British West Africa was the collective name for British colonies in West Africa during the colonial period, either in the general geographical sense or more specifically those comprised in a formal colonial administrative entity. The United Kingdom colonised varying parts of these territories or the whole from the late 1780s until the 1960s. From west to east, the colonies became the independent countries of the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria.
British West Africa or the British West African Settlements constituted during two periods (17 October 1821 until its first dissolution on 13 January 1850 and again 19 February 1866 till its final demise on 24 November 1888) an administrative entity under a governor-in-chief (comparable in rank to a Governor-general), an office vested in the governor of Sierra Leone (at Freetown).
The various colonies were established to aid the efforts of the Royal Navy's West Africa Squadron wresting of control from various polities' resources, cultures and highly profitable exports. Coaling stations and depots were built in the coastal villages and because many people lost their lands, businesses and livelihoods, low wage jobs that were created as a result of resource exploitation were all that was left for many from the local population. Consequently, regional immigrants looking to start a new life joined the population, adding to the expansion of preexisting existing cities and villages.
The history of West Africa can be divided into five major periods: first, its prehistory, in which the first human settlers arrived, developed agriculture, and made contact with peoples to the north; the second, the Iron Age empires that consolidated both intra-African, and extra-African trade, and developed centralized states; third, Major polities flourished, which would undergo an extensive history of contact with non-Africans; fourth, the colonial period, in which Great Britain and France controlled nearly the whole of the region; fifth, the post-independence era, in which the current nations were formed.
West Africa (1917-2005) was a weekly news magazine that was published in London for over 80 years and closed in 2005.
It was first published on 3 February 1917 from offices in Fleet Street, with the commercial backing of Elder Dempster Shipping Line and the trading company John Holt. It was to appear weekly, at a price of sixpence per copy. Its first editorial explained its raison d'etre:
The magazine was intended as "an open forum for the discussion of every question involving the welfare of the peoples of West Africa.... It offers itself as a friend to every cause which holds out a prospect of advancing the position of West Africa as a prosperous and contented member of the Empire...".
Having begun as a source of news about events and issues in the British colonies of West Africa as well as a link between the colonial power and its administrators in the field, for 80 years West Africa magazine was considered a major source of information about the region.
In the mid-1960s is was the target of a successful takeover bid by Cecil Harmsworth King’s media empire. In 1978 it began to publish poetry and fiction by some of the continent's leading writers. The literary editor from 1978 was Robert Fraser, followed in 1981 by the Booker Prize–winning novelist Ben Okri. In 1993 a commemorative volume was published, entitled West Africa Over 75 Years: Selections from the Raw Material of History, edited by the magazine's then editor, Kaye Whiteman (1936-2014), and researched by Kole Omotoso, Ferdinand Dennis and Alfred Zack-Williams.