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European Colonialism of Africa. How did European partitioning of Africa contribute to conflict, civil war, and political boundaries?. LEQ. From slave trade to colonization … … Europeans continued to come! Why do you think European nations wanted to set up colonies in Africa?.

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How did European partitioning of Africa contribute to conflict, civil war, and political boundaries?


From slave trade to colonization …

… Europeans continued to come!

Why do you think European nations wanted to set up colonies in Africa?


Raw materials

  • New market for manufactured goods
  • Treasure and wealth
  • Civilized mission

As the French Jules Harmand expressed in 1910 …

'It is necessary then, to accept as a principle … the fact that there is a hierarchy of races and civilizations, and that we belong to the superior race and civilization…”

This was the common belief of the rest of the world!

For further explanation – click here


Leading the way of the “civilized mission” …

Dr. David Livingstone

  • Scottish explorer, missionary, and physician
  • 1840 – went to Africa
  • 1852 – Zambezi River – 1st European to see Victoria Falls
  • Believed Africa should be “civilized”

Witnessed the horrors of slavery

  • Wanted to fight slavery with “Christianity, Commerce, and Civilization”
  • 1856 – returned to England – wrote many books about his beloved Africa and the evils of slavery
  • 1866 – returned to Africa to search for the source of the Nile
  • Lack of contact with England lead people to believe he was dead

New York Herald sent Henry Stanley to find Livingstone

  • All along his way, he wrote articles for the Herald describing his journeys

Found Livingstone on November 10, 1871 – approaching the long lost explorer, Stanley spoke the words, “Dr. Livingstone I presume”


Dr. David Livingstone died in Zambia, Africa in April 1873 at the age of 60 – his “crew” carried his body for 5 months back to East Africa, then to Zanzibar, and finally on to England to be buried. However, before this final journey his African crew cut his heart out and buried it under a tree so that his heart could truly stay with his beloved Africa.


To sum up …

what effect did Livingstone and Stanley have on the spread of colonialism in Africa?

  • Their writings painted a picture of a dark, exotic land filled with riches and treasures
  • This fueled the desire for exploration and claiming the land

But Livingstone and Stanley were not the only factor that affected European colonialism.

Can you think of another aspect that helped colonization of Africa?

The slave trade!


What effect did the slave trade have on the rapid expansion of Europeans’ colonization of Africa?


Number of Africans drastically reduced – especially men and women of age to cultivate the land

  • Distrust and hatred among African tribes - Because of the practice of selling captives into slavery, distrust and hatred among African tribes grew
  • Ports and forts had already been established – merchant and missionary roads inland already established
a quick take over

Europeans nations strong v. small, separate African tribes

  • Superior weapons
  • World accepted idea that Africans inferior and needed help
A quick take over

However … now Europe has a problem!

European countries are fighting over disputed boundaries and territories!


let s divide africa

Conference of Berlin – 1884

    • European nations were scrambling for the richest and biggest parts of Africa – in an effort to avoid wars over territory, met to divide Africa
    • European countries (and the US) gathered to divide African land
    • No Africans were present to represent their tribes or people
    • Land divided with no regard to tribes, people, cultures, languages, tradition, history, or religions
    • Over the next 20 years Belgium, France, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the Ottoman Empire established colonies in Africa.
    • Only Ethiopia and Liberia remained independent.
Let’s divide Africa!

Raw Materials /Natural Resources Industrial Revolution

Treasure/wealth and Power


New Market for manufactured good


  • European
  • Motives
  • For Colonization
  • color the positive motives green/negative motives red

Christian Missionaries such as Dr. Livingstone

(see story)

A place to leave unwanted people (like the colony of Georgia in 1732)

Slave trade

European Racism- “White Man’s Burden, Social Darwinism


Africans tried to resist European rule, but efforts were met with defeat.

However …

Ethiopians successfully resisted European conquest, annihilating Italians at the Battle of Adwa.

By 1914, only Ethiopia and Liberia remained independent of European colonial control.


Results … Africa divided!

The 3 countries with the largest hold of interior Africa – Great Britain, France, Belgium


How did life change for Africans after European colonization of Africa?

  • Forced to pay taxes
  • Forced to be subjects of European rule
  • Stolen land given to European settlers
  • Forced to work for European
  • Faced brutality and cruelty from Europeans
  • Growing strife between tribes

For further explanation … click here


European empires begin falling apart

  • Focus on war at home – not African colonies

WW2 … … the beginning of the end of colonialism in Africa


Move to independence …

  • Africans objection – not enough power to act
  • Educated Africans – dream of independence
  • Africans believed in self-government
  • Africans had fought in WWII
  • Pan-Africanism – 1919 - 1st Pan-African Congress organized

For further explanation … click here

what is the pan africa movement and what are its goals for the continent of africa

A coming together of all Africans, regardless of where they are located throughout the world.

  • Intellectual, political and economic cooperation that should lead to the political unity of Africa.
  • The Pan-African movement is working for a unity of the African continent. The Pan-African Movement began in the late 1800s as a philosophy emphasizing the common bond shared by people of African descent and advocating unity among African people. It is sometimes applied to black African, to all black people throughout the world, and/or to all people living on the African continent.
What is the Pan-Africa movement and what are its goals for the continent of Africa?

Between 1951 – 1980

Most colonies in Africa south of the Sahara gained independence

However, did not mean peace!


Throughout Africa, rivaling ethnic groups thrown into countries together

    • Each fighting for control
    • Ethnic uprisings begin
    • Civil wars within countries
conference of berlin and european colonialism still effecting africans today

Racial divisions

  • Ethnic violence
  • Genocide
Conference of Berlin and European colonialism still effecting Africans today!

Let’s look at just one of many, many racial divisions and ethnic violence in Africa today that stems from European colonialism.



  • British influence in Nigeria began in 1885 after the Conference of Berlin, and the territory officially became a British colony in 1914.
  • A largely peaceful nationalist movement in Nigeria led the British to move Nigeria gradually toward independence between 1945 and 1960.
  • Finally independence was achieved in 1960.

Unfortunately, economic development by the British during the colonial period was unequally distributed in the territory that became the country of Nigeria.

  • This allowed some of the ethnic groups in the country to have greater wealth and power than other ethnic groups.
  • The injustice and ethnic tensions caused multiple rebellions throughout the 60s, 70s, 80, and 90s.

Example of problems: Nigeria

  • Many ethnic groups / religions – Christians, Muslims, and African religions … spoke over 400 languages
  • Slave trade and colonial rule worsened hostility between ethnic groups
  • After independence Nigerian politicians focused on their ethnic group and not the entire country – some leaders stole money and/or took bribes
  • Problems continued, but we will look at these at a later date.
king leopold in the congo ethnic violence in rwanda

13th century

    • Tutsis – herdsman
    • Hutus – farmers
  • Tutsis conquered Hutus and ruled until 19th century
  • 1962 – Belgium gives up control to Hutus (although Belgians had favored the Tutsis over the Hutus, they gave up control the majority – Hutus)
King Leopold in the CongoEthnic violence in Rwanda


    • Failed coup attempt by Tutsis
    • 1st round of large scale massacre of Tutsis
  • 1990
    • Tutsis invade
    • Beginning of 3 years of fighting
  • 1994
    • Hutus leader agreed to meeting that would discuss power sharing with Tutsis
    • Upon return, his plane was shot down and he was killed (some believe by radical Hutus to start yet another fight with Tutsis – some believe killed by Tutsis)
  • Again, mass murders

Beginning April 6, 1994, and for the next 100 days, over 800,000 Tutsi and between 10,000 to 30,000 Hutu had been killed. As many as 10,000 people killed each day!

About two million people were uprooted within Rwanda, while the same number of Hutu fled from Rwanda into Tanzania, Burundi, and Zaire.

The killings only ended after armed Tutsi rebels, invading from neighboring countries, managed to defeat the Hutus and halt the genocide in July 1994. By then, over one-tenth of the population, an estimated 800,000 persons, had been killed.


Took control of capital

  • Formed government
  • 2000 – held election
  • Hutus rebuilding strength
  • Long standing rivalry now spilling over into other countries

What do you think would be a good and workable solution to the problem between the Hutus and Tutsis?


Examples of problems …

South Africa

UK gave South Africa freedom in 1934 – turned over to white minority rule - only white South Africans could vote and many laws were passed restricting non-whites - but this only led to apartheid in 1948

(which we will look at in depth at a later date)


Kirundi Proverb

When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled.

What do you think this Kirundi proverb means?


Can you describe the development of European colonies in Africa?

  • Think about …
  • Why did Europeans want to establish colonies in Africa?
  • What factors helped spread colonialism?
  • Why were they able to take over so quickly?

Can you describe effects of European colonialism on Africa?

  • Think about …
  • How were Africans affected during the days of colonialism?
  • What have been lasting effects of colonialism?

Words, people, places to know …

  • Colonialism
  • Dr. David Livingstone
  • Henry Stanley
  • Conference of Berlin
  • Pan-Africanism
  • Ethnic violence
  • Genocide

For definitions – click here





Raw materials - industries / factories growing at a rapid pace in European countries thus a need for huge supplies of raw materials and resources such as rubber

  • Treasures and wealth – antiquities from places like Egypt – abundance of riches such as gold and diamonds discovered in Africa
  • New market for manufactured goods
  • Saving face – for France, after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo - gaining colonies in Africa was a way to “save face” and gain back some dignity and prestige in their competition with England
  • Money - Belgium – King Leopold II – he wanted a colony in Africa purely for the profits – his desire was purely personal - not for his country, but for himself! (In fact, years later, after his country realized what he was doing, they took the colony from him!)
  • Civilized mission– the rest of the world believed Africans were savages who needed saving and civilization!

Forced to pay taxes – for example, hut taxes – taxes on the hut you lived in located on the land that was once yours! Often- too high to pay – prison and other penalties if you didn’t pay

  • Forced to be subjects of European rule – obey their laws
  • Land was stolen from Africans to be given to European settlers
  • Forced to work on European projects – such as the British railroads
  • Faced brutality and cruelty from Europeans
  • Continued strife between tribes – tribal chiefs took bribes and believed promises offered by Europeans – sometimes Europeans labeled one tribe superior over another tribe – offered them better jobs, treated them better – this continued the bitterness and strife – sometimes tore apart friendly relationships that tribes had enjoyed for centuries

Move to independence

  • Africans objected to European rule but didn’t have enough power to act.
  • Educated Africans – few Africans had been sent to Europe and US to attend universities – this is where the dream of independence began growing
  • Africans believed in self-government – Europeans did not want to give up control of colonies and valuable resources – also believed Africans were incapable of governing themselves – Africans believed they could govern themselves
  • Africans had fought in WWI and WWII – African soldiers had seen that WWII was a war against oppression – they felt they had fought against oppression – now wanted to be free of this oppression in their own country – felt they too deserved independence
  • Pan-Africanism – an idea that people of African descent around the world should work together for Africa’s freedom – attracted supporters
  • 1919 - 1st Pan-African Congress organized

Words, people, places to know …

  • Colonialism – a nation’s control over another country or territory
  • Dr. David Livingstone – Scottish explorer whose writings help the spread colonialism
  • Henry Stanley – explorer sent to find Dr. Livingstone
  • Conference of Berlin – conference held in Berlin in 1884 to divide Africa among European nations
  • Pan-Africanism - political alliance of all the African nations
  • Ethnic violence – violence against another ethnic group
  • Genocide - extermination of a group of people based on nationality, race, politics, or culture