|Slavery was abolished in Britain in 1807
and so Britain’s relationship with Africa changed. Britain
followed its tried and tested method of allying with local rulers
and then joining in conflicts between its allies and their enemies.
In the process, the British gained increasing influence in West
Africa and particularly in North Africa. In 1844 Britain took
control of the Gold Coast of West Africa. At the same time explorers,
traders and missionaries like David Livingstone were coming
into contact with new African peoples and opening up trade routes
as well as establishing political alliances.
From about 1870 to about 1900 Britain took control of increasingly
large areas of West and North Africa. West Africa was a valuable
source of gold and other trading goods. By the 1890s much
of the coastal area of West Africa, and the lands which now
form the state of Nigeria, were under British control. In
the 1880s Britain took control of Egypt. North Africa was
important because it was on the trade route between Britain
and its most valuable territory – India.