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Imperialism in Africa. Between ~1880-1914, European countries gained control of almost all of Africa! . Africa Before Imperialism. Thousands of different ethnic groups, tribes, nations, cultures and languages.

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http www shs d211 org socialstudies faculty hxm world 20history htm

Between ~1880-1914, European countries gained control of almost all of Africa!

africa before imperialism
Africa Before Imperialism
  • Thousands of different ethnic groups, tribes, nations, cultures and languages.
  • Complex trade networks, different types of societies.
  • African groups often in conflict with one another.
some major african kingdoms before imperialism

Some major African kingdoms before imperialism svg

By Jeff Israel

Major language groups (there are about 2000 different specific languages!)
early contact with europe
Early contact with Europe
  • Missionaries
  • Slave trade, coastal trade
  • Explorers
    • But by 1850s, most of Africa still unknown to Europeans –”dark continent”
susan m pojer at http www pptpalooza net
Susan M Pojer at


Source for








For Colonization

Markets forFinishedGoods

Military& NavalBases



Places tore-locateUnwanted/Excess Population


Social & EconomicOpportunities


why was africa imperialized then major reasons
Why was Africa imperialized then? (major reasons)
  • Some Europeans wanted to spread Christianity. They believed they were culturally and racially superior.

By Josiah Wedgwood ,1787

white man s burden
“White Man’s Burden”
  • Some Europeans believed that it was their duty to take over “uncivilized” people to help them modernize and become more advanced. They saw imperialism as a humanitarian mission.

“Take up the White Man's burden--Send forth the best ye breed--Go bind your sons to exileTo serve your captives' need;To wait in heavy harness,On fluttered folk and wild--Your new-caught, sullen peoples,Half-devil and half-child. “

- Rudyard Kipling, 1899

slide10's_Burden The white man's burden - The Journal, Detroit, 1898. Satire of “White Man’s Burden” First printed in Life, March 16, 1899.

Europeans wanted access to Africa’s natural resources: ex. ivory, rubber, gold, diamonds, palm oil, fruit, minerals, etc.

Europeans wanted new markets for their goods. Africans bought tools, weapons, clothes that had been inexpensively produced in England during the Industrial Revolution.

how did europeans get control
How did Europeans get control?
  • Cooperated with local leaders.
  • Took advantage of African conflicts.
  • Traded with Africans.
  • Used more advanced weapons and technology.
    • Ex. Maxim machine gun

303 Maxim gun at Firepower - The Royal Artillery Museum.

Taken by Max Smith

the conference of berlin 1884
The Conference of Berlin - 1884
  • European leaders met in Berlin, Germany to divide up Africa.
    • They did not invite any African people!

Europeans agreed that to claim an area in Africa, they had to set up a government there.
  • They called for an end to the slave trade in and within Africa.
  • They gave King Leopold II of Belgium control of the Congo.
how did european imperialism affect africa
How did European imperialism affect Africa?
  • Each European country administered territories differently, but there were common trends.
imposed taxes
Imposed taxes
  • Europeans made African natives pay taxes in cash.
    • This forced more natives to plant cash crops, which Europeans encouraged, for export to Europe.
      • Cash crops helped some people gain money, but also led to food shortages.

changed traditional government
Changed traditional government
  • Direct rule (French): Europeans set up a government and ran it.
  • Indirect rule (British): Europeans selected native leaders who agreed to work with them and rule through them.

…either way, traditional elites often lost power, and political organization became hierarchical with Europeans at very top.

last british governor general of nigeria with tafawa balewa first independent prime minister
Last British Governor General of Nigeria with Tafawa Balewa, first independent Prime Minister

created new boundaries
Created new boundaries
  • Political boundaries were created by Europeans to divide areas under their control.
  • Often many diverse and formerly independent groups were forced together under one government.
example nigeria has about 250 ethnic groups
Example: Nigeria has about 250 ethnic groups

consequences of european imposed boundaries
Consequences of European-imposed Boundaries
  • Pro: The government forced groups to stop fighting each other and encouraged trade.
  • Con: Groups were deprived of sovereignty, and the stage was set for future struggles for power between ethnic groups within the country.
  • Although European control could potentially eliminate wars between tribes under their control, they often relied on violence to keep control or force labor.
  • Europeans claimed the most desirable land and resources for themselves.
infamous belgian congo abuses
Infamous Belgian Congo abuses

Circa 1904 Alice Harris, Anti-Slavery International

By Linley Sambourne, in Punch in 1906

  • Europeans introduced advanced technologies, especially for transportation and communication (railroads, telegraph, etc.).
  • They also brought more modern medicine and built hospitals.
formal education
Formal Education
  • Before imperialism, most Africans were educated through systems that used oral traditions and practicing trades and skills.
  • Europeans, especially missionaries, built Western style schools, though only some Africans attended. Those who were educated in European schools often worked for the colonial government and had greater opportunity for promotion. Some of these Africans adopted European ideals of liberal democracy, and began to demand more rights in those terms.
  • Some areas used forced labor for plantations or construction.
  • Some areas relied on large amounts of cheap mobile labor, especially from Africans who had lost their land or homes.
  • Some Africans grew wealthy as part of a new commercial elite, or saw working in the colonial troops or police as an opportunity.
french colonial troops
French colonial troops

Ulrich, 1940,,_Kriegsgefangene_franz%C3%B6sische_Kolonialsoldaten.jpg

  • Many Africans participated in resistance movements.
  • Some violent – Examples: Mau Mau in Kenya, Zulus in South Africa, Berbers in Algeria.
  • Some peaceful – Example: political organization and protests in Nigeria, pride in traditional cultures and rejection of European influence.
http www psywar org maumau php http www blackpast org q gah mau mau 1952 1960
big question
Big Question:

Regarding British imperialism in Africa, a British official, Lord Curzon said:

“The British Empire has brought peace, justice, prosperity and freedom to Africa.”

To what extent is this belief accurate?