The Colonization of Africa Ehiedu E. G. Iweriebor – Hunter College

1. Writes a 2-3 sentence summary of the readings overall main idea. What are trying to say about the topic? What is his or her purpose?

In the reading, Iweriebor goes into relative detail discussing how European imperialists scrambled for Africa between the 1870s and 1900 (Iweriebor par.1). The Europeans applied diplomatic pressures, aggression, and military action to conquer and colonize Africa. African communities did not take the attempt by Europeans to conquer and colonize them warmly; instead, they resisted foreign domination through different forms of resistance.

2. Identify and elaborate on three important points in the reading (Label A, B, and C)

A. From the reading, it is clear that the Europeans who went out to scramble for Africa were motivated by social, political, and economic factors. In as much as the Europeans were motivated by the three factors, the most important factor in this respect was economic. With the abolition of the slave trade and the establishment of the Industrial Revolution, the Europeans sought steady sources of raw materials and markets for their goods so as to maintain the profitability of their investments. In this respect, Iweriebor (par.1) notes that “the demand for assured sources of raw materials, the search for guaranteed markets and profitable investment outlets—spurred the European scramble”.

B. African societies resisted European imperialists who initially provoked African diplomatic and political responses. What provoked conflict between the two parties related to the interpretation of treaties that they had made with each other (Iweriebor par. 6). Upon realizing that the Europeans had defrauded them and bought their sovereignty through what was supposed to be friendly and diplomatic treaties, African leaders organized military resistance with an aim of preventing the seizure of African lands and colonial domination. Iweriebor (par. 6) notes that “For Europeans, these treaties meant that Africans had signed away their sovereignties to European powers”
African resistance was in the form of direct military engagement and guerilla warfare.

C. In spite of the resistance mounted by African societies against European imperialists and their forces, they lost out eventually as a consequence of technological and political factors. During their engagements against the Europeans; “old societies were reconstructed and new African societies were founded…” (Iweriebor par.12). The new societies were marred by differences in ideologies which lead to their consequent instability. Furthermore, the Africans did not enjoy the benefits of the technological advancements that their European counterparts had. While the Africans relied on crude weapons such as swords, old rifles, spears, and bows and arrows to fight, the Europeans used more powerful and sophisticated weapons such as machine guns, artillery guns, and new rifles.

3. Identify two interesting passages or ideas and give your thoughts (Label A and B). These could be ideas you agree or disagree with. Or they could be related to experiences you have had. Your comments in this section are open to anything.

A. I find the idea of indirect rule (Iweriebor par.14) as applied by the British Authorities quite interesting. Essentially, compared to military aggression against the Africans, the indirect rule seemed to work to the advantage of the colonizers. This is especially the case, in my view, considering that the Africans felt more comfortable being governed by their own and in line with their pre-existing systems for as long as they did not know that their very leaders were being used against them. In this respect, I agree with the author when he states, “Thus the political and social umbilical cords that tied them to their people in the old system had been broken.” (Iweriebor par.19).

B. The French mainly applied a centralized administrative system in its African colonies. Although the Africans were civilized in their own way, it is interesting to learn that the French were “focused” on civilizing the natives to become French Africans. The system that they used in this respect was assimilation as noted by Iweriebor (par.22). Although the focus was on making “Africans become civilized French citizens”, it is quite ironical that the conditions set in this relation were virtually impossible to achieve for the Africans (Iweriebor par.22).

4. Write one question about reading. This can be something you didn’t understand that you would like clarified, a question you would like to ask the author or a person mentioned in the article.

From the reading, we realize that political, social, and economic factors prompted European imperialists to scramble for Africa. In order to bring Africans under control, the European imperialists applied indirect rule or assimilation. Which of the two was more effective for the colonists?

 

Works Cited
Iweriebor, Ehiedu E. G. The Colonization of Africa. Hunter College. 2014. Web. http://exhibitions.nypl.org/africanaage/essay-colonization-of-africa.html

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