Thursday, July 26, 2007


Everyone seems to want a part of Africa. The Scramble of Africa has been part of the African history for thousands of years. Phoenician, Greek and Roman peoples all sailed the Mediterranean Sea and colonized the lands on its shores. Carthage, founded by the Phoenicians about 814 BC, speedily grew into a city without rival in the Mediterranean. The Phoenicians subdued the Berber tribes who, then as now, formed the bulk of the population, and became masters of all the habitable region of North Africa.
Greeks founded the city of Cyrene in Ancient Libya around 631 BC. Cyrenaica became a flourishing colony, though being hemmed in on all sides by absolute desert it had little or no influence on inner Africa. The three powers of Cyrenaica, Egypt and Carthage were eventually supplanted by the Romans. After centuries of rivalry with Rome, Carthage finally fell in 146 BC. Within little more than a century Egypt and Cyrene had become incorporated in the Roman empire. Interaction between Asia, Europe and North Africa during this period was significant; major effects include the spread and the cross pollination of culture.

1812 map of Africa by Arrowsmith and Lewis

However the events that took place in the late 19th century will forever over shadow any previous attempts to colonize African continent by previous super powers. Due to growing interest to explore and exploit Africa, the Europeans felt that it would be desirable for the powers who were interesting themselves in Africa to come to some agreement as to "the rules of the game," and to define their respective interests so far as that was practicable.

The 19th century imperialism was characterized by frantic competition among European nations to gobble up as much of the world map as possible. This led these nations into conflicts with native peoples and with each other.

One of the biggest stories of the NEW IMPERIALISM was "THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA",also known as the Race for Africa, which was a sensational issue then.

Before 1880 only 10% of Africa was controlled by European Powers. Colonies dotted along the coast of West Africa from the defunct slave trade, settlements in southern Africa by Dutch, English & Portuguese, and Algeria in the north, conquered by the French.


Commercial greed, territorial ambition, and political rivalry all fueled the European race to take over Africa. In part the so-called White Man's Burden to rescue the rest of the world from themselves. (Forms of arrogance, military and cultural, still a part of Western society.)

Leopold II of Belgium

He is chiefly remembered as the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free State, a private project undertaken by the King to extract rubber and ivory in the Congo region of central Africa, which relied on forced labour and resulted in the deaths of between 5 to 22 million Congolese

In 1865 Leopold II becomes King of Belgium and begins the New Imperialist rant; that is he starts giving speeches in which he pushes the glories of exploration and conquest. In the 1870s Leopold sets his sights on the heart of Africa ( Conrad's "Heart of Darkness") and in 1876 sends H. M. Stanley up the Congo to establish trading posts and the beginnings of the Belgian Congo Free State . This opens up the question of control of the bulk of sub-Saharan Africa (West, Central and East Africa).

In 1880 France establishes a French Protectorate on the north bank of the Congo in direct response to the Belgian Congo on the south bank (hence the division that still stands between the two Congos.)

In 1882 Britain conquers Egypt, heating up fierce, unbridled competition among all the powers of Western Europe for control of the African continent, leading to the. . .

Otto Von Bismack aka Otto Eduard Leopold of Bismarck-Schönhausen


Hosted by Otto von Bismarck, at this summit meeting on Africa, the Western powers lay down the rules for dividing up Africa, mainly establishing the principle of "effective occupation" to claim territory. Simply put, they agree to recognize any areas that are already occupied or being exploited by other European nations. This ultimately led them to explore the interior zones within Africa by competing European armies, as the European powers rushed to establish legitimate claims to areas unoccupied by other European powers.

Soldiers of King Menelik II fended off the Italians, keeping Ethiopia independent from European colonization. No African countries were consulted during the partitioning of Africa. An "International treaty" was signed that disregarded the ethnic, social and economic composition of the people that lived in that area. This was to resurface years later, as ethnic or "tribal" conflict, after the African countries gained their independence.

1885-1898 Germany and France cooperate against Britain in Africa. Pushing south from Algeria, East from Senegal and North from the Congo, France conquers much of Western Africa (and some of Central). The British greatly expand their holdings by pushing into the interior from their coastal colonies in the West, from South Africa north and east, and from Egypt south. Germany enters the fray with Togoland & Cameroons in West Africa, Southwest Africa (Namibia) and German East Africa or Tanganika (now most of Tanzania); Italy gets into the act in Libya & Somalia, as does Spain in coastal West Africa.

No territory could be formally claimed prior to being effectively occupied.

The many large and small resistance armies by the native communities were in time destroyed by the superior armaments of European armies and a brutal cultural arrogance.

By 1900 only Ethiopia and Liberia remained free of European control. By this point in history, even the Dutch Afrikaaner Republics in South Africa were conquered by the English in the infamous Boer War.

More information and editing to be done on this page.....


luihamu said...

At this age they claim to say that Africa is poor,Africa has no this and that,Africa is like this and that,they show the negative part of Africa,now why did they scrambe for AFRICA THAT TIME.What mother Africa has will never be taken away,they will take as long as they want but MOTHER AFRICA WILL STILL OFFER MANY TO HER CHILDREN.


[La Otra Agenda] said...

Great job, 'Saharan Vibe'. You always show Africa with a gaze far from stereotypes. And this is something so important!
I link to your blog (again), all the best,
[La otra agenda]

Oscar1986 said...

interesting, love reading your blog:)

Anonymous said...

the african were poor so thts why their ruled by european but now were still not as years ago.

Anonymous said...

africans didn't lose to the europeans in terms of financial aspect but rather in terms of the technological developments of the european countries. and also because eropeans have the advantage of strong economies