LEC 02- SEPT 19 , 2012
Prichard’s email: [email protected]
The Adverts of Colonialism
The Rise and Fall of Asante
It was not an empire yet, it was several small communities in
the 13 -15 thcentury. It existed next to other major West
African empires. The dominant power was Denkyira, it drew
tribute from the others, but it remained a fragmented state.
Europeans started to come from the coast, and began
trading with locals. Gold, slaves, minerals for guns, cloth…
So the skattered communities started to get bigger from
those trades and allow them to grow in power in relation to
A strong community emerged to take control. And then the
Asante empire began bigger and bigger.
The empire does not function as centralized as European
empires. The center is strong, but as you go further out,
In the 19 century, brought growing conflict with the British
over control of trade routes, with repeated minor wars.
Over the course of the 19 thcentury, the Asante had wars with
the British, because they did not want to become a British
o The War of the Golden Stool led by the Queen mother-
by which time the Asante leaders had been sent into
exile and the lands were incorporated into the new Gold
Coast colony of the British.
o Econoimically, they pushed further the production of
cocoa, and the export of gold.
African Map in the 19 century. In comparison to a European map of
the same time, there are important borders. African states are not
centralized, borders are not exclusive. People can be members of two
empires at once.
The Nature of Pre-Colonial State Power
Lot less people relative to the amount of land available. High
costs of extending power
Power based on control over people rather than land. Thus
reliant on military threat in order to secure tribute and slaves
If you controlled territory, you controlled the people, and
when you control these two, then you can generate revenue. In Africa, it was not about controlling land, it was about
controlling people, because it was way too easy to move
Limited incentives and ability to extend state power to
** Idea of periphery and borders.
o Strength at the center, less engagement further in the
The first Europeans initially came to Africa to trade with
African communities in gold, cocoa, diamonds, ivory…
The change began around 1650 with the slave trade to
o 10 million Africans were taken abroad. The British and
the French dominated the slave trade, but the Spanish
and the Portuguese also participated in.
o ** Europeans made use of coercion to get slaves from
the bushes through intermediaries. That shifted the
location of these empires from further up, to the south.
In 1807, the British abolished slave trade in 1807, and other
countries followed thereafter. The abolition of slavery
precipated massive expansion of trade.
o They shifted from people back to resources.
o Legitimate trade increased as much as 3000% during
first half of 19 century
o Africa exported crops for industrial use
As much trade as they did, Europeans were few in the
o Why? The trade through middlemen and small local
presences worked. They did not go inlands, they stayed
into the coast and
o Many reasoning, but two worth emphazising:
High costs/low benefits: low population densities
and large distances
Same factors that shaped the nature of
Shift from trade to colonial rule was astonishingly rapid form 1870.
Europeans did not think they would come colonize because the
continent was inhospitable. But that changed fast.
Aggressve advances into the interior began in the 1870s.
French through northern part of West Africa, British centered
on the Gold Coast, Egypt, East Africa, and South Africa, Belgians and Portuguese in Cnetral Africa, and Germans
Fearing conflict among colonial powers, partition of continent was
negotiated in 1884 at the Berlin conference.
Colonialists cut up Africa into spheres of influence. With
straight lines and stuff.
They sent up military parties to establish that this will in fact
be your territory.
After 1884 (partition), conquests accelerated as colonial
powers sought to affirm territorial claims
o They did that by signing ambiguous “treaties” with
locals to say that they did not steal the land
Protectorates and treaties precursors to unilateral conquest
Despite pockets of determined resistance, European conquest