Scramble For Africa Essay Sample
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Scramble For Africa Essay Sample
During the 1800s colonization reached one of its peaks, almost every European country was scrambling for any un-colonized lands. The one continent that none of them had really made their mark on was the African continent. Africa was very abundant in natural resources, which made the European countries more eager to be the ones to colonize it first. Whether it be gold, iron, cotton or ivory all of the countries saw these few materials as ones that would shape their countries wealth and industrial power. The repercussions from European Imperialism during this time have effected tribal relations in Africa to this day. Many of the recent genocides and wars that have occurred in Africa are the product of the Scramble of Africa and the separation and mixing of rival tribes in Africa.
The major players during the “Scramble for Africa” were industrial powers in Europe that wanted to expand their wealth by finding somewhere that provided a lot of raw materials. Africa was the place that they all saw as being abundant in raw materials. The players in the “Scramble for Africa” were Britain, Portugal, France, and the Dutch all whom possessed major colonies that produced raw materials. Britain had India as a colony that produced a wide range of raw materials and goods such as spices and textiles that could be sold in Europe for great profit. Britain sent many missionaries to Africa to convert the peoples to Christianity; they also sent explorers two notable ones were Richard Burton and John Speke who traveled to east Africa to find the source of the River Nile. The Dutch were also prominent in Africa especially South Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium sent Henry Morton Stanley to Africa to help create commercial opportunities and also to create a colony name the Congo Free State.1 Leopold II proclaimed the Congo Free State a “free-trade zone” for all merchants and entrepreneurs from all over Europe. Leopold II created a rubber plantation on a personal colony inside of the Congo Free State, which was completely dependent on forced labor.
To work in the Congo Free State was terrible and unhealthy, taxes were very high and the conditions were inhumane, that is why during the period in which Leopold controlled it 4 to 8 million Africans died.2 The most important Dutch colony was Cape Town, which gave way to colonization of land surrounding that area. The causes of the “Scramble for Africa” were very much influenced by the industrial revolution in Europe. The end of slavery in Europe meant that there was no one else left to do the work in Europe so they needed another means of getting goods to their factories and Africa held the answer to their problem.3 Africa was also a crown jewel for explorers that wanted to find ancient cities such as Timbuktu, but that changed over time as explorers were employed to document resources and goods of a certain area by philanthropists.4 Africa offered new grounds for capitalism to be formed upon during the “Scramble for Africa” many lands were exploited for their goods and raw materials were being produced just for Europe.
A major cause was the innovation in weapons, there were no more swords the Europeans had guns, which gave them an overwhelming advantage over the native peoples of Africa. The last cause was that a cure to malaria was found thus allowing colonization in Africa to be easier because of the tolerance against malaria. Even though settlers could prevent against malaria, yellow fever still and to this day does has no treatment. The effects of the “Scramble for Africa” caused the Berlin Conference to be held from 1884-1885, which gave the rules of colonization for European countries in Africa such as informing other countries that you are going to go and colonize a certain land and that you must also have permission from a local tribe leader or by military conquest.5 The colonized lands needed to be divided up evenly amongst the European countries so they developed a system that had districts within the colonies and European personnel headed it and those people were responsible for tax collection, work and military recruitment and were to maintain law and order.
The last effect that the “Scramble for Africa” had been on the people they colonized. The colonization traumatized the native peoples because they were being put to work against their wills and were also being killed off for the advancement of the European countries. The natives were in complete peace before the Europeans arrived and destroyed their way of life and how they lived. Now there seems to be never ending tribal conflicts in African countries due to the European imperialists during the scramble. Modern day Africa is now in constant turmoil due to the “Scramble for Africa”. The Rwandan genocide between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes in 1994 and the civil war in Sierra Leone from 1991-2002 are examples of these conflicts caused by Europeans during the “Scramble for Africa”. The Rwandan genocide is an example of how the division of lands has lead to modern day tensions between tribes. During the genocide about three quarters of the Tutsi tribe were exterminated by the Hutus, a rival tribe of the Tutsi.
To relate this to the “Scramble for Africa”, when Germans gained control of Rwanda after the Berlin Conference of 1884 they viewed the Tutsi, who were lighter in skin tone than the Hutus, as being “closer to them evolutionarily” and as natural leaders due to their lighter skin tone.6 With the Germans having racist philosophy in mind they gave the Tutsi power and more influence over the Hutus. After their loss in World War I the Germans were forced to give up control of Rwanda to Belgium, it was when Belgium assumed control of Rwanda when many of the serious tribal separations were created.7 Tutsis assumed control of Hutu tribes, I.D. cards were given out that identified which tribe a certain individual was from. However, once the Belgians pulled out of Rwanda, Tutsi influence decreased greatly and the economy that the Belgians established began to tank.8 The Hutus quickly gained power and they began exterminating the Tutsis, who not too long ago had power over them and treated them as if they were dogs due to the poisoning of their minds done by the Germans and Belgians.9 To see how easily tribes who lived in relative peace pre-imperialism and pre-colonialism by European nations shows the poisoning of culture done by European countries.
The second example is the civil war in Sierra Leone, which occurred from 1991-2002. Unlike the previous example of the Rwandan genocide, this particular event was not just between two tribes; it was over resources. Sierra Leone is a country that is very rich in resources, one of those resources being diamonds. This is a modern day example of how European influence has lead to internal issues in an African country. The RUF or Revolutionary United Front has been at the forefront of the atrocities committed during the civil war of Sierra Leone.10 At first the RUF’s purpose was pure however, over time their intentions became corrupted with the pursuit of monetary gain from selling the diamonds and obtaining a profit. Approximately 50,000 people have been killed over these diamonds and surprisingly enough Sierra Leone is still one of the poorest countries in the world.11 This is a very confusing point because how can a country with such an abundance of natural resources be so poor.
It is because European countries have and will continue to exploit these African countries for these kind of resources simply because it is cheaper and they can do it freely. This shows that the “Scramble for Africa” didn’t end at the turn of the 19th century it still continues to this day. The “Scramble for Africa” was very profitable for the European countries but it was terrible for the native peoples. The peoples had no way of preventing nor had any say in the deliberations leading to the division of lands that their ancestors lived on for centuries before in peace. They had their lives torn apart for money and the betterment of other societies in the name of exploitation. The peoples of Africa were dealt a terrible card and now it seems as if though there will never truly be a peaceful Africa due to constant tribal conflict in its countries.