The Meaning of Industrial Capitalism

Capitalism is the social, political and economic system based on private ownership of the major means of production.

It first developed in Europe during the 15th century after the collapse of Feudalism. Under the system of capitalism, companies and individuals own and direct most of the resources used in production of goods and services.


  1. Commercial or mercantile capitalism
  2. Industrial capitalism
  3. Monopoly capitalism
Commercial or mercantile capitalism

It was the first stage of capitalism where by its economic system was based on trade and commerce.

It took place between the year 1400 and 1750. The merchants obtained wealth through trade activities. A lot of wealth was accumulated during this period and therefore increased new demands that resulted into development of another stage of capitalism known as industrial capitalism

Industrial capitalism

This was the period when machines begun to be used for production in industries. The transition to industrial capitalism was the period when mercantile capitalism was giving way to industrial capitalism. This stage of industrial capitalism took place between the 1750s and 1870s.


Needs for raw materials

The increasing production due to expansion of industries needed large quantities of raw materials supply. These materials included cotton, coffee, tea, iron ore, palm oil, sisal, sugar cane, tobacco and rubber. The available raw materials could not meet the demand needed by industries. This resulted into the search and control of the sources of raw materials.

Need for Market

Due to the investment of capital in production, industrial goods flooded the European markets. Overproduction and under consumption became a critical problem among the industrial capitalists, hence they were forced to look for markets outside Europe.

Need Areas for investment

Due to unreliable markets and high concentration of capital in Europe, profit marginalization occurred. As a solution new areas for investment were needed among other areas, Africa provided the best areas for investment of such capital.

Need areas for Cheap labors

Due to labor consciousness caused by working class movements in Europe and Britain in particular, the need to search for cheap labor become important because it was very expensive to hire a labour in Europe. This was a measure taken to compete in production for profit maximization.

Need area for settlement

Also they demanded the area for surplus unemployed personal population in their countries which was caused by the discovery of machines that replaced human labour.


Competition in industrial production

European capitalist nations increased the demand for industrial development as a result of competition in industrial production.

American independence

Resulted in the development of the industrial sector. By the beginning of the 1870s, Europe could not easily enter U.S.A since it had introduced protective tariffs to keep out foreign manufactured goods and protect its industries. By the 1860s, markets for manufactured goods and sources of raw materials in Europe had greatly declined.

Accumulation of wealth

In order to ensure this, they decided to invest the wealth that was being obtained in industries into other areas outside Europe.

Overpopulation and unemployment

The problem of overpopulation and unemployment was also rising in European countries. Therefore, the solution to those problems was sought outside Europe.

Demands for raw materials

The highly demanded raw materials were cotton, oil, sugar cane, ivory, rubber and iron ore. Most of these raw materials could not be found in Europe in large quantities. In fact, those tropical crops could not grow in Europe. Following this Europe decided to produce such raw materials in Africa.


There were about three groups of agents of industrial capitalism in Africa namely:

  1. Explorers
  2. Missionaries
  3. Traders


During the 19th century, the major aim of European powers was the exploration of Africa. The journey of exploration was financed and supported by European capitalists

In east Africa, exploration was done by the prominent explores such as Speke, Burton, Grant, Samuel Baker, Henry Molton Stanley and Dr. Livingstone

In central Africa and parts of Congo the prominent explorers were Dr. Livingstone and later Henry M. Stanley.

In West Africa the prominent explorers included Richard Lander, Dr. Barth Mungo Park, Clapperton, Dr. Baikie, Gaspard Mollien and Cailie.

The main aim was

To gather information about Africa because they needed a wider knowledge of the continent

They also wanted to know about the raw materials which African had to sell and the location of the main centers of population

They were interested in the knowledge of transport potentialities of African great river systems. For example, the British explorer, Mungo Park in 1780s, followed by Clapperton and Richard Lander explored the Niger and gathered important information about the economy and politics of West Africa.


They reported back about the potentialities of the African resources

Clapperton reported about the river Niger to the British government while Speke reported about the potentiality of Lake Victoria and named it Victoria to honor Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.

They provided important information about the nature of African societies

They reported about the hostility, calmness and hospitality of the African people. This information played a central role for the European colonialists during the decision making process regarding the colonization of Africa.

They explored important mountains and researched the geology

Climatic conditions, topography, lakes and animal species in Africa. This knowledge later attracted European powers to colonize Africa.

They provided messages to their government about the evils of slave trade

The areas where slave trade was still conducted. Dr. Livingstone’s third journey through Tanganyika and Lake Regions of central Africa was targeted for that as a result he informed the English that the Yao’s land was still characterized by slave raids and the effects of slave trade such as sufferings, insecurity.


By the 19th century, missionary activities had started in Africa. The pioneers were the protestant churches of Europe and America. It was only later that Roman arrived especially from France.

The domination of missionaries were the London missionary society, the church missionary society, Roman Catholic missionary society and the universities mission to central Africa (UMCA). Few Christian missionaries were directly active agents of imperialism.

They were essential ingredients of the increasingly assertive European access to Africa. However, in most cases European Christian played an important role in promoting and shaping the advent of European capitalism.


They acted as interpreters and propagandists at the time of treaty making

Moffat stayed among the Ndebele for about 30 years serving the British South African company (BSACO) for treaty making between the companies (BSAC) and King Lobengula.

They acted as advisors to African chiefs

The British missionaries of the church missionary society convinced Kabaka to accept protectorate.

They introduced Western civilization to the interior through education

This aimed to prepare people of low ranks to serving colonial masters at the time of colonization.

They softened the minds and the hearts of Africans

Their activities were influenced by European imperialists’ interests by preaching and emphasizing the spiritual beliefs such as “give to God what which belongs to God,” and “give to Ceaser what belongs to Ceaser”. In the long run this preaching weakened African opposition and shaped the regions for future colonial administration.

They converted Africans to the new faith

They were easily employed as puppets to extend colonial rule. Typical examples are the converts of Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Ghana who were able to protect the British economic interests and paved the way for future colonization by the British.

They reduced resistance among African societies

This was done by converting some societies and preaching obedience to administrators.

They Introduced new crops

Horner grew coffee at Bagamoyo around 1870s the church missionaries society grew cotton in Uganda. This prepared people to acquire the skills, which were important for future cash crop production during the colonial era.

They helped in the abolition of slave trade

They planned for successful Christianization of the freed slaves as they preached the word of God. They wanted to create the conducive and peaceful environment for the development of legitimate trade which was exploitative in nature and was after capitalists’ interests.

They had closer links with rulers and interfered even in political matters

They allied European imperialism while they were working in the interior of Africa. This situation provoked the hostility from African rulers. In this case, missionaries appealed strongly for the protection from their home governments, which later led to effective colonization.


Traders were among the first Europeans to visit the interior and coastal areas of Africa. They came under the influence of capitalists who also supported missionaries and explorers.

Their main aim was to exploit the new sources of raw materials, markets and new areas in which industrial capitalists had to invest their capital. Examples of traders are William Mackinnon, James Stevenson, Harry Johnston and Carl Peters.


They opened a new an exploitative system

Africa became the target for European interests. This resulted in stiff rivalries and competition among European industrial nations.

They introduced legitimate trade

This involved the importation of European manufactured goods. Thus, the chain of dependence was created and the African local industries and the arts were destroyed.

They exposed Africa to the world capitalist system of economy

The use of currency, banking and credit facilities began to be witnessed by Africans. This resulted into exploitation of African resources. The fair and quick turns obtained by traders attracted European colonialists to come into Africa.

They opened communication systems

This laid the foundation for future colonial infrastructure. For example, the road from Lake Nyasa to Tanganyika known as Livingstone road was opened by traders and was used during the colonial administration.


Abolition of slave trade refers to the state of ending slave trade. Or was the act of freeing slaves and stopping the use of human being as commodities.

Britain was the first nation to Establish abolition of slave trade campaign. In 1833, Britain abolished slavery, in 1865 U.S.A also abolished and the total abolition of slave trade in East Africa took place during the colonial period.



Capitalist production

This involves two classes of societies, which are the capitalists who control the major means of production and the workers who are employed by the capitalists. For the workers to be effectively employed, they must be free and not slaves.

Need for markets

Due to the industrial revolution, there was increased production of industrial products in Europe that lacked enough demand; this forced the British to abolish slave trade so that markets can be created in Africa for their manufactured goods.

Need for raw materials

Due to the industrial revolution, there was increased demand for raw materials in Britain. The existing raw materials were limited to supply due to the mushrooming of industries. This situation necessitated the abolition of the slave trade so that Africans could produce the needed raw materials.

The use of machines

The industrial revolution was characterized by the use of machines in the production process, these machines replaced human labor. The owners of the machines campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade because slave labor had become redundant.

French and British competition over sugar production

For so long period, the British had a monopoly on sugar in the European market. The sugar was produced by slave labor in the British West Indies. The British was selling their sugar at very high prices thus making huge profits. However, by the end of the 18thC, the French West Indies and re union islands were producing sugar in large quantities and selling at a cheaper price thus making more profits than the British. This situation made slave labor in British West Indies useless thus forcing the British to abolish the slave trade.

The rise of men with new ideas

Adam Smith – challenged the economic arguments that were the basis of slave trade when he argued convincingly that hired labor is cheaper and more productive than slave labor, Rousseau spread the idea of personal liberty and equality of all men.

The ship owners stopped transporting slaves from Africa

The ship owners began to transport raw materials directly from Africa and America to Europe, which led to a decline in slave trade.


Religious reasons

The religious bodies contributed to the abolition of the slave trade in Africa. They argued that slave trade was against the will of God because he had created all people equal but slave trade was treating Africans as an inferior class. The Christians denounced slave trade in the name of God and argued that it must be abolished.

French revolution of 1789

The French revolution of 1789 had a role to play in the abolition of the slave trade. The slogan of the revolution was fraternity, liberty and equality. Philosophers such as Rousseau campaigned for the abolition of slave trade. These philosophers claimed that slave trade was against the ideals of the French revolution thus it had to be stopped.

Humanitarian movements

The humanitarians such as Granville sharp and Thomas Clarkson played a certain role in the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. These people argued that slave trade had caused a lot of suffering to the people, thus it had to be abolished. These efforts were followed by British declarations of 1807 and 1833 which abolished slave trade and slavery.


Abolitionist and humanitarians used several methods to pressurize nations to abolish slave trade in the world. These tactics include the following;

1. They used campaign meetings

Sometimes they asked freed slaves to address the realities and how they were mistreated in slavery.

2. Anti-Slavery trade patrol ships from Britain

They patrolled the seas to prevent ships from sailing from Africa with slaves.

3. Intellectuals and writers

Used books, newspapers and magazines to condemn slavery and slave trade.

3. Treaties to stop slave trade were signed between nations

Some of the treaties signed between the Sultan of Zanzibar and the British in East Africa were;

  • In 1807 British parliament outlawed slave trade for British subjects.
  • In 1817 British negotiated the “the reciprocal search treaties” with Spain and Portugal.
  • Equipment treaties signed with Spain 1835, Portugal 1842 and America 1862.
In east Africa:

1. Moresby treaty – 1822 was signed between captain Moresby and sultan Seyyid Said it forbade the shipping of slaves outside the sultan’s territories. British sips were authorized to stop and search suspected Arabs slave carrying dhows.

2. Hamerton treaty1845 was signed between Colonel Hamerton and sultan Seyyid Said. It forbade the shipping of slaves outside the sultan’s East Africa territories i.e. beyond to the North.

3. On 5th March 1873, the sultan passed a decree prohibiting the export of slaves from mainland and closed of slave market at Zanzibar. Zanzibar slave market was to be closed within 24 hours


Foundation of Sierra Leone and Liberia

These areas were established by the Europeans powers as settlements for the freed slaves. They received freed slaves from America. It should be noted that the Trans-Atlantic slave trade uprooted millions of Africans who were supposed to offer labor in America.

Introduction of legitimate trade

There was introduction of legitimate trade that involved the buying and selling of natural resources, Example palm oil and cocoa. The colonial powers introduced legitimate trade so that it can facilitate the acquisition of raw materials and markets which were crucial in Europe after the industrial revolution.

Exploitation of hinterland

Before the abolition of the slave trade, the colonial powers operated along the coast of West Africa searching for slaves, but after the abolition of slave trade they penetrated the interior searching for raw materials and market where they can sell their manufactured goods.

Increased spread of Christianity

The European powers increased the spread of Christianity after the abolition of slave trade. Christianity was a way of compensating for the ills committed by slave trade. This religion was also spread to counter the spread of Islam in West Africa.

Increased provision of social services

The colonial powers increased the provision of social services especially education. The main aim of colonial education was to train Africans to become better producers of raw materials that were needed in Europe. Colonial education was also supposed to change the mentality of Africans to prefer European goods thus created a ready market for them.

Improvement of the agricultural sector

The colonial powers improved the agricultural sector by introducing better methods of farming to increase the production of raw materials. It should be noted that the colonialists discouraged the production of food crops in Africa.

Linguistic studies

The colonial powers studied native languages so that they can be able to translate the Bible into local languages. This move was to convert many Africans to Christianity. The languages that were studied by the imperialist were Hausa and Fulani.


Britain took control of the cape during the period of Mercantilism in Europe.

In 1580 Sir Francis Drake became the first British man to round the Cape of Good Hope. At the end of 18th century, The British became interested in seizing the cape colony from the Dutch.

The British first occupation of South Africa was in 1795 when they attacked and defeated the Boers at the Cape. There was a peace treaty between the Dutch and the British in 1802 and the Cape was given back to the Dutch in 1803. However, in 1806 the British decided to re-occupy the Cape by defeating the Dutch.


They wanted to protect their ships on the sea route to India.

They wanted to control the trade route on seawater (India & Asia).

They wanted to protect themselves against ships of enemies.

They wanted to get raw materials, market and area for investment.

They wanted to increase colonies.


Introduction of land legislation system

They aimed at discouraging pastoralism among Boers and to encourage sedentary farming since the policy limited the size of an individual’s land. The Dutch thought that the British introduced the land law to take land from the Boers and redistribute it to the landless Khoikhoi so they opposed the land law.

Abolition of slave trade and slavery in 1807

The British government abolished slave trade in all their colonies and offered compensation for slaves but the money was only paid in London as a result the majority did not get their compensation. However, freeing slaves endangered the economic survival of the Boers as they depended much on slave labor.

Imposition of the English language as the as the official language

The British imposed English language and used in administering the law and justice and the medium of instruction in schools in 1822. Hence, English language replaced the Dutch as he official language.

Abolition of internal trade restriction imposed by the Dutch company

Officials on the farmers and other settlers at the cape. This created more trade opportunities as they could now trade freely without strictly control from the administration.

Introduction of the pass in 1809

To reduce the exploitation of African labor as the system required African workers to carry passbooks which indicated their residence and employment, and those who did not carry them were regarded as criminals. The pass prevented the Africans from moving from district to district or moving into areas occupied by Europeans.

Introduction of contract system

Through this the Boers were to sign contracts with their workers. In those contracts, they were to mention the wages and other fringe benefits that they gave to their workers. Therefore, the Boers regarded the contract system as British interference in the traditional Boer-Africans relationship of master-servant.

Introduction of the Black circuit court system in 1811

In order to reduce acts of violence committed by European employers against African employees. The law angered the Boers who considered themselves a superior race and thus natural masters of the Africans.

Provision of financial aid to the British settlers by the British government

This encouraged more of its citizens to immigrate to the Cape as a result in 1820 some 300 British settlers arrived in South Africa increasing the total white population by almost 12% within weeks.

Introduction of English law

As the basis of the legal system in South Africa.


TREK simply means a movement of people from one place to another in large groups.

BOER TREK was the migration of the Boers from the Cape of Good Hope to other interior parts of South Africa in order to find new settlement areas.

The historical background of the Boers movement can be traced back with the arrival of British towards the end of 18th century, who established their administration at the cape colony. With presence of British, everything at the cape changed into negative to Boers.

The migration took place from 1830s to 1840s where the Boers moved in groups of families at different times to different parts of interior South Africa, in a movement that later became known as the BOERS TREK or GREAT TREK.


Introduction of British government

British established their settlements at the Cape of Good Hope early in 19th century. Here, both Boers and natives were under British domination. The Boer did not want to be under the British government, that’s why they decided to move out from the Cape of Good Hope, to interior where they could establish their independent states.

Abolition of slavery and slave trade

The other fundamental change that British rule brought about was the ending of the slave trade and then the total banning of slavery. The British abolished slavery and slave trade in 1833 which was established by the Boers. Nevertheless, many of the original Dutch settlers were extremely unhappy about the emancipation of slaves.

Introduction of English language as an official language

The coming of the British led to introduction of English language as an official language in 1822 that was to be spoken by all people at the cape. This made the Boers to become discontent hence Boer Trek.

Shortage of land at the cape

The coming of the British at the cape led to increase of population. The Cape of Good Hope became overpopulated. This led to shortage of land hence Boers decided to move to interior in search of the new land for agricultural undertakings.

To transform the Composition of the local white population

The British encouraged the immigration of British settlers of South Africa with the aim of transforming the Composition of the local white population.

British Introduced land privatization

This put limitation on the amount of land that one could own. This violated the Boers practice of owning large farms.


Establishment of Boer Republics

The movement of the Boer from the cape to interior led to the establishment of two Boer Republics which were Transvaal Republic and Orange Free State.

Occurrence of Afro-Boer Wars

The movement of the Boers to the interior led to conflicts between the Boers and Africans. This was due to the fact that Boers confiscated natives’ lands. A good example of those conflicts was the Zulu war with the Boers in 1837.

It accelerated Mfecane movements on the interior Southern Africa

This is due to the fact that their penetration increased shortage of land in the hinterland.

The Boers had in the interim developed their own culture and language

In the interior areas where they settled.

Discovery of Minerals

The Boer Trek also led to discovery of minerals in the interior parts of South Africa. The minerals discovered in the interior were: Diamond discovered at Kimberley in 1867 Gold discovered at Witwatersrand in 1880’s.

The Boers lost touch with their homeland

Their movement to the interior of South Africa developed a new language and culture known as Afrikaans and referred to themselves as Afrikaners.

The British regarded the Boers as rebellious

The British colonial government felt responsible for the cruel treatment to these Boers and hence influenced Boers to move to the interior part of South Africa.

The Boers forcefully took African resources

The Boers by force took the African properties such as land and livestock in the interior of South Africa.


Explain the demands of industrial capitalism

Explain the roles of the agents of industrial capitalism in preparing Africa for colonialism

Outline the major causes of the Boer Trek in South Africa.

Write shot notes on the effects of the Boer Trek on people of South Africa.

What are motives of the British at the Cape?

Mention five tactics used by British to occupy the Cape.





  1. Nice article inspiring thanks. Hello Administ . Metropol Halı Karaca Halı Öztekin ve Selçuklu Halı Cami Halısı ve Cami Halıları Türkiye’nin En Büyük Cami Halısı Fabrikasıyız…


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