Imperialists Divide Africa THE scramble for Africa


AFRICA BEFORE IMPERIALISM: Before the Imperialism of Africa by European countries. The continent of Africa ws divided into hundreds of religious beliefs. These groups spoke more than 1,000 different languages. These groups ranged from large empires that united many ethnic groups to independent villages. Powerful African armies were able to keep the Europeans out of most of Africa for 400 years. Europeans could not navigate African rivers that had so many rapids and cataracts and drastically changing flows. Until the introduction of steam-powered riverboats, Europeans would not be able to conduct major expeditions into the interior of Africa. Trade networks became popluar and kept Europeans controlling the sources of ivory and gold trade.

THis is Africa before it was imperialized--notice thaprevios to the usage of steam boats there are no recorded colonies in the inner part of the continent.

NATIONS COMPETE FOR OVERSEAS EMPIRES: Europeans who did penetrate the center of Africa tended to be explorers, missionaries, or humanitarians who opposed the slave trade. Most Europeans learned about Africa through travel books and newspapers

Most Europeans learned their information about Africa from books and newspapers.
  • The Congo sparks interest: In the late 1860s, David Livingstone, a minister from Scotland, traveled with a group of Africans deep into central Africa while searching for the source of the Nile. When they heard no word for him for several years an American newspaper hired reporter Henry Stanley to find Livingstone. Once Livingstone was found Stanley recalls his exerienced with the natives and tells them that he signed treaties with local chiefs of the Congo River valley. The treaties gave King Leopold II of Belgium personal control of these lands. He licensed companies that brutally oppressed Africans. The time required to do this interfered with the care of their own food crops. The forced labor, excessive taxation, and abuses of the native Congolese were so extreme that humanitarians from around the world demanded changes.
Henry Stanley- Signed treatied with African Natves that gave the control to King Leopold II of Belgium
  • Motives during Imerialism: The Industrial Revolution provided European countries with a need to add lands to their control. As European nations industrialized, they searched for new markets and raw materials to improve their economies. Europeans viewed an empire as a measure of national greatness. Because of their advanced technology, many Europeans basically believed that they were better than other peoples. This belief was racism, the idea that one race is superior to others. The attitude was a reflection of a social theory of the time, called Social Darwinism. Many missionaries believed that European rule was the best way to end evil practices such as the slave trade. They also wanted to “civilize,"or in other words “westernize,” the peoples of the foreign lands.
Europe and America believed that they had right over the continent of Africa, they took all of Africa's resources because they believed that they ahd more "Right" and claim on the land.(
  • Forces enabling imperialism:The overwhelming advantage was the Europeans’ technological superiority. European countries quickly acquired the newest forms of guns while Africans were forced to rely on outdated weapons. The invention of the steam engine allowed Europeans to easily travel upstream to establish bases of control deep in the African continent. Railroads, cables, and steamers allowed close communications within a colony and between the colony and its controlling nation. Europeans might still have stayed confined to the coast due to Malaria. One discovery changed that—the drug quinine. Regular doses of quinine protected Europeans from attacks of this disease caused by mosquitoes. Then there was the matter of internal and political affairs-- Africans’ huge variety of languages and cultures discouraged unity among them. Wars fought between ethnic groups over land, water, and trade rights also prevented a unified stand. Europeans soon learned to play rival groups against each other.
The invention and usage of the steamboat contributed greatly to the imperialsm efforts of the Europeans because traveling through the rivers of Africa were dangerous. With the steamboat Europeans gained a safer adn quicker wa of traveling through the inner parts of Africa.

AFRICA LANDS BECOME EUROPEAN COLONIES: All of the European contries wanted African land and they were determined to get a piece of it.

King Leopold II of Belgium was just one of many imperialists during the late 19th century who invaded Africa. He was definitely one of the more famous for his brutality against he natives during the newly established ruber industry.
  • Berlin Conference divides Africa: The competition was so competitive that war was lingering over the European countries involved in the Imperialism of Africa. To prevent fighting, 14 European nations met at the Berlin Conference in 1884–85 to lay down rules for the division of Africa. They agreed that any European country could claim land in Africa by notifying other nations of their claims and showing they could control the area. No African ruler attended these meetings, yet the conference sealed Africa’s fate. By 1914, only Liberia and Ethiopia remained free from European control.
This political cartoon depicts the Berlin Conference in 1884-1885. In this meeting, or conference, fourteen European countries met together to decide hoe Africa was to be divided,
  • Demand for product shapes colonies: When European countries began colonizing, many believed that Africans would soon be buying European goods in great quantities. Sadly, European goods were not bought. However, European businesses still needed raw materials from Africa. Businesses eventually developed cash-crop plantations to grow peanuts, palm oil, cocoa, and rubber. The main sources or Africa’s wealth came from its natural resources. The Belgian Congo contained untold wealth in copper and tin.
What made Africa so very appealing to European countries was its natural resources, This is just a map of the known natural resources that Africa provided for the European countries.

ThRE GROUPS CLASH OVER SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa has a history of Africans, Dutch, and British clashing over land and resources. Although the African lands seemed empty to the Europeans, there were huge areas claimed by various ethnic groups. The local control of these lands, especially in the east, had been in dispute for about 100 years.

  • Zulu expansion: From the late 1700s to the late 1800s, a series of local wars shook southern Africa. Around 1816, the Zulu people deployed highly disciplined warriors and good military organization to create a large centralized state. However the coming generations were unable to keep the kingdom intact against the superior arms of the British invaders. The Zulu land became a part of British-controlled land in 1887.
This is a drawing of King Shaka of the Zulu people. He was the chief to organize the strong military and who sent strong warriors to defend their land against British imperialists. Sadly, all his work was in vain wen his successors lost the land.

Boers and British settle in the Cape: The Dutch first came to the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 to establish a way station for their ships sailing between the Dutch East Indies and home. Dutch settlers known as Boers gradually took over native Africans’ land. When the British took over the Cape Colony in the 1800s, the two groups of settlers clashed over British policy. In the 1830s, to escape the British, several thousand Boers began to move north. This movement has become known as the Great Trek. The Boers soon found themselves fighting fiercely with Zulu and other African groups.

Depicted in the image are Boer soldiers. The Boer soldiers were a group of dutch soldiers who imperialized the sothern parts of Africa.
  • Boer war: Diamonds and gold were discovered in southern Africa in the 1860s and 1880s. The Boers tried to keep other Europeans from gaining political rights. An attempt to start a rebellion against the Boers failed. The Boers blamed the British. In 1899, the Boers took up arms against the British. In many ways the Boer War between the British. The Boers launched commando raids and used guerrilla tactics against the British. The British countered by burning Boer farms and imprisoning women and children in disease-ridden concentration camps. Britain ended up winning the war.
The Boer war was fought between an alliance of the Boer governments of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State and Great Britain. They fought over the sovereignty and commercial rights in southern African lands. The war ended with British victory.


Imperialism: a policy of extending your rule over foreign countries

Racism: Prejudice and discrimination directed against someone of a different race

Social Darwinism: Stronger societies have a right to conquer weaker ones because they're powerful. Competition between Imperial Nations help them to advance

Berlin Conference 1884 - 1885: All Europeans gathered together to decide how to divide Africa without causing European conflict. Ended in "first come first serve"

Shaka: A Zulu chief in Southern Africa who used soldiers and good military organization to create a large centralized state

Boer: Dutch farmers in South Africa

Great Trek: A migration of Dutch colonists out of British-controlled territory in South Africa during the 1830s.

Boer War: War between the BRITISH and the BOERS (descendants of the Dutch who founded Cape Town in Africa) Lasted 3 Years (1899-1902) Boers finally surrendered


“All great nations in the fullness of their strength have desired to set their mark upon barbarian lands and those who fail to participate in this great rivalry will play a pitiable role in time to come.” -- German historian Heinrich von Treitschke . . . von Treitschke believed that more European nations should have participated in sharing their wealth with the poorer African nations. This coincides with “The White Man’s Burden,” which said that it was Europe’s obligation to imperialize Africa and help civilize it by placing colonies across the continent.

“I contend that we [Britons] are the first race in the world, and the more of the world we inhabit, the better it is for the human race. . . . It is our duty to seize every opportunity of acquiring more territory and we should keep this one idea steadily before our eyes that more territory simply means more of the Anglo-Saxon race, more of the best, the most human, most honourable race the world possesses.” ---CECIL RHODES, Confession of Faith 1877 . . . Rhodes believed in racism. He believed that the British were a more superior race and that it was their right to help Africa and create colonies in which Africans can become educated and civilized to become more like the British. Rhodes and von Treitschke had the same beliefs in regard to Europe imperializing Africa.

“So long as there is imperialism in the world, a permanent peace is impossible.” ---------------Hassan Nasrallah . . . Nasrallah is a man of modern times who while reflecting on the imperialism of Africa saw that Imperialism only lead to fighting and war. He believed that even though imperialism benefitted many it also caused many deaths. He believed that there could have been a simpler and peaceful way of gaining African land whether through trade or in another way.



  • 1835-1846: The Great Trek was a movement of Dutch-speaking colonists up into the interior of southern Africa in search of land where they could establish their own homeland, independent of British rule
  • 1841- Dr. David Livingstone begins his work in East Africa: He Is horrified to discover an ancient (but new to him) slave trade in East Africa run by Muslims. Introduces medicines, Christianity, exploration to "Darkest" Africa.
  • 1880-1881- The First Boer War: was a war fought from 16 December 1880 until 23 March 1881 between Great Britain and the South African Republic. The war resulted in defeat for the British and the second independence of the South African Republic.
  • 1884-1885: The Berlin Conference: in an effort to avoid war, allowed European diplomats to draw lines on maps and carve Africa into colonies. The result was a transformation of political and economic Africa, with virtually all parts of the continent colonized by 1900
  • 1885-1908: The Congo Free State formed: This was a large state in Central Africa, which was a personal colony of Belgium. It was under direct control of King Leopold II who was able to procure the region by convincing the European community that he was involved in humanitarian and philanthropic work and would not tax trade.


King Leopold II of Belgium was very influential because he essentially trick the other European countries contending to gain African land ino giving him the Congo. He then turned the people of the Congo into slaves and created a genocide killing millions of natives

Cecil Rhodes was both ruthless and incredibly successful in his pursuit of this scheme of a great British Empire. His contemporaries marvelled both at his prowess and incredible energy and capacity, but they also shuddered at his callousness and depravity in all his pursuit. His contemporaries, both awed and appalled by the man, wrote of him as a man of original ideas who sought more than the mere ‘getting and spending which limits the ambitions and lays waste the powers of the average man’. Yet although many people at the time saw Rhodes as a man of great vision, an unconquerable leader with the ability to pursue his aims across the vast African continent, there were nonetheless dissident voices who were shocked by Rhodes’ actions and those of his British South Africa Company.

By 1914 Africa was ruled and divided by 7 major European countries but there were also independent countries who remained self governing.


Created with images by mechanicalcurator - "Image taken from page 368 of 'Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa: being a journal of an expedition undertaken under the auspices of H.B.M.'s Government, in the years 1849-55'"

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