European Imperialism In Africa
By 1875 European possessions in Africa consisted of some forts and trading posts along the coast and a few tiny colonies. Between 1880 and 1910, however, Africa was divided up among the Europeans. For the next 50 years decisions affecting Africa and its people were made not in Africa, but in London, Paris, Lisbon and other European capitals. France acquired a huge empire in North and West Africa. Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Dahomey, Mali and other areas in West Africa came under French rule. Britain's colonies were scattered throughout the continent. Although the French controlled the most territory, Britain ruled the greatest number of people. Gambia, Sierra Leone, Gold Coast, Nigeria, South Africa, Rhodesia, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, the Sudan and others were taken over Eritrea, a large part of Somaliland and Libya. Southwest Africa, Tanganyika, Togoland and Cameroon were ruled by Germany until Germany's defeat in World War I. By 1914 there were two independent countries left in Africa-Liberia and Ethiopia. And even Ethiopia was taken over by Italy in 1935. (Italy controlled Ethiopia until 1942 when the British drove the Italians out.)

Reasons for Imperialism
There are several reasons why the European nations competed with each other to gain colonies in Africa. They all wanted to gain power and prestige. The more territory that they were able to control in Africa the more powerful and important they thought they could become. Africa was tremendously rich in natural resources, which could be brought to Europe and turned into manufactured goods. Europeans also needed markets for their manufactured goods. These goods could be sold in Africa for large profits. Often a European nation would take over territory in Africa simply to prevent another European country from taking it.

How Imperialism Spread
European rule came to Africa in many different ways. Sometimes a European trading company made agreements with Africa chiefs permitting the company to trade and keep order in the area. The traders then put pressure on their government in Europe to take over in order to protect them. In a few cases tribal chiefs voluntarily asked for the protection of one European nation in order to avoid being taken over by another European nation. Sometimes the Africans even asked for European protection against other African tribes.Treaties were signed by the Af~ican chiefs in which they gave the European company or government the right to keep order (govern) and to take over the land and resources in their area. Thousands of treaties were signed by African rulers giving away most of their rights to the Europeans, but the Africans never really understood these treaties and did not realize what they were giving away.

South Africa Industrialization and Imperialism, 1870-1910
The Mineral Revolution
Mineral discoveries in the 1860s, the 1870s, and the 1880s had an enormous impact on southern Africa. Diamonds were initially identified in 1867 in an area adjoining the confluence of the Vaal and the Orange rivers, just north of the Cape Colony, although it was not until 1869 to 1870 that finds were sufficient to attract a "rush" of several thousand fortune hunters. The British government, attracted by the prospect of mineral wealth, quickly annexed the diamond fields, repudiating the claims of the Voortrekker republics to the area. Four mines were developed, and the town of Kimberley was established. The town grew quickly and became the largest urban society in the interior of southern Africa in the 1870s and the 1880s. Although the mines were worked initially by small-scale claims-holders, the economics of diamond production and marketing soon led to consolidation. Within two decades of the first diamond find, the industry was essentially controlled by one monopolistic company--Cecil Rhodes's De Beers Consolidated Mines.
The diamond industry became the key to the economic fortunes of the Cape Colony by providing the single largest source of export earnings, as well as by fueling development throughout the colony. Whereas the Cape's exports in 1870 had been worth little more than £2,000,000, with wool providing the bulk of earnings, by the end of the century the value of exports had risen to more than £15,000,000, with diamonds alone accounting for £4,000,000. There was also substantial growth in population, much of it from immigration. As a result, there were close to 400,000 resident Europeans in the Cape Colony by 1900, twice the number who had lived there in 1865.
Gold soon eclipsed diamonds in importance. Africans had mined gold for centuries at Mapungubwe (in South Africa, on the border with Zimbabwe) and later at the successor state of Great Zimbabwe, and they had traded with Arabs and Portuguese on the east coast of Africa. In the 1860s and the 1870s, Europeans made a number of small finds of their own, but the major development took place in 1886 when potentially enormous deposits of gold were found on the Witwatersrand (literally, "Ridge of White Waters" in Afrikaans, commonly shortened to Rand--see Glossary) near present-day Johannesburg. English-speaking businessmen who had made their fortunes in the diamond industry quickly bought up all the auriferous claims and established a series of large gold-mining companies that were to dominate the industry well into the twentieth century.
Rhodes, who had succeeded in monopolizing the diamond industry, was much less successful on the Rand, where his companies proved to be poorer producers than those of his competitors. In the 1890s, he sought to compensate for his lackluster performance by carving out a personal empire in present-day Zimbabwe, original site of the fifteenth-century gold industry of Great Zimbabwe. There he ruled the Ndebele and the Shona people through his British South Africa Company.
Although beset by a number of technological problems in its early days, gold mining on the Rand grew rapidly, with output increasing from £80,000 in 1887 to nearly £8,000,000, or one-fifth of the world's gold production, in 1895. By the end of the century, more than £60,000,000 of capital had been invested in the gold industry, most of it by European investors, who thereby continued the pattern developed at Kimberley that southern Africa received more foreign investment than the rest of Africa combined. The gold mines employed 100,000 African laborers, five times as many as did the diamond mines, and drew these men from throughout southern Africa, although most came from Portuguese-ruled areas of Mozambique. Johannesburg, the newly established hub of this industry, had a population of 75,000 Europeans by the end of the century, which made it the largest city in southern Africa.

European Imperialism

In the final quarter of the nineteenth century industrial capitalism had transformed England, Germany, and to a lesser degree France, into powerful nations seeking new markets in order to purchase the much needed raw materials for refueling their business empires, as well as to create new markets in which to sell their new mass produced goods. Coincidentally, the major powers of Europe were entering yet another phase of expansion in which the goal was to carve out and maintain new colonial regions -- namely, the continents of Africa, Asia, and India. The financiers and the politicians entered into a mutually compatible relationship for the purpose of empire building that would last from the 1870's until the outbreak of World War One.

The new middle classes of Europe also joined in. For economic reasons, overseas business expansion meant more managerial jobs as well as investment opportunities for the expanding middle class. For the lower middle class it provided a chance to leave behind a stagnant position for a new place which offered them higher status and better job opportunities.
There was a another motivating factor for all the classes of Europe, namely a firm belief in the cultural superiority of European civilization. The white societies were being taught in school and in church that the "primitive" non-Christian world still needed to be civilized and saved -- these black, brown, and yellow races would be better off with what Europe had to offer. The European nations would play parent to their new offspring. Various church missions jumped at the new opportunities. Rudyard Kipling's poem, "White Man's Burden," captures this patriarchal mentality:
Take up the White Man's burden --
Send out the best ye breed --
Go bind your sons to exile,
To serve your captive's need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild --
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.
But not all white Europeans felt the need to assuage their consciences with such ideas as civilizing missions. Cecil Rhodes was a British born imperialist who established himself as a diamond industrialist in South Africa. Rhodes' company, De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., ultimately captured control of 90% of the world's diamond production. After making his economic fortune in southern Africa, Rhodes turned to a career in politics, driven by the twin pillars of faith: laissez faire capitalism and British superiority. His political work in the region led to the formation of the state of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The following excerpt is from his 1877 work Confession of Faith.

...I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world that we inhabit the better it is for the human race. Just fancy those parts that are at present inhabited by the most despicable specimens of human beings what an alteration there would be if they were brought under Anglo-Saxon influence, look again at the extra employment a new country added to our dominions gives. I contend that every acre added to our territory means in the future birth to some more of the English race who otherwise would not be brought into existence. Added to this the absorption of the greater portion of the world under our rule simply means the end of all wars....

....Africa is still lying ready for us, it is our duty to take it. It is our duty to seize every opportunity of acquiring more territory and we should keep this one idea steadily before our eyes that more territory simply means more of the Anglo-Saxon race more of the best the most human, most honorable race the world possesses....

The effect of imperialism upon these three areas of the world was profound. Politically, the major European powers extended their authority to millions more people. The British Empire, the most extensive of the European states, ruled over more than 200 million Indians alone in its vast empire that encompassed three continents. The Indian Ocean was now commonly referred to as the "British Lake". To gain control of these new lands the European powers typically established themselves by carving up the land in one of three ways: 1) "sphere of influence": provided exclusive trading rights to one European nation, as recognized and respected by the other powers (This was most typically done in China);
2) protectorate: controlling an area with a military presence, supposedly protecting the indigenous population from outside interference, but in truth protecting European investments; 3) colonies: outright annexation of a territory with the implementation of an indigenous government (supported by local land owners) and overseen by a foreign governor.
Economics, of course, was the driving force behind European imperialism. Industrial and military technologies made it easier for the Europeans to enter a pre-industrial area and join into a business relationship with the local wealthy land owners. European manufacturing plants would be built, raw materials extracted and developed by an indigenous labor force, managed by foreign nationals. The British Empire proved to be the most extensively developeded of all the late nineteenth century European empires. At its height the British government had made a $20 billion investment in overseas development, representing one-fourth of the nation's total wealth.

The Suez Canal is a classic example of how and why the Europeans came to dominate three continents during this time period. Completed in 1869, the Canal made the Near East a major hub for world trade. Instead of being for the benefit of the Ottoman Turks within whose empire it was constructed (Egypt), it enhanced British trade and manufacture in India and aided the British military's ability to protect its empire in Asia. France and other industrial powers also took advantage of the Canal. For the Ottomans it simply meant more foreign interference.

The nineteenth century ushered in a period of steady decline for the Ottomans. With the exception of some military and geographic information, the Muslim world had remained closed to the European advances brought on by the Renaissance, Reformation, Scientific Revolution, and Enlightenment. Muslim leaders and scholars dismissed this new information as simply Christian, and therefore of no interest to the Muslim world. But like it or not, Europe was steadily encroaching upon the Ottoman world. In 1821 a successful Greek War resulted in the creation of an independent Greece. This action inspired various Balkan cultures, particularly the Albanians, Bulgars, and Serbians to begin their own independence movements against the Turks. In Asia Minor the Armenians also began to seek their own government.
By 1800 the European powers nearest to the Ottoman Empire, the Russians, Austrians, Hungarians, and even the Prussians, now understood that the Ottoman Turks were no longer the physical threat they had once been. European powers now began to compete amongst themselves for pieces of the eroding Ottoman Empire. A series of Russo-Turkish wars convinced Europe that it must regulate the Ottoman Empire in order to maintain a balance of power among its European nations for the avoidance of a war in Eastern Europe over the spoils of the Ottoman demise. Until World War I Europe's diplomats worked to maintain what became known as the "Sick Man of Europe." Despite diplomatic efforts, the Ottoman Empire would remain a source of tension right up to 1914.
The Ottoman ruling class understood the crisis they found themselves in and attempted to make substantive changes. An internal reform movement slowly developed between 1839 and 1876 known as the Tanzimat ( meaning reorganization), calling for the construction of a modern bureaucracy along western lines, for the purpose of constructing secular educational and judicial systems, as well as for replacing the local authority of the old millets. The Tanzimat helped to promote a series of major public works projects, but enjoyed only limited success due to the opposition of Muslim religious leaders, as well as because of distractions from various wars with Europe. At the same time, Imperial Europe saw no reason why it should support such a modernization movement since it might jeopardize a major source of inexpensive raw materials.

A restoration of Muslim autocratic rule in 1878 following the Congress of Berlin gave birth to the "Young Turks." This group of liberal Turks continually agitated for a constitution and parliament, which was finally in 1908. These reformers introduced the secularization of Muslim schools and courts, as well as women's rights. However, the continuing crisis in the Balkans and their subsequent involvement in World War I limited the liberal Turks' ultimate attempts to secularize the Muslim society.

The period of European Imperialism proved to be not only bad for the indigenous populations that were being dominated during the second half of the nineteenth century, but dangerous for the European powers as well. In the midst of a new strident nationalism between the industrial states -- England, France, Germany, and Italy -- as well as with the aging empires of Russian and Austria, the imperial grab for new lands and markets served to heighten tensions. Imperialism would ultimately to help bring on World War I.
There were a few individuals who perceived the dangerous implications that imperialism posed to Europe, and who questioned the moral implications too. John Hobson, a British reformer and economist, spent most of his life trying to determine how the science of economics could solve the problem of poverty. He was also an astute observer of imperialism:

....The decades of Imperialism have been prolific in wars; most of these wars have been directly motivated by aggression of white races upon "lower races," and have issued in the forcible seizure of territory. Every one of the steps of expansion in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific has been accompanied by bloodshed; each imperialist power keeps an increasing army available for foreign service; rectification of frontiers, punitive expeditions, and other euphemisms for war are incessant progress. The pax Britannica, always an impudent falsehood, has become of recent years a grotesque monster of hypocrisy; along our Indian frontiers, in West Africa, in the Sudan, in Uganda, in Rhodesia fighting has been well-nigh incessant. Although the great imperialist powers have kept their hands off one another, save where the rising empire of the United States has found its opportunity in the falling empire of Spain, the self-restraint has been costly and precarious. Peace as a national policy is antagonized not merely by war, but by militarism, an even graver injury....
The presence of a scattering of white officials, missionaries, traders, mining or plantation overseers, a dominant male caste with little knowledge of or sympathy for the institutions of the people, is ill-calculated to give these lower races even such gains as Western civilization might be capable of giving....
The condition of the white rulers of these lower races is distinctively parasitic; they live upon these natives, their chief work being that of organizing native labor for their support....
Nowhere under such conditions is the theory of white government as a trust for civilization made valid; nowhere is there any provision to secure predominance of the interests, either of the world at large or of the governed people, over those of the encroaching nation, or more commonly a section of that nation....
This failure to justify by results the forcible rule over alien peoples is attributable to no special defect of the British or other modern European nations. It is inherent in the nature of such domination....

With the steady economic advancement and political emergence of Europe's middle class, and with increased revenues for central governments resulting from both the new round of industrialization and growth in world trade, few people were sympathetic to the arguments made by people like Hobson. The break up of the West's imperial holdings would not occur until the 1950's, following World War II.
Strip Mining Africa Naked
By Sam Adriaens

The discovery of diamonds and gold in South Africa's Transvaal region and in other areas during the end of the 19th century led to more problems than the mineral resources were worth. The mindset and abuse of the native people as an expendable workforce, the horrible environmental impact, and the conflicts, mainly the Boer Wars, that erupted as a result of this newfound mineral wealth are just some of the many problems that developed after the discovery of those glittering rocks and metals used in so many engagement rings. All of these issues and more have left a rather ugly scar on the parts of Africa lucky enough to be blessed with gold and diamonds.

"Just fancy those parts [of the world] that are at present inhabited by the most despicable specimens of human beings," said Cecil Rhodes, founder of De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. and the Rhodes Scholarship (Encarta), in his "Confession of Faith" in reference to African natives and other non-English peoples. Such was the general opinion of native Africans at the time. This ideal found itself further ingrained into the history of South Africa as the natives were used as a cheap labor source. Said one European observer at the time, "hardly a more dreary existence can be imagined," when describing the labor conditions in the diamond fields (Farah 57). The effects of this degrading work altered the views of those to live in South Africa for years to come.

Watching large portions of the native, black population work in horrible conditions and like it fed into the superiority complex of South Africa's European inhabitants, especially the Afrikaners, early Dutch settlers of the area (Farah 56). To consolidate their gains, European rulers set up pass laws that restricted native landholding and movement much like the American Indian Reservation system (Farah 60). This heralded the beginning of Apartheid, a system of government sanctioned race segregation, in South Africa that lasted until only a few years ago (Farah 67). Today, the native people of South Africa still feel the sting of European dominance because they, although freed from the bonds of Apartheid, still live in extreme poverty as a result from over a hundred years of European economic supremacy (Farah 64). It is easy to see that most native South Africans got the short end of the stick from South Africa's great mineral wealth.
The mining practices used in South Africa to extract the gold and diamonds have utterly destroyed large portions of land in the Transvaal and other regions. Practically every mine staked out during the turn of the 19th century was an open pit mine (Ripley 70). Aside from the increased efficiency in production that came of this, huge environmental problems were the main result. Open pit mining, more commonly know as strip mining, leaves the mined area completely non-arable as all the topsoil is removed in the process (Ripley 74). Due to the large amount of strip mining along with South Africa's naturally dry climate, there is very little arable land to grow crops on anymore. As a result, South Africa currently imports most of its food. The destruction of land through open pit mining is just one of the environmental problems caused by the discovery of mineral lucre in the Transvaal.

Diamond mining is a simple enough process of sifting diamonds out of sand. Gold, however, needs to be chemically extracted and separated from the other mineral deposits in the earth. "In loose deposits, gold panning and sluicing are used to extract the gold (nuggets and fine gold). One of the side effects of separating the fine gold is the use of liquid mercury, which can remain in the environment" (Pronk). Mercury has a rather nasty effect upon animal and human life. Creatures that are in contact with a quantity of mercury either through tactile absorption or consumption of mercury tainted water run the risk of developing what was earlier this century referred to as Mad Hatter's Syndrome; a reference to the insanity common amongst hatters who used mercury to give hats shine caused by the absorption of mercury salts into their brains (Ripley 213). This has a devastating effect on local wildlife and even human populations as prolonged contact with the mercury salts can lead to permanent retardation. Today, regulations ensure that all the mercury used to extract the gold is collected and disposed of properly (Pronk). A century ago, though, such regulations did not exist. The complete disregard for environmental contamination led to an increase in disease and cancer amongst the people living near these mines. Yet another example of the well-hidden costs of the gold trade in Africa.

South Africa was rife with conflict after the discovery of diamonds in the Transvaal. Before then, the British, who controlled Cape Colony, a major port, and the Dutch Boers, who controlled the Transvaal, lived in peace as neither side thought it could gain much from the other (Kagan 958). The Boers were content to herd sheep while the British were content to trade with them. There was slight tension earlier when the Cape Colony expanded, forcing many Boer settlers to go on the Great Trek and officially settle the Transvaal region along with Natal and the Orange Free State (Kagan 959). When diamonds were discovered in the Boer territory, the British saw they could gain quite a lot from the relatively weak Boers. After some initial successes, the tide was quickly turned against the Boers as the British expanded their army to 500,000 men; a huge army compared to the Boers' 88,000 men (Farah 58). Except for some small pockets of guerrilla resistance, the Boers were defeated. After the war and the signing of the Treaty of Verneegiging, the Boer territories were made into British colonies (Kagan 969). Thus began the subjugation of the Boers who would later be called Afrikaners.

"You grew up in an Afrikaans area. You have learned to hate the English," was how one Afrikaner described the sentiment towards British rule in the Transvaal (Farah 59). Many of the hard feelings that surfaced after the Anglo-Boer war still live today. Most Afrikaners refer to the English people living in South Africa as outsiders. The animosity for the English runs deep in the culture of the Afrikaans people. As one South African, English-speaking resident put it quite simply, "they don't like us" (Farah 59).

So as you hold this paper and notice the light glint off of your wedding ring, think of all the strife, pain, and suffering that went into that trinket. Think about the poor native African people who were treated as subhuman and forced into specific parts of the country and segregated from the European population. Think about ravages the environment of South Africa, a very beautiful country in some places, had to go through. Also, think about the wars, fighting, strife, and resentment amongst those Europeans who were overrun by greed. The good people at the De Beers Marketing Department say a diamond is forever, and so is the memory of all those who suffered for it.

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