Colonial Africa

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes:Scramble and Partition of Africa:Political and Social factors that led to the scramble for Africa

  • Nationalism or patriotism was an important political factor that led to the colonization of Africa.
  • Nationalism can simply be defined as the placing of one’s country above others
  • France had to restore lost glory and prestige after being defeated by Germany by colonizing Africa
  • France also wanted to get manpower to make an army to be used to wage war against Germany
  • germany and italy on the hand acquired colonies to increase their political status and have a chance to engage in international affairs
  • Colonies were therefore a sign and symbol of a state’s supremacy
  • France and Britain had to acquire colonies so as to balance power in Europe after the emergency of a powerful Germany under Otto Von Bismarck
  • Some scholars argue that European countries wanted to control sea routes and port hence the need to get colonies in Africa
  • Influential politicians like Bismarck, Leopold and Rhodes, made it possible for africa to be colonized. Bismarck, for example, summoned for the Berlin conference in 1884  where effective colonization was agreed upon
  • Some late comers like Belgium had to join in the race of colonization after the Berlin conference
  • Colonies were seen as assets for exchange in international bargaining

Social factors

  • the feeling by Europeans that Africans were inferior led them to colonize them
  • africa was regarded as a dark continent and Europeans had to civilize them by colonisation
  • Europeans felt they had evolved faster and Africans the least, so they were born to rule over everything
  • Colonization was seen as a blessing to Africa
  • Missionaries also invited their mother governments to colonize Africa when they failed to convert Africans to christianity
  • As slave trade was abolished colonisation became the only way for Europeans to getting cheap labour and raw materials from Africa
  • Europeans also wanted to impart ideas of sisterhood and brotherhood so that they would advance their economic and political interests
  • industrialisation led to high unemployment rates as people were replaced by machines and this increased social crimes e.g. prostitution, theft and riots
  • European countries had to look for somewhere to settle paupers and unemployed citizens and Africa was the best place leading to colonization
  • Europe also became overpopulated and excess population was resettled in Africa resulting in colonization

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