The Scramble and Partition of Africa
The scramble for and partition of Africa was a hasty process that saw Africa divided amongst European imperialists within a period of twenty years between 1880 and 1900. In fact, Germany, Spain, Italy, Britain, Portugal, France, and Belgium occupied Africa and employed their laws on its territories. However, certain factors influenced colonial rulers to expand their boundaries in African states. Consequently, African countries faced many consequences after the scramble and their exposure to colonial rulers. Therefore, examining the factors that contributed to colonization and their effects on the African people and the continent is imperative.
Economic factors mainly facilitated the scramble and partition of Africa. At the peak of the industrial revolution, imperial merchants felt the need to expand their markets. Africa was seen as a potential destination where surplus products could be sold to a fresh market that was not yet inflated like other European areas (Nnoromele & Anyanwu, 2015, p. 165). Moreover, colonial administrations urgently needed to find a location to acquire cheap labor and raw material for their European industries. Therefore, Africa was the perfect place to source such economic needs.
Political factors are also cited as reasons colonial masters quickly sought to partition Africa. The 18th century saw a quick spread of the spirit of nationalism throughout Europe. This concept increased the urge of imperial nations to become more powerful and prestigious by acquiring other states that could be regarded as part of their territories (Nnoromele & Anyanwu, 2015, p. 166). Therefore, state authorities, ministers, and political officials within European nations rivaled to prove their greatness and power through partitioning Africa. On the other hand, great individual colonial masters actively engaged in acquiring lands for their countries since the move was considered patriotic.
Besides, social factors significantly contributed to the scramble and partition of Africa. According to historians, the main social reason associated with this process was the need to acquire new job opportunities in the labor market in Europe. As a result, a large number of employees in Europe immigrated to Africa to hold positions of business managers, lay leaders, doctors or nurses, law enforcers, administration officers, and teachers (Nnoromele & Anyanwu 2015, 166). Additionally, European colonizers also had an egocentric social reason where they perceived Africans as inferior due to their difference in slowing digital and economic advancement.
Another crucial factor that led to the scramble for and partition of Africa was the unofficial mind of nongovernmental organizations in the continent way before the imperial states considered it as a potential colonial target. Through the spread of Christianity, humanitarian activities, personal adventure, and scientific purposes, colonial rulers found a way of penetrating into Africa (Nnoromele & Anyanwu, 2015, p. 167). Under those premises, the colonialists could enter the continent disguised as religious and humanitarian entities.
Colonization influenced Africa in various ways. For instance, the French colonizers were a great terror to the African people as their aggressive acquisition of colonies led to massive deaths and increased slave trade amongst its protectorates (Nnoromele & Anyanwu, 2015, p. 168). Another impact of European colonization was the decline and fall of African empires due to political differences. As a result of these disputes, the colonizers got an opportunity to perpetrate the well-organized social institutions, divide them further, and quickly conquer them (Nnoromele & Anyanwu, 2015, p. 170). In addition, from colonization, Africans attained religious awakening due to the spread of Christianity, while the entire continent gained from technological advancement as scientific studies were carried out, and missionaries facilitated the spread of civilization in all African states.
The above discussion has substantiated that the partition of Africa by European powers was contributed to different factors, and some consequences resulted from this process. In essence, political, social, economic, and unofficial factors led to the colonization of African states. The result of this initiative by the Europeans was massive killings in war, increased slave trade, a decline of the African empires, and the spread of Christianity and civilization due to technological advancement.
Nnoromele, S., & Anyanwu, O. E. (2015). Re-tracing Africa: A multi-disciplinary study of
African history societies and culture / Salome C. Nnoromele, Ogechi E. Anyanwu. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.