World History































Scramble for Africa

At the Berlin Conference in 1884, European countries made plans for carving up Africa.

By the 1870s, the African slave trade was over, and Africans continued to rule Africa. Europeans controlled only a few port areas. The Ashanti kingdom, for example, was a prosperous trade center on the coast of West Africa, and the powerful Zulu king in southern Africa had an army of 40,000 warriors. But Africa was too tempting for the Europeans to resist. The king of Belgium told a friend, “I mean to miss no chance to get my share of this magnificent African cake.” European powers met at a conference in Berlin in 1884 and divided the continent among themselves. The Africans were not invited to attend.

Berlin = the capital of Germany.

Then the imperialist powers set about the task of defeating African rulers. The Ashanti, Zulus, and others fought back, but in the end spears were no match for guns. In one battle, a British force armed with repeating rifles, artillery, and machine guns lost only 48 soldiers while killing more than 10,000 African warriors. Still, conquering the Africans wasn’t always easy, and sometimes it took years. In Ethiopia, the Italian army faced African soldiers armed with modern weapons, and Ethiopia kept its independence.

Ethiopia = a country of northeast Africa. Its capital city is Addis Ababa.

Seven European powers carved Africa into countries with boundaries that often bore little relationship to the cultural groups living there. Europeans took resources from Africa including rubber, gold, and diamonds and crops including cotton and peanuts. Some colonial governments were harsher than others, but everywhere European whites controlled African blacks. European domination stopped the natural development of Africa in its tracks, nearly destroying African culture in the process.

Scramble for Africa = a period of several decades—from the 1880s until the start of World War I—when European countries were aggressively conquering and colonizing Africa. This is an example of imperialism.