The History of The Scramble for Africa


Africa, the world’s 2nd largest continent and home to over a billion people is a great region that has a fascinating history behind it. Starting from its earliest civilizations to the colonization of European powers. According to history, the 1st evidence of human beings existing is in the African region. Besides, Africa is diverse in terms of cultures, languages, and ethnic groups. It has a young population spread over 50 sovereign states. What is the scramble for Africa?

The greatest thing about Africa is its wealth of natural resources. It is rich in minerals and other natural resources. The availability of these natural resources is one of the reasons that spark an interest in Europeans to come to explore Africa. As they were investigating Africa, other foreigners also followed the trend. In the long run, most European nations decided the borders of most African states leading to what is called the scramble for Africa.

The Scramble for Africa and its Causes

The big questions come in here. Why did the Europeans and other foreign nations have so much interest in the African continent? Why did they need our natural resources so badly that they had to colonize the minds of Africans to be able to exploit them? It all started here. Industrialization sparked great ambitions in several foreign or European countries. They needed much more resources to boost their production in the industries.

Many foreign countries depended on the African continent as a major source of raw materials and as a perfect market for their goods. Eventually, many foreign powers captured large regions of the continent during the 19th-20th centuries. A mightier nation capturing another nation is what is known as imperialism.

Apart from the African markets being a cause for the scramble for the African region, there are other reasons as to why the European powers came to Africa. The other cause was the strategic rivalry that involved Italy’s expansion and Germany’s Weltpolitik. The competition among the foreign nations of France, Italy, Britain, Germany, and other European powers explains the big section of the colonization.

The Berlin Conference

The Berlin Conference is also known as the Congo Conference or the West Africa Conference. It took place between 1884-1885. The Congo Conference controlled foreign colonization and trade in the African continent during the era of New Imperialism.

Otto Von Bismarck, the 1st chancellor of the German nation, was the organizer of the Berlin Conference. People can see its result, the General Act of the Berlin Conference, as the validation of the Partition for the African region. However, some historians have warned against the overemphasis of its part in the colonial portioning of the African region.

The absurd thing about this conference was that there were no African rulers whom the conference had invited in the meetings, yet it sealed Africa’s destiny. By 1914, there were only 2 African nations free from the control of the Europeans. These 2 African states were the nations of Ethiopia and Liberia.

The Conflict in South Africa

The history of SA is a history of Dutch, Africans, and British fighting over resources. Although the lands in the African continent seemed to have nothing according to the Europeans, different tribes had to rival claims over large sectors. The native management of these lands had been in disagreement for a century.

From the 1700s-1800s, a series of native chaos shook the southern region of Africa. In 1816, Shaka used an army and a good military administration to establish a state. The successors of Shaka couldn’t keep the entire Empire together against the arms of the foreign intruders (British).

In 1879, after king Cetshwayo rejected to send away his men and allow the British rule, the foreigners attacked the Zulu state. In July the same year, the Zulus lost the fight of Ulundi and their Empire. The Zulu state fell to the foreigner’s control after 8 years.

Examples of African Countries and their Colonizers

From the years 1880-1900, the British occupied the lands of Egypt, Sudan, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia. Other countries included the state of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Nigeria, and Malawi. The Italian power colonized Libya, Somalia, and Eritrea.

The 6 main territories of German were the lawful examples for today’s countries of Cameroon, Burundi, Tanzania, and Togo.



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