Humanities
CC Making the Modern World Perspectives on Scramble for Africa Discussion

Columbia College

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With regard to the Scramble for Africa, what different perspectives on the scramble are present in the primary sources found in the “Working with Evidence” section at the end of Chapter 18? Do they contain critiques of the scramble? Where and how, if so? Your response should discuss at least three of the sources found in that section. As always, be sure to use specific evidence from the readings to support your argument.

This is the book we use

Ways of the World with Sources, Volume 2, 4th Edition - 180 Day Option

ISBN: 9781319109806

By: Robert W. Strayer; Eric W. Nelson

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WORKING WITH EVIDENCE Colonial Conquest: The Scramble for Africa The centerpiece of Europe’s global expansion during the nineteenth century occurred in the so-called scramble for Africa, during which a half dozen or so European countries divided up almost the entire continent into colonial territories (see Map 18.2). The “scramble” took place very quickly (between roughly 1875 and 1900), surprising even the European leaders who initiated it, as well as the many African societies that suddenly found themselves confronting highly aggressive and well-armed foreign forces. It is remarkable that the entire partition of Africa took place without any direct military conflict between the competing imperial countries. But in establishing their control on the ground, Europeans faced widespread African resistance, making the scramble an extremely bloody process of military conquest. The sources that follow illustrate some of the distinctive features of the scramble for Africa as well as the differing ways in which it was perceived and represented. Source 18.1 Competition and Conquest As the scramble for Africa got under way in earnest in the 1880s and 1890s, it became a highly competitive process. French designs on Africa, for example, focused on obtaining an uninterrupted east-west link from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. But the British, entrenched in Egypt and in control of the Suez Canal, were determined that no major European power should be allowed to control the headwaters of the Nile on which Egypt depended. Those conflicting goals came to a head in 1898, when British forces moving south from Egypt met a French expedition moving northeast from the Atlantic coast of what is now Gabon. That encounter took place along the Nile River at Fashoda in present-day Sudan, threatening war between France and Great Britain. In the end, negotiations persuaded the French to withdraw. Source 18.1, the cover of a French publication, shows the commander of the French expedition, Jean-Baptiste Marchand, who gained heroic stature by leading his troops on an epic journey across much of Africa for more than eighteen months. ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ How did the artist portray Marchand? How might a British artist have portrayed him? What does this source suggest about the role of violence in the scramble for Africa? Notice the large number of African troops among Marchand’s forces. What does that suggest about the process of colonial conquest? Why might Africans have agreed to fight on behalf of a European colonial power? How do you understand the fallen soldier lying between Marchand’s legs? CHARLES TICHON Commandant Marchand across Africa 1900 Source 18.2 “Pacification” In East Africa In European eyes, conquest was frequently termed “pacification,” with the goal of ending all active resistance to colonial authorities. For African communities, it often meant devastating violence. Source 18.2 provides a vivid example of what the scramble for Africa meant at the level of a single village. It comes from the diary of a young British soldier who took part in the takeover of what is now Kenya. ▪ ▪ ▪ What posture did this soldier take toward this military action? How might this experience be described from the viewpoint of one of the surviving young women? How does the violence depicted in this account differ from that shown in Source 18.1? RICHARD MEINERTZHAGEN A Small Slaughter 1902 I have performed a most unpleasant duty today. I made a night march to the village at the edge of the forest where the white settler had been so brutally murdered the day before yesterday. Though the war drums were sounding throughout the night, we reached the village without incident and surrounded it. By the light of the fires, we could see savages dancing in the village, and our guides assured me that they were dancing around the mutilated body of the white man. I gave orders that every living thing except children should be killed without mercy. I hated the work and was anxious to get through with it. So soon as we could see to shoot we closed in. Several of the men tried to break out but were immediately shot. I then assaulted the place before any defense could be prepared. Every soul was either shot or bayoneted, and I am happy to say that there were no children in the village. They, together with the younger women, had already been removed by the villagers to the forest. We burned all the huts and razed the banana plantations to the ground. Source: R. Meinertzhagen, Kenya Diary (London: Oliver and Boyd, 1957), 51–52. Source 18.3 From Cape to Cairo Nowhere did the vaulting ambition of European colonial powers in Africa emerge more clearly than in the British vision of a north-south corridor of British territories along the eastern side of the continent stretching from South Africa to Egypt, or in the popular phrase of the time, “from the Cape to Cairo.” A part of this vision was an unbroken railroad line running the entire length of the African continent. That grand idea was popularized by Cecil Rhodes, a British-born businessman and politician who made a fortune in South African diamonds and became an enthusiastic advocate of British imperialism. Source 18.3, an 1892 cartoon published in the popular British magazine of satire and humor named Punch, shows Rhodes bestriding the continent with one foot in Egypt and the other in South Africa. ▪ ▪ ▪ Is this famous image criticizing or celebrating Rhodes’s Cape-to-Cairo dream? Explain your reasoning. What does this source suggest about the purpose of the Cape-to-Cairo scheme and the means to achieve it? How did the artist portray the African continent? What does the absence of African people suggest? The Rhodes Colossus 1892 Source 18.4 Ethiopia and the Scramble for Africa The East African state of Ethiopia played an intriguing role during the scramble, for alone in all of Africa, it successfully resisted incorporation into a European empire. But Ethiopia also participated in the scramble, almost doubling the size of the country at the expense of neighboring peoples. Source 18.4A presents a letter written in 1891 from the Ethiopian emperor Menelik II to the great powers of Europe announcing his outlook and intentions as the scramble for Africa picked up speed. This warning, however, did not prevent the Italians from claiming a protectorate over Ethiopia, an action that led to war. Source 18.4B records Menelik’s call to arms in 1895 as that war unfolded. The famous Battle of Adowa, which followed in 1896, marked a decisive victory for Ethiopia over the Italians. Ethiopia had preserved its independence, becoming a symbol of African resistance and bravery. The people forcibly incorporated into a growing Ethiopian empire, no doubt, saw things differently. ▪ ▪ ▪ How would you summarize Menelik’s goals as expressed in Source 18.4A? How does Menelik try to distinguish his kingdom from others in Africa? In what ways does he try to appeal to European sensibilities? On what basis does Menelik appeal to his people to mobilize against the Italians in Source 18.4B? Source 18.4A MENELIK II Letter to the European Great Powers 1891 Being desirous to make known to our friends the Powers (Sovereigns) of Europe the boundaries of Ethiopia, we have addressed also to you (your Majesty) the present letter. These are the boundaries of Ethiopia: [Then follows a detailed description of Ethiopia’s boundaries.] While tracing today the actual boundaries of my Empire, I shall endeavour, if God gives me life and strength, to re-establish the ancient frontiers (tributaries) of Ethiopia up to Khartoum, and as far as Lake Nyanza with all the Gallas. Ethiopia has been for fourteen centuries a Christian island in a sea of pagans. If powers at a distance come forward to partition Africa between them, I do not intend to be an indifferent spectator. As the Almighty has protected Ethiopia up to this day, I have confidence He will continue to protect her, and increase her borders in the future. I am certain He will not suffer her to be divided among other Powers. Formerly the boundary of Ethiopia was the sea. Having lacked strength sufficient, and having received no help from Christian Powers, our frontier on the sea coast fell into the power of the Muslim-man [Muslims]. At present we do not intend to regain our sea frontier by force, but we trust that the Christian Powers, guided by our Saviour, will restore to us our sea-coast line, at any rate, certain points on the coast. Source: Mohamed Osman Omar, The Scramble in the Horn of Africa (New Delhi: Somali Publications, 2001), 143. Source 18.4B MENELIK II Mobilization Proclamation 1895 Enemies have now come upon us to ruin our country and to change our religion. Our enemies have begun the affair by advancing and digging into our country like moles. With the help of God, I will not deliver my country to them. Today, you who are strong, give me your strength, and you who are weak, help me by prayer. Men of my country, up to now I believe I have never wronged you and you have never caused me sorrow. If you refuse to follow me, beware. You will hate me, for I shall not fail to punish you. I swear in the name of Mary that I shall never accept any plea of pardon. . . . Meet me at Were Illu [the place of assembly for Menelik’s forces], and may you be there by the middle of [October]. So says Menelik, elect of God, king of kings. Source: Quoted in Rick Duncan, Man, Know Thyself (Bloomington, IN: XLibris, 2013), 1:330. Source 18.5 Empire Building in North Africa In North Africa, the primary European rivalries for territory involved Great Britain, which occupied Egypt in 1881; France, which came to control Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco; and Italy, which seized Libya in 1912. Source 18.5 portrays two of these rivals — Britain, on the right, and France, on the left — toasting one another while standing on piles of skeletons. This image appeared in the Cairo Punch, a Britishowned magazine in Egypt published in Arabic, probably around 1910. This image refers specifically to two incidents. On the British side, the cartoon evokes a 1906 quarrel between British soldiers hunting pigeons and local villagers of Denshway that resulted in the death of one of the soldiers. In response, outraged British authorities hanged several people and flogged dozens of others. The following year in Morocco, French civilians building a small railway near the harbor of Casablanca dug up parts of a Muslim cemetery, “churning up piles of bones.” When attacks against European laborers followed, killing eight, the French bombarded the Arab quarter of the city, with many casualties — European and Arab alike — in the fighting that ensued. Both incidents stimulated nationalist feelings in these two North African countries. ▪ ▪ ▪ What references to the incidents described here can you find in Source 18.5? The British and French generally saw themselves as rivals in the scramble for Africa. How are they portrayed here? What posture toward colonial rule does this image reflect? While the artist remains unknown, do you think it more likely to have been an Egyptian or a European? Africa Writing in 1915, shortly after the outbreak of World War I, the African American scholar and activist W. E. B. DuBois reflected on the scramble for Africa, arguing that it was a leading cause of the war. ▪ ▪ ▪ How does DuBois characterize the process of the scramble? With which of the earlier sources does the tone of his essay most clearly resonate? What connection does DuBois see between the partition of Africa and World War I? W. E. B. DuBOIS The African Roots of War 1915 Africa is a prime cause of this terrible overturning of civilization [World War I]. . . . The Berlin Conference to apportion the rising riches of Africa among the white peoples met on the fifteenth day of November, 1884 . . . and before the Berlin Conference had finished its deliberations, [Germany] had annexed . . . an area over half as large again as the whole German Empire in Europe. Only in its dramatic suddenness was this undisguised robbery of the land of seven million natives different from the methods by which Great Britain and France got four million square miles each, Portugal three quarters of a million, and Italy and Spain got smaller but substantial areas. The methods by which this continent has been stolen have been contemptible and dishonest beyond expression. Lying treaties, rivers of rum, murder, assassination, mutilation, rape, and torture have marked the progress of Englishman, German, Frenchman, and Belgian on the dark continent. . . . The present world war is, then, the result of jealousies engendered by the recent rise of armed [nations] . . . whose aim is the exploitation of the wealth of the world mainly outside the European circle of nations . . . , and particularly in Africa. . . . [I]n the minds of yellow, brown, and black men the brutal truth is clearing: a white man is privileged to go to any land where advantage beckons and behave as he pleases; the black or colored man is being more and more confined to those parts of the world where life for climatic, historical, economic, and political reasons is most difficult to live and most easily dominated by Europe for Europe’s gain. Source: W. E. B. DuBois, “The African Roots of War,” Atlantic Monthly (May 1915), 707–8, 712. ...
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Running head: MAKING THE MODERN WORLD

Making the Modern World
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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD

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Making the Modern World
Perspectives on the Scramble for Africa
There are six different perspectives on the scramble for Africa that are presented in
Chapter 18 of the book “Ways of the World” by Robert W. Strayer and Eric W. Nelson. First, it
is the pacification of Africa, as noted by Richard Meinertzhagen, A Small Slaughter, 1902.
Second, it is the connection of two extr...

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