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Imperialism and Post Colonialism in Africa. Words to Know!. Artificial Political Borders European Partitioning Berlin Conference Nigeria Kenya South Africa Federal Republic. Graphic Organizer. Colonialism. What is Colonialism?.

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words to know
Words to Know!
  • Artificial Political Borders
  • European Partitioning
  • Berlin Conference
  • Nigeria
  • Kenya
  • South Africa
  • Federal Republic
what is colonialism
What is Colonialism?

Colonialism is defined as the occupation and control of one nation by another. Do you know of any countries around the world, either in or outside of Africa, which have been colonized at some point in their history? Given an example.

European nations colonized Africa from the late 19th century (WHEN?)until the middle to later 20th century WHEN?.




colonial conquest in africa
Colonial Conquest in Africa

The 19th century in Europe was a time of industrialization . What does industrialization mean? Factories in Europe needed raw materials to manufacture products. As a result, Europeans sought both a source of raw materials, as well as, a market for manufactured goods in Africa.

So…with that information…why do you believe European nation colonized Africa?



Harvesting Rubber

Punishing “Lazy” Workers


5-8 Million Victims! (50% of Population??)

It is blood-curdling to see them (the soldiers) returning with the hands of the slain, and to find the hands of young children amongst the bigger ones evidencing their bravery...The rubber from this district has cost hundreds of lives, and the scenes I have witnessed, while unable to help the oppressed, have been almost enough to make me wish I were dead... This rubber traffic is steeped in blood, and if the natives were to rise and sweep every white person on the Upper Congo into eternity, there would still be left a fearful balance to their credit. -- Belgian Official


Politics in Europe also led to the colonization of Africa. Nationalism-a strong of identification with and pride in one's nation-resulted in competition between European nations. This competition often resulted in wars between nations. One of the causes of the Scramble for Africa, (1885-1910) which resulted in the colonization of all of Africa in just twenty-five years, was the competition between European nations to control as much of Africa as possible to gain economic and political power. No major nation wanted to be without colonies. The competition was particularly strong between Britain, France, and Germany, the strongest European nation-states in the late 19th century.

Activity-In your own words, what was the Scramble for Africa? Why was it so important and who particpated?

graphic organizer1


Graphic Organizer

Industrial Revolution


arguments for colonization
Arguments for Colonization
  • In addition, ideologies of racial hierarchy were prevalent in Europe in the 19th century. Many Europeans viewed themselves as the most advanced civilization in the world, and some saw it as their mission to "enlighten" and "civilize" people in the rest of the world. Ethnocentrism.
religion and colonialism
Religion and Colonialism
  • The colonization of Africa coincided with the expansion of Christian missionary activity in Africa. Parts of Africa, such as Ethiopia and Egypt, were home to Christians right from the beginning of Christianity as a region. However, Christianity was introduced to the rest of Africa only in the modern era.
graphic organizer2
Graphic Organizer


Industrial Revolution



a few africans welcomed the europeans
A few Africans welcomed the Europeans
  • European nations were able to make certain areas of Africa into their colonies in two main ways. Some African leaders were willing to sign treaties with Europeans for various reasons. In some cases, they saw it to their benefit to gain European allies. Secondly, military force was used in some cases when there was a large amount of resistance to colonial rule.
interactive notebook question left side
Interactive Notebook Question (Left Side)
  • Why would some African tribes welcome European colonization?
  • Why would other African tribes put up a fight against European colonization however end up conquered and destroyed so quickly?
colonialism brings new borders for africa
Colonialism Brings New Borders for Africa
  • It is important to notice how borders have shifted as a result of colonialism. The borders of African countries today were imposed from the outside by European nations. Often the people who drew these borders paid no attention to ethno linguistic groups or existing political organization at the time of colonialization. Sometimes they grouped together people who had never been united under the same government before. Sometimes they divided existing systems of government at the time of colonial conquest.
interactive notebook question
Interactive Notebook Question
  • What factors would you consider if you were a European drawing colonial borders in Africa?
berlin conference1
Berlin Conference
  • The Berlin Conference was held from November 1884 to February 1885. Many major European countries took part in the division of Africa, more commonly known as the “Scramble for Africa”, including Belgian, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.
  • The Europeans came into Africa with good intentions but they did not uphold them. The African people had no say in decisions made.
artificial political borders
Artificial Political Borders
  • “The consequences of the European partitioning of the continent of Africa were devastating, as the newly drawn borders failed to correspond to older demarcations of ethnicity, language, culture, and commerce” (288).
  • These horrible borders showed the European ignorance for the individual African tribe’s original territories. They did not allow the indigenous people of Africa to have a chance to survive.
  • Read the statements above, work with your partner to write a definition for Artificial Political Borders.
graphic organizer3
Graphic Organizer


Artificial Political Borders

Industrial Revolution



Berlin Conference

artificial political borders1
Artificial Political Borders
  • The boundaries made during the Berlin Conference effect Africa to this day. The Niger River basin area is filled with unrest, civil war, and violence. So is the Congo. An Artificial Political Border is one created by an outside entity without regard to the ethnicity or religious groups in the area.
the fight for independence
The Fight for Independence
  • All African countries, with the exception of Ethiopia and Liberia, started out as colonies. And just as with the American War for Independence, some African colonies, such as Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, also gained their independence only after waging war against their colonial masters. While the majority of African countries gained independence without having to resort to a revolution, in every African country independence was won only after the people organized themselves in a struggle against colonialism.
civil wars in post colonial africa
Civil Wars in Post-Colonial Africa
  • These wars brought additional hardships on the population including the destruction of infrastructure, crops, education, healthcare, and increase the spread of disease and famine.
  • The reasons for political violence,authoritarian governments, or corruption in some African countries, are complex and not a reflection of the inability of Africans to govern themselves.
graphic organizer4
Graphic Organizer


Artificial Political Borders

Industrial Revolution


Civil Wars


Berlin Conference

Struggle for Independence


What is a Civil War?

  • Why did Civil Wars break out in Africa?
    • Colonial states were weak and lacked capacity to meet citizen needs.
    • Colonial states were not democratic and had little respect for human rights.
    • ·Ethnic conflict is a major political problem in many African countries.

·What do you need for a stable government in Africa?

National unity is essential for the success of any country. For this goal to be met, citizens have to develop a stronger loyalty and identity to the nation than they do to an ethnic group.

Sovereignty- a fancy term for authority and power to insure security.

Basic human services: education, health-care, housing and adequate employment opportunities.

interactive notebook question1
Interactive Notebook Question

What advice would you have given African governments in 1960 on how they should deal with these important issues? What type of policies, programs, and institutions should have been developed to address these very important issues?

which type governments did the new countries choose
Which type governments did the new countries choose?
  • At their independence, each Africa country had a constitution that, like the U.S. Constitution, established the "rules and regulations" of government. These constitutions often reflected the systems of government of the colonial power. Remember that Britain and France had the most colonies in Africa.
  • Most were multi-party democracies. In this system, two or more political parties compete in regularly scheduled elections to control the government.
  • A few chose a presidential systemthat where, like in the United States, the president and executive branch have considerable power. State power is shared by the national assembly, or legislative branch. French colonies, such as Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, and Mali inherited this system in which there is a balance of power between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Others chose a parliamentary system. In a parliamentary system, the national assembly (what in the U.S. is the Congress) selects the executive cabinet from among the members of the national assembly. The head of government in this system is called a Prime Minister. African countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone inherited a parliamentary system.

military governments
Military Governments
  • Almost every African country that gained independence in the 1960s started out with multiparty systems. However by the end of the 1960s, only a handful of African countries maintained a multiparty system. Indeed by 1970, half of the independent countries in Africa had military governments. The process by which a group of military takes control of government is called a coup d'etatthis is a French term that means an overthrow of the state.
  • Some coup d'etats were quite violent. In the process of taking control, the soldiers involved killed members of the civilian government, including, at times, the president.
interactive notebook question2
Interactive Notebook Question
  • If you were the new leader of an African country, how would you prevent a Coup?

The strains on the political system in the early years of independence provided an environment in which corruptionbecame widely practiced in some African countries. A few government officials used their government position to benefit themselves and members of their family. Military leaders often used the pretext of widespread corruption to justify their taking power.


In spite of popular opposition to military rule, between 1960 and 1985 there were 131 attempted coups in Africa, of which 60 were successful! And three countries have had six successful military coups ! Indeed, out of 54 independent African countries, only six countries have not experienced an attempted or successful coup since they became independent .

the big four
The Big Four
  • So how did Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, and South Africa gain their independence?
  • Officially-Republic of Kenya
  • Controlled by Arabs, Germany, and Britain.
  • Native Kenyans staged a military rebellion but were quickly defeated.
  •  Independence-Gained on December 12, 1963
  • Nigeria remained a free country until Great Britain colonized the area in the 1800’s. Over time Nigerian (made up of over 250 separate ethnic groups!) begin to work toward quasi-independence while still apart of the British Empire.
  • In 1960 an independent government was elected.
  • However by the beginning of the 1970’s Civil Wars began and continued up to 1999.
  • The unequaled power distribution and corruption led to several back-to-back military coups.
  • During the oil boom of the 1970s, Nigeria joined OPEC and billions of dollars generated by production in the oil-rich Niger Delta flowed into the coffers of the Nigerian state. However, increasing corruption and graft at all levels of government squandered most of these earnings.
  • Nigeria today is a Federal Republic modeled after the United States, with executive power exercised by the president .
south africa
South Africa
  • Officially known as the Republic of South Africa. (Democracy)
  • Gained independence May 31, 1910  after four years of negotiation for freedom but continued to have close ties with the British.
  • After four years of negotiating, the Union of South Africa was created. The Natives' Land Act of 1913 severely restricted the ownership of land by 'blacks', at that stage to a mere 7% of the country.
  • Independence Day- January 1, 1956-Colonized by Great Britain. After numerous attempts to gain independence from the British, they finally were successful in 1954 (treaty signed January 1, 1956).
  • The continued British occupation of Sudan fueled an increasingly strident nationalist backlash in Egypt, with Egyptian nationalist leaders determined to force Britain to recognize a single independent union of Egypt and Sudan. With the formal end of Ottoman rule in 1914, Husayn Kamil was declared Sultan of Egypt and Sudan.
  • In 1946 British colonial authorities merged southern and northern Sudan into a single administrative region. The inhabitants of southern Sudan primarily practice Christianity and Traditional African religions. Northern Sudan is inhabited by Arab Muslims. Merging the citizens in the previously separate regions led to the first Sudanese civil war and subsequent political and ethnic strife. Today Sudan is an autocratic military dictatorship.
interactive notebook question left hand side
Interactive Notebook Question(Left Hand Side)
  • Which African nations broke from their European colonizers through peaceful means?
  • Which African nations broke from their European colonizers through military means?

The Cold War also brought problems to the continent of Africa. The United States and the Soviet Union used the counties in Africa as pawns in a global chess game of domination, wealth, and power.


As economies deteriorated, social strains increased and civil wars and refugees became the faces of Africa. But, in the last decades of the century, South Africa achieved the miracle of majority rule under Nelson Mandela, while in Uganda YoweriMuseveni fought the first post-independence liberation war and became the symbol of a new political generation of leadership. In Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda - intellectuals who had been through the fire of liberation struggles and set out to build societies which could transcend both the heavy hand of outsiders, and the scourge of ethnic politics. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda, in which a million Tutsis were killed by their erstwhile friends and neighbors from the majority Hutu population, acted as a terrible warning of what ethnic politics had in store if Africa's new leaders were to fail.

pan africanism
  • Pan-Africanism literally means 'all Africanism'. It is a movement, which seeks to unify and uplift both native Africans and those of the African diaspora, as part of a "global African community".
  • Pan-Africanism is usually seen as a product of the Atlantic slave trade, rather than as something arising from the continent of Africa itself. Enslaved Africans of diverse origins and their descendants found themselves embedded in a system of exploitation where their African origin became a sign of their servile status. Pan-Africanism set aside cultural differences, pointing to their shared experiences in order to foster solidarity and resistance to exploitation.
  • Modern Pan-Africanism began around the beginning of the twentieth century. The African Association, later renamed the Pan African Association, was organized by Henry Sylvester-Williams around 1887, and their first conference was held in 1900

Key figures

  • Muammar al-Gaddafi, president of Libya, has in recent years been the most dominant/active organizer of African unity and has proposed the formation, based on Kwame Nkrumah's dream, of a United States of Africa.
  • Marcus Garvey, was a Caribbean-born Pan-Africanist and stern advocate for the Back-to-Africamovement.
  • Malcolm X planned to link the Organization of Afro-American Unity through Pan-Africanism to internationalize the human struggle of African people.
The African Union (AU) is a supranational union consisting of fifty-three African states. Established in 2001, the AU was formed as a successor to the African Economic Community (AEC) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
  • Eventually, the AU aims to have a single currency (the Afro) ,a single defense force, as well as other institutions of state, including a cabinet for the AU Head of State. The purpose of the union is to help secure Africa's democracy, human rights, and a sustainable economy, especially by bringing an end to intra-African conflict and creating an effective common market.
  • The AU covers the entire continent except for Morocco, which opposes the membership of Western Sahara as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
  • The AU's first military intervention in a member state was the May 2003 deployment of a peacekeeping force of soldiers from South Africa, Ethiopia, and Mozambique to Burundi. AU troops are also deployed in Sudan for peacekeeping in the Darfur conflict.
history of the au
History of the AU
  • The historical foundations of the African Union originated in the Union of African States, an early confederation that was established by Kwame Nkrumah in the 1960s, as well as subsequent attempts to unite Africa, including the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which was established on May 25, 1963, and the African Economic Community in 1981. Critics argued that the OAU in particular did little to protect the rights and liberties of African citizens from their own political leaders, often dubbing it the "Dictators' Club".
  • The African Union was launched in Durban on July 9, 2002, by its first president, South African Thabo Mbeki, at the first session of the Assembly of the African Union.
  • Are there any other continents attempting to create a single government?

African Studies Center, African Independence. October 27,2007.

  • November 6, 2007.
  • Exploring Africa,, October 10,2007
  • Gross, Scott. The 30th Anniversary of the Berlin Conference Its adverse affects on Africa. Retrieved from: December 18, 2008
  • Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy. Retrieved from: December 18, 2008