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Imperialism in Sub-Saharan Africa

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    Sub-Saharan Africa was the center of interest of European countries in the late 19th century. Among such countries were Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Portugal. In 1884-1885, these countries held the Berlin conference organized by German chancellor Otto Von Bismarck to plan the partitioning of Africa (De & Muller, 2008). The result of this conference was colonization of Africa, which lasted until the 20th century when many African countries attained their independence.

    Sub-Saharan Africa was of strategic importance to the imperialists. Africa had massive natural resources such as minerals, forests, good climate and soil for crops growth and wildlife development. These resources were in high demand in Europe during the industrial revolution period. Furthermore, Africa was mid-way to Middle East, which necessitated exploration of the continent and putting local inhabitants under European control. There was also a need to bring civilization to this Dark Continent and spread Christianity. Each European power used different methods of gaining control. For example, Britain practiced direct and indirect rule and France implemented assimilation policy.

    In Kenya, a country in East Africa, the British used methods of direct and indirect policy to establish their rule. For example, the divide-and-rule policy used for Maasai and Kalenjin was aimed at initiating inner conflicts and weakening these communities (Anderson, 1993). The partitioning of Africa divided Maasai people into two groups, one in Kenya and another in Tanzania, thus substantially weakening them. In Congo Free State, Belgium used military force under the rule of King Leopold II, subsequently introducing forced labor and plundering the country’s minerals, forests and natural gum (Hochschild, 1998).

    The boundaries superimposed on Africa by the imperialists are one of the causes of conflicts in the continent. Therefore, it is the duty of former colonialists to work closely with African countries and help solve existing problems.