Imperialism can be defined as a global system of domination. During colonization, the European powers divided among themselves the third world countries to be their colonies for the main purpose of trade, slave trade, and raw materials among other major reasons. Britain was the most powerful European country and its dominion was magnified by the extent of their colonies. The picture in this context involves some of the British officers displaying part of thee hundreds of ivory and bronze taken from the royal palace after they invaded the city of Benin and brought down the city to their advantage.
The theme of exploitation and opportunism is clearly portrayed in this picture. The imperialists were malicious and opportunistic and only waited for any slight hitch to capitalize and use it as a reason for conquering the initially unconquered territories. For instance, the British as well as other imperial European powers were after occupying as many territories as possible. In addition, they were also concerned with the raw materials available in their colonies to be used for empowering themselves and strengthening the industrial base. For instance, it is stated that “there was distinct disposition to hang on to everything Britain had and not to shrink from new acquisitions if they kept them from the hands of the rivals.” (Headrick, p.205). This shows how anxious Britain was in acquiring new territories and ensuring they maintain what they already had. The above statement also introduces the theme of scramble for colonies as European powers fought over territories and defends their superiority. For instance, Britain being the leading super-powers was readily armed to defend their colonies and conquer others for the sake of the expansion.
Headrick, Daniel, R. The tools of Empire technology and European Imperialism in the nineteenth century. New York: oxford University Press. 1981, pp.205-6