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Nina Musayelyan

January 28, 2018

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Period 6

The
Leading Causes of European Imperialism in Africa

            Countries
can be a lot like people when it comes to competitions. One example of this is
when European countries tried to imperialize Africa in the late 19th
century. What exactly is imperialism? Imperialism, according to the Merriam-Webster
dictionary, is “the policy, practice, or advocacy of extending the power and
dominion of a nation especially by direct territorial acquisitions or by
gaining indirect control over the political or economic life of other areas.” However,
why would European countries want to acquire Africa? Weren’t they satisfied
with the amount of territory they already had? Well, there were many reasons
that fueled the Europeans to take over Africa, some of them being due to
national pride, economy, and cultural beliefs.

            National
pride, which was an important reason of European imperialism, is “the love and
devotion to one’s country, and reinforces the alliance of all citizens of the
country who share the same values.” National pride is also known as
nationalism. The Europeans had a burning desire for power. They scrambled
sections of Africa to obtain it. They even wanted the rest of the world to see
their greatness. According to the map in Document A of the mini-Q, there were 7
European countries that each received different parts of Africa. This goes to
show that there was much competitive tension during this time. There was much
nationalism present as well. In Document B, John Ruskin states, “Make England
again a royal throne of kings…seizing every piece of fruitful waste ground she can
get her foot on…that their first aim was to… advance the power of England by
land and sea.” Ruskin was referring to England being in control and having as
much power as they can get their hands on. This, in turn, motivated Europe and
gave them a reason to take over Africa. Europeans had now felt that it was
their duty to imperialize Africa.

            Economy
played a huge role in European imperialism. Europeans had a desire for abundant
resources that Africa owned. Moreover, according to Document C, Europeans had
used inventions that had been made in the Industrial Revolution, to take over
Africa. Africa was a market for European goods. The Europeans were able to
acquire many beneficial resources from Africa, such as cotton, rubber, palm
oil, gold, diamonds, coffee, etc., which they sent back to  Europe. For example, in Document D, we see
that Africa had owned lots of cotton, which the Europeans had used to make
fabric. Europeans would make their products using the resources that they
exported from Africa to themselves. In addition, according to Trevor Owen Lloyd’s,
The British Empire, Great Britain’s
imports and exports increased greatly from 1854 to 1900. Their imports increased
by about $4 million, while their exports increased by about $18 million. This
shows how fast Great Britain’s economy had grown over a period of about 50
years, all thanks to the trading resources. The motivation of European
imperialism was due to economy. It’s clear to see that Africa had abundant resources,
which the European colonists had taken advantage of.

            Cultural
beliefs was a significant factor that led towards European imperialism in
Africa. Europe wasn’t just proud of their power, but also of their culture, condescending
that of Africans. In Rudyard Kipling’s, “The White Man’s Burden,” he states “Go
bind your sons to exile/ To serve your captives’ needs,” Kipling was advising
England to take care of the Africans, as though the Africans’ culture wasn’t
efficient enough for survival. Some more examples that allude to this line are,
“Your new caught, sullen peoples, Half devil and half-child,” and “Fill full
the mouth of Famine And bid the sickness cease.” In these lines, the Europeans
are talking negatively about the Africans solely because of their culture. The
Europeans wanted to make it seem as though they were helping the Africans, but
in reality, they were just implying arrogant connotations towards them. The
Europeans were motivated by their sense of superiority. They wanted to
accomplish a mission that went further than economy and national pride and into
moral duty.

            Although
Europe’s exploitation of Africa was said to “help the Africans,” the actual
motivation of the European imperialism in Africa was due to national pride,
economy, and cultural beliefs. The Europeans were arrogant and self-centered.
They didn’t stop to think about the harm that they might cause for the Africans.
They considered their act as a “favor.” The Europeans had benefited greatly
from their new wealth and power, meanwhile the Africans had suffered. 

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