The practice of imperialism in West Africa essay

The practice of imperialism in West Africa in the Ivory Coast by the French created conflict and escalated violence within the country and society. This paper seeks to address the important factors that contributed to the practice of imperialism in the Ivory Coast. The practice of French imperialism in the Ivory Coast began in the 17th century. This was due to the race for colonies in Africa in response to European industrialization and the need for raw materials to support such endeavor.

“Europeans needed to satisfy the material necessities of Europe; therefore, the dream of an African empire developed as an avenue for the investment of surplus capital, and as a boost to national prestige. ” (Rashad, 2000, p. 1) At first the French only initiated trade with the local people. “French merchant firms operated long-established trading posts on the coast at Bassam and Assinie, but neither became particularly large or important due to the climate, which Europeans detested, and the lack of adequate port facilities. ” (Jones, 2003, p. 1)

The invasion of the country only started in the late 17th century to early 18th century. However, the French experienced setbacks and conflict among the locals. “The campaign against Samory Toure dragged on much longer than expected, and by 1887, the French began to send military expeditions north from the “Ivory Coast” in hopes of outflanking Samory. ” (Jones, 2003, p. 1) The French established their control over the land and exhausted the country of its resources. Their hold and influence of the country extended until the 21st century.

However, the influence of the French within the country has been declining in the past few years. Political and social groups continue to rise and demand for changes in the present situation. This paved the way for a civil war in the country. “Since the coup d’etat of 1999/2000 that started the present chaos, France has been losing influence in this country with other imperialist vultures gaining at its expense through the different Ivorian factions. ” (International Communist Current, 2003, p. 1) On the other hand, the French present in the country does not want such thing to happen due to several important reasons.

“The Ivory Coast is a country that has a rich supply of raw materials, like cocoa and coffee (just to mention two) and it is one of the three top producers and exporters of these in the world. ” (International Communist Current, 2004, p. 1) This event paved the way for the French to again practice imperialism in the country for them to protect their political and commercial interests. “Because of this, the control of the Ivory Coast, one of the main bases for its continuing domination in this region, is an important strategic stake for French imperialism and for its rival imperialisms too.

” (International Communist Current, 2004, p. 1) The way France practiced imperialism is manifested by proclaiming war over all the groups and individuals that challenge French authority. Thus, violence and conflict started. However, the action made by France stirred opposition from other important parties. They indicated that violence can never indeed solve the problem posed, it will only just make it worse. With this, France initiated the negotiation process between the warring parties and the bourgeoisie party however it only seemed to lead to the further escalation of the conflict.

In the end, all that is left is a state who is torn by war, conflict and violence from groups who wanted control over power. To conclude, the paper pointed out the practice of French imperialism in West Africa particularly in the Ivory Coast. It featured several important points as to why such practice by France only paved the way for an escalation of conflict and violence. In the end, it the only experience French imperialism gave Ivory Coast is a complex environment filled with uncertainty, violence and instability.


International Communist Current. (2003) Ivory Coast: France shows its real imperialist face. Retrieved October 3, 2007 from http://en. internationalism. org/wr/262_ivory. htm Jones, J. (2003) The French in West Africa. Retrieved October 3, 2007 from http://courses. wcupa. edu/jones/his312/lectures/fren-occ. htm Rashad, A. The Enduring Impact of Imperialism and Colonialism on Africa. Retrieved October 3, 2007 from http://www. theblacklist. net/board/msgs/10098. html