The Industrialization required more resources for more production. Many nations saw Africa as a source of raw materials and a market for new products. They began to seize parts of Africa, imperialism. Stronger countries dominated the political, economic, and social life of smaller countries.

  • Africa Before European Domination

    Prior to the European invasions in the mid-1800s, Africa was composed of many small groups. They had either traditional beliefs or believed in Islam or Christianity. These groups had their own languages and they could be anything from large empires to small villages.

    Europeans established contact in the 1450s. However, the African armies were able to prevent invasions for 400 years. Europeans were unable to control more than 10% of the land until 1880.

    Nature was another obstacle to European travelers. The African rivers had rapids, cataracts, and uneven flows. However, the newly invented steamboats could navigate into the interior of Africa. Finally, the diseases also discouraged exploration.

    The Africans also had their own specialized trade networks.

    • Nations Compete for Overseas Empires
      • The European travelers who reached the center of Africa were explorers, missionaries, and humanitarians. They learned about Africa from the media. The media of the time hired reporters to search for adventure and mystery.
    • The Congo Sparks Interest
      • In the 1860s, David Livingstone from Scotland traveled to central Africa to promote Christianity. He was gone for several years with no contact. Finally, an American newspaper hired a reporter who found Livingstone one the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
      • Stanley began to explore Africa himself, tracing the Congo River. King Leopold II of Belgium was interested and commissioned Stanley to help him find and in the Congo. Stanley signed treaties with the chiefs, giving King Leopold II control.
      • Though Leopold claimed to abolish slave trade and promote Christianity, he actually brutally exploited Africans, forcing them to collect sap from plants. Over 10 million Congolese died from hi abuses. As a result, humanitarians from around the world demanded change. Leopold’s land was taken away by the Belgian government in 1908. However, this seizure alarmed France as the colony was extremely large. Soon, other countries such as Britain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain began to claim Africa.
  • Forces Driving Imperialism

    Imperialism drove colonization in Africa was also present at other lands – the drive to take over the world was everywhere. The Industrial Revolution was a major factor, as nations looked for new markets and more raw materials for their economy.

    • Belief in European Superiority
      • The colonies grew out of national pride. Europeans felt their empire was the best and they tried to put their flag on as much land as they could.
      • Many Europeans were racist, believing that their race was superior. This attitude showed Social Darwinism. In this theory, the theories of evolution also applied to human society. Only those who were fit for survival would enjoy wealth and success. Therefore, non-Europeans were lower down because they did not make the same scientific progress. Europeans felt they had the right to bring their work to other countries. Cecil Rhodes supported this.
      • Expansion was also promoted by missionaries who wanted to convert people to Christianity. Missionaries believed European rule would end slave trade and civilize the foreign peoples.
    • Factors Promoting Imperialism in Africa
      • The European conquest of Africa was aided by their technological superiority. The Maxim gun was invented in 1884, the first machine gun. European countries had access while the Africans still relied on primitive weapons.
      • Europeans could also control their empire, easily traveling on rivers with steam engine, using railroads, cables, and steamships to communicate.
      • However, despite these superior technology, the disease still kept them away. They were still susceptible to malaria. When quinine was created in 1829, the Europeans were protected.
      • Africa’s diverse languages and cultures caused disunity, making European colonization easy. Europeans soon learned to put rival groups against each other to weaken them.
  • The Division of Africa

    The French expanded from West Africa to the west Sudan in the 1880s. The discovery of diamonds and gold increased interest. Everyone wanted into Africa.

    • Berlin Conference Divides Africa
      • The fierce competition could have resulted in war, if not for the Berlin Conference in 1885. At this conference, they decided that each nation could claim land as long as they notified the other nations and showed they had to power to control the land. The nations quickly divided the continent without thinking about the native groups. No African ruler was present at this conference but this conference decided Africa’s fate. By 1914, only Liberia and Ethiopia were free from European control.
    • Demand for Raw Materials Shapes Colonies
      • The colonizing nations believed that Africans would by European goods. This never happened. However, European factories still needed raw materials, they exploited the rich minerals. The Congo had copper and tin, South Africa had gold and diamonds. Soon, plantations grew peanuts, palm oil, cocoa, and rubber. These products made it hard for the African farmers to grow food to feed their families.
  • Three Groups Clash

    South Africa was fought over by the Africans, Dutch, and British. Though the Europeans had just arrived, there had actually been land disputes for the last 100 years.

    • Zulus Fight the British
      • From the 1700s to the 1800s, there were local wars. In 1816, a Zulu chief, Shaka, used disciplined warriors and good organization to create a large central state. However, his successors failed defending the state from the British. In 1879, King Cetshwayo of the Zulu people began to fight. The Zulus used had spears and shields against the British guns, but the Zulu almost won. In 1879, the Zulus finally lost the Battle of Ulundi and their nation, falling to British control in 1887.
    • Boers and British Settle in the Cape
      • The Dutch were first to South Africa. Their “Cape of Good Hope” was a station of ships sailing to the Netherlands from the East Indies. Dutch settlers, Boers – Afrikaners, created farms. When the British took over, they clashed with the British over land and slavery.
      • In 1830, many Boers moved north in the Great Trek. They soon began to fight with the Zulu and other African groups.
    • The Boer War
      • When diamonds and gold were discovered in the 1880s, adventurers rushed in. The Boers tried to stop them but failed. Soon, the Boers began to blame the British and took up arms.
      • The Boer war is considered the first modern war as there were commando raids and guerrilla tactics against the British. The British burned Boer farms and imprisoned women and children in concentration camps.
      • Black South Africans were also involved. They fought, scouted, guarded, drove, and worked. Many were captured and killed by the British.
      • Britain finally won in 1910, and the Boer land was under British control.
      • These colonies changed the lives of Africans as the Europeans tried to change the lives of the conquered people.