indifferent to what went on in the hinter land. They were contented to leave production and the delivery of whatever product they wanted to local entrepreneurs and middlemen.

Imperialism: The Colonial Stage 1850s-1945

In the centuries before colonial rule, Europe increased its economic potential in leaps and bound, while Africa remained almost static. Beginning from the 1850s and expanding onto the outbreak of the First World War and beyond, a second wake of European imperialism washed over the African continent with the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century. Capitalism grew, emphasizing free market, private ownership of means of production and the accumulation of wealth. In contrast with classical imperialism (mercantilism) the contradiction created by the Industrial Revolution such as quest for new markets, for finished and un-sellable goods within Europe, raw materials to feed European industries and new investment opportunities, brought European traders into bitter rivalries first, among themselves as regards area of influence, (a situation known in history as the scramble and partition  for Africa) then between European and African middlemen/chiefs who saw their position as being threatened by European attempt to penetrate into the interior of Africa. Although the intra European struggle was quickly resolved in the notorious Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 where the entire African continent was shared out like a piece of meat among European nations of Britain, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, and so forth. Africans opposition to European intrusion was rife and therefore did not provide the necessary atmosphere for the exploitation of the continent hence; there was need for military invasion and subsequent colonization.

Colonization of the African continent by European imperialism was carried out in virtually all spheres of human endeavour that is military, political, economic and socio-cultural. This stage of imperialism nay domination and control was the most comprehensive strategy for capitalist domination. It involves direct military, political, social, economic and cultural administration of the people (Africans in this case) for sustained maximum exploitation (Rodney, 1972). This is how Europeans manipulated colonialism to achieve total control of the Africa for effective and efficient exploitation of their human and natural resources as examined here.

Colonization and African Politics

Many centuries before contact with Europeans, Africans had firmly established their own political systems, empires and kingdoms. For example, Shanghai, Mali, Ghana, and later, Oyo and Sokoto: these empires or Kingdoms and their political systems were so organized to the bewilderment of Early Europeans and traders that they, out of jealousy and envy, attributed those developments to the efforts of the Hermetic race in their popular: “Hermetic Hypothesis” However,s these empires and Kingdoms and political systems had to give way with the aid of the maxim gun.  African chiefs were dethroned at will and new ones appointed without regard for existing rules and customs, while those left on the thrones became mere stooges for the perpetration of European interest. In fact, the entire political system of Africa was brought to a halt and that of European enthroned to pave way for effective and efficient control and exploitation of the continent.

The drastic effect of this intrusion by European imperialists  into Africa,  after the decision of Berlin conference was that the previous independent states of Africa were either packed together to form one colonial entity or divided into different colonies without regard for their customs, traditions, and traditional boundaries making many African kingdoms and tribes to lose their traditional God-given sovereignty, thus creating some of the problems of nation-building being witnessed in today’s post-colonial African states.

Colonization and African Trade

Long before European contact with Africa, Africans had developed their own means of trade through the “Barter trade” By this system of trade, a buyer gives out what he has in exchange to what he needs (Nnanna, Englama, Odoko 2007). There was no need for hunger, deprivation inequality or forced production. The contact with early Europeans in the 15th Centuries (era of mercantilism) did little or nothing to change this situation until colonization came on board.

Having defeated the Africans and making them submissive to colonial authorities, Europeans ensured that the pre-existing pattern of trade was abolished and a new form introduced. There was a rapid change from the Trans-Saharan (African-Arab trade) to the newly formed Trans-Atlantic Trade (African-Europe). As a result, Europeans began to impose their interest on Africans. First, they abolished the slave trade on which commercial relations had been built. For centuries they persuaded Africans along the sea coast to produce cash crops such as palm oil, cocoa, pepper and a host others, where as the North was persuaded to produce groundnuts, hides and skin, cotton and other items of interest to them (the Europeans). The effect of European insistence on cash crop production was hunger and poverty on the part of the Africans because cash crops were being produced at the detriment of domestic food crops, which became scarce. This situation was captured by Rodney (1972) when he vaunted that: the bulk of the production within the growing money economy was never intended to meet local demand and consumption. As the colonial economy became firmly rooted in the 1920’s Africans were producing that which they did not consumer and consuming what they did not produce (Rodney, 1972). It is worthy of note that the imposition of cash crops production against food crops production was a deliberate effort by European traders to change the choice of food production of Africans (their traditional food) to that of the European with the aim of increasing the sale of European manufactured goods so as to accrue more money to the metropolitan cities of London, Paris, Lisbon and many more. In fact, the pillage of African trade by Europeans does not only stop here. In order to ensure the total control of trade within Africa and make Africans poor and submissive, Europeans established Marketing Boards to control and dictate the price of cash crops produced by Africans as Hans (1984) brings the view of Ayandele to fore as thus:

European traders were however united at least in one respect vis-à-vis their African counterparts; their trade was one sided. At all times they dictated the commodities they wanted for a long time: palm oil as well as the price they would pay; they also decided the rate of exchange of European manufactured goods for the product they purchased. And thy spared no means to achieve their economic interest.

There were also deliberate efforts at discouraging Africans from competing with their European counterparts in the trade and industrialization business. For instance, because of bulk production as a result of effective and efficient machine use, Europeans ensured that prices of some of their goods that had local competition became relatively cheaper, thus discouraging the establishment of local industries. A case in hand was Egypt under Muhammad 1. Here attempt by Ali to establish cotton mills to produce cloths and other cotton materials was vehemently resisted by Britain and France who invaded and destroyed all these industries between 1806-1809 (Magdoff, 1978). There was also the situation where African cash crop producers were discriminated against through the seizure of their best yielding lands and handed over same to European settlers as was the case in South Africa under the Apartheid Regime, Zimbabwe and Kenya, to mention but few.

Imperialism: The Neo-Colonial Stage 1945-1970s.

The stronghold of European colonization of Africa continued well into the Second World War from 1939 to 1945. However, by the end of the war, certain circumstances both within and outside African began to make colonization less feasible. Fist, there was huge loss of both human and material resources by European nations as a result of the second word war. This situation made it so difficult for them to effectively govern their colonies so that some European scholars began to question the huge task payers’ money being invested in the administration of the colonies.

Second, there was also the emergence of the United State as a major world power, pressuring Europe to implement the Atlantic Charter of 1941 and Russia too emerged as another world power based on socialist ideology.

Externally, there was also pressure from African nationalists for self-independence. According to Falola, Mahada, Uhomoibhi, Anyanwu (2003) the third factor was the influence from external organization like the Indian National Congress and Pan- African Movement. The great names in Pan- African Movement included W.E.D. Du Bois and Blaise Diagne. Some West African educated elite were with Pan-African Movement which held its first congress in Paris in February 1919. At this meeting, the Pan-African Movement   made a profound declaration that: “they (Afrucans) shall not be denied on account of their race and colour a share in their own government, just before the courts and economic and social equality”.

Inspired by the ideals of Pan-African Movement, a few West African elite formed the National Congress of British West Africa. Falola, Mahada, Uhomoibhi, Anyanwu  (2003)  opined that the objectives of the congress were:

To ensure the effective participation of Africans in their own government, to promote the unity among the West African Countries; to remove the discrimination in the colonial civil services and to achieve self-government.


Due to these aforementioned factors, colonialism in the second half of the 20th century began to recoil. Before its exit, colonialism had successfully entrenched an effective means of exploitation that would replace it. The mutant nature of imperialism thus resurfaced as neo-convert: a more efficiently and remotely controlled form of exploitation and domination that is void of international stigma.

Neo-colonialism can be seen as a form of political independence but economic dependence of a state on her former colonial master-state. The instrument of exploitation in this connection is anchored on the master-servant relationship that still existed between the former colonial master in Europe and USA in their colonies in Africa.

As stated earlier, before granting political (flag) independence to these colonies, the colonizers had placed comprador or interlocutor valuable (those worth talking to) in policy-making positions. These compradors, dance to the dictate of their former masters. Having assigned to themselves specialization in manufacturing technology and finance capital, the former masters exerted dominance and leverage over their former colonies by investing surplus capital in these colonies through Multi-national Corporations (M.N.C). The Bretton Woods Institutions and the European Economic Community (E.E.C) which dictate exploitative policies on the former colonies (Eheidu, 1979) for their selfish interest.

These metropolitans owned M.N.Cs are situated in the former colonies where raw materials are obtained cheaply while their products find fertile markets in the same colonies. Although these corporations employ the citizens of the host countries, their skilled manpower, which attracts higher wages, is drawn from the ex-colonizer country where technological researchers are also made. The colonizers choose to invest their capital in the satellite as a mechanism to get rid of excess capital and avoid a fall in the interest rates in the metropolis. The profit made is usually reinvested sometimes in other sectors but within the same colonies. This network of M.N.C is usually so rich and powerful that they often influence or undermine the host government in favour of the ex-colonizer that, non-conformist in the formal colonies had to be covertly disposed of sometimes through metropolitan sponsored coups.

The distinguishing feature of this phase is that the formal colonies, despite being granted political independence, remained apron strings tied to their former master who dictates to them how to act, and who to relate within the international arena. The former colonial master therefore, imposed goods on their formal colonies and also which economic policies to pursue. In fact, neo-colonialism had a structure so perfect that the formal colonial masters dominate the mass media of the formal colonies, education was also had to be along the lines of the former master. Even the military had to be trained by the ex-colonial master. The formation of the Commonwealth of Nations, an association of former British colonies and the Francophone League are very good examples of this relationship. In this regard, for instance, Nigeria had to award contracts to British firms only while Cameroon and Cote d’Ivore former French colonies, had to obey decisions from Paris- France. This is a situation of granting independence and taking same back in a covert way.

In this phase, African role being almost entirely a primary producer, continued to post balance of trade deficits on her erstwhile Europeans net in surplus. The international trade theory states that “When there are deficits and surplus countries, both should adjust.” But the former colonial masters, adopting mercantilism as an ideological origin of protectionism in trade, refuses to increase import from the deficit countries. Rather, they choose to “cushion” the deficit with loans with high interest. In order to exert more languages on the former colonies with the policy of a “Social Darwinism”. The likes of the World Bank and IMF (being European Instrument of imperialism) advise African countries  on trade liberalization even in the face of trade deficit. This is aimed at making African countries a dumping ground for European goods with the aim of ruining the African market ( Eleidu, 1997).

The European Economic Community (E.E.C) too, under the mask of foreign aids, causes counter productivity in African economies because their aids are laden with profit motives that it becomes difficult to ascertain who is helping who. Even the all important food aid in some cases has undermined the recipient nations’ efforts to develop a more reliant base of their own. This efficiently relegates African nations to perpetual dependence whereby they continue to exist as servants to the imperial powers without limit. In this compounding situation, Ghana’s resident General Archeampong’s statement in 1976, was overly apt as he said “our efforts to make real in our community, the principle of self-reliance, and our efforts to make real and concrete meaning of our political independence are having to function against a horrifying order which has hitherto consistently made victims of us” ( Eleidu, 1997).

China on the other hand has continued to increase the amount of her joint ventures and particularly her trade in the continent. This has not significantly improved her African economies because Sino-African trade has been largely unbalanced in favour of China. Recent Studies on this have proved this point to be true. According to Ian Taylor as cited by Okpeh (2009), Sino-Africa trade:

…is still very lopsided in favour of Chinese with cheap household products of poor quality such imports into African most  certainly help China’s trade development but do little to encourage indigenous manufacturing.


The economies have been victims of the two decades of neo-liberal-driven World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sponsored Structural Adjustment Programmes, the consequences of the trade deficit implied in the above relationship could be  (and indeed is) traumatic. Thus, since Sino-African trade relations are conducted on relatively equal or mutual footing, they cannot have the multiplier effects required to stimulate the desperately need growth in African economies (Okpeh, 2009).

To round up our analysis on the Neo-Colonial Stage of imperialism, it meaningful to consider the words of the Former President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah as cited by Eleidu (1997) beneath:

Neo – colonialism is…the worst form of imperialism. For those who practice it, it means power without responsibility and for those who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress.


Globalization: Another Phase of Imperialism 1980 to Date

The end of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st Century tend to make the world a global village. This situation was occasioned by the collapse of USSR in 1991 and its socialist ideology and the internationalization of capitalism as world ideology. Consequent upon these development, the world which hitherto was divided into two major blocs (by-polar) i.e. Capitalist bloc led by the USA and its Western European allies and Socialists, led by Russia and its allies and characterized by trade and information restriction, military alignment, ideological wars etc. became unpopular and controlled by capitalist ideas: the outcome of  which is termed “Globalization”, brooked the walls of neo-colonial forms of imperialism and emphasized global integration. Globalization, accordingly to the International Monetary Fund (1997) is “the rapid integration of economies world wide through trade, financial flow, and technology spillover, information on networks and cross culture current. It does not portends global interdiction via the globalization of production, or power, domination, economic crisis and the struggle of world countries to open their economies to foreign capital investment since in globalization distance nor national borders will impede economic translation. It describes the increasing linkage of the market in goods, services and finances.

It should be noted that the idea and the concept of globalization is not new. Robin Brown has drawn attention to the fact that in 1926 the Fabian Society has organized series of lectures who Focus was: The Shrinking World: Dangers and Possiblities (Brown, 1995). According to Okereke and Ekpe (2002) the word globalization Moluhan had in 1960 coined the popular Phrase of the world being “a global village”. Since them scholars have different conceptions on the phenomenon. For example, Okpeh (2002) views “globalization is a process of change in which the world’s countries and their economies are increasingly integrated as a function or rising cross border economic and other activities”. Articulating on the same matter kegley quotes Aliyu saying “globazation is a process of increasing interdependence and integration which occurs as money, people, images, values and ideas flow ever more swiftly and smoothly across national boundaries”. From Euro-centric point of view, globalization assures a widespread improvement in average incomes as poor countries (Africa) will grow more rapidly than rich ones. In practice however this has been so as the gap between the rich and the poor countries has continued to widen. In fact, just like any multi-lateral imperial movements, globalization is a product of major powers of America and Europe with the nations of the South (Africa and other  developing  nations) as mere appendages. For instance, information technology which is a main feature of the current effort of globalization depicts an element of imperialism. The internet in the 1990s has been hijacked by the nations of the West. The West having a comparative advantage in this area has used its superior information technology to control the allocation and consumption of the world’s resources by expanding their markets in Africa into America and Europe where exploitation is the other of the day: African nation remains grossly inadequate up to date and can in no way compete with either Europe or America. The above situation motivated Khor(2000) to affirm that:

The opportunities and benefits of defining the process of globalization have been stressed by its proponents and supporters while the tangible benefit to most of the developing countries especially arising from globalization, creates a changing perception and attitude of disillusionment.

A part from the technological disadvantages of the Africans, there is also the issue of immigration restriction by the West against Africans. The general agreement on trade and services of the Word Trade Organization (WTO) states that there shall be no discrimination between foreign services/ service providers and their domestic equivalence. However, this provision is tenable on a North to North basis because from an American and European dimension, immigration appears to have risen in recent years in the African countries, billions of poor Africans who could improve their standards of living by migrating to either America or Europe have to contend with stringent immigration barriers erected by these industrialized states. On the contrary, developed nation’s citizens do not have to flood Africa, all they have to do is just send one of their multi-national; contracting companies to Africa to maximize profit even on the detriment of  the African economy.


From the foregoing discussion, there is no doubt that imperialism in general, primarily focuses on the exploitation and subordination of Africans by Europeans. In giving a detail account of this trend, the chapter sheds  light on the concept of imperialism, and indicates that the European imperial activities in Africa is a continuous process starting from mercantilism (classical imperialism) to the present-day globalization. It should be noted that each of these forms and stages of imperialism were fuelled by the internal and external dynamic precipitating Europe and her American ally for their personal interest. This was clearly alluded by Lurgard as captured by Fage(1955) here thus:

The British enterprise, finance, technology etc. were not brought to Africa to develop Africa, that if in the process of developing Europe there is an improvement on her fortunes it is well.


Finally, the preceding historical representation appraises the fact that with each period and forms adopted, the primary motive of imperialism is that of effective and efficient exploitation of African human and natural resources rather than self acclaimed “salvation mission” by the imperialists.


Ake, C. (1981). A political Economy of Africa, England:  Longman Group Ltd.

Bonn, M.J. (1937)Imperialism” in Encyclopedia of Social Science  Vol.II, New York: Macmillian

Brown, R.C. “Globalization and the End of the National Project” in MacMillan, J. and LinRiater, A.(eds.),(1995) Boundaries in Question: New Directions in International Relations, London:Printer Publishers.

Eleidu, E.G. (1997) The Age of Neo-Colonialism in African. Ibadan, African Book

Falola, T. Mahada, A ,Uhomoibhi, & M, Anyanwu, U.(2003) History of Nigeria, Vol 3, Lagos Logman.

Fage, J.D. (1955) An Introduction to the History of West African London: Cambridge  University press.

Halsey, W.D (1994): Collier’s Encyclopaedia, Vol. 2, New York:  Macmillan

Educational Company.

Harrison, M Wright. The New imperialism: Analysis of the 19th    Century Expansion. London: D. Health and Company

Holsti, K. J (1979) International Politics New Jersey: Prentice/   Hall Int’I

Hobson,J.A (1961) Imperialism: A study London: George Allen  and Union Ltd

Kegley, C. W & Wittkopt (1999) World Politics: Trends and   Transformation New

York: Worth Publisher.

Khor, M. (2000) Globalization and the South: Some Critical Issues,  Ibadan: Spectrum Books

Langer, N. in Chikendu, P.N.(2004) Imperialism and Nationalism,   Enugu Academic Publishing Company.

Lenin V. I imperialism: The Highest stage of Capitalism, Moscow: Progress Publisher.

Magdoff, H. (1978) Imperialism from the Colonial Age to the Present: New York: Press Review.

Rodney (1972) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, London: Begle  I’Overture.

Offiong, D.A (1980) Imperialism and Dependency: Obstacle  to African Development, Enugu: Fourth Dimension Co.

Okereke, O.O. and Ekpe, A.E.(2002) Development and underdevelopment, Enugu: John Jacobs Classic Publisher Ltd.

Okpeh, O.O. “In the Eye of the Storm? Implication  China on the Corridors of Gblobal power” in Okpeh, O.O., Wuam,T. Ayuba, J.M. (2009) China and Africa: Threats and Opportunities Makurdi Aboki Publishers

Okpeh, O.O. (2002) “Globalization and the African Question”, in African Journal of  Economy and Society Vol. 2, No.2

Plano and Olton  (2004) Imperialism and Nationalism Enugu:  Academic Printing Press.

Nnanna, O.J. Englama, A., & Adoko, F.O. (eds) (2004) Financial Market  in Nigeria.Abuja: CBN Publication.


Copyright License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *