Professor Brian Parlopiano
April 29, 2014
The Scramble for Africa
During the 1800s colonization reached one of its peaks, almost every European country was scrambling for any un-colonized lands. The one continent that none of them had really made their mark on was the African continent. Africa was very abundant in natural resources, which made the European countries more eager to be the ones to colonize it first. Whether it be gold, iron, cotton or ivory all of the countries saw these few materials as ones that would shape their countries wealth and industrial power. The repercussions from European Imperialism during this time have effected tribal relations in Africa to this day. Many of the recent genocides and wars that have occurred in Africa are the product of the Scramble of Africa and the separation and mixing of rival tribes in Africa.
The major players during the "Scramble for Africa" were industrial powers in Europe that wanted to expand their wealth by finding somewhere that provided a lot of raw materials. Africa was the place that they all saw as being abundant in raw materials. The players in the “Scramble for Africa” were Britain, Portugal, France, and the Dutch all whom possessed major colonies that produced raw materials. Britain had India as a colony that produced a wide range of raw materials and goods such as spices and textiles that could be sold in Europe for great profit. Britain sent many missionaries to Africa to convert the peoples to Christianity; they also sent explorers two notable ones were Richard Burton and John Speke who traveled to east Africa to find the source of the River Nile. The Dutch were also prominent in Africa especially South Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium sent Henry Morton Stanley to Africa to help create commercial opportunities and also to create a colony name the Congo Free State.1 Leopold II proclaimed the Congo Free State a "free-trade zone" for all merchants and entrepreneurs from all over Europe. Leopold II created a rubber plantation on a personal colony inside of the Congo Free State, which was completely dependent on forced labor. To work in the Congo Free State was terrible and unhealthy, taxes were very high and the conditions were inhumane, that is why during the period in which Leopold controlled it 4 to 8 million Africans died.2 The most important Dutch colony was Cape Town, which gave way to colonization of land surrounding that area. The causes of the "Scramble for Africa" were very much influenced by the industrial revolution in Europe. The end of slavery in Europe meant that there was no one else left to do the work in Europe so they needed another means of getting goods to their factories and Africa held the answer to their problem.3 Africa was also a crown jewel for explorers that wanted to find ancient cities such as Timbuktu, but that changed over time as explorers were employed to document resources and goods of a certain area by philanthropists.4 Africa offered new grounds for capitalism to be formed upon during the "Scramble for Africa" many lands were exploited for their goods and raw materials were being produced just for Europe. A major cause was the innovation in weapons, there were no more swords the Europeans had guns, which gave them an overwhelming advantage over the native peoples of Africa. The last cause was that a cure to malaria was found thus allowing colonization in Africa to be easier because of the tolerance against malaria. Even though settlers could prevent against malaria, yellow fever still and to this day does has no treatment. The effects of the "Scramble for Africa" caused the Berlin Conference to be held from 1884-1885, which gave the rules of colonization for European countries in Africa such as informing other countries that you are going to go and colonize a certain land and that you must also have permission from a local tribe leader or by military conquest.5 The colonized lands...
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