It can be argued that the British government were reluctant imperialists in West Africa, there was a strong desire by the British Government and the British people to abolish slavery, the role of George Goldie who brought the sense of “creeping imperialism” and the ongoing threat European Powers posed to British rule in Africa. These factors all suggest that the Government were reluctant imperialists in West Africa.
European Powers especially the Germans in West Africa pressured the British Government into expanding into West Africa. At first the UK government were not interested in expanding into West Africa, this can be shown by the rejection of Consul’s Hewett’s want for development in the area. It was only after German expansion in the area that the British began to imperialise. Karl Peters, a German “man on the spot”, in 1882 collected treaties all across West Africa which were eventually accepted by the German leader Bismarck. The British were becoming alarmed and interest in the region grew after the German explorer Nachtigal beat Consul Hewett to the ownership of many oil rivers in the region. The British reaction of annexing some regions of nearby Uganda and proclaiming protectorates in Congo suggests that they were extremely reluctant in expansion. The fact that the British only began expanding in West Africa after German expansion in the early 1880s further shows how reluctant they were in expanding in the area. It shows that there was no other reason than the ever growing German expansion that Britain influence increased in West Africa.
The growth of the UK’s economy which was headed by “men on the spot” is another key factor which highlights how reluctant the British Government were in expanding into West Africa. George Goldie, a British businessman who earned his large sum of wealth by ship building created a sense of “creeping imperialism”. The British were not keen to expand in Africa in general and this is emphasised by Chamberlin who famously said there “was no need for further expansion in Africa” Goldie created a sense of Creep imperialism by acting against the government and creating his own business the United Africa Company with his main interests in Palm Oil. At the Berlin conference in 1884 the British eventually became involved by demonstrating clear interest in annexing part of the Niger region. In 1886 the company was chartered as the Royal Niger Company, Goldie declared his company to be the Government of the area. Natives