Imperialism is defined as the extension or rule or influence by one government, nation, or society over the political, economic, or cultural life of another ("Imperialism-). Since it always involves the use of power whether military force or some subtler form, imperialism has often been considered morally reprehensible. African imperialism was no different. European nations decided they wanted land in the mostly unexplored continent, and they took it, without the consent of the African people (Pakenham 34). .
Evidence of the existence of imperialistic empires dates back to the dawn of written history, when local rulers extended their realms by conquering other states. Ancient imperialism reached its climax under the Roman Empire in Europe, but it never extended elsewhere (Pakenham 46). In the West, imperialism was reborn with the emergence of the modern nation-state and the Age of Exploration and discovery. During this Age of Exploration, Europeans had built a few trading posts on the coasts of Africa, but for centuries they had little direct influences on the lives of most Africans. In the late 1800's a dramatic change took place. The Industrial Revolution began and the growth of nationalism strengthened European nations. As the nations of Europe industrialized, they started looking overseas for new markets and resources. Africa, which had been largely unknown to Europeans, now became the focus of their attention (Beers 560). .
Until the 1870's, the Europeans had little interest in Africa. In the 1600's and 1700's, the Portuguese and Dutch had established forts and trading posts along the African coast. The British and French had also acquired outposts. However, they used these posts only for trade, not as bases for conquest (Beers 563). .
Between 1870 and 1914, a dramatic development occurred. The entire African continent came under European rule, with the exception of Liberia and Ethiopia.