Scholarship on the history of imperialism has tended to overly concentrate on Western imperial hegemony over non-Western societies. On the other hand forms of imperialism in societies elsewhere, particularly Africa, remain understudied. The frame of Western imperialism with its operational principles has generally been represented by non Western scholars as economically exploitative, culturally repressive, politically intrusive and disorienting. The rather limited literature on imperial systems in African political history has often been deconstructive of Western imperialism’s disruptive propensities in its target societies. However, some referential frameworks employed in interpreting Western imperialism are also applicable to processes of empire building and maintenance in Africa. One of the most relevant of these conceptual frames, perhaps, is J.A. Hobson’s idea that imperialism was invariably fashioned through the ‘combination of economic and political forces’ whose sources are traceable to selfish capitalist interests. Using and modifying the Hobsonian economic model of interpretation, this paper analyses an imperial conflict between the British, a Western imperial power, and Asante, an African imperial overlord, in the interior of Ghana during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. It focuses on the ways in which the rivalry between the two imperial powers manifested as the two powers struggled over the control of Nkoransa, a state in northwestern Ghana, which was strategically situated to sway much of the tide of north-south commerce during the period. The paper argues that the pursuit of commercial domination in the area of modern Ghana was the key issue at the centre of all the imperial contestation between Asante and the British from 1874 to 1900 as represented by the struggle over Nkoransa.
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