POSITIVE effects of imperialism in Africa

1) African diversity:
ethnic groups
- More than 1000
- Combination of
tribal religious
customs, plus
and Islam
2) Primary basis for European interaction with
Africa, before the age of imperialism:
The slave trade!
3) Early obstacles to greater European
interference in Africa:
1. Armed African resistance
2. Impassable geography (jungles, rivers,
mountains, deserts… no infrastructure)
3. Disease (esp. malaria)
4) First major claim of African territory:
King Leopold II of Belgium,
in the Congo River Valley
4) Belgian Congo (cont.):
Leopold licensed companies that brutally exploited
Africans, with hard labor and harsh penalties for not
making work quotas… at least 10 million Congolese
5) Following Belgium into Africa:
6) Causes of [African] imperialism (WHY?):
1. ECONOMIC: capitalism, industrial growth
- cheap access to raw materials / natural resources
- access to new, expanded global markets & trade routes
2. NATIONALISM: pride & prestige
Missionary efforts (converting Africans to Christianity)
Racism, Social Darwinism (economic survival of the fittest)
*Ethnocentrism – judging one's own culture as superior to all
others... resulting “duty” to force one's own idea of “progress”
and “civilization” on others
4. SECURITY: defense, protection of territory & trade routes, keep
up with rival powers (keep balance of power?)
Special importance of EGYPT to BRITAIN:
The Suez Canal provides a shorter route to Britain’s
imperial possessions (India, Australia).
7) HOW Europe conquers Africa so easily:
1. Industrial Europe has superior military technology
2. Industrial Europe has superior technology
associated with transportation,
& infrastructure (steamships,
railroads, telegraph)
… these allow conquering
nations to extend control
3. European medicinal advances (i.e. quinine) to
protect against disease
4. Euro powers play rival African groups against one
- exploit existing tribal & religious conflicts
- prey upon African diversity & lack of African unity
8) Berlin Conference (1885):
Purpose: Europeans seek to avoid war while
establishing “rules” for the conquering of Africa
Outcome: Africa divided
up among Euro powers
with no consideration of
traditional ethnic regions
… problems to follow.
9) Only independent African nations by 1900:
Ethiopia  strong leader, well armed,
favorable geography (mountains)
Liberia  U.S. ties (founded as freed slave
colony, became independent in 1847)
10) Industrial Europe seeks control of Africa for
RESOURCES and as a new MARKET…
Africa is quite profitable for the former, but not the latter
(too poor!)
11) Europe changes the African economy:
BEFORE: SUBSISTENT farming (self-sufficient!)
Individual farmers locally grow, produce & barter all that
is needed to support community needs.
- Large-scale commercial farming, owned by Europeans
- FEW crops grown in LARGE VOLUME for EXPORT,
rather than to feed local communities
EFFECT: Africa transitions from a SUBSISTENT economy
to a MARKET economy (Africans now paid low WAGES)
12) Competition in SOUTH AFRICA:
Large deposits of GOLD and DIAMONDS
Original settlers: Dutch farmers (Boers)…
the British follow… African tribes lose to
both (>dozen, largest is Zulu).
13) Boer War (1899):
- War between Boers (Dutch settlers) and British for
control of South Africa...
- Won by British
- Biggest losers: Africans! (legacy: apartheid)
14) European partitioning of Africa:
European approach: take whatever they could hold
on to, with no regard for local ethnic groupings.
Problems (then): arbitrary boundaries combined
diverse (and sometimes competing) ethnic &
groups, AND/OR unnaturally divided single
groups into multiple areas of European
Problems (now): Modern African borders (among 54
nations) largely a legacy of European imperialism…
has led to present-day civil wars, power struggles,
and competition over resource wealth by competing
ethnic groups.
15) NEGATIVE effects of imperialism in Africa:
… Lost sovereignty (loss of independence)
… Large-scale death from: European diseases (i.e.
smallpox), armed resistance to Euro invaders,
hunger & famine from conversion to cash-crop
commercial farming
… Forced assimilation (lost culture & traditions… esp.
... Discrimination & racist policies ... native people
treated as “second class citizens in their own homes”
… Combining different ethnic groups OR dividing same
ethnic groups (= African ethnic conflict today)
... Economic imperialism (wealth from African resources
exported to imperial nations)
16) POSITIVE effects of imperialism in Africa:
… Reduced tribal & ethnic warfare (in areas under
imperial control)
… Improved health & medicine* (= longer lifespans)
… Improved education & literacy (but not too much!)*
... Improved infrastructure* (transportation &
communication networks)
… Improved agricultural technology & techniques*
… Some economic growth (in international market for
African goods)
* Primary motive is to benefit Europeans first
17) European imperialism: positives v. negatives:
1. Negatives outweigh positives in quantity & weight
2. Many positives designed to help European
conquerors… secondary benefits to Africa
3. African wealth (in resources and people)
benefitted Europeans first
4. Modern effects:
- Political instability (dictators, civil wars,
absence of democracies)
- Immense poverty from a lack of economic
development & growth
- Unsustainable population growth
- Poor health care (dying from treatable diseases)