Colonial Exploration and Conquest in Africa

Colonial Conquest in Africa

Justifications for colonialism in Africa during the 19th century:

  • Europeans wanted a source of raw materials and a market for manufactured goods.
  • European nations competed over colonial expansion, leading to colonization of all Africa in just twenty-five years.
  • Europeans wanted to “enlighten” and “civilize” African people, based on stereotypes.
  • Christians wanted to expand their missionary activity.

The Treaty of Berlin and the “Scramble for Africa”

All the claims for territory by European nations caused a rush for territory in Africa. This period is known as the “Scramble for Africa.” European nations wanted African colonies. They met and agreed to a treaty to address issues of colonization.

Colonialism Brings New Borders for Africa

Colonialism by European nations caused a shift in African borders. The Europeans who drew these borders paid no attention to the native groups based on language, ethnicity, or political organization.

Types of Colonial Rule

There are four main ways in which European nations ruled African colonies.

1. Economic Companies

European nations granted private companies large territories to rule, in order to exploit the natural resources. These companies could set up their own systems of taxation and labor recruitment.

The companies faced opposition from Africans and missionaries over the harsh nature of company rule.

2. Direct Rule

Direct rule used the strategy of “divide and rule” by adopting policies that intentionally weakened native power and institutions. Colonialists did not try to negotiate governance with native African rulers.

3. Indirect Rule

This system of governance used native African rulers within the colonial administration in a lesser role. It was a more cooperative model than direct rule, but it was built on a false idea that all Africans were organized as tribes, with chiefs. People in Africa actually had diverse types of government ranging from highly centralized states to stateless societies. As a result, indirect rule increased divisions between ethnic groups.

4. Settler Rule

A significant number of immigrants from Europe settled in these colonies, planning to make a permanent home. Settlers demanded special political and economic rights and protection. Their rule was harsh for the native African population.

Source: Colonial Exploration and Conquest in Africa
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