The Partition of Africa
Section 16.81
• The Dark Continent
• Europeans knew little of sub Saharan
and called it Dark Continent
• So huge that part of Sahara is almost
as large as the who N. America
• Centuries Euros on knew the coast
(Gold, Ivory, Slave), Nile, Niger,
Congo Rivers
• People black but very diverse
physically, culturally (over thousand
• Craftsmanship in arts, bronze
sculpture, gold, weaving
In the North was Islam; other
areas were traditional religions
People lived mainly in villages,
agricultural or cattle raising
Timbuktu was one great city
Ancient kingdoms were
weakened by intertribal wars,
slave trade
Like Ottomans, Africa came
under European assault when
it was in a weakened state
Before 1750 there were no
white settlements in sub
Saharan Africa; later, there
were as many as seven million
people of European descent
Opening of Africa
• Livingstone and Stanley
• First opened up to
missionaries, explorers
and adventurers
• 1841 Scottish David
Livingstone as a medical
missionary doing
humanitarian and religious
• Occasionally traded and
explored (but had no
economic, political aims)
Explored the Zambezi River and was
1st white to look at Victoria Falls
Was content to remain there but New
York Herald (Yellow Journalism) sent
journalist H.M. Stanley to find him and
he did (Mr. Livingstone I presume)
Opening of Africa
• Stanley saw vast economic
possibilities in Africa and got
the King of Belgium (king
Leopold II) to back him
• They founded at Brussels
International Congo
Association in 1878 (a private
• Inland was considered terra
nullius, without gov and
claimed by no one (last one
there is a rotten egg!)
Stanley concluded treaties with 500
chiefs for trinkets, yards of cloth
Other Europeans started to become
interested (felt that they may miss out)
German Karl Peters concluded treaties
in East Africa
French Brazza claimed the Congo
Portuguese hoped to join Angola and
Berlin Conference of 1885
• Bismarck thought African
colonies a waste of time but
saw potential for conflict
• Called for a conference
• To set up territories of the
Congo Association as an
international state
• Draft a code of governing the
way European power could
acquire territory
Congo Free State (1885) replaced
ICA and was 1st of International
Mandates (trusteeships for
backwards peoples)
Said that Congo should not be a
colony but gave administration to
Congo River was
internationalized, no tariff on
imports, slave trade eliminated
Brussels Conference of 1889 (a
continuation of Berlin
Took further steps to eliminate
slavery (Muslims still doing)
Belgian Congo
• This effort of internationalism
failed b/c there was no way to
enforce it
• Slavery was eliminated but Leo’s
desire to make Congo profitable
let to horrible abuses
• Europe and America demanded
rubber & Congo was few places
that could supply
• Congolese were forced to meet
quotas of sap from rubber trees or
face possible death
• Rubber trees were destroyed with
no provision to replace them
Leo amassed a personal fortune but need $
and borrowed from his own govt. in 1889
and 95 and gave govt. right to annex the
Congo in 1901 (which it declined)
Press revealed Draconian methods and
Belgian gov took over in 1908 (year Leo
Congo Free State became colony (Belgian
Worst atrocities were eliminated
Berlin Conference had said that in order to
claim land “real occupation” in the form of
troops, administrators, not just paper
Within 15 years there was a Scramble to
occupy land and entire continent (except
Liberia, Ethiopia) were parceled out
Indirect Rule
• Whites appeared with treaties
and signed with a chief whom
they gave power that he
traditionally did not possess (to
sell land, grant mining
• They would build up the
position of the chief whom they
would tell what to do (indirect
• Chief would get them security,
workmen, porter services
Labor Problem
• Africans did not react like the
free wage earner of Europe
• Had little expectation of
individual gain and seemed to
work only sporadically (by
European standards) and
disdained tedious labor Euros
wanted them to do
• Euros resorted to forced labor
• Used systems like corvee to
get roads built
Levied hut tax of poll tax payable in money only
(which required a job)
Euros would acquire so much land that whole tribe
could no longer subsist on land (must become a
wage earner)
Uprooted men and had them live in barracks
Gradually this mistreatment ended
Nigerians, Ugandans soon began to attend Oxford
or University of Paris
20th Century saw nationalism grow vocal
Friction and Rivalry between the Powers
• Colonial Race in Africa
• 1885-1900 war almost broke
out over Africa
• Portuguese annexed huge part
in Angola and Mozambique,
Italians took Somaliland and
Eritrea but were unable to take
• Bismarck reluctantly
established colonies in East
Africa and Cameroon and
Togo along with German
Southwest Africa
French dreamed of a solid
belt across Africa from
Dakar to Gulf of Aden
British Cecil Rhodes
dreamed of a connection
(RR) “from the Cape to
He established Rhodesia
The Fashoda Crisis
• Brits supported Egyptian claims
to the upper Nile
• General Kitchener with Winston
Churchill under his command
started southward up the Nile
and defeated local Muslims in
1898 at Omdurman
• kept going south until he
reached Fashoda
• Fashoda Crisis= showdown
between Britain and France
• French finally backed down
(nervous about Germany) and
recalled General Marchand
• British hated in France
Cape to Cairo
• 1890 Cecil Rhodes, prime
minister of Cape Colony, was
principal sponsor of the Cape
to Cairo dream but ran into
independent Transvaal and
Orange Free State
• Afrikaners, descendants of
Dutch of 1600s had made a
“great trek” to escape British
rule (started 1815)
• Boers (Dutch for farmer), as
English called them, were
simple, obstinate, old
The South African War
• Diamonds were then
discovered in Transvaal
• Transvaal refused to pass
legislation needed for mining
• 1895 Rhodes sent armed
irregulars to start a
revolution but were stopped
• William II, German emperor,
congratulated president Paul
Kruger of Transvaal, for
defeating the bully British
1899 British went to war
S. African (Boer) War lasted until 1902
300 thousand Brits found elusive
They resorted to ravaging the country,
concentrations camps where 20
thousand died
Once fighting stopped British, 2 states
were united as Union of S. Africa and
given semi independent status
War left British very unpopular in
Embittered International Relations
• Squabbling over Africa left bad feeling b/t
powers and paved way for WWI

The Partition of Africa