HISTORY OF THE
AFRICAN
CONTINENT
THE “DARK” CONTINENT
• “Dark Continent” – racist terminology
referred to both the peoples of Africa and
their alleged ignorance
• In reality, Africa has always had diverse
groups of people with their own unique
cultures and histories
– Civilizations
– Languages
– Religions
GEOGRAPHY OF AFRICA
• Continent – not a country
• Continent is three times larger than Europe
• Northern Africa – desert
• Mid-to-southern Africa – diverse
climates and topography
FOREIGN HISTORY IN AFRICA
• Greeks controlled Egypt after conquest by
Alexander the Great
– Ptolemaic dynasty
• Romans ruled all areas along the Mediterranean
coastline, including northern Africa
– Mediterranean – “Roman lake”
• West African Trading Kingdoms
• Ghana (300 A.D. to 1100 A.D.)
• 7th century - Arab traders converted many Africans to Islam
• gold and salt trade
• Mali (1300 A.D. – 1400 A.D.)
• expanded trade
• great leaders: Sundiata Kieta and Mansa Musa
• Songhai (1400s – 1500s)
• Timbuktu became a major center of trade
• great leader: Sunni Ali
The “OPENING UP” OF AFRICA
• Source of slaves for the
Americas from the 17th century
• But little foreign interest in the
interior of sub-Saharan Africa
• Mid-1800s: Missionaries &
explorers sparked foreign
interest in Africa
European Imperialism in Africa
This is a map that
shows the colonial
division of Africa as of
1913. Note where
the concentration of
possessions for each
country are.
Video
Definitions
• A. Colonialism – the policy of taking a weaker nation’s land for
self gain.
• B. Imperialism – the domination of one nation over the political,
economic, or social affairs of another nation
• Reasons for the colonization of Africa- refueling ports, slave
trade, mineral and agricultural resources, strategic location
Early Contact - A Slow Start
• Europeans had a slow start in colonizing Africa due to natural barriers
and lack of interest… until the slave trade and search for raw
materials drew them to the continent
• 1. (Glory) Explorers -
The early explorers at first had little impact on Africans as they
used Africa ports largely for refueling for voyages to India and Asia. Eventually they began
expanding inland and IMPOSED many of their customs and beliefs. Some European communities
got along well with Africans and some clashed. As they began to expand inland and claim more
territory clashes became more frequent. Some Africans liked the modern technology brought by the
Europeans and some thought that it was evil.
• 2. (God) Missionaries –
Christian missionaries sought to convert the Africans to
Christianity. Some accepted the new faith, many rejected it and resented the Europeans for not
respecting their gods. Missionaries brought education, modern agriculture, and health care along
with the Bible. Some missionaries were accepted into African society and some were killed for
trying to bring change.
• 3. (Gold) Slave trade and raw materials -
The slave traders had a
terrible impact on African society and culture. By trapping and buying many Africans south of the
Sahara, they destroyed individuals, families, and tribes, creating hate of Europeans. The primary
slavery areas were; West Africa (along the coast), Central Africa (Congo River valley), and
southeast Africa (Zimbabwe). Raw materials were needed for European industries and factories –
these resources also drew imperialists to set up colonies.
The Slave Trade
This is an etching of the slave trade
DAVID LIVINGSTONE (1813-1873)
• Scottish missionary
• 1841-1873 – lived in central Africa
– Explored Africa
• Named Lake Victoria after the British queen
– Converted many Africans to Christianity
– Wrote books on Africa which piqued foreign interest
• 1871 – reported “lost”
– “Found” by Henry Stanley
– “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”
HENRY STANLEY (1841-1904)
• Welsh-American reporter
• “Found” Dr. Livingstone in Africa
– “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”
• Explored Africa
– Congo River
– Lake Tanganyika
– Lake Victoria
• Worked with Belgium’s King Leopold II and his
African colonization company
– International African Society
KARL PETERS (1856-1918)
• German explorer in Africa
• Organized and propagandized for Germany’s
colonial expansion
– Founded the Society for German Colonization
• Acquired German East Africa (modern-day
Tanzania)
• Convinced Otto von Bismarck to take over
German East Africa and increase Germany’s
colonies in Africa
CECIL RHODES (1853-1902)
• British businessman and politician in
southern Africa
• Made a fortune from African diamond mines
• Established South African Company
– Land later became Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)
• Prime minister of Cape Colony (1890-1896)
– Wanted British control over South Africa
– Wanted Cape-to-Cairo Railroad
• Architect of British imperialism in southern
Africa
– Great Britain became leading colonial power in
southern Africa
KING LEOPOLD II OF BELGIUM
(1835-1909)
• Took over land in central Africa
• Berlin Conference (1885)
– Leopold’s control over Congo Free State
recognized by major powers
• Belgian Congo (1908)
– Leopold criticized for the cruelty of his rule in
the Congo
– Leopold forced to sell Congo Free State to
Belgian government
– Renamed Belgian Congo
• Created European race for African
colonies – “Scramble for Africa”
– Diamonds, foodstuffs, gold, ivory, rubber
The Berlin Conference - 1885
• The purpose was to reduce the potential of war between
European countries for rival claims to land in Africa. This race
to claim land was started by King Leopold of Belgium who
claimed Zaire.
• No Africans were invited
•
•
•
•
Results:
1. Belgium’s right to the Congo Free State were recognized.
2. Free trade on the Congo and Niger rivers
3. No European country could claim any part of Africa without
first setting up a government office there.
• 4. Europeans began to divide up Africa
• The entire continent was partitioned or divided up over the next
20 years with the exception of Ethiopia and Liberia. Europeans
began to exploit (take advantage of) Africa.
BRITISH IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
• 1815 – British took Cape Colony from the Dutch
– Boers moved north
• Transvaal
– 1886 – gold discovered and British moved in
– 1881 and 1895 – British attempted to take Transvaal from
the Boers
• Orange Free State
• Boer War (1899-1892)
– Dutch led by President Paul Kruger
– British won
UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA
• Created in 1910
• Included Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Natal,
and Transvaal
• Self-government
BRITISH COLONIES IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
• Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
– Named for Cecil Rhodes
– North of Union of South Africa
• Bechuanaland (now Botswana)
– 1885 – became a British protectorate
• Kenya
– 1888 – became a British protectorate
BRITISH IN NORTH AFRICA
• Egypt – in name ruled by Ottoman
Turks, but largely independent
• European capital investments
– Suez Canal opened in 1869
• Built by the Egyptians and French
• Taken over by the British (1875)
– British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli
»Bought shares in Suez Canal Company from Egypt
• Egypt was nearly bankrupt from the expense of building the
Suez Canal
»British government became largest shareholder
EUROPEANS IN EGYPT
• 1870s – with the Egyptian government bankrupt,
the British and French took over financial control
of the country
– Egyptian monarchs (technically Ottoman viceroys)
ruled as puppet leaders
• 1882 – Egyptian nationalist rebellion
– France withdrew its troops
– Great Britain left in control of Egypt
• Lord Cromer introduced reforms
– De facto British protectorate
• Made official in 1914
• Independence came in 1922
BRITISH IN NORTHERN AFRICA
• Sudan
– Area south of Egypt
– Under Anglo-Egyptian control
– Cotton needed for British textile mills
– Entente Cordiale (1904)
• Great Britain controlled Sudan
• France controlled Morocco
• Cape-to-Cairo Railroad
– Idea of Cecil Rhodes
– Would secure Great Britain’s dominance in Africa
– Never completed – sections missing through modern
Sudan and Uganda
Cape-to-Cairo Railway: Crossing over Victoria Falls
FRENCH IN AFRICA
• Algeria
– 1830 – invasion
– 1831 – annexation
• Tunis
– 1881 – controlled by France
• Led Italy to join the Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary and
Germany during World War One
• Morocco
– 1881 – large part under French control
– 1905 and 1911 – nearly sparked a European war
between France and Germany
FRENCH IN AFRICA
• Madagascar
– 1896 – controlled by France
• Somaliland
– 1880s – partly under French control
• West Africa
– Late 1800s – largely under French control
• Sudan
– 1898 – met Britain’s area of control and nearly went to
war
– Entente Cordiale settled British-French disputes in Africa
FRENCH IN AFRICA
• By World War I – 1914
– France controlled 3,250,000 square miles in Africa
• 14 times the area of France
– France ruled 30,000,000 Africans
• 75% of the population of France
GERMANS IN AFRICA
• Togoland (now Togo and Ghana)
• Cameroons (now Cameroon and Nigeria)
• Southwest Africa (now Namibia)
• East Africa (now Burundi, Rwanda, and
Tanzania)
ITALIANS IN AFRICA
• 1882-1896
• Eritrea (along the Red Sea)
• Somaliland (along the Indian Ocean, part of today’s
Somalia)
• 1896
• Defeated in attempt to conquer Abyssinia (Ethiopia)
• 1912
• Won Tripoli from Ottoman Turks
BELGIANS IN AFRICA
• 1908
– Belgium gained control of Congo (Congo Free State) from
King Leopold II
– Leopold was infamous for the cruelty of his rule in the Congo
• Congo Free State (today’s Democratic Republic of
Congo)
– 80 times the size of Belgium
– Source of uranium
PORTUGUESE IN AFRICA
• Under “old imperialism” Portugal gained African
territory and led the early trans-Atlantic African
slave trade
• Angola
• Mozambique
Portuguese territory
in Africa, 1810
SPANISH IN AFRICA
• Spain had very
few possessions
in Africa
• Tip of Morocco
• Rio de Oro
• Rio Muni
AFRICANS IN AFRICA
• By the time of the First World War
(1914)
– Only 2 independent African countries
• Abyssinia (Ethiopia)
– Ruled by dynasty stretching back to at least the
13th century
– Last emperor was Haile Selassie, deposed in
1974
– Home to Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church
(strongly tied to Egyptian Coptic Church)
• Liberia
– Formed by freed slaves under auspices
(support) of the United States government
Famous Leaders of the Independence
Movement
• A. Menelik II - late 1800’s, independence from Italy for Ethiopia
• B. Kwame Nkrumah – gained independence for Ghana on the west coast of Africa
from England. Pushed Pan-Africanism (all Africans working together)
•
• C. Jomo Kenyatta – led the independence movement in Kenya from England. His
name means “burning spear”
• D. Julius Nyerre – led the independence movement from Germany for his country
of Tanzania on the southeast African coast.
•
• E. Leopold Sedar Senghor – Senegal's famous poet/politician who led the
Senegalese independence movement and inspired many African independence
movements with his poems of freedom and African pride. Senegal attained it’s
freedom from France as a result of his work.
• F. Mobutu Sese Sekou – Belgium suddenly gave the Congo it’s independence in
1963. This resulted in a long tribal Civil War broken up by U.N. troops. Joseph
Mobutu, an army general took over and restored order and set up the first national
government. (authoritarian and corrupt)
Problems of New African Nations
• A. Tribalism – continuing loyalty to tribes and prejudice
against other tribes
• B. Poverty – massive unemployment or under
employment
• C. Subsistence Agriculture – many tribes, villages,
families, exist on what they produce
• D. Disease – epidemics of malaria, ebola virus, parasites,
nutritional diseases, yellow fever, sleeping sickness, STD,
and HIV/AIDS
• E. Hunger – vast numbers are hungry daily
Problems (cont.)
• F. Sanitary Conditions – lack of knowledge of the
link between cleanliness and disease prevention
• G. Lack of Communication – with over 800 major
language groups, intertribal communication remains
a problem
• H. Lack of Educational Opportunities – rural
villages and cities lack the educational resources to
properly educate the young
• I. Desertification – the spread of the deserts
Video
Communication Problems
• These are the 6 major
language
classifications which is
further divided into
over 800 major
language groups (not
including dialects).
This hinders
communication.
Reflection
Which of these problems that
Africa is facing do you believe is
the most challenging? Why?
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