Sir George Goldie and the Making of Nigeria

By John E. Flint; Gerald S. Graham | Go to book overview

10
The Burdens of Empire

To appreciate Goldie's position at the time of the Brassmen's attack on Akassa, we must now take a wider look at the Niger Company's position. It was a time of acute, almost catastrophic, danger, full of difficulties of a most formidable kind. For while the Brassmen had been making their preparations, a major threat from France had been developing in the north-western part of the Niger Territories, and in this same region the British Colonial Office was trying to force Goldie along a path which he did not wish to, and at this time could not, follow. As the Brassmen were looting Akassa, a French gunboat was openly defying the company's administration on the lower Niger, a French officer with a parts of African troops was in occupation of a fortified position on the navigable Niger below Bussa, and French expeditions were wandering over what had hitherto been accepted as the company's treaty sphere. As if this were not enough, Goldie was being subjected to intense pressure from the Colonial Office to mount a formidable and costly military expedition for the conquest of the Muslim emirate of Ilorin.

Each of these dangers was symptomatic of a profound change which was affecting the policies of European governments in Africa; a change which was ultimately to bring about the fall of the chartered regime. While European governments were content to establish their claims to African territory on little more than dubious treaties and imaginary lines on the map, the Niger Company had found no difficulty, indeed had often had the advantage, in fulfilling its role as British representative on the

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