Scramble for Africa

When did it start?


What form did it take?

New Imperialism, European countries sought to expand their empires without waging war on one another. They then turned to Africa as a ‘safety valve’ and expanded their empires via military force, explorations, pursuit of economic trade goals, and spread of Christianity.

Who was involved?

European powers, India, Between 1885 and 1914, Britain took nearly 30% of Africa's population under its control; 15% for France, 11% for Portugal, 9% for Germany, 7% for Belgium and 1% for Italy.

Why were they involved?

Many countries were industrialised, so they needed an increased amount of raw materials. Very little of Africa had been utilised, the countries wanted access to resources to improve their economies. They also wanted to develop the areas with transportation to make trade and transport of raw materials more easy. They also needed colonies for trading as they could use ports to open new markets and refuel their ships.

What was the impact on Europe?

The Scramble for Africa largely resulted in the Naval Arms Race. This was a significant cause of WW1.

Entente Cordiale= As they both felt threatened by German expansion and development, Britain and France signed the Entente Cordiale, which settled their rivalry and differences. The Kaiser believed that this new friendship threatened Germany's international influence, so he tried to destroy their friendly relationship.

What was the impact on Africa?

Europeans arbitrarily partitioned Africa according to their own needs and wishes with no consideration of the tribal/ethnic boundaries that already existed. This created nations which divided tribal groups and, in some cases, increased tribal/ethnic conflict.

Europeans established indirect or direct control of their colonies. Both systems of administration were based on racial hierarchy with Europeans at the top and Africans below. This reflected and reinforced European beliefs that Africans were inferior to them.

Europeans often took direct control of their colonies thus ousting tribal chiefs or kings. Those that resisted were killed or sent into exile. For example, Chief Mkwawa of the Hehe was beheaded for opposing German colonial rule in Tanganyika. This destroyed traditional tribal structures.

European control of African economies meant that Africans were forced to grow goods for export. This limited economic diversity and kept African economies weak.

Europeans introduced diseases such as smallpox, measles and cholera to Africa. Africans had no resistance to these diseases. This led to many deaths.

Europeans exploited African resources such as precious metals, timber, rubber, oil, ivory and cash crops like cotton and coffee. These raw materials were taken to support European economic growth. This prevented Africa from developing industries of its own and thus, economic growth.

Most of the transportation systems that Europeans built were created to move raw materials to the coast. Therefore, they were built to benefit European merchants rather than the native inhabitants.

Europeans introduced Western-style education, clothes, architecture, religion and their own languages. This undermined traditional African culture.

The education provided by Europeans was often based around literacy – reading and writing. It failed to enable Africans to improve their technological skills and, therefore, their technological development.

Europeans often treated Africans with alarming levels of inhumanity. For example, King Leopold of Belgium, used forced labour (effectively slavery) on rubber plantations in the Belgian Congo. Workers who failed to meet their quotas were beaten, mutilated or killed.

Events in Africa (1870–1937)

Events in Africa (1870–1937).pdf
Information from this page was primarily sourced from information provided to me by my previous teacher, Mr Joshua Tillott.