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- The Scramble for Soutpansberg? The Boers and the partition of Africa in the 18905
- The Partition of Africa by Treaty (1974)
- Scramble For Africa And Its Legacy, The
By the turn of the 20th century, the map of Africa looked like a huge jigsaw puzzle , with most of the boundary lines having been drawn in a sort of game of give-and-take played in the foreign offices of the leading European powers.
The Scramble for Africa , also called the Partition of Africa , Conquest of Africa , or the Rape of Africa ,  was the invasion, occupation, division, and colonization of African territory by European powers during a short period known to historians as the New Imperialism between and The 10 percent of Africa that was under formal European control in increased to almost 90 percent by , with only Ethiopia Abyssinia, later colonized by Italy and Liberia remaining independent. European motives included the desire to control valuable natural resources, rivalry and the quest for national prestige, and religious missionary zeal. Internal African politics also played a role.
The Scramble for Soutpansberg? The Boers and the partition of Africa in the 18905
Lenin very rarely mentioned Africa in his writings on colonialism, but inferences about Africa can be drawn from Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism and other works. Most bourgeois writers on the partition of Africa make snide remarks on the Leninist explanation of imperialism. Because they have already established a near monopoly of what is written on the subject, it is necessary to frame this analysis as a refutation of common misconceptions.
Furthermore - as is so often the case with the works of Marx, Engels, and Lenin - many hostile criticisms are based on sheer ignorance of the texts. Thus the reader must bear with frequent quotations. Lenin is generally said to have professed an "economic" theory of imperialism. This gives rise to the criticism that his theory was one-sided, because Europeans carved up Africa for several reasons-economic, political, social-humanitarian, psychological, etc.
Of course Marxism does not concern itself solely with some so-called "economic" aspect of society. It is a world-view which perceives the presence of multiple variants within the complexity of human society, and seeks to unravel their relationship with reference to the material conditions of existence.
Lenin did not have to spell out this elementary Marxist position in everything he wrote. His essay on imperialism dealt with the question of the expansion of the capitalist economy. The non-economic dimensions were known to exist, and were regarded as secondary. Lenin made two passing references on this point:. And they divide it in proportion to "capital," in proportion to "strength," because there cannot be any other system of division under commodity production and capitalism.
But strength varies with the degree of economic and political development In order to understand what takes place, it is necessary to know what questions are settled by this change of forces. The question as to whether these changes are "purely" economic or non -economic e. We do need to be informed as to how changes in the politico-military balance of power and European national aspirations for domination stimulated the striving for colonies in Africa.
Such factors were not outside Lenin's field of awareness, and exploiting them at length does not in the slightest invalidate his thesis. For example, such facts as that the French are hung up on "prestige," or that changes take place in the so-called balance of power have to be related to the political economy of Europe.
They did not arise out of thin air. They were products of the development of monopoly capitalism within the boundaries of several European nation states. The elaboration of this argument would carry us deeper into the European past, which is outside the scope of this brief analysis. The more pertinent question is: How far and in what ways did monopoly capital impinge on Africa during the period of the notorious scramble?
A great deal of trouble has been taken to show that little capital was invested in Africa prior to the first worldwide capitalist war. This is a contradiction of Lenin only for those who have not read Lenin. Lenin's examples of investment by monopolies outside of the capitalist epicenters are situated in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. He cited Russia, Rumania, Turkey, and Argentina most forcefully as countries on the receiving end of investment and exploitation.
Only Britain, with a large number of old and new colonies, was exporting a significant proportion of its capital to its political colonies in the early part of this century. France was investing mainly in Russia, and Germany divided its interests between Eastern Europe and the Americas. Lenin quoted the geographer Supan to the effect that the characteristic feature of the late nineteenth century was the division of Africa and Polynesia. He then added that "Mr. Supan's conclusion must be carried further, and we must say that the characteristic feature of this period is the final partition of the globe, not in the sense that a new partition is impossible; on the contrary, new partitions are possible and inevitable, but in the sense that the colonial policy of the capitalist countries has completed the seizure of the unoccupied territories on our planet.
Its intensity was not the same at all points. Huge amounts of capital were not initially invested in Africa, but Africa could not escape the inexorable process of expansion, domination, and partition which had its roots in monopoly capital.
Lenin took pains to show that the division of the world among capitalist monopolies and the nation-states in which they were encrusted was not a policy option which could just as well have been replaced by more enlightened thinking. He emphasized the internal logic which made international partitioning inseparable from the nature of monopoly capital in that epoch.
Africa was the great unknown continent. Europeans dreamed of its great potential. Certain remarks of Lenin are particularly apt in this regard:. Finance capital is not only interested in the already known sources of raw materials, Hence the inevitable striving of finance capital to extend its economic territory and even its territory in general.
In the same way that the trusts capitalize their property by estimating it at two or three times its value, taking into account its "potential" and not present returns, and the further results of monopoly, so finance capital strives to seize the largest possible amount of land of all kinds and in any place it can, and by any means, counting on the possibilities of finding raw materials there and fearing to be left behind in the insensate struggle for the last available scraps of undivided territory.
It took a considerable time before imperialist powers made efforts to invest large amounts of capital in Africa as a whole. In the case of France, significant capital investment in Africa is a post-Second World War phenomenon. Lenin had noted that the possibility of exporting capital to backward countries was created by those countries having been drawn previously into international capitalist intercourse, thereby creating elementary conditions such as the start of railway and port construction for further and more intensified involvement.
The necessary infrastructure was emerging in Eastern Europe, the Americas, and parts of Asia; but this occurred scarcely anywhere in Africa during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Lenin, like Marx before him, recognized the tremendous contribution made by Africa to the accumulation of capital during the epoch of the slave trade.
The fact that he did not deal with Africa at any length in the context of imperialism was not an oversight, for in that epoch Africa was marginal to the development of capitalism. An understanding of this has frequently been obscured by a tendency to caricature Lenin's theory of imperialism to mean the division of the world into political colonies.
Since Africa was the classic example of political partition, it would then follow that Africa was the continent in which monopoly was principally interested.
Lenin spoke first and foremost about the "struggle for economic territory. As Lenin put it: "Colonial possession alone gives complete guarantee of success to the monopolies against all the risks of struggle with competitors, including the risk that the latter will defend themselves by means of a law establishing a state monopoly.
Monopoly capital had a small representation on the African continent relative to its presence in Asia and America, but it appeared in sufficient force to precipitate the ruthless scramble for Africa.
Looking at East Africa, one bourgeois historian Koebner remarked that "the Imperial British East African Company was certainly not a galaxy of big capitalist interests. Lenin's position did not imply that every part of Africa was bulging with surplus capital brought in by big European monopolies. It is not necessary, for example, to seek a specific reason why Europeans wanted the region that is now the Central African Republic.
It is enough to know that monopoly capital was interested in a few parts of the continent where potential was to some extent verified.
In squabbling for those areas, Europeans also saw fit to apportion among themselves the great unknown expanses -especially since nobody wanted to miss a share, not even Spain or Italy. The main elements of the epoch of Cecil Rhodes in Southern Africa are too well known to require attention here. All the ingredients about which Lenin spoke were clearly present. There were Rhodes and De Beers representing monopoly capital; there were gold and diamonds and the possibility of extensive railroad development; there was Anglo-German competition; and there was the spectacle of both the Boers and the Africans being subjected to and incorporated into the far-flung empire of capital.
The Egyptian scene is equally well-known, the Suez canal being symbolic of the great ambitions of European finance capital. Disraeli was nothing but a front man for the Rothschilds, who later utilized their political influence to bring about the conquest of Egypt. Besides, British capitalists interested in India had good reason for wanting to oust the French and colonize Egypt and the Sudan. In Egypt, Britain and France invested capital directly in the Canal and indirectly in other sectors through loans.
The French were very keen on loan capital, as Lenin observed, when he said that "French imperialism might be termed usury imperialism. French occupation of Tunisia was achieved through a policy of financial loans at extravagant rates to an equally extravagant Bey of Tunis, who still existed in the feudal atmosphere of the Crusades, and who proved easy prey for the manipulations of European financiers.
Britain and Italy were also in on the deal, but France shut them out by an armed attack on Tunis in expressively termed a Coup de Bourse. The Sultan of Morocco was caught in the same bag when in he negotiated a loan of Algeria was an exception, though not a very important one from an analytic viewpoint.
Its coastlands had fallen prey to French greed since , and so the beginning of its colonization was not part of the general imperialist expansion.
However, from the s interest in Algeria was stimulated by France's new offensive in Africa, and the Maghreb in particular. When Lenin referred to Portugal as a British colony, he indicated that this was true long before the heyday of imperialism, but that it had assumed new significance in the epoch of partition.
His remarks in that context are quite appropriate to the Algerian-French relationship. But during the period of capitalist imperialism they become a general system, they form part of the process of 'dividing the world'; they become a link in the chain of operations of world finance capital. This question of finding room for Europe's "surplus population" was one to which Lenin gave prominence, taking his cue from the pronouncements of imperialists like Cecil Rhodes. In practice, it was not an important theme in the imperialist take-over of the African continent, the Maghreb being one of the few areas where it was applicable.
South of the Sahara and north of the Transvaal lies the vast mass of black Africa, which was so blithely cut up by the robber statesmen who sat together in Berlin in Setting apart Egypt and South Africa as "exceptional" capital-receiving countries in nineteenth-century Africa cleared the way for mystifying the partition of the rest of the continent by talking about explorers and missionaries bringing civilization to the natives.
Yet, in some ways it can be said that nowhere is the universality of the Leninist formulation better vindicated than in these lands where capitalism had previously unleashed slave trading from the East and West Coasts. During the epoch of the slave trade, Europeans carried goods to Africa and exchanged them for human beings, who were thus transformed into saleable commodities.
When Europe became interested in the raw materials of the continent, capital was sent to transform Africans into workers and peasants producing for the capitalist market. The Congo has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the first as well as one of the last African countries in which slaving took place.
By the nineteenth century someone living in the Congo basin could be seized and sent westward to the Atlantic or eastward to the Indian Ocean. Imperialist Europe had to stamp out the slave trade where it still survived; the new necessity was for African labour to be harnessed by European capital so as to export raw materials like rubber and cotton. Enter Livingstone, Stanley, and King Leopold. It is a mere illusion to present the Congo as the property of one man King Leopold and to discuss its colonisation in terms of personal fancy.
Britain was itself interested only in a guarantee of trade and not in sovereignty over the country. Britain first tried for a treaty with Portugal which would have given the Congo to the Portuguese, while allowing British merchants to enjoy extensive privileges. Later Britain fell in line with France and Germany in support of Leopold's creation of a "Congo Free State"-free in the sense that there should be no restrictions on trade and investment by capitalists of all countries.
There was a great humanitarian outcry against the atrocities committed by Europeans in the Congo under Lcopold's regime, but the international commission which studied the situation was more interested in the fact that Leopold had violated the agreements on free trade.
In , as Leopold's personal rule drew to an end, he felt obliged to offer four huge concessions to British, French, and American capitalists. The Congo was atypical. Elsewhere in Africa, the principal European capitalist nations seized economic territory and ran up their own flags to prove the point.
Sometimes, the flagpoles seem to have been stuck in the ground without rhyme or reason. Why little Gambia inside Senegal's belly? The only explanation and one highlighted by Lenin is the European search for raw materials-particularly for edible oils and fats which were obtainable in West Africa from the oil palm and the peanut. It was in order to maintain investments which encouraged the growing of peanuts that British capitalists clung to Gambia; while Togo and Dahomey were "protectorates" established by Germany and France to protect their interests in palm oil.
The German involvement in the palm-oil trade and its acquisition of Togo constitute a small episode which illumines one of Lenin's principal arguments concerning the way that Germany was fast outstripping Britain and France in the phase of monopoly capital.
The Partition of Africa by Treaty (1974)
Africa has long since been encountered by the presence of Europeans and their activities on the continent. Before the nineteenth century, European activities in Africa were restricted along the coast. Trade in slaves and other commodities with the interior states of Africa was conducted through local middlemen. Upon the abolition of the slave trade, legitimate trade was seen as the perfect substitute and the Europeans there scrambled and partitioned Africa for political, social and economic reasons. This also had economic, political and social consequences on the continent.
Don't have an account? This chapter analyses the partition of the African continent via treaties. It begins with an introductory examination of pre-nineteenth-century European—African treaty-making and references some classic writers to Africa. These demonstrate the extent to which normal institutions of the law of nations as originally applied to European—African relations degenerated into instruments of colonial penetration in the second half of the nineteenth century, particularly after the Berlin Conference of —85, which led to a multilaterally conceived plan of partition of the whole continent. Partition took place in two phases, i.
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PDF version for only US$ Incl. VAT. Format: PDF – for PC, Kindle, tablet, mobile The causes for the scramble and partition of Africa as discussed below.
Scramble For Africa And Its Legacy, The
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