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Winners out of the 'Scramble for Africa'?

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    Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 04:07
The Scramble for Africa was a colonial phenomenon officially recognised at the 1884 council of Berlin, and which essentially carved up Africa into the territories of a few major colonial powers. In many instances, it was merely scraping the bottom of the barrel, for a right to claim an overseas empire. A lot of the time, colonial powers would invest more than they profited from different African colonies.

But who were the real winners out of the scramble for Africa, if any? I don't just mean powers, like Britain or France (but these are important to discuss nonetheless), but also individuals, corporations, colonial subjects.etc.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 04:24
King Leopold II of Belgium and Cecil Rhodes come immediately to mind.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 04:26
The Rothschilds made a handsome killing (excuse the pun) out of the conquest of Rhodesia. This was somewhat a source of disenchantment with imperialism for the people back home, that the beneficiaries of such a conquest were the Rhodes family and a group of Jewish bankers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 05:11
Thanks for the input Justinian and Constantine! You've already mentioned some of the most key inidividuals in the scramble, which is important.

In terms of colonial powers, it would be open to quite a bit of debate about which one actually suffered the most from their imperial holdings on the continent. I know for one that Italy held Abyssinia at a net loss of both money and resources. However, Belgian Congo (which I'm less informed about) surely couldn't have been too beneficial for the colonial overlords.

Britain and France by far claimed the largest chunks - France largely in North-Western Africa and Britain with a continuous territorial stretch from North to South.

Other winners (and similarly, losers) would be certain tribes and warlords in Africa. When the colonial powers lay claim to and governed their territories, it was almost always with complete disregard for the tribal boundaries and relations. As a result, artificial borders were formed, increasing capacity and reason for inter-tribal conflict. The British for instance, would fund groups which served their interests in securing borders and attacking colonial opposition, and these groups would surely have been 'winners' in the short term. Guns and other technologies being notable gains made by these co-operative tribes. I apologise for not being overly specific with names of tribes but they are quite difficult to remember of the top of my head.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 10:23
Who won? France may have carved a massive empire but do those millions of acres of desert land really count?

I always found that the most remarkable thing about the scramble for Africa is that within 70 years the colonial powers were either in the process of getting out, or had gotten out. It was just a sign of the times that they felt they could literally carve up an entire continent between them, for reasons that largely come to down to national prestige. Thats what drove any German colonies at any rate, and the profits the British made out of their colonies seemed to be rather insignificant - they probably would have done better to keep their resources at home and maintain their grip on their existing domains. They were the largest economy in Europe at this time - what exactly did her African Empire contribute to her wealth?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Prince of Zeila Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 10:34

^minerals? manpower?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 10:35
Diamonds in South Africa were a huge contributor to British wealth. I'm picking out on of Britain's most profitable colonies there, though.

EDIT: Ah Prince of Zelia beat me to it Smile


Edited by Knights - 21 Jul 2009 at 10:35
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Prince of Zeila Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 10:50
Originally posted by Knights Knights wrote:


In terms of colonial powers, it would be open to quite a bit of debate about which one actually suffered the most from their imperial holdings on the continent. I know for one that Italy held Abyssinia at a net loss of both money and resources.
- Knights -
 
That's not suprising since the rich agricultural zones of Ethiopia were continuesly attacked by freedom fighters hence the Italians were unable to exploit those resources. Before that in Somalia the British and other powers similarly were hit with a large obstacle with the presence of the Dervish State which forced the European powers to spend lots of money on campaigns, bribes etcetera and whatever trade surplus there was in the past, was now gone. The collapse of that movement however proved fatal for future generations because it forced Somalia to pursue an irredentist policy, as territories were ceded to neighbouring countries that historically never belonged to those entities and referendums where the majority of the populations being in favor of seceding was ignored by the British. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 11:15
You can't leave entirely out of the question Britain's global interests, notably control of the sea routes. There were a whole string of naval bases right around the African coasts from Freetown to Dar-es Salaam at least. (Aden, Alexandria, Malta and Gibraltar completing the circle.)
 
Otherwise I would have said that, outside South Africa and its mineral riches, the most benefits flowed at relatively low levels, funding the settler societies of the Rhodesias and East Africa and making quite a respectable amount of money for smallish trading companies, rather than showing up in the national accounts.
 
The Congo was of course also a rich source of minerals (hence the later breakaway of Katanga), and it may be worth noting that it wasn't a Belgian colony until 1908, but Leopold's personal holding. He probably did better out of it than any individual.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 11:20
Gcle raises an excellent point about sea trade routes. Mauritius is a prime example of securing sea pathways and trade routes, when they took it from the French. Britain was also noted for securing valuable colonies like India and South Africa, by taking strategic islands around the area, thus ensuring a protective barrier. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Prince of Zeila Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 11:22
I remember a railway rivalry between the French and the British, the latter won with the Cape to Cairo project right?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 12:58
The strategic thing was on my mind as well (Controlling trade and sea routes) but I was thinking more along the lines of what economic benefit it had directly for Britain. It benefitted a small few Britons who dared to ventured into Rhodesia or the like to farm, but by and large it was a crazy enterprise and incomparable to the industrial might Britain displayed at home.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 14:07

If adressing what African peoples who suffered most there maybe have been the people of King Leopold IIs Congo. Some researchers has estimated the loss of population through violence, diseases, opression and forced labour to about half the population (it means from around 20 to around 10 million) in the years between1885 and 1908 (or actually some years later since the         same practises continued for a while even after the Belgian government gained control over the Congo Free State).

One can read for example: Hochschild, Adam, 1998: King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa to get some information about these issues.
 
Roger Casement also adressed these issues in a report in 1904.
 
By the way, it is interesting to note that Roger Casement also wrote a report about similar opression (in connection with the infamous Rubber Boom) against natives in the Peruvian Amazon in 1911. In both the Congo and Peruvian cases extraction of rubber was a major enterprice that caused immense suffering for the native peoples. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 15:05
Off topic, but Roger Casement Cry
 
 


Edited by gcle2003 - 21 Jul 2009 at 15:07
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 17:33
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Off topic, but Roger Casement Cry
 
 


Whats with the tears? He ended his life as an Irish patriot, trying to put a stop to a rebellion which could only possibly end in failure...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 18:42
It's sad when anybody dies ahead of his time, isn't it? Particularly someone whose early career was unequivocally good. Moreover I feel sad for him because he was taken in by the Germans completely, and because I think that he would not have been executed if not for his homosexuality, Or at least his alleged homsoexuality, if you don't believe he was gay.
 
On the other hand, that he died with the satisfaction of feeling he had done the right thing I've no doubt.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 19:46
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

It's sad when anybody dies ahead of his time, isn't it? Particularly someone whose early career was unequivocally good. Moreover I feel sad for him because he was taken in by the Germans completely, and because I think that he would not have been executed if not for his homosexuality, Or at least his alleged homsoexuality, if you don't believe he was gay.
 
On the other hand, that he died with the satisfaction of feeling he had done the right thing I've no doubt.


His diaries are rather saucy LOL Seriously though, a very interesting figure. Irish POWs took a long, hard look at him when he tried to convince them to join a German corps against the British. Something to do with his posh accent.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jul 2009 at 20:06
"King Leopold's Ghost" is a great read, but it has been challenged for accuracy and alleged "cherry picking" of facts to fit the conclusion. I think the anarchy that the Congo slipped into in the wake of Independence owed more to the conditions that the Belgians found there, more than to their Colonial experience. So far, the only bright spot left in Africa is South Africa, though its reputation has been dimmed by seeping African levels of corruption, and whether it will survive the death of Mandela is open to question.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2009 at 13:22
The anarchy of Congo was maybe to some extent caused by the conditions from before the Belgians but the main cause where probably  the chaos and the destruction of societal institutions, loss of human life, crushing of local economies and loss of security that the colonial experience and the extreme exploitation by the Belgians brought.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2009 at 14:47
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

So far, the only bright spot left in Africa is South Africa, though its reputation has been dimmed by seeping African levels of corruption, and whether it will survive the death of Mandela is open to question.
 
Botswana?
 
Cameroon?
 
Cap Verde?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2009 at 15:38
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

So far, the only bright spot left in Africa is South Africa, though its reputation has been dimmed by seeping African levels of corruption, and whether it will survive the death of Mandela is open to question.
 
Botswana?
 
Cameroon?
 
Cap Verde?


Botswana seems an exception to the rule, and Cape Verde is too small to be considered with any great enthusiasm. Cameroon... Well... Either way, none of these countries have the same economical and, hence, the political and diplomatic clout South Africa offers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2009 at 17:47
GCLE in re: "Botswana?"

Good catch, gcle! I had mentally catalogued it with the old apartheid mini-states (Transkei, etc) become independent, but that is not the case. Yes, despite its very small size, it does deserve mention. I should have remembered it for the recent television series "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency", if nothing else.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Apr 2011 at 13:56
Peaceful is the country that does not come to the attention of the MSM!
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