Guns, Glory Hunters and Greed: French and British
Colonisation in Africa
Assess the role played by “experts” in the colonial project
in Africa. You should refer to different types of experts and specific
territories in your answer.
The “Scramble for Africa” was the occupation,
division, and colonisation of African territory by European powers during the
period of New Imperialism, between 1881 and 1914. It is also called the
Partition of Africa and by some the Conquest of Africa. In 1870, only 10 percent
of Africa was under European control by 1914 it had increased to almost 90
percent of the continent, with only Ethiopia, and Liberia still being
independent. The process in which it was carried out was beginning with the
Conference of Berlin which was able to carve up a mutilated Africa among three
or four European flags. Settlements established by Europeans while incorporated
abjection of natives, also brought with it governing and academic institutions
as well as agricultural and technological innovations that offset the
extractive institutions commonly attributed to colonialism by Western powers.
The conference did not begin the partition of Africa but laid down the
foundations to begin the governing and began the process which was already in
motion. The effects of colonialism past and present are visible all over
Africa. The role being played by experts in what they had seen as a project of
taking over Africa can be described as brutal as well as also known to them as
helping those out unable to fend for themselves.
The invasion of the Algiers in 1830 which was led under
Admiral Duperré. The French had quickly advanced and quickly defeated troops
which were of Hussein Dey this was the ottoman ruler. The invasion marked the end of several
centuries of Ottoman rule in Algeria and the beginning of French Algeria. In
1848, the territories conquered around Algiers were organised into three
departments, defining the territories of modern Algeria (Confer and Prochaska,
1991).This refers to how the French had seen the Algiers as weaker than them
and easy to conquer this had caused the Destruction of landholding systems which
was around which the rural society had built for Landless peasants. The
graduation and the further movement of the French was at an advance on the 22nd
of April when they had increased the European land holdings, this had then
furthered and also later on the Algerians had lost massive amounts of land. In
1862, writer Marius Chaumelin gave a speech to the city’s elite entitled
“Marseille in 1962”: He had predicted Algeria would be “An African France
linked to our possessions in Senegal and Guinea by a railway defying the
desert”. With the arrival of the French they brought deprivation to the people
of the Algerian society Callaway, Cooper and Stoler, 1998).This explains just
how the French had seen the Algiers as only an opportunity and how there was no
consideration for cultures of values they had .The roles played by experts in
this situation would have been portrayed as they were below them and it felt to
the French as if they were on ” the civilising mission”.
Roles played by the pioneer colonizer in Central Africa was
Leopold II, king of the Belgians. The early attempts of his father, Leopold I,
to found colonies in remnants of the Spanish empire. He set up his colony the
Congo Free State as a private, ostensibly humanitarian venture aimed at
limiting the devastation of slaving and the liquor trade. To finance the
venture, however, he rented out nation-size fiefs to commercial companies that
were licensed to make a profit and pay tax and tribute to the colonizer-king.
Companies such as the Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company, the Antwerp Company,
and the king’s own Crown Domain took over the extraction of rubber from the
Chokwe (Poschet, 2010). The humanitarian protest against the rule of Leopold
was led by traders who had lost access to their former sphere of interest, by
missionaries who deplored the denial of human rights, and by a British diplomat
who believed in political freedom. However much other nations might have
condemned Leopold’s rule, rival colonizers were also keen to make their
colonies profitable and did so by farming out concessions to private enterprise
and turning a blind eye to the large-scale use of forced labour (Gordon, 2017).This
suggests that during Leopold reign he was willing not only export resources but
would do so at any cost. The way in which the territories were huge people
poorly enriched with resources that could finance colonial administration and
make a profit for the colonizing power. Transport was the greatest difficulty.
Leopold went so far as to claim that the essence of colonization was the
creation of a transport system. Both France and Leopold were handicapped by the
rapids on the lower Congo River and so each had, at huge cost in money and men,
to build a railway to reach the navigable middle river (Ewans and Ewans 2002).This
suggest that they would have needed to set goals on how to build the railway
which would have included crazy targets and brutality if targets were not met.
The role which can be argued played by Leopold was one presenting
himself as a philanthropist eager to bring the benefits of Christianity. Several
years later he hired the explorer Henry Morton Stanley to be his man in Africa.
For five years Stanley travelled up and down the immense waterways of the Congo
River basin, setting up trading posts, building roads, and persuading local chiefs
almost all of them illiterate to sign treaties with Leopold. The treaties, some
of which appear to have been subsequently doctored to Leopold’s liking, were
then put to use by the Belgian monarch.
Religion had played in experts wanting to extend supposing
religion to regions in Africa particular western Africa and the sending of
supposing missionaries. Missionaries
came with the attitude that all things European were superior to all things
African. It is a fact that some of these missionaries assisted their
governments in the subjugation of Africans. (Gordon, 2017)European missionaries
especially from Portugal, France, Britain, and Germany went to Africa under the
premise of going to convert the locals to Christianity. Some of them stuck to
their mission others however, aided in the colonization of Africans by
Europeans (Boahen, 1990). European missionaries were men – and, sometimes,
women – of their day and age, and so they believed quite earnestly that
Africans were savages (and in many cases this was, using a European definition,
close to the truth), but also that Africans were human souls that needed
emancipating from savagery and then saving. They saw Christianity’s role
therefore as one that involved “rescuing” Africans from what they saw
as paganism and “correcting” this belief system by imparting
Christianity. (Chen, H. Huang 2016). The letters and accounts of European missionaries
on their travels through Africa and the potential riches they saw naturally
interested the rabid capitalists of the day, and businesspeople in Europe began
putting together expeditions to go to Africa and ascertain these accounts. When
these chaps showed up, they quickly formed alliances with the missionaries: the
latter preached that anything African was backward and barbaric, while the
former quite frequently took over land and other African resources first as
“protectorates”, and then simply as a land-grab, as happened in much
of Southern Africa. The cultural “re-education” of Africans by
European missionaries was crucial for the success of the colonising of Africa,
but I think the missionaries were quite honest in what they set out to do.
Lastly as well as the roles of experts in the colonisation
of Africa the role of economic organisation and the extraction of certain
resources. This involved the forced extraction of rubber, ivory, and timber. The
establishment of formal plantations on which to grow oil palms and rubber
trees. These plantations required capital, machinery, and expensive foreign
management. As a result, there was little margin left for adequate wages for
workers. The recruitment of labour became the duty of the colonial state or its
licensed agents. Some workers accepted the incentive of a cash wage to buy
material goods or to accumulate the necessary social payments for marriage.
Others were driven into the wage sector by the imposition of cash taxes, which
could be met only by working for colonial enterprises. But some were recruited
on a compulsory basis not as convicts deserving of punishment but as subjects
who needed to be “civilized” by submitting to a work regime imposed by the
state. Where plantations did not develop, the colonial state found a means of
extracting wealth from free peasants(Davidson, 1994).This explains the lengths
they would go to extract goods which were deemed as valuable and wouldn’t
without nothing and saw it as essential and was a main motivator for ‘carving
up’ Africa. They introduced compulsory crops, most notably cotton. Forced
cotton imposed severe hardships on farmers, who could not grow food for their
families but instead had to clear land to sow cotton for the state. When the
crop succeeded, they received a small payment. But much of the cotton regime
was applied to marginal lands, where it often failed. The risk was borne by the
victim, and famine resulted. The planting of cotton led to frequent protests
and to harsh repression in Central Africa, as it did in German East Africa and
Portuguese West Africa.
Overall the roles played by experts such as Leopold ,France
and Britain can be argued as the main
driver as to the colonial project seen to many after to invade Africa as well
as religion and the idea of ‘carving up’ something new which was seen as an
economic interest by many. As the century moved on, the goal of the European
explorer changed, and rather than traveling out of pure curiosity they started
to record details of markets, goods, and resources for the wealthy
philanthropists who financed their trips. As well as this the role of Leopold hiring
Stanley to obtain treaties with local chieftains along the course of the River
Congo with an eye to creating his own colony and Brutality had followed,
perhaps the Africans’ worst loss was not of land or power but self-respect, as
the newcomers taught them that their ways, cultures and gods were inferior and
should be abandoned.
BOAHEN, A. A.
General history of Africa
(Boahen), A. (1990). General history of
Africa. London: Currey.
CHEN, H., HUANG, H. H., LOBO, G. J. AND WANG, C.
Religiosity and the cost of debt
(Chen et al 2016)
Chen, H. Huang, H., Lobo, G. and Wang, C.
(2016). Religiosity and the cost of debt. Journal of Banking & Finance, 70,
3. POSCHET, L.
Oriëntaties in Midden-Afrika – Beeldvorming van ‘Arabieren’
in equatoriaal Afrika door Europese explorateurs en Leopold II, circa 1880-1900
Poschet, L. (2010). Oriëntaties in Midden-Afrika –
Beeldvorming van ‘Arabieren’ in equatoriaal Afrika door Europese explorateurs
en Leopold II, circa 1880-1900. Tijdschrift voor geschiedenis, 123(3),
4. GORDON, D. M.
Precursors to Red Rubber: Violence in the Congo Free State, 1885–1895*
(Gordon, 2017)Gordon, D. (2017). Precursors to Red Rubber:
Violence in the Congo Free State, 1885–1895*. Past & Present, 236(1),
5. EWANS, S. M. AND EWANS, M.
European Atrocity, African Catastrophe
(Ewans and Ewans,)
Ewans, S. and Ewans, European Atrocity, African Catastrophe.
6. DAVIDSON, B.
The search for Africa
Davidson, B. (1994). The search for Africa. New York: Times
Books. Pages 112-118
7. ONFER, V. AND PROCHASKA, D.
Making Algeria French: Colonialism in Bone, 1870-1920.
(Confer and Prochaska, 1991)
Your Bibliography: Confer, V. and Prochaska, D. (1991).
Making Algeria French: Colonialism in Bone, 1870-1920. The American Historical
Review, 96(4), p.1254.
8. ALLAWAY, H., COOPER, F. AND STOLER, A. L.
Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World.
(Callaway, Cooper and Stoler, 1998)
Callaway, H., Cooper, F. and Stoler, A. (1998). Tensions of
Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World. The Journal of the Royal
Anthropological Institute, 4(2), p.368.
9.GIFFORD, P., LOUIS, W. R. AND SMITH, A.
Britain and Germany in Africa
(Gifford, Louis and Smith, 1967)
Gifford, P., Louis, W. and Smith, A. (1967). Britain and
Germany in Africa. New Haven: Yale University Press.