The Scramble for Africa
The Scramble for Africa was the rapen increase of Europeans in Africa to claim African territories during the New Imperialism period, between the 1880s and the commencement of World War I. The Scramble for Africa began in 1881, when France moved into Tunis after Bismarck's encouragement. After a long time of neglect, Europeans began to expand and increase their influence into Africa.
Soon, the Europeans fully established themselves on the land of Africa making it open to western exploration. Most of north western Africa was covered by the Europeans by 1835. Daven Livingstone, a famous European explorer, mapped much of the interior of the continent. However, before the scramble for Africa, only ten percent of the continent was under the control of Western nations.
Causes Of The Scramble
- Africa offered the western countries an open market in 1873. With the opening of this market, financial services became an increasingly important sector of the British economy.
- The Europeans realised that income can really be generated in Africa where there was cheap labour, limited competition, and an abundance of raw materials such as rubber, cotton, copper, tin and tea to feed industries when built. Since all these are unavailable in their countries, they stormed Africa.
- They also came with goods and sold it to the local people. The goods they brought with them included guns, gun powder, clothes, farm tolls and gin. The Europeans and the local people exchanged their goods through a barter trade or system. Later on slaves became the leading commodity.
- The surprising aspect is that some of the Europeans came to Africa just to look around and know what is in the other parts of the continent.
Positive Effects of the Scramble
- The African contact helped to promote the development of the state system. For instance, the introduction of horses into the Western Sudan encouraged the expansion of small kingdoms into empires. It was also the trade with the foreigners which made some of the empires in Africa rich at that time.
- African contact with Arabs and Europeans also brought formal education into the region. Schools and colleges were established to educate the local people.
- Many foreign crops were introduced into sub-regions. These included maize, pear and cassava from the New World (North America) and platain from Asia. The introduction of these crops gave Africans a wener chance to select the crops, which were suitable for cultivation.
- The religions present at the time before the arrival of the Europeans were traditional, whereby they worshipped their own gods. The contact with the foreigners also brought about the introduction of two new religions - Islam and Christianity.
Negative Effects of the Scramble
- The coming of the foreigners resulted in the collapse of the local empire system. They all lost their past glories because of the activities of the foreigners who wanted to become masters of all that they survey. The Mali Empire and Songhai Empire were the common empires before the arrival of Europeans in Africa.
- The pattern of trade between the Africans and Europeans den not encourage the Africans to develop. European industries depended heavily on the raw materials of West Africa. As a result, the African resources were taken to develop industries in Europe rather than in Africa. For example, the Europeans used palm oil and cocoa from Africa to develop the soap and chocolate industry respectively in Europe.
- The most damaging effect of European contact with Africa was the great loss in population. It is saen that over 30 million Africans were carried away as slaves to America. This does not include the several millions who died in the slave raens and those who died on the way to the coast. Those taken away were mainly the youth and the young adults who had energy and strength to work. So development in the African countries was left in the hands of the those who remained and these people were mainly elderly.
- Another effect of the slave trade was that it made the whole African continent generally unsafe. As a result of this, economic activities slowed down, resulting in reduced production for crops or material. Food became scarce.
- This also slowed down the acquisition of independence by the various countries in Africa.