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HIST252: Modern Africa

Unit 3: The Colonial Powers   The colonization of the African continent was carried out by a small number of European countries.  The two primary colonizing powers were France and Great Britain; the other colonizers were Portugal, Spain, Germany, and Belgium.  These countries’ relative geopolitical significance within Europe at the end of the nineteenth century accounts for their momentous pursuit of territory and control in Africa at this point in time.  Whereas the previous unit explored the rationale for European powers’ colonization of Africa, this unit is concerned with the individual colonizers and the ways in which they established their colonial empires on the continent.  Specifically, this unit draws on different source materials to illuminate the paths of conquest and objectives of colonization.  You will learn that each European power followed a similar yet distinct approach to establishing colonial control in Africa.  Additionally, this unit begins to expose the consequences of colonialism for African societies; this theme will be continued in subsequent units. Finally, you will take an in-depth look at Ethiopia and Liberia—the two African countries that remained independent throughout the era of colonialism.  How and why did they manage to escape Europe’s colonial fervor?

Unit 3 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 13.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 3.1: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.2: 2.0 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3: 3.0 hours

☐    Subunit 3.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.5: 1.0 hour

☐    Subunit 3.6: 2.0 hours

☐    Subunit 3.7: 1.5 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Correlate African regions and countries with their former colonizing powers.
  • Differentiate between the different colonizing powers.
  • Explore fundamental consequences of European establishment of colonial rule.
  • Discuss the significance of Liberia and Ethiopia with respect to colonialism.

3.1 Great Britain in Africa   3.1.1 Western Africa   - Reading: West Chester University: Dr. Jim Jones’s “The British in West Africa” Link: West Chester University: Dr. Jim Jones’s “The British in West Africa” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the text to understand how economic competition with France encouraged British conflict with West Africa states.
 
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3.1.2 Eastern Africa   - Reading: West Chester University: Dr. Jim Jones’s “East Africa in the 19th Century” Link: West Chester University: Dr. Jim Jones’s “East Africa in the 19th Century” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the text to understand how Great Britain and Germany used political disorder in East African states to colonize the region. 
 
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  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s version of Captain F.D. Lugard’s Excerpt from The Rise of Our East African Empire Link: The Saylor Foundation’s version of Captain F.D. Lugard’s Excerpt from The Rise of Our East African Empire (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire excerpt.  This 1893 text, written by a British colonial administrator in what is now Uganda, describes the positive effects of free trade and Christianity on Africa.  Lugard asserts that “the African holds the position of a late-born child in the family of nations,” meaning that once Christianized, African people might become more like “civilized” European nations. 
     
    Terms of Use: This work is in the Public Domain

3.1.3 Southern Africa   - Reading: Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa: “Zambia: Early British Colonialism (1899 – 1945)” and “Zimbabwe: British South Africa Company Rule (1890 – 1923)” Links: Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa: “Zambia: Early British Colonialism (1899 – 1945)” (HTML) and “Zimbabwe: British South Africa Company Rule (1890 – 1923)” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the short texts on British colonialism in Zambia and Zimbabwe to gain an overview of British motivation and methods for establishing colonial rule in southern Africa.  Note that Unit 5 further explores the British role in southern Africa with respect to South Africa.
 
These brief overviews of British colonialism in Zambia and Zimbabwe demonstrate that British colonial interests in southern Africa extended beyond South Africa.  In both colonies, commercial interests appeared to be at the heart of ruthless exploitation of land and people.  Additionally, the role of the British South African Company under the leadership of Cecil Rhodes (who lent his name to the colonies of Northern Rhodesia [Zambia] and Southern Rhodesia [Zimbabwe]) is explored.  The texts are hosted by the Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa, a not-for-profit organization based in South Africa.
 
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3.2 France in Africa   3.2.1 Western Africa   - Reading: West Chester University: Dr. Jim Jones’s “The French in West Africa” Link: West Chester University: Dr. Jim Jones’s “The French in West Africa” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the entire text linked here.  This article will help you to understand how and why French military expeditions moved inland from coastal strongholds in Northern and Western Africa.
 
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  • Reading: Michigan State University: Diversity & Tolerance in the Islam of West Africa: “Saint-Louis: Religious Pluralism in the Heart of Senegal” Link: Michigan State University: Diversity & Tolerance in the Islam of West Africa: “Saint-Louis: Religious Pluralism in the Heart of Senegal” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read all of the sections about St. Louis, the capital of colonial Senegal (“Overview” through “Conclusion”), using the “Next Section” link at the bottom of the webpage to move through the text.  Explore the images and maps to understand the physical space of St. Louis.  
     
    This website will give you a glimpse at how Africans adapted to life under European rule.  Diversity & Tolerance in the Islam of West Africa was created by the African Studies Department at Michigan State University as a free online resource about everyday life in West Africa.
     
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3.2.2 Southern Africa   - Reading: Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa: “Madagascar: Late Merina Kingdom (1828-1896)” and “Madagascar: Early French Colonialism (1896 – 1945) Link: Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa: “Madagascar: Late Merina Kingdom (1828-1896)” (HTML) and “Madagascar: Early French Colonialism (1896 – 1945)” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read both short articles on French colonialism in Madagascar.  They highlight French colonial endeavors in the waters of the Indian Ocean.  While France never established a foothold in continental eastern Africa, France colonized Madagascar and Comoros (early colonial endeavors also extended to Mauritius and the Seychelles).  In reading these articles, pay particular attention to the pre-colonial relationship between France and the Malagasy rulers and the ways in which the relationship changed over time. Also, note the objectives of the French colonial rulers for instituting reforms.
 
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3.3 Belgium in Africa   3.3.1 Congo Free State and Belgian Congo   - Reading: St. Mary’s University: Dr. Wallace G. Mills’ “Belgian Colonial Policy” Link: St. Mary’s University: Dr. Wallace G. Mills’ “Belgian Colonial Policy” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read these notes to understand the economic goals of Belgian colonial rule in the Congo Free State and Belgian Congo.
 
Terms of Use: The material above has been reposted with permission by Wallace G. Mills.  It can be viewed in its original form here (HTML).

  • Web Media: FreeDocumentaries.org: Peter Bates’ Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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3.3.2 Ruanda-Urundi   - Reading: HistoryWorld: Bamber Gascoigne’s “History of Rwanda” Link: HistoryWorld: Bamber Gascoigne’s “History of Rwanda” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read the sections titled “Ruanda-Urundi” and “A
Belgian Colony” to understand the pre-colonial history of Rwanda and
how the territory passed from German to Belgian hands.  
    
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3.4 Portugal in Africa   3.4.1 Western Africa   - Reading: West Chester University: Dr. Jim Jones’s “The Portuguese in Africa in the 19th Century” Link: West Chester University: Dr. Jim Jones’s “The Portuguese in Africa in the 19th Century” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this short text to understand how Portugal, the oldest colonial power in Africa, consolidated its holdings during the late 19th century.  Note that this reading will cover the material you need to know for subunits 3.4.1 and 3.4.2.
 
This reading addresses Portugal’s position in pre-colonial and colonial Africa vis-à-vis other European colonial powers.  Compare and contrast this reading to previous readings, especially those on Zambia and Zimbabwe.  These readings offer fundamentally different vantage points on African history; they demonstrate that “African history” can be studied from a Eurocentric or Afrocentric perspective.  It is the integration of such multiple perspectives that allows for the most rigorous study of African history.
 
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3.4.2 Southern Africa   - Reading: Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa: “Mozambique: The Slave Trade and Early Colonialism (1700 – 1926)” Link: Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa: “Mozambique: The Slave Trade and Early Colonialism (1700 – 1926)” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this entire article for an overview of Portuguese colonialism in eastern Africa.  It is demonstrated that Portuguese economic interests merged with political motives as time passed.   Pay attention to the legal standing of colonized Africans in the Portuguese colonial system.  How does this differ from French and British ‘citizenship’ rights?
 
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3.5 Spain in Africa   - Reading: HistoryWorld: Bamber Gascoigne’s “History of Equatorial Guinea” Link: HistoryWorld: Bamber Gascoigne’s “History of Equatorial Guinea” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the entire text linked here. This article will provide a brief account of how Spain gained this small foothold in the center of Western Africa.  
 
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  • Reading: University of Oxford’s Department of International Development’s Refugee Studies Centre: Forced Migration Online’s “Western Sahara”: “Overview” Link: University of Oxford’s Department of International Development’s Refugee Studies Centre: Forced Migration Online’s “Western Sahara:” “Overview” (HTML)       
     
    Instructions: Read the first two sections titled “Early Period” and “Spanish Colonialism and Resistance” to see how Spanish intervention created a colonial state out of territory controlled by nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples.
     
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3.6 Germany in Africa   3.6.1 Western Africa   - Reading: German Historical Institute Bulletin no. 43: Andrew Zimmerman’s “Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee Institute, and the German Empire: Race and Cotton in the Black Atlantic” Link: German Historical InstituteBulletin no. 43: Andrew Zimmerman’s “Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee Institute, and the German Empire: Race and Cotton in the Black Atlantic” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Select Andrew Zimmerman’s article, which is listed first under “Features” on the webpage linked here, and download the PDF file.  Read the entire twelve-page article.
 
Zimmerman’s article, which is based on a lecture given at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., will help you gain perspective on how Germany approached the problem of economic development in its colonies.  This article highlights how German colonial officials looked to the American South for a model of development.  Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute offered an appealing model for the Germans, one which told black people to work hard and avoid confrontation with racist policies and governments.    
 
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3.6.2 Eastern Africa   - Reading: Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa: “Tanzania: Colonial Partition (1884–1916)” Links: Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa: “Tanzania: Colonial Partition (1884–1916)” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the short text on German colonialism in what is today Tanzania.  Compare and contrast the information presented here with the information contained in the reading under subunit 3.1.2.
 
This brief overview of the establishment of the German East Africa colony and subsequent German administrative policies demonstrates the interplay of the three C’s and the direct consequences of colonialism for local political and economic structures. 
 
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3.6.3 Southern Africa   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 4.4.2.  This reading explores a specific conflict that occurred in German South-West Africa (Namibia) upon establishment of colonial rule.  While African resistance to colonial rule occurred throughout the continent, the outcomes of such resistance varied widely.  In this reading, you will learn about the causes and motivations of this conflict on the sides of German colonial officials and settlers on the one hand and African indigenous peoples on the other hand.  Pay specific attention to the grievances expressed by both sides.

3.7 Independent States   3.7.1 Ethiopia   - Reading: BlackPast.org: Professor Jonas Ray’s “The Battle of Adwa (Adowa), 1896” Link: BlackPast.org: Professor Jonas Ray’s “The Battle of Adwa (Adowa), 1896” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this short article linked here.  This article will give you a sense of how Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia checked Italian colonial ambitions in the late nineteenth century.  BlackPast.org is a free web resource for African and African-American history maintained by scholars from around the world.  Jonas Ray is the Giovanni and Amne Costigan Professor of History at the University of Washington.
 
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  • Web Media: The Anglo-Ethiopian Society and Contributors’ version of “The Battle of Adwa” Painting Link:  The Anglo-Ethiopian Society and Contributors’ version of “The Battle of Adwa” Painting (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Look at this painting to see how an unknown Ethiopian artist interpreted the events of the battle.
     
    The artist accurately captures the fact that the Ethiopian army fought with swords and spears, as well as with modern weapons, including rifles, machine guns, and artillery.  Emperor Menelik is depicted in the center on horseback, and Empress Taytu Betul (Taitu) can be seen commanding troops in the lower left.  At top-center, the artist depicts the angel Gabriel leading the Ethiopians to victory.  
     
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3.7.2 Liberia   - Reading: Michigan State University’s Exploring Africa: “Unit 3: Module 15: Activity 6: The Return to Sierra Leone & Liberia” Link: Michigan State University’s Exploring Africa: “Unit 3: Module 15: Activity 6: The Return to Sierra Leone & Liberia” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the sections on Sierra Leone and Liberia on the webpage linked here, and compare the similar histories of these countries.
 
Sierra Leone and Liberia were both founded as homes for former slaves.  Great Britain directly controlled Sierra Leone, and many of the freed slaves landed there were rescued from slave ships in the Atlantic Ocean.  Liberia’s settlers were predominantly African-Americans; Liberia was technically an independent state, although few countries respected its sovereignty.  In both countries, the immigrant communities settled on the coast frequently clashed with indigenous populations in the interior.  
 
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