SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA
France, Britain, and Germany were the three main Imperialist Powers in Africa during the late eighteen hundreds. In February 1885, the main European powers signed the Berlin Act, which formalized the process of partition of Africa. The Act included the guidelines of how each country was to define its territories. The colonies on the West Coast of Africa were a legacy of the fortunes that could be made out of the slave trade there.
The French negotiated treaties with several African leaders from a powerful military position. France focused on the military direction of the expansion by going fort to fort and taking over control. By using military means of obtaining territory, they were securing themselves economically. The French, rather harsh in their administration and their attempts to increase their economic footholds, used forced labor and imprisonment of Africans to maintain and expand their interests. Whenever the French were able they fostered production of groundnuts and cotton and imposed taxation.
Britains imperialistic activities in Africa from 1869 to 1912 had different motives. Britain wanted to colonize, find new markets and materials, attain revenge and world prestige, convert natives to Christianity, and spread the English style of orderly government. They also wanted to safeguard the country and protect their land holdings from German or French invasion. The British wanted to protect the Suez Canal in East Africa along with the route to the east. Control over the Suez Canal allotted them to have financial superiority and comfort. Britain wanted to control Africa in order to be financially secure.
Germany, a country made of imperialism itself had two main reasons for involvement in the Scramble for Africa. Germany modeled itself after France and Britain. Germany knew that France and Britain would not waste their time, resources, and energy on something that was not profitable. Germany thought that if they obtained colonies in Africa, then they also dominate such as the two great powers did. Otto Von Bismarck was Germanys leader for imperialism. Bismarck and the rest of Germany simply longed to see Germany get ahead. Germany also wanted to play the "game". They felt that colonization in Africa would help Germany and force others to reckon with them.
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