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The Berlin Conference of 1884 and Africa - Research Paper Example

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Abstract The Berlin conference in 1884-85 was entirely committed to the partitioning of African continent among the European powers. Historians aptly refer the conference as “the scramble for Africa” because it entailed the geographical division of the “dark continent” that had suddenly generated interest in the rapidly industrializing Europe (Pakenham, 1992 p 52)…
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The Berlin Conference of 1884 and Africa
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Download file to see previous pages The continent was relatively isolated from the rest of the world especially the western countries but historians have recorded early trade in Africa. Trans-Saharan trade is one of the earliest recorded commerce, carried out in Africa between eighth and 16th century (Wright, 2007). According to Wright (2007), Trans -Saharan trade was concentrated in the northern Africa and it involved countries around the Mediterranean Sea and West Africa. The trade route crossed the Saharan desert and the caravans travelled for long distances to obtain goods in various regions covered in the larger frontier. The Arabs dominated the trade and it mainly involved precious metals such as gold that was mined in West African region, ivory, salt and agricultural products. In addition, slave trade was an important component of Trans- Saharan trade, and African servants were transported to the north to work as soldiers and domestic workers (Wright, 2007 pp76-81). Conditions Leading to the Berlin Conference The rich gold deposits and success of the Trans-Saharan trade attracted the attention of Europeans and in the 15th century, Portuguese traders opened new trade routes along the West African coast that had rich gold deposits (Wright, 2007 p 137). ...
In the mid 1870, Henry Morton successfully completed the Congo River basin expedition that had remained the last unchartered frontier in Africa (Emerson, 1979). Henry Morton was later appointed by King Leopold II of Belgium as an envoy to Congo that eventually became Congo Free State, a Belgian colony (Emerson, 1979 p69). In central Africa, France moved to the western part of the Congo basin and established Brazzaville in 1881. Great Britain conquered and occupied the Ottoman Empire in Egypt that ruled Sudan and the Somaliland. Germany declared territorial ownership of Namibia, Cameroon, and Togo while Italy claimed Eritrea in the horn of Africa in 1882 (Koponen, 1993 p124). The scramble for more African colonies generated intense competition among the European powers leading to violent conflicts and the need to have a more organized criterion for partitioning Africa became apparent. Germany had become an influential European power and other countries, including France and Britain were aggressively seeking new colonies to assert their power in Europe. In view of the emerging power changes in Europe, Germany was determined to maintain its leading influence in Europe. Therefore, it was important to formulate a reasonable formula of partitioning African continent among the competing European powers to avoid the risk of conflict that would threaten Germany influence in Europe and the globe (Koponen, 1993, pp 129-133). The Berlin Conference At the request of Portugal, the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck invited leaders of fourteen European countries with territorial interests in Africa, and the United States for a conference in Berlin in 1884 (Collins, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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