The colonial era in sub-Saharan Africa was launched by one of Europe's smallest countries--Belgium. The French followed with a huge colonial empire in West Africa which connect with their older North African colonies. The British effort was more chaotic. Colonies were created in both West and East Africa. In South Africa, the British not only faced the Bohrs, but also the Zulus. Cecil Rhodes dreamed of railroad connecting British colonies from Captown to Cairo. Portuguese explorerors had begun the European expansion in Africa. As a result Portugal was an important colonial power in Africa. Spain was not an important player in African colonialism. The Pope had essentially divided the world between Spain and Portugal. South America except for Brazil which buldged toward Aftica was alloted to Spain. Thus the Spanish focus was west toward the Americas rather than south toward Africa. The new European states also paricipated. The Germans were late to the table, but claimed their own colonies in southern and western Africa. Italy obtained colonies in East Africa. This was all accomplished in a relitively short period and with surprising little conflict between the power involved, probably because the Royal Navy was still so dominant. Details on the boundaries were worked out by Lord Salisbury and Count von Bismarck. [Wilson, p. 489.]
The colonial era was launched by one of Europe's smallest countries--Belgium. King Leopold II, who proved to be the most brutal colonizers launched the colonial race in Africa. Belgium was a new country and had not participated in the colonial competition of the 16th and 17th century. Now Leopold declared, "Belgium must have a colony". The colony Leopold founded, the Belgian Congo, was a far cry from the humanitarian inpulse with which the Victorians justified colonialism. Leopold administered the Congo as his personal property and not a national colony. The people in the the Congo Free State were essentilly turned into slaves worked to enrich Leopold persnally. They were subjected to horendous abuses. As reports filtered out describing the terrible abuses, King Léopold eventually relinguished personal control of the Congo. Belgium annexed the Congo with a Treaty (November 28, 1907). The Belgian Colony was administered by a governor-general at Boma. A Colonial Council and colonial minister in Brussels set policy. The Congo was divided into 15 administrative districts. The new colonial adminstration made many improvements. The Belgians to redeam their national reputation attempted to turn the Congo into a "model colony". The Belgiand opened primary and high schools. Unlike some colonial powers, many of the ethnic laguages were used in the new schools. Belgian doctors and medics worked on tropical diseases, an eradicated the sleeping disease. The Belgians set up perhaps the most comprehensive medical infrastructure in Africa. The Belgians developed the Congo economicallt, building railways, ports, roads and opening mines and plantations. At the time of indepence, the Comgo had Africa's highest gross national product was the highest in Africa. The wealth was not, however, well distriubuted nd the Belgian Government did very liitle to prepare the colony for self government.
Histories of France often neglect the huge role that colonies played in the country's econonomy during the 18th century, especially Haiti and the other Caribbean sugar islands. Canda was the largest French coony, but Hasiti was by far the most valuable. France lost most of its colonies in the 7 Years War and in the case of Haiti after a slave rebellion. After the Napoleonic Wars, France set out to restanlish a colonial empire. The British returned some small colonies they seized during the
Napoleonic Wars, including Guadeloupe and Martinique (West Indies), French Guiana (South America), the Île de Bourbon-Réunion (Indian Ocean), and small Indian possessions. Included with the possessions returned were a few African trading posts in Senegal.
Britain retained Saint Lucia, Tobago, the Seychelles, and the Île de France (Mauritius).
The initial French activity to build an African empire was direcected at North Africa. The French invaded Algeria (1830). It took 17 years to fully establish control of Algeria beyond the coast. It was here that the legend of the French Foreign Legion was born. France only begn to expand its empire in sub-Saharan Africa after the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). Gradually, French control was established over much of West Africa. The French Empire included the modern nations of Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Niger, Chad, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo). The French also expanded their influence in North Africa with a protectorate over Tunisia (1881). After an international crisis with Germany, Morocco became a French protectorate (1911). Giving France control of all of northwest Africa.
Many of the French African colonies were in West Africa south of the French North African colonies and connected to them. There were also Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. In addition to North Africa and West Africa, France also colonized the east African coastal enclave of Djibouti (French Somaliland) and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. The last additions to France's colonia empite was after World War I when they acquired League of Nations mandates over Togo and Cameroon, former German colonies.
The British effort was more chaotic. The Royal Navy gave the British the ability to essentially estblished colonies whereever they pleased. There was, however, considerable debate in Britiasin over the colonian enterprise. Colonies were created in both West and East Africa. In South Africa, the British not only faced the Bohrs, but also th Zulus. Cecil Rhodes dreamed of railroad connecting British colonies from Captown to Cairo. Ironically the greatest debate in Europe over adding colonies occurred in Britain the world's greatest imperial power. Control of the British Government fell back and forth between Benjamin Disraeli who was an apostle of empire and Willam Gladstone who question imperialism. Disreali managed to capture Queen Victoria's imagination, in part by dreaming up the idea of making her Emperess of India.
Portuguese explorerors had begun the European expansion in Africa. As a result Portugal was an important colonial power in Africa. The two most important colonies were Mozambiwue and Angola.
Spain was not an important player in African colonialism. The Pope had essentially divided the world between Spain and Portugal. South America except for Brazil which buldged toward Aftica was alloted to Spain. Thus the Spanish focus was west toward the Americas rather than south toward Africa.
The new European (Germany and Italy) states also paricipated in the Scramble for Africa. The Germans were. however, late to the table and did not in the 1870s have a navy of any importance. The Germans saw, however, that colonies were a measure of a county's importance--a matter of national pride. Some Germans saw their lack of colonies as one of a serious of grevances and that Germany was not being given its due as a great mation. The Germans wen on to claim their own colonies in southern, eastern, and western Africa.
There were five different African colonies. They were bits of Africa and Asia, mostly wild or empty lands that were not of particular interest to the British and French. Cameroons (Kamerun) is now Cameroon as well as parts of the Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon and Nigeria. German East Africa (Deutsch Ostafrika) is now Tanganyika (continental part of Tanzania) as well as Burundi, Rwanda and the Ruvuma triangle (now part of Mozambique. German Southwest Africa (Deutsch Sudwestafrika), now Namibia. Gross-Friedrichsburg is now southern Ghana. Togoland is now Togo and the eastern part of Ghana. The Germans were, however, basically disatisfied, seeing their African and Pacific colonies a very paltry empire compared to that of Britain and not at all in keeping with the importance and needs of Germany. Unlike the British and French coloniesm the German colonies were scattered around the continent. This and the Royal Navy made it difficult for Germany to defend its colonies in World War I (1914-18). As a result. Germany lost its colonies as a result of the War. The German colonies were divided up amongst Britain, France, and Belgium after the War as League of Nations mandates. Britain got most of them.
Italy obtained colonies in East Africa. The Kingdom of Italy itself was declared in 1861, after Kingdom of Piedmont and Sardinia had annexed Kingdom of Lombardy and Venice (this Kingdom was not independent, but controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and Kingdom of Naples (including all South Italy and Sicily). Rome became Italian only in 1870. Italy was a poor country. Many Italians emigrated to North and South America. The colonial effort was a attempt to share in the partition of Africa. This was bnoth a matter of national pride as well the result of the widly heald opinion that colonies were needed for a healthy economy. An Italian company (Rubattino) bought the rights to Assab Bay from the local Sultan (1869). The Italian Government bought these rights from the company and declared Assab an Italian colony (1882). This was Italy's first territorial acquisition in Africa. Assab became the primary port in what was to become the colony of Eritrea. The Italians also seized Somaliland. A small protectorate was estanlished (2889). Some resistance was encoutered as the Italians expanded their new colony (1889-92). The Italians assisted Ethiopian Emperor Menelik expand his territory in East Africa. The Italians claimed that in exchange Menelik had agreed to a protecorate and invaded. They were decisively defeated by the Ethiopians at the battle of Aduwa/Adowa (1895). This was a rare African victory over European colonizers. Italy was forced to recognize the independence of Ethiopia. After the war with Memelik, Italy declared the colony of Eritrea in the coastal area they still controlled. Italy nexed seized Libya after a brief war with the Ottomans (1912).
Ethiopia remained independent until the Italians under Mussolini invaded (1935), causing a major incident. The young Emperor Haile Salassie appealed to the League of Nations, but jhalf-hearted anctions were quickly abandoned. Mussolini dreamed of seizing Egypt and Suez after declaring war pn Britain and France (1940). Subatantial Italian forces were stationed in both Libya and Italian East Africa. The massive Itlaian invasion from Libya was defeated by a small British force (1940) and only German intervention prevented the fall of Libya (1941). Another small British Commonwealth force attacking from Sudan and Kenya seized Italian East Africa (1941).
Wilson, A.N. The Victorians (W.S. Norton & Co.: New York, 200), 724p.
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