History in the Making

Document Type



The issue of labor exploitation and the impact of neocolonialism, have in recent years, become extremely important as our global community continues to shrink. This paper focuses on the relationships between European chocolate manufactures and West African cocoa laborers from the 1870’s to the present day as a means of discussing the complex connections that have developed between industrial capitalism and labor in Africa. This study will address two key questions: One, if labor exploitation is necessary for industrial capitalists to maintain the high levels of profit they desire; and two, if the exploitation of labor becomes increasingly easier the farther away the exploited person is from the society that benefits from their work. These issues will be explored in the context of trade relationships established during the colonial era, between Europe and West Africa, as well as through the various types of labor used in cocoa production including, accusations of slavery. To further complicate these questions, and in order to reach well rounded conclusions, a case study will also be used that focuses on the Cadbury chocolate company, and their dealings in São Tomé, Príncipe, Angola and Ghana over the last 130 years. In closing, a brief discussion of present day labor issues in the Cote d’Ivoire cocoa industry will be analyzed as well. Overall this study seeks to reveal the complex and often contradictory process of colonialism and capitalism in Africa.