Two major factors that contributed to the scramble for and acquisition of African colonies in the late nineteenth century
After the continental drift, the world separated into various continents including Africa, Europe, North and South America. The regions had different lifestyle, resources, color, language and most importantly advancement in development. The differences brought many uncertainties with many superior countries opting to take over other regions. One such region that faced hostility from the developed and socially stable countries is Africa. From 1870s to 1900, Africa as a continent faced the inferior imperialist aggression, military invasions, diplomatic pressure, which led to the conquest and finally colonization (Fox 166). Despite putting up resistance to protect and safeguard their resources and continent as a whole, most of the African countries had been colonized by early 20th century. Two main factors contributed the scramble and partition of Africa in the late nineteenth century.
Competition within European countries remains a major factor that drove colonization of Africa in the 19th century. The inter-European power competitions from the Britain, Portugal, Spain, Germany, France and Belgium, created the need for more space in the European continent (Gat 53). One such way to show preeminence to other countries was to inhabit and maintain colonies around the world. At this time Africa had no access to technology, lacked military equipments had not taste of industrializations. In this light, they were vulnerable and weak as well as unable to sustain an attack from external forces. The disadvantages made it a quick choice for most European countries who wanted a golden opportunity to acquire respect and control from the competitors (Satre 37). Evidently, no country wanted to stay without colonies in the 19th century, however, competition mainly envisioned through Germany, France and Britain. Capitalism led to massive industrialization without adequate resources in sight. Many factories had been set up; however, they lacked raw materials to produce the many anticipated products. After the discovery of natural resources in the African continent, each country in Europe strived to control an area of resource (Fox 166). Apart from seeking raw materials, the Europeans also targeted the vast African market for their finished goods. In the 19th century, many African countries if not all had the ability to manufacture finished goods. However, in Europe capitalism opened gates for massive productions for the scrambled African colonies.
Philosophy of racial hierarchy dominated Europe in the 19th century (Satre 38). As a result, the Europeans took a superiority role of advanced civilization. They, therefore, decided to conquer the world with the aim of enlightening and civilizing the many people who still stayed in the Dark Ages. As depicted in the white man’s burden by Rudyard Kipling, Europeans stereotyped and racialized African people hence justifying the colonization step (Gat 54). Many Christian missionaries supported colonization of Africa due to the anticipated good atmosphere. Interestingly, many European missionaries supported colonization of Africa as this would provide them with a conducive atmosphere for spreading Christianity. This is despite the negative view of different ways in which the Europeans met resistance from the African quota
In conclusion, scramble for and possession of African had many driving factors, however, the philosophy of racial hierarchy and competition within European countries played as central elements. Evidently, the Europeans believed to superior and civilized hence felt the need to colonize and civilize Africans. Subsequently, competition within European countries aggravated the need to prove the power. Conceivably, the sure way to show superiority in the 19th century was to colonize and dominate a country in the African continent. This, therefore, contributed to the scramble and acquisition of Africa.
Fox, Peter. Cambridge University Library: The Great Collections. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998. Print.
Gat, Azar. Victorious and Vulnerable: Why Democracy Won in the 20th Century and How It Is Still Imperiled. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010. Print.
Satre, Lowell J. Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business. Athens OH: Ohio University Press, 2005. Print.