British West Africa was the collective name for British colonies in West Africa during the colonial period, either in the general geographical sense or the formal colonial administrative entity. British West Africa as a colonial entity was originally officially known as Colony of Sierra Leone and its Dependencies, then British West African Territories and finally British West African Settlements.[1]

British West African Settlements
Flag of
Badge of
Anthem: God Save the King (1821–1837)
God Save the Queen (1837–1850; 1866–1888)
Location of British West Africa. From left to right: The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Gold Coast and Nigeria.
Location of British West Africa. From left to right: The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Gold Coast and Nigeria.
StatusCrown colony
Common languagesEnglish (official)
GovernmentCrown colony
• 1821–1830
George IV (first)
• 1837–1850; 1866–1888
Victoria (last)
Historical eraAbolitionism
New Imperialism
• Established
17 October 1821
• Disestablishment
13 January 1850
• Second establishment
19 February 1866
• Final disestablishment
28 November 1888
CurrencyPound sterling
British West African pound
Succeeded by
Gambia Colony and Protectorate
Gold Coast (British colony)
Oil Rivers Protectorate
Sierra Leone Colony and Protectorate
Today part ofThe Gambia
Sierra Leone

The United Kingdom held varying parts of these territories or the whole throughout the 19th century. From west to east, the colonies became the independent countries of The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. Until independence, Ghana was referred to as the Gold Coast.

Historical jurisdiction edit

A sketch of the town of Bathurst, The Gambia, published in 1824
Otoo Ababio II., Omanhene of Abura, being presented to Prince of Wales, Accra, Gold Coast, 1925

British West Africa constituted during two periods (17 October 1821, until its first dissolution on 13 January 1850, and again 19 February 1866, until its final demise on 28 November 1888) as an administrative entity under a governor-in-chief (comparable in rank to a governor-general), an office vested in the governor of Sierra Leone (at Freetown).[1]

The other colonies originally included in the jurisdiction were the Gambia and the British Gold Coast (modern Ghana). Also western Nigeria, eastern Nigeria and northern Nigeria were included.[2]

Africa's present makeup includes Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Western Nigeria, Eastern Nigeria and Northern Nigeria. These countries and areas are artifacts of the post-colonial period, or what the Ghanaian writer Kwame Appiah dubs neo-colonialism.[citation needed]

British West Africa was originally founded at the urging of the prominent abolitionist Fowell Buxton, who felt that ending the Atlantic slave trade required some level of British control of the coastline.[3] Development was solely based on modernization, and autonomous educational systems were the first step to modernising indigenous culture. Cultures and interests of indigenous peoples were ignored. A new social order, as well as European influences within schools and local traditions, helped mould British West Africa's culture. The British West African colonial school curriculum helped play a role in this. Local elites developed, with new values and philosophies, who changed the overall cultural development.[4]

Aftermath edit

Even after its final dissolution, a single currency, the British West African pound, was in effect throughout the region—including Nigeria—from 1907 to 1962.[citation needed]

Nigeria gained independence in 1960. Sierra Leone was self-governing by 1958 and gained independence in 1961. Gambia gained independence in 1965. In 1954, the British Gold Coast was allowed by Britain to self-govern and in 1957, the Gold Coast was given independence from Britain, under the name Ghana.[5]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Sierra Leone". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  2. ^ Lange, Matthew (2006). "Colonialism and Development: a comparative analysis of Spanish and British colonies" (PDF). American Journal of Sociology. 111 (5): 1412–1462. doi:10.1086/499510. JSTOR 10.1086/499510. S2CID 142835054.
  3. ^ The African Slave Trade and its Remedy (1839) at the Internet Archive
  4. ^ Szücs, Stefan; Strömberg, Lars (17 August 2007). Local Elites, Political Capital and Democratic Development: Governing Leaders in Seven European Countries. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-3-531-90110-7.
  5. ^ "Britannica Academic". Retrieved 4 February 2020.

External links edit