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Myth of the Dark Continent Africa Essay

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African Studies

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Myth of the Dark Continent
The story of the Dark Continent adverted to the brutality Europeans said that was born in Africa.
The other idea that Africa’s lands were not known originated from rubbing out centuries of pre-
colonial contact, travel, and history all over Africa. Europeans termed Africa as the Dark
Continent mostly as a result of the missionary work and the enslavement that was in Africa in the
1800s and also because it was not easily explorable. The paper will discuss Brantlinger and
Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost (Hochschild) view on the Dark Continent in generals and
later focus on Congo.
Africa was called the Dark Continents because for a very long period it remained
unexplored. According to an English professor, Patrick Brantlinger’s Victorians and Africans
(Brantlinger, 166), Marlow said that Africa was no longer the "blank space" on the map which he
had daydreamed about once. Marlow said that Africa had become a place full of darkness,
because Victorian scientists, explorers, and the missionaries filled it with light, and that light was
refracted through a dictatorial theory that urged “catastrophic customs” to be abolished in
reverence of civilization. From that ideology, that’s when the delusion of the Dark Continent
evolved, in the course of the change from major British colony in 1833, to the imperialist
division of Africa that controlled the last part of the 19
th
century.

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Europeans did not even know much about Africa but they had already termed it as a dark
continent. That was because (a) the climate made it inhospitable for the Europeans because of the
dense forests and the hot and humid climate. (b) The Sahara desert, which is the largest desert in
the world, acted as a natural barrier for European explorers. (c) The explorers could not use
rivers for traveling because Africa's rivers form waterfalls as they approach the sea. (d) The
explorers found it hard to reach the interior of the continent because of the plateaus which rise
steeply from the coasts. (e) There were only a few good natural harbors, hence the Europeans
found it hard to sail into the continent. Those reasons made the Europeans destroy the maps of
Africa that could help them explore, and instead made their own.
Africa had been doing trading with Asia and states in the Middle East for a long time and
hence knew Africa well, but due to the European's little knowledge of Africa, they made their
maps to help discover the continent. The explorers, Burtone, Speke, Livingstone, and Stanley
helped in the creation of the story of the Dark Continent, though the expression was made
popular by Henry Stanley, a British discoverer. Stanley had read over 130 books on Africa
before starting his mission. On two accounts he termed it as “Through the Dark Continent”, and
in yet another, “In Darkest Africa”. Most explorers said that the darkness of Africa could be
ended by capitalism, and applying Christianity.
British activists were hardly campaigning opposition to slavery in the late 1700s. The
activists came up with pamphlets describing the horrible inhumanity and brutality that was in
plantation slavery in Africa. The most known image was of an African man tied in shackles
asking, “Am I not a man and a brother?” After the abolishment of bondage by the British in the
year 1833, the activists revolved their endeavors against slavery in Africa. Some slaves on the

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Surname 1 Student’s Name Professor’s Name Course Date Myth of the Dark Continent The story of the Dark Continent adverted to the brutality Europeans said that was born in Africa. The other idea that Africa’s lands were not known originated from rubbing out centuries of precolonial contact, travel, and history all over Africa. Europeans termed Africa as the Dark Continent mostly as a result of the missionary work and the enslavement that was in Africa in the 1800s and also because it was not easily explorable. The paper will discuss Brantlinger and Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost (Hochschild) view on the Dark Continent in generals and later focus on Congo. Africa was called the Dark Continents because for a very long period it remained unexplored. According to an English professor, Patrick Brantlinger’s Victorians and Africans (Brantlinger, 166), Marlow said that Africa was no longer the "blank space" on the map which he had daydreamed about once. Marlow said that Africa had become a place full of darkness, because Victorian scientists, explorers, and the missionaries filled it with light, and that light was refracted through a dictatorial theory that urged “catastrophic customs” to be abolished in reverence of civilization. From that ideology, that’s when the delusion of the Dark Continent evolved, in the course of the change from major British colony in 1833, to the imperialist division of Africa that controlled the last part of the 19th century. Surna ...
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