(This is an OLDIE – an old review from years ago! My views and opinions might have changed since then.)
This book is a political biography of one of the most important and least known British colonialists, George Goldie.
Born into a wealthy Manx family, Goldie “revived the chartered company as a method of acquiring and ruling territory, added the most populous of all the tropical African colonies to the British Empire, and contributed vital techniques to British administrative policies.”
Goldie founded the Royal Niger Company, the first British chartered company since the British East India Company, and the prototype of the later British South Africa and British East Africa companies, founded by Cecil Rhodes and William MacKinnon, respectively.
Through his Royal Niger Company, Goldie was instrumental in establishing British control over the lower Niger against French and German competition, and in formation of Nigeria by defeating the Banza Bakwai states of Nupe and Ilorin, thus enabling the British to establish the Northern Nigeria Protectorate, which later merged with the Company’s territories of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and the Lagos Colony to form Nigeria’s current boundaries.
Don’t be surprised if you have never heard of Goldie; he didn’t ever want you to know about him. Unlike Rhodes, Goldie loathed publicity, and before his death “he systematically destroyed all of his papers, forbade his children to write anything about him or assist anyone who wished to do so, and threatened to haunt them after his death if they disobeyed him.”
I’d recommend this book for anyone interested in Nigeria or European colonialism in West Africa. The book provides a fairly balanced account of European colonialism in Nigeria and West Africa; it is definitely not like the colonialist trash published by Fuglestad!