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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