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The Scramble For Africa Essay

1664 words - 7 pages

The Scramble for Africa is one of the best examples of colonization in world history. Europe alone managed to colonize the entire African continent in a period of roughly twenty five years, spanning from 1875 to 1900. The quest for power by European nations was only one of the driving forces for this race for colonization. The geographical location and the natural resources to be exploited in certain regions of the continent were important factors in the race for land. Another factor that contributed to the colonization of Africa was the end of the slave trade. The need for new capitalism to exist between Europe and Africa after the call for the abolition of slavery became great. European traders were searching for new avenues for making money, as well as new ways to exploit of the natives of Africa, due to their perceived weakness as a people, made the quest for occupation relentless by European nations. Political, economical and social ambitions all led Europe to partition Africa into separate colonies and the race to see what country could establish a monopoly in Africa became a European obsession.
There is a consensus among historians that the political Scramble for Africa was begun by King Leopold of Belgium. King Leopold had been a supporter of Henry Stanley, a Welsh journalist and explorer of Africa. In the late 1870s, Stanley had been on another expedition to the Africa, mapping the Congo River from its origins to the ocean. Leopold had developed an interest in the Congo region in Africa. He sent Stanley as his private envoy of his International African Association in an effort to establish a foothold in the Congo region. Leopold had not been forthcoming in his intentions to Stanley. He led Stanley to believe it was his goal to bring civilization and religion to the Congo region when in fact he wished to claim the land as his personal colony for Belgium. The Congo basin area was not just of interest to Belgium; France and Portugal also had interest in this region with the area to the north of the river Congo became a French protectorate. The Kingdom of Congo had also been a target of Dutch and Portuguese interest for centuries. The Portuguese government established a treaty with Great Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Lord Granville, which recognized Portugal’s claim to both banks at the mouth of the Congo leading to the sea, thus cutting off Leopold’s access to this area. However, the King of Belgium continued to annex other regions and by 1890, his holds in Africa were 75 times the size of Belgium. During this time of colonization by Belgium under Leopold, brutality was horrific, resulting in millions of the Congo region’s native people being terrorized into submission or killed in the effort (“Democratic Republic of Congo profile”).
For Great Britain, the loss of the colonies in America in the late 1700s was a huge blow politically and economically. Interest in colonizing Africa became strong after this period. The British had already...

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