British Imperialism in West Africa. by Elinor Burns - Labour Research Department,
The above pamphlet constitutes No. 4 of the Colonial Series of the L.R.D. It reviews, in brief, the various stages by which British capitalist interests have acquired a grip of the economic resources of West Africa, including the labour power of the natives. Broadly speaking, the process is similar to that in East Africa and other tropical countries illustrated from time to time in these columns. The main difference is that it commenced at an earlier date, and has reached a higher stage of development.
In East Africa, British influence had to contend from the first with the Arab slave-power. Its initial enterprises in that direction could conveniently assume the hypocritical guise of philanthropy, i.e., the suppression of the slave trade. In West Africa, however, British heroes from the time of Drake and Hawkins down to the latter end of the 18th century had indulged in the time-honoured practice of carrying off the comparatively defenceless inhabitants and selling them to the plantation-owners of the American colonies. This policy led to such a serious reduction in the population in these regions that the trading companies, which eventually sought profit there in other forms, actually had to bring back slaves liberated from America in order to provide themselves with a labour supply.