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The European Scramble For Africa Essay

1024 words - 5 pages

The scramble for Africa is a significant moment in world history that demonstrated the beginning of a great transformation for the Africans. The increase of European claims of African territories during the New Imperialism period and reflected Europe’s economic, social, and military evolution. The start of the 1880s provided for European rule a small part of Africa with areas largely restricted to the coast and small inland areas along major rivers such as the Niger and the Congo. Learning the causes of the scramble for Africa will lead to understanding Europe’s perception of superiority with the duty to spread western civilization throughout the world which also leads to this discussion on the effects of such event on Africa.
Only ten percent of the African continent was under the control of western nations at the beginning of the 1800s before the Europeans decided to expand and increase their influence into Africa. The economic potential of the European empire was insulated by keeping its markets open and exclusive through trade policies that increased revenues and natural resources and to maintain trade routes to Asia made the Horn of Africa, the southern tip of the continent as well as the West African coast the best strategic locations for world control. Great Britain aimed for a territory inside the continent to have dominance over the north and south by having Cairo linked with Cape Town as all the territory between Cairo in the north and Cape Town in the south have strategic value. The African continent was without fixed borders of any familiar types of government that was considered empty by the Europeans and therefore ripe for the imposition of their authority. The Europeans established themselves on most of north western Africa which was opened to western exploration by 1835. Conquering Africa with its thousands of square miles of territory and millions of its captive populations signified nationalism earning the European power great pride in its tradition of self-improvement and the perfectibility of man by civilizing the savage natives. The missionaries were held to be greatly responsible for this perception of Africans as savages expressing the difference Christianity could make to the life and behavior of such inferior race. This misperception and misrepresentation of the African society stimulated the European’s racial arrogance that made many of them feel that they could do what they wanted. With the perception that imperialist policies were admired everywhere Europe’s enthusiasm upon the colonization of Africa was further stimulated by the stories of the great explorers and the potentials of these lands. The discovery of diamonds in Kimberley in the early 1870s and the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand in 1886 confirmed such potentials.
In 1886, the European penetration of Africa was clearly brought about by what was deemed as a danger to British trade on the Niger and on the Congo River. Portugal was with...

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