|Colonization of Africa
|CCSTD History Grade 10 10.4.2., 10.4.4.|
Before the 1800s, Europeans didn’t know much about Africa other than the coastlines that lay closest to Europe. But during the mid-1800s, a few explorers braved the unknown and ventured into the interior of Africa. One famous Scottish explorer, Dr. David Livingstone, visited several areas of Africa and set up Christian missions there. He sent interesting reports of his findings back to Great Britain, and Europeans began to be curious about this wild, dark continent.
Other explorers followed Livingstone and sent back excited reports. Africa was a fascinating place, with its wild animals and amazing landscapes. It was also rich with gold and other minerals, as well as an abundance of other raw materials that could be used in industry. Soon the nations of Europe were scrambling to lay claims to parts of Africa.
In 1885, 14 European nations met and figured out how they wanted to divide up Africa between them. These nations controlled 90 percent of Africa by 1914.
In 1830 King Charles X of France decided he wanted Algiers (now called Algeria). He sent armies to invade the country. After a difficult war with the Algerians, the French took Algeria. They later seized Tunis and Morocco. By 1905, about 1 million French citizens had settled in North Africa.
Great Britain also wanted parts of North Africa. In 1882, British armies invaded and conquered Egypt. Then they moved on to Sudan, the nation that lay directly south of Egypt. No sooner had they conquered the Sudanese than French armies appeared on the horizon. The French also wanted Sudan. The British and French armies stared each other down for weeks from opposite sides of the Nile River. France and Great Britain almost went to war. Finally the matter was settled. Great Britain kept the Sudan, and France took Morocco.
The last country in North Africa to be taken by Europeans was
Libya, which was taken by Italy in 1911.
European nations wanted to control the trade of these items. By 1900, Great Britain had taken the Gold Coast, Ashanti, and parts of Nigeria. France moved in and conquered a huge part of West Africa. Germany, Spain, and Portugal also had claims in West Africa.
The West African peoples did not go down without a fight. None of the countries that European nations took during the Age of Imperialism wanted to be conquered, of course. Some were better able to defend themselves than others, but in the end, hardly any were able to stand against the nations of Europe.
One exception was the West African state of Liberia. It was established by freed American slaves. Liberia received help from the United States, so European nations did not try to colonize it.
Only one other nation in Africa was strong enough to escape European rule. Ethiopia had a fierce and well-trained army. When Italy tried to take Ethiopia, they were devastated in battle. No other European nation tried to conquer them after witnessing Italy’s crushing defeat.
Central and East Africa
Since the sea route around the Cape of Good Hope was the quickest route from Europe to Asia at the time, Great Britain wanted it. Britain took it during the early 1800s.
The Afrikaners resented British rule. The British wouldn’t let the Afrikaners take blacks as slaves. Afrikaners believed that whites were superior and that God had ordained slavery.
During the 1830s the Afrikaners moved northeast and established the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. These two republics were founded on the idea that there would be no equality between whites and blacks. The republics fought against the surrounding nations, including the Zulu. Britain came in to help out the Afrikaners and defeated the Zulu. During the late 1800s, all of South Africa came under British rule.
In 1910, the Transvaal, the Orange Free State, Cape Colony, and Natal were united. They were called the Union of South Africa. Racial inequality was a big issue. Blacks were never to be given the right to vote.
Africa as a whole was greatly changed by imperialism. Imperialists hired Africans at extremely low wages to dig mines, build factories and ports, and start plantations. Men had to sleep in dormitories and could not see their families.
Imperialists also forced Africans to wear European clothes and adopt European customs. Many villages and families were broken up and traditions lost forever under some of the imperialist governments.