German Colonial Quest for Nigeria till the Allied Victory in World War II

  • Nnanna A. Iroh
Keywords: Colonization, Détente, Appeasement, War, Diplomacy


The early presence of Germany in Nigeria was dominated by German nationals carrying out different activities without the backing of their home government. This paper reviews the race for colonies among European countries in Africa as it concerned Germany and their desperate need for Nigeria as a colony. It notes that there was no starting point in time for colonial powers as the acquisition of colonies came variedly through the activities of explorers, traders, missionaries before the eventual takeover of their areas of operation by their home governments for the formal colonization. What however mattered was how early the home governments responded to the activities of their nationals operating in Africa. The governments that responded early such as Britain and France had a fair share of the continental spoils. In the case of Germany, they had early explorers, traders and even missionaries but no early response by their home government. It took the business interest groups and leaders of thought after long debates and persuasions for their government to see the need for colonies. By this time, it was too late as some of the highly resourceful sections of Africa had been occupied by the earlier adventurers. By the time Germany joined the race they were driven more by national pride than by economic interests unlike France, Britain, Portugal, Belgium whose nationals had early government backing. The paper establishes that as a result of the pressure on the government from the business interest groups and other segments of the society, the government realized that colonies were primarily for economic reasons. This opened their eyes to see the non-viability of the business potentials of the colonies acquired. Parts of what is now northern Nigeria they acquired could not have a formal colonial government established at the time World War I broke out. Germany, therefore, revived its ambition of getting Nigeria, either as a whole or in parts through the two world wars and the diplomacy of the inter-war years. These efforts failed because of the defeat of Germany in the two World Wars and the anti-German emotions of Africans because of the former’s racial tendency both when they were in Africa and the inter-war years, till the end of the last war and consequent destruction of Germany.

Keywords: Colonization, Détente, Appeasement, War, Diplomacy


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eISSN: 1596-5031