** scramble for Africa individual German African colonies

Scramble for Africa: Germany--Individual Colonies

Figure 1.--This cabinet card portrait shows a German colonist and his servants. Notice the pith helmet and house slippers. He is probably a missionary and instructing the boys and nen in Christianity. The photograph was taken in one of the country's African colonies about 1900-05. The location is not identified so we do not know which colony. We know it was from a German colony because it was a cabinet card printed in Germany.

The German colonies 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. As the colonies were widely separated with different peoples and environmrents. The history of each colony thus differs markedly.


Cameroons (Kamerun) at the apex of the Gulf and Guinea is now Cameroon as well as parts of the Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon and Nigeria. Camerron is where West Africa makes the transitionn to Central Africa. Before European colonial rule, the area was in turmoil. A Muslim scholar and Islamic jihadist holy warrior, Modibo Adama, laumched a Fulani military campaign to spread Islam by the sword (early-19th century). He attaxked north into most-non Muslim areas. He established the Adamawa Emirate. Settled peoples fled Adama and his Fulani army, causing a major ethnic and religios relocation. The Bamum tribe was especiallhy affected. German traders stepped into the aftermnath of thisboy uncommon incident pre-colonial ethnic cleansing. The Woermann Company of Hamburg built a warehouse in the Wouri River delta (1868). Rivers at the time were the prinvcipal avenues of commerce. Businessman Gustav Nachtigal signed a treaty with one of the local chiefs to annex the region in the name of Germany. The German Empire recognized the treaty and claimed the territory as the colony of Kamerun (1884). German colonial forces, essentilly a privatevarmy, steadily expanded control inland. A major objective was to acquire a populatiin which couold be subjected to force labor. The Germans encountered resistance vfrom the local population. The new colony was largely administered by the commercial concerns involved. The Germans established banana, cocoa, pakm oil, and rubber plantations. The basic problem encountered was finding workers to work under harsh conditions for the wages the plantation mnagers were willing to pay. From the beginning the German agricultural concessions were dependent om forced labor. The authorities launched infrastructure projects, again relying on a harsh system of forced labour. German activities in Kamerun were criticised by the other colonial powers. [DeLancey and DeLancey, p. 125.] With the outbreak of World War I, the German colonies were cut off from Germany by the British Royal Navy and seized.

German East Africa/Deutsch Ostafrika

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

The Portugese were the first Europeans to reach what is now Namibia. Portuguese explorer Diogo C�o landed there (1486) as part of the effort to reach anf round the Cape of Goof Hope. Hec may have been accompanied by German navigator and geographer Martin Behaim who was in the empoyment of the King of Portugal at the time. The Portuguese, Durch, and British focused on South Africa and gave little attention to Naminia, in part because large areas were comprised of desert areas. The Rheinidch-evangelische Missionsgesellschaft establishes a Protestant mission among the Herero, one of the major tribes (1844). The British did become interested in Walvis Bay because of it was one of the best natural ports in southern Africa. A British force landed and declared it to be part of the Cape Colony (1878). Adolf L�deritz, a Bremen merchant, took the first step toward colonization. He contacted German officials to inform them he planned to build a factory along the coast of southern Africa between the Orange River and the Little Fish River (1878). He wanted to know if would receive protection if needed (1882). His timing was excellent. The new Kaiser Wilhelm II was interested in colonial expansion. German officials contact the British to inform them of L�deritz's plans and to determine if Britain has any claims to the area (February 1883). A representative for L�deritz landed at Angra Peque�a Bay and concludes a treaty with the Nama Chief Joseph Fredericks (April 1883). He obtained 215 square miles surrounding the Bay. L�deritz�s African land was later extended south to the border of the Cape Colony at the south bank of the Orange River. The German ambassador in London made another inquiry about British claims in the area. Foreign Minister Lord Granville interated British claims to Walfis Bay, but indicates that an accord could be worked out. Germany annexed Southwest Africa (Deutsch Sudwestafrika) (1884). It proved to be the only German colony in Africa where an appreciable number of Germans actually settled. German authorities brutally supressed subsequent native Nama and Herero upridsings. The first Hottentot Uprising of the Nama (1893-94) was followed by the Herero Wars (1904). After the outbreak of World War I (1914), a largely South African force invaded and seized the colony (1915). After World War I in the Versailles Peace Treaty, Southwest Africa became a League of Nations Mandate to be administered by South Africa (1919). The colony became independent as Namibia (1990).


Gross-Friedrichsburg is now southern Ghana.


Togoland is now Togo and the eastern part of Ghana.


DeLancey, Mark W. and Mark Dike DeLancey. Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon 3rd ed. (Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, 2000).


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Created: 4:50 AM 5/2/2010
Last updated: 8:08 PM 3/14/2021