Colonialism is defined as an imposition of a more developed culture over a less developed one, backed up by expansionist and economic adventurism. European capitalist countries established political, economic, military and cultural hegemony over other parts of the world which was initially at a lower level and therefore could not resist domination. Originally, it was the idea of protecting a market for industry at home, to the idea of creating a new protected market for industry by seizing colonies abroad. This was so in the late 19th century.

However, in the early 19th century, ‘colonies’ had been thought of mainly as places like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. where Europeans could go and settle. Later, the meaning of the word ‘colony’ assumed another dimension. Some writers now see it as “colonies of exploitation”, where Europeans would not settle but where European money could be used to increase production and create new markets and sources of raw materials. As enthusiasm for such colonies grew, people began to press governments to establish them and create new markets for national industry which, they expected would be protected from the competition of goods produced in other countries by high tariffs.



Before the 1880s, Europe had gone ahead of the rest of the world in science and technology. So, Europe of 19th century became the workshop of the world with growing desire for raw-materials for their industries. Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy etc were all involved in this race.

So, the competitive search for markets and sources of raw materials that was growing in Europe only affected European attitudes to Africa. By the late 19th century, the concern about sourcing raw materials and markets had become a serious issue in most European countries.

The scramble for Africa, by these European countries led to the partition of Africa after the Berlin conference of 1884/85. Britain colonised, Nigeria, Ghana, the Gambia and Sierra-Leone in West Africa.

So, as from 1898, the British government sought to establish and maintain a colonial state in Nigeria. To achieve this, a number of measures were to be taken, for example, removal of all visible opposition to the imposition of colonial rule, expansion and consolidation of British authority overthe territory later knownas Nigeria, similarly, to gradually amalgamate the three different administrative units:

  • The Lagos colony.
  • The Southern protectorate.
  • The Northern protectorate.

In May 1906, Lagos colony and southern protectorate were joined together and had a different name, the colony and protectorate of southern Nigeria. In the same vein, Lord Lugard, in 1914, amalgamated Lagos colony and Southern protectorate with Northern protectorate to form a single colony called protectorate of Nigeria. Britain, therefore, governed Nigeria by means of a system popularly referred to as ‘Indirect rule’. Britain claimed that the system involved not governing the people directly, but through their local traditional rulers and chiefs.

So, by 1900, the use of traditional chiefs in the administration was already on in British West Africa. In that same year, Sir Frederick Lord Lugard became the High commissioner of Northern Nigeria where he first introduced the indirect rule system. He left Northern Nigeria in 1906,and after the amalgamation of the two protectorates in 1914, Lord Lugard equally introduced the system in the southern part of the country. It was alleged that the wife of Lord Lugard formed the name, ‘Nigeria’ after the amalgamation. Lord Lugard later became the first Governor-General of Nigeria. He was referred to as the ‘Father of Indirect Rule System’.



Indirect rule is a system of administration in which the British colonial government adopted as its colonial policy in dealing with the people by using the traditional rulers, the traditional political institutions administrative, cultural and judicial structures as intermediaries while the British officials mainly advised and where necessary, enforced colonial regulations.



Native Authority was an institution of local administration of indirect rule system in British West African colonies.


Main Features of Indirect Rule

  1. Traditional rulers: The colonialists rule indirectly by engaging the traditional rulers and the chiefs to govern the people.
  2. The traditional system of government: The traditonal political system of government in place was utilised.
  3. Customs and traditions: The customs and traditions of the people played a significant role in the administration.
  4. Respect for the culture: The cultural values of the people were respected by the British officials.
  5. British officials: They were to guide and where need be, enforce colonial regulation. For instance, resident and district officers.
  6. Respect for the traditional rulers: They were respected and given exalted positions in the administration which made it easy for the colonialist to operate and rule.
  7. Cost of administration: The cost of administration was not high because those involved were paid peanuts.
  8. Collection of taxes: The whites made use of natural agricultural produce.
  9. Native courts: Native courts were used for administration of justice.
  10. The police and prisons: Native police and prisons were utilized in the system.



  1. Lack of British personnel: The system had few Europeans to control effectively areas under their control.
  2. Insufficient fund: There was no sufficient fund from the British government to engage British officials for direct administration.
  3. Poor climate: Poor climatic condition also aggravated the situation. Many British citizens refused coming down to be involved in the administration due to poor climate and the presence of mosquitoes. Africa was nicknamed “the whiteman’s grave”, as a result of these factors.
  4. To satisfy their economic needs: The colonialists wanted to create markets for their goods and to encourage West Africans to produce those raw materials.
  5. The role and position of traditional rulers: Britain saw their uniqueness, the role and positions occupied in the administration before the introduction of indirect rule. The people saw these rulers as of divine and should be respected. For example the Emirs. Therefore, not using them might mean chaos and instability in the system.
  6. The use of traditional rulers and their institutions: Britain saw that there was no need destroying the institutions in place, and that, introducing a different system altogether, might not produce any desired results.
  7. The success of this system: Lord Lugard felt that, the success of this policy in India, Uganda etc was enough proof that the system would succeed in any of the British colonies.
  8. Large expanse of land: Areas administered by Britain are so large that indirect administration was a better option. For example, Northern Nigeria is a large area to be ruled by the few whites.
  9. Language barrier: Indirect rule succeeded in removing the language barrier that would have posed a problem to the British colonial administration if direct rule was adopted. English language used by Britain was quite different from languages of most of her colonies, for example, Nigeria.
  10. Stable political system: Obedience to constituted authority is a must for a stable political system. The subjects in Northern Nigeria were so obedient to their rulers and the institutions and the result was stability in the system. Britain, therefore had to allow the system to stay. Any interference, would have incured the wrath of the people.
  11. The British Officials: These officials lacked adequate knowledge of the local areas in the country.
  12. The System was very cheap: The cost of administration was very cheap and this was because little amount was paid to the traditional rulers used for the system.
  13. Poor communication system: The system of transportation and communication was poor and this also necessitated the adoption of indirect rule.



  1. Few British personnel: Very few of them were ready to serve in the colonies, therefore, shortage of personnel made the colonialists rely on the chiefs.
  2. The status of the traditional rulers: The British encounter with the chiefs during the period of occupation proved to them that the chiefs were powerful and were highly respected by their people.
  3. It was economical: It was very convenient for the British government to use the chiefs since they were being paid peanuts as salaries.
  4. Past experience: Local chiefs had been successfully used in the colonial administration in other colonies, for example, India.
  5. Maintenance of law and order: As the custodian of the people’s culture, the traditional rulers were found useful in the maintenance of law and order in the colonies.
  6. Collection of taxes: The traditional rulers were found useful in the collection of taxes and rates.
  7. Political stability: The British felt that, the presence of the local chiefs in the administration would bring about political stability.
  8. They were easily manipulated: The chiefs were used as tools instead of the educated elites because they were easily manipulated.



  1. Collapse of the existing links: Colonial rule led to the collapse of the existing links between the traditional rulers and their subjects making the former appendages of alien government
  2. Independent of the ruler: The introduction of salaried job to the working subjects empowered the subjects to be independent of their rulers.
  3. Impact of western education: The impact of western education and westernization of life led to the collapse of traditional norms and values of society e.g. homage to and respect for the traditional rulers. Traditional values were eroded by the new values of the White man.
  4. Influence of foreign religion: It scaled down the power of traditional rulers as the spiritual authority of their people
  5. Law Courts: The establishment of law courts by the colonialists reduced the lawmaking functions of traditional rulers.
  6. Establishment of legislative council by the colonialists: Equally reduced the lawmaking functions of traditional rulers.
  7. Colonialism: Introduced native/local authorities which took over the traditional rulers absolute control over taxation and its disbursement.
  8. Forced labour and conscription by the colonialists: They reduced the popularity of the traditional rulers.
  9. Inter-tribal wars: Stoppage of inter-tribal wars put an end to the means by which traditional rulers accumulated wealth.
  10. Appointment and deposition: Power to appoint and depose which was vested in the colonial governors reduced the prestige of traditional rulers and misdirected their loyalty.


Indirect Rule in Northern Nigeria

One of the reasons for the adoption of indirect rule was for the purpose of local government, along traditional lines. The system rested upon Native courts and Native authority ordinances.

The protectorate of Northern Nigeria was divided into six provinces and each under a British official known as residents. Each province was then sub-divided into districts and placed under district commissioners.



  1. Policy of indirect rule: They took part in the colonial government policy of indirect rule.
  2. Law and order: They assisted in the maintenance of law and order
  3. Preservation of culture and customs: The traditional rulers helped to preserve the culture and customs of their communities that were approved by the British.
  4. Acted as a link: They acted as a link between the colonial masters and their people
  5. Communal work: They organized communal work on behalf of the British.
  6. Law-making: The traditional rulers took part in law-making, as some of them were members of the legislative councils and later Houses of chiefs.
  7. Settlement of disputes: They helped to settle disputes arising from customs and tradition of the people
  8. Tax assessment and collection: They helped in tax assessment and collection for the colonial government.
  9. Conscription of youths: The traditional rulers helped to conscript youths to perform forced labour and serve in the British army during the world wars.
  10. They presided: They help to preside over native courts established by the British.


Functions of the Residents and the District Commissioner

  1. They have the authority to retain and use native treasuries in the emirates.
  2. They also retained both the traditional executive officials of emirates and the law courts of the Muslim parts of Northern Nigeria.
  3. They were to advise and guide the emirs and their officials, educating them to know their duties and functions under the new British system, to propel them gradually towards new and better ways of government and administration.
  4. To enforce through them, all the laws of the High Commissioner for the protectorate of Northern Nigeria. These laws involve the supervision of courts, assessment of taxes, native authority expenditure and the maintenance of law and order.
  5. To ensure that tax revenue was shared between the colonial government and the province.
  6. They should provide intelligence reports-political, military or civil, on which the colonial government could act in making policies.



  1. Preservation of the existing culture: Britain acknowledged the need to preserve the indigenous culture and institutions by assisting them to adapt to modern government.
  2. Centralisation of power: The traditional system of administration in Northern Nigeria was highly centralised. Most of the emirs were authoritarian; nobody dare question their authority. There was no check in the system, but it was stable and so Britain accepted it.
  3. Illiteracy: Education makes one to know his rights and seek redress when such rights are violated. So, most of the people in the North were illiterates and they could not question or challenge the imposition, or presence of foreign culture.
  4. Religion: Adherents to Islamic religion believe that their rulers are divinely sent and so respect and obedience are necessary for a true believer. This helped in propagating the tenets of indirect rule system.
  5. Imposition and collection of taxes: Before the advent of colonial authorities, the native administration had a defined and reliable method of tax collection. What Britain did was only to overhaul the system for effective performance. Taxation was a necessary tool in the administration.
  6. Local administration: Indirect rule provided an opportunity for training local leaders in methods, ways and means of local administration.
  7. Total obedience to constituted authority: There existed already in Northern Nigeria, a tradition of total obedience to constituted authority. This made it easy for the colonialists to govern the people.
  8. British officials promoted the positions of traditional rulers: This promotion made the traditional rulers become a willing instrument of the colonial administrators.



  1. The use of uneducated traditional rulers: The indirect rule system made use of local chiefs and traditional rulers who were mostly uneducated.
  2. Non-recognition of educated elites: British officials did not see the need to include the educated Nigerians in the colonial administration.
  3. The warrant chiefs: The creation of warrant chiefs in the Eastern part of the country resulted to problems of different proportions. The warrant chiefs became high handed and ruthless, in the discharge of their functions.
  4. Combination of judicial and executive functions in the hands of colonial officers: Most of the British officials exercised both functions and even to the detriment of the people.
  5. Position of the chiefs: The colonial officials strengthened and protected the powers of the chiefs even beyond traditional bounds. In fact, they acted more than their traditional role.
  6. Introduction of taxation: Britain imposed different methods of taxation on the people, and it caused riots in different parts of the country. For example the Aba Women’s riot of 1929 and other similar riots in Yorubaland.
  7. Menial job: The position of chieftaincy institution was disrespected by giving them menial job to perform.
  8. Appointment and deposition: Traditional chiefs were appointed and deposed by the colonial masters. The people were not giving the opportunity to appoint or choose traditional rulers themselves. This was kicked against by the educated elite.
  9. Education: The level of education was high in the east. People could question the relevance of indirect rule system imposed on them. Most of the protests or crises that erupted were as a result of this.
  10. This system was alien to the culture and tradition of the people: For example in Eastern Nigeria, “Obiship” institution was not clearly defined in the sight of the colonialists and that led to the appointment of warrant chiefs. These chiefs were ignored and rejected by the people because they were high handed and brutal.
  11. Decentralised administration: The Eastern Nigeria, for example had a decentralised system of administration. Powers are not concentrated but decentralised. Infact, Igbo political system was more of a Republican form of government. Indirect rule cannot work where, the powers in government are under check.



  1. Subjects not fully submissive: The issue of the people not being fully submissive emanated from the fact that people could question realistically actions of their rulers and were not ready to accommodate dictatorship. This was in contrast to what was obtained in the North.
  2. Religion: Christianity was the dominant religion in the west. It is more democratic than the islamic religion. People detest authoritarianism.
  3. Education: The education acquired by most people made them detest colonial rule. They did not see the importance of a foreign rule imposing itself on the traditional political system which was acceptable to the people before the advent of the colonialists.
  4. Checks and balances: Most of the Obas were constitutional Obas and not absolute. So, their powers were limited by various factors in the system.
  5. Decentralised political system: The system was decentralised and not centralised, hence the partial success.
  6. System of taxation: In the west, before indirect rule, there was a system of collecting tax, which was, acceptable to the people. A new system was imposed on the people by the colonial authority. It was unacceptable and resulted to protests in some parts of the region.
  7. Non-recognition of the educated elites: They were not recognised and made use of in the administration and so they had nothing to do with the system of administration imposed on the people.

Note: Some of the points mentioned, while discussing educated elite’s opposition to indirect rule in Southern Nigeria, can equally apply here.



  1. Respect for the people’s tradition and culture: This was achieved mostly in the northern part of the country.
  2. It was very economical: The use of traditional rulers in the administration made it less costly. They were paid not much in terms of salary.
  3. A fertile ground for training: Indirect rule administration was a fertile ground for the training of traditional rulers and chiefs especially, in the area of local administration.
  4. The system is accommodating: Indirect rule system was more accommodating than the French direct administration in West African. The former allowed formation of political parties, etc, but the latter did not.
  5. Eradication of crimes: This system helped to put a stop to some evil practises in some parts of the country. For example in Eastern Nigeria, giving birth to twins were seen as an abomination. Also, human sacrifices were stopped.
  6. It developed traditional institutions: Traditional institutions, native courts etc. were developed, making it more effective and durable.
  7. Taxation: It helped in introducing a new method of collecting taxes.
  8. Stable political system: It was stable, especially in the north, were the traditional rulers had the over-whelming support of the people.
  9. Spirit of nationalism: The system of indirect rule stimulated the spirit of nationalism in the British colonies.
  10. Political awareness: Indirect rule system led to the political awareness of the people.
  11. Maintenance of law and order: The system ensured in its entirety the maintenance of law order.



  1. Evil practices thrived: Most of the traditional rulers were involved in evil practices and the system could not prosecute them for necessary punishment.
  2. It excluded educated Nigerians: The educated Nigerians were excluded from taking part in the colonial administration, instead, they made use of the illiterates.
  3. Development was retarded: Indirect rule was an instrument of maintaining status quo, than of development. Progress and development were relatively very low especially in the northern part of the country.
  4. Appointment of warrant chiefs: The traditional institutions of the people were neglected and the colonial authority appointed warrant chiefs that merely represented the interests of those that appointed them. This appointment was illegitimate because it did not get the support of the people.
  5. High-handedness of the warrant chiefs: Their functions were not clearly defined and so they abused their positions and this led to chaos and uncertainty in the system. For example, the Aba Women’s Riot of 1929. Warri Provincial Tax Riot of 1927.
  6. The system was an imposition: Indirect rule was a system imposed on the people. It was not chosen by the people or in any way responsible to the people.
  7. It can only succeed in a centralised system of administration: It may not work in a decentralised system, where powers are in check. For example, in Southern Nigeria.
  8. Democratic rights of the people were abused: People were denied of their rights, for example, the right to question laws that were obnoxious and other activities that undermine their rights.
  9. Monopoly: The colonial authority monopolised the right to appoint and depose traditional rulers and chiefs without the people’s consent.
  10. It increased the powers of the traditional rulers to the detriment of their subjects.
  11. Tensions and misunderstanding: It created tensions and misunderstanding between the chiefs and the educated Africans due to mistrust and intrigue.
  12. Corruption: The system made the chiefs corrupt e.g. mismanagement of funds, embezzlement of taxes and forced labour.
  13. Autocracy: It was autocratic since colonial authorities had power to over-ride the decisions of the native administration.
  14. The activities of the native courts were unsatisfactory: they were slow, corrupt, inefficient, etc.
  15. It slowed down the pace of constitutional development: and early independence of West African colonies. This is because it drowned the voices of the people
  16. Stooges and puppets: The system reduced the traditional rulers to mere stooges and puppets of the colonial authorities. The traditional rulers were hated by the people.



In Eastern Nigeria, traditional rulers or paramount traditional rulers cannot be easily identified. Obiship institution, for instance, was not clearly defined and so the colonial authority decided to select some people whom they made chiefs, and given “certificates of recognition, which were called warrants. This was why they are popularly refered to as Warrant chiefs.

Similarly, they were constituted into an all-purpose body which was at once a court as well as an executive and legislative body for the area under the warrant chief’s jurisdiction. Infact, in law, this body was known as Native court and can also be referred to as Native authority. This action exhibited by the British colonial authority, was seen as undemocratic, in the setting ofIgbo political system. No wonder, why these warrant chiefs were ruthless and high-handed in the process of exercising their functions.

The method of tax collection introduced and the way it was manipulated by the warrant chiefs, brought fears in the system. The fear by the women that they would be taxed like the men led to the Aba Women Riot of 1929/30.



  1. They can try cases that are of customary and traditional in nature.
  2. They can also pass bye-laws.
  3. They also have the power to recruit and supervise workers, for example, the men building some of the roads.
  4. Warrant chiefs were involved in assessing the people’s wealth.
  5. They were also involved in the collection of tax.



  1. The legislative councils were dominated by British officials only.
  2. The elective principle was restricted i.e. limited franchise. Not only that, Lagos and Calabar were favoured.
  3. The colonial administrators sidelined the educated elite andlimitedtheir representation in the colonial administration.
  4. The executive council was dominated by British officials.
  5. The governors had double votes which could be used to promote British colonial policies as against African interests
  6. Governors were dictators as they had the power to accept or reject advice given by the executive councils and laws passed by the legislative councils.
  7. The British dominant interest in banking, commerce, mining, etc were detrimental to African interest.
  8. The British administration in some cases interfered with the people’s culture and tradition, e.g. warrant chiefs and deposition of traditional rulers.
  9. Democratic electioneering or campaign was limited to few areas of the colonies.
  10. The colonialists created artificial boundaries for their selfish interests.
  11. The divide and rule policy created an uneven development.



Just in line with the scramble for Africa, the history of administration in West Africa involves largely the two big colonial powers-Britain and France. France took over its territories in West African between late 19th century and early 20th century and the territories were: Dahomey (Benin Republic), Ivory Coast (Cote D’Ivoire), Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), Niger and Mauritania.

In 1919, the League of Nations gave Togo to France. Togo was administered by France different from her other colonies in West African. This is because Togo was a mandate and under the supervision of the League of Nations.



The policy of assimilation was the official colonial policy of the French administration in West Africa. The system involves the imposition of French culture on the West African culture. It is the people’s ways of life, traditions, customs, beliefs, thought, traditional institutions etc which would give way to a more ‘advanced’ French culture and civilization.

However, this policy of assimilation was only put into practice in parts of Senegal, and were called the 4 communes- Dakar, Goree, Rufisque and Saint Louis. The term ‘commune’ was used to describe models of towns and villages in colonies as they were in France. Assimilation was not adopted outside these communes. The communes were relatively self-governing. Infact, in existence they were elected bodies with mayors and they oversee the affairs of local and municipal government matters.



1) Centralised administration: France formed all its 9 colonies into a federation with the headquarters at Dakar. At the head of this federation was a Governor-General. The head of each colony was a Governor. The Governors were responsible to the Governor-General while the Governor- General was responsible to the minister of colonies in France.

2) Direct rule: France ruled the colonies directly. It was believed that France had sufficient men and women, ready to take part in the administration. They expressed their desire to live and work in Africa. Moreso, France was always of the opinion that her culture and civilization were the best in the world and that her mission was to expose this culture and her rich heritage. France fought protracted wars with most of these territories before acquisition e.g. Senegal, Upper Volta, Dahomey, etc. This issue made the French authorities decide that only trusted and reliable French officials ruled these conquered areas of West Africa.

3) Dual citizenship: West Africans were divided and categorized into citizens and subjects. However, to be a citizen, the following requirements must be made:

  • The individual has to be born in any of the four communes.
  • Must provide evidence of good and attestable behaviour from the French colonial government.
  • Must have served with the French colonial government for about ten years.

4) Education was limited/ restricted: Few schools were built by the French authority and as a result very few people were educated. However, more educational opportunities existed in the communesthan elsewhere and even at Paris for the Africans who were ‘citizens’. These educated citizens joined the civil service and even the teaching profession and they were able to form voluntary associations. Subjects or non citizens could notenjoy this priviledge given to the citizens. A few of them may be fortunate enough to reach the secondary school level.

5) Absence of political parties and associations: Formation of political parties and associations were not encouraged.

6) No regard for traditional institutions: Recognition was not given to traditional rulers. The French administrators appointed chiefs and made them auxiliary officials, and they could be dismissed at will. They were mainly used to collect taxes and to obey orders.

7) Indigenat policy and forced labour: This was an obnoxious policy of the French. It was the right of the French officials to arbitrarily arrest and imprison any African for about two years without trials.

8) Cultural heritage was disregarded: France did not respect the culture of the people in her colonies. Instead, France imposed its culture on the already existing culture.

9) Absence of local assemblies: There was absence of local assemblies for Africans in their various colonies.

10) Opposition: The French merchants and intellectuals felt that this policy would create equality between them and Africans, and so there was opposition to it.

11) Financial burden: This policy placed financial burden on French citizens who in turn opposed it.



  1. Division of Africans into two/Dual citizenship: Assimilation produced 1st class and 2nd class citizens. Some West Africans were made citizens and others remained subjects.
  2. No respect for the people’s culture: France did not regard the culture of the people.
  3. No regard for traditional rulers and chieftancy institutions: This was one of the failures of the system. The existing institutions were dismantled and France had to set up the ones that suit its whims and caprices.
  4. Indigenat policy: It was an obnoxious policy, that received world condemnation. West Africans could be arrested and detained for two years without trial by the French administrators.
  5. Limited right to education: Right to full education was only given to those living in any of the four communes. Non-citizens have no right to full education.
  6. Formation of political parties and associations: Formation of political parties and associations was not allowed or permitted.
  7. Highly centralised administration: It makes the French administrators authoritarian and high-handed by centralising so highly the administrative machinery of the federation. People cannot criticise or contribute towards the issues of government. People started calling for its abolition, which was in contrast to what the French government was hoping to give to the world after the French revolution (equality, freedom, liberty, etc). However, the policy of assimilation was abandoned and in its place was adopted, the policy of association.
  8. Love for their culture: The love the people of West Africa expressed or demonstrated for their culture contributed to the failure of this policy.
  9. Adoption of French culture: The policy of assimilation expected Africans to adopt French culture wholesale.
  10. Financial burden: The policy equally placed financial burden on French citizens who therefore resisted it.
  11. Indigenat policy and forced labour: This obnoxious policy of the French colonial administration imposed on African subjects also created hatred in the minds of these subjects for the French people and thus contributed to the failure of the policy.
  12. Absence of Local assemblies: There were no local assemblies for Africans in their various colonies.
  13. Reduction in the power of the traditional chiefs: This is one of the factors or reasons for the failure of the policy of assimilation.
  14. Opposition: The French intellectual and merchants were opposed to the policy that would create equality between the Frenchmen and Africans.
  15. Indirect rule system: The success of indirect rule system in Nigeria motivated the need for a change of the French policy so as to make the system flexible.
  16. The Second World War and its aftermath: The effects compelled the French to abandon assimilation.
  17. Replacement of assimilation with association: The rise to power of President Charles De Gaule of France and his determination to replace Assimilation with Association.



As a result of intensive oppositions and worldwide condemnation, France, therefore, decided to abolish the policy of Assimilation and embrace the policy of Association. This policy involves the following factors:

  1. Respect and recognition of the people’s culture.
  2. Each colony can now develop in the way acceptable to them.
  3. The obnoxious indigenat policy was abolished.
  4. The people’s traditional political institutions to be restored and the French administrators to use these institutions to administer the people.
  5. The policy of forced labour mainly for the subjects or non-citizens was abolished.
  6. The abolition of first class and second class citizens.
  7. Freedom of assembly and of forming political associations, was permitted.



  1. Autonomous units: French territories should become autonomous units within a federation with headquarters in Dakar.
  2. Federal parliament: The need to create a federal parliament for all European colonies composed of Europeans and Africans.
  3. Local Assemblies: An institution that was conceived as local (Regional) assemblies composed of Europeans and Africans.
  4. Chambers of Deputies: The French West African territories should continue to send representatives to French chambers of Deputies in Paris.
  5. Abolition: The abolition of the indigenat policy (arbitrary conviction) and the corvee (forced labour).
  6. French Citizenship: This is to be extended to all inhabitants of the French colonies.
  7. African representatives: Enlargement of African representatives in French Chambers of Deputies.
  8. African culture: There should be the retention of African traditional institution/ culture.
  9. Expansion: Expansion of agricultural and educational services to all Africans.



  1. Raw materials: Both colonial authorities (Britain and France) encouraged the people of West Africa to be fully involved in the production of raw materials.
  2. Manufactured goods: Africans’ full participation in the production of raw materials gave them more money, and with this, they were able to buy more of the manufactured products.
  3. Selfish economic policies: Both the French and British economic policies were selfish and mainly fashioned in such a way that only the two countries benefited from such policies.
  4. Cash crops: They mainly promoted the production of cash crops and not food crops.
  5. Research centres: These centres were set up mainly to see how to improve the yield of rubber, cocoa, palm produce etc. and none was done to improve the growing and storing of yams, cassava, rice, etc.
  6. Establishment of industries: There was no plan by any of these powers to establish industries in their West African colonies. France attempted such but was opposed by French businessmen.
  7. Most of these cash crops produced in West Africa were sold to European businessmen at cheap rates: These cash crops would be processed and then brought back as finished products only to be sold to West Africans at a high rate with maximum profit.
  8. Trade by barter: They abolished trade by barter as well as the local currencies.
  9. Communication: Railways and roads down to the coast were mainly constructed not only to serve economic purposes but also to facilitate the movement of soldiers and policemen to any troubled area.



  1. The French adopted direct rule system while the British adopted indirect rule system.
  2. The primary aim of French colonialism was to create French citizens out of assimilated Africans. This was a departure from the British attitude of separated development where colonised people could only be British subjects and not citizens.
  3. British indirect rule was a system of administrative decentralization . The French method seemed to justify a highly centralised political system.
  4. Britain recognised and respected the traditional institution. France destroyed the institution, appointed chiefs and dismissed them at will. Those appointed were auxilliary and used in collection of taxes.
  5. The objective of French colonialism excluded autonomy or independence for her colonies. On the other hand, Britain believed that the possibility for self-government existed for the colonies under her.
  6. In the areas of culture and languages, the French colonial education authority, disregarded local languages and culture and laid much emphasis on French language. The British on their part treated local languages and culture with some respect.
  7. The French policy of assimilation was primarily aimed at creating French citizens out of her colonies. The British on the other hand, did not pursue such policies.
  8. All the colonies under France were made a federation with the headquarters at Dakar and controlled by a French Governor-General thereby creating uniformity in their mode of development. Britain did not pursue such policy. Colonies under Britain developed differently, applying the best method suitable to them.
  9. The Parliament in Paris, with representatives from colonies, served all the colonies under the French, while Britain allowed legislative Houses in her colonies.
  10. Britain, allowed the formation of political associations in her colonies. France opposed and suppressed the formation of political parties.
  11. Mass education by missions and government in British colonies but it was restricted in French colonies, only a few had access to education.



  1. Means of communication: They were not constructed for the benefits of Africans. They were not laid down to facilitate internal trade in African communities. All roads and railways led to the sea. They were built to extract cotton, gold, palm produce, groundnut, cocoa etc.
  2. Exploitation: Africa was being exploited by capital produced by African labour. When Lever Brothers took over the Niger company in 1929, they became heirs to one of the most notorious exploiters of the 19th century Africa.
  3. Human resources development: Colonialism failed to advance Africa along the path of human resources development.
  4. African raw-materials: The industries using African raw-materials were located outside Africa, thus there could be no beneficial backward and forward linkages inside Africa. For example, after the Second World War, Guinea began to export Bauxite. In the hands of French and American capitalists, the bauxite became aluminium and it went into the making of electrical conductors, kitchen utensils, glass etc but in Guinea, the colonial bauxite mining activities left holes in the ground, which led to erosions.
  5. Negation of freedom: Colonialism was a negation of freedom. It could not possibly bring modern political liberation to Africans.
  6. Relinquishing of power: Power is the ultimate determinant in human society, being basic to the relations within any group and between groups. When one society finds itself forced to relinquish power entirely to another society, that in itself, is a form of under development.
  7. Set of indigenous cultural goals: Africans ceased to set indigenous cultural goals and standards and lost full command of training young members of the society.
  8. Puppets: Most states lost their power and independence irrespective of whether they were big empires or small polities. Certain traditional rulers were kept in office and the formal structure of some kingdoms or empires were partially retained but political power had passed into the hands of foreign overlords. Sometimes, some African rulers were chosen to serve as agents of foreign colonial rulers and they were obviously nothing but puppets.
  9. Education: The purpose of colonial education was to train Africans to help man the local administration at the lowest rank and to staff the private capitalist firms owned by Europeans.
  10. African culture: Examples abound in present-day Africa of the insulting and dehumanising treatment of aspects of African culture in the colonial period, based on cultural imperialism and racism. For example, France, did not respect African culture, instead it imposed its own on the people of the colonies.
  11. Production of cash crops: They concentrated their efforts in the areas of producing cash crops e.g. cocoa, cotton, palm produce, groundnut etc for industries in Europe without efforts made to encourage the people to go into the production of food crops.



  1. Military and technical aid: Some former colonial territories especially the French territories, receives military and technical aid from their former colonial masters.
  2. Trade relations: This was established with Britain and France. For example, Britain is the major trading partner with its four former West African colonies.
  3. Development of political parties: One of the impacts of colonialism in British and French West Africa was the development of political parties. Many of these political parties emerged to champion the struggle for political independence.
  4. Common language: Colonialism promoted the development of common languages among the colonial territories. English was developed and spoken in British territories while French developed in French territories.
  5. Uniform civil service: The civil service was developed along that of the British and the French systems.
  6. Common legal system: There was the development of a common legal system among the colonial territories.
  7. The Commonwealth: This organisation was formed to bring together all former colonies under Britain and Britain itself. They co-operate among themselves in different areas of human endeavour, e.g. sports,scholarship programme etc.
  8. Emergence of the press: Another impact of colonialism was the emergence of the press, especially, the print media (newspapers). The press developed and became the mouthpiece of the people in the struggle for political independence.



Imperialism may be defined as the economic control and exploitation of foreign lands arising from the necessity to reverse the impediments to the accumulation of capital which gave rise to the internal contradictions of the domestic capitalist economy.

Deducing from Michael Barrett Brown’s essay “The Economics of Imperialism”, it may be more broadly defined as follows:

“The outward drive of certain people to build empires, colonies and to occupy privileged positions in markets, protect sources of raw materials and extend opportunities for profitable employment of labour”.

However, this concept may be extended further as the creation of unequal economic relationship between states, not simply the inequality between the rich and poor states but that which borders on political and economic dependence of the poor on the rich.

In his book, Imperialism, Hobson articulated some of the psychological motives put forward as explanation of imperialism such as national pride, quest for glory, etc. He admitted that these factors are not major causes but that the dominant motive for imperialism was the quest for markets as well as opportunities for higher returns on investments.

He postulated further that the result of capitalist development in the West was that industry became more productive and needed greater imports of raw-materials, more food for the urban population growing in response to industrialization and products to meet the rising demand for luxury goods created by a rising standard of living.

Schumpeter, in his submission, explains that imperialism is characterized by an aggressive expansionism which has no objective beyond itself.

Karl Marx argued that imperialism is a necessary product of capitalism, where surplus value is converted into capital, a process called ‘accumulation’.

He further argued that this accumulation will tend to transport capitalism to economically backward countries.

Lenin in his essay, ‘Imperialism the highest stage of capitalism’ argued that imperialism grows out of the logic of the capitalist system and in addition that imperialism symbolizes a particular stage in the development of capitalism, a transitional stage of capitalism to a higher economic order, moving to the displacement of capitalist free competition by capitalist monopoly.

These writers appeared to have agreed in principle that the impetus for imperialism comes from economic interests and that imperialism is related to the process of capitalist accumulation.



Neo-colonialism is identified in the persistent influence of the ex-colonial powers in the domestic and foreign policies of the newly independent states, which is particularly noticeable in the economic field, where the colonial-type economic relations are not only sustained but are given a boost.

Most African states have consistently demonstrated this neo-colonial tendency by maintaining diplomatic links with either the West or the East bloc and accepting ‘aid’ from both blocs.

Therefore, as a result of their dependence on foreign aid, the foreign policy of most of them is skewed in favour of their colonial overlords.

This has resulted in the maintenance of a very close relations with their erstwhile colonial overlords.

Similarly, the activities of IMF and the World Bank in most of these developing states have neo-colonial tendencies.

Furthermore, these states are puppets to IMF as well as to their former colonial powers in terms of economic aids.

They are equally subject to manipulation in the hands of these developed countries.

Advantages of overseas domestic helper.