In the 1400s, the Portuguese established a number of
trading outposts along the coastline of
Africa. Later in the
1600s, the Dutch established the Cape Town settlement on the
southwestern tip of Africa. Many of these early settlements
were the starting point of the
African Slave Trade that
enslaved and forcibly sent many Africans overseas.
By the 1800s, many European nations had passed laws banning
the slave trade.
However, the illegal slave trade continued well throughout
In the 1870s, the Belgian
King Leopold sent emissaries to
establish trade with native Africans in the Congo. This single
act began a flurry of
imperialistic activity as the other
nations of Europe, including: France, Great Britain, Germany,
Spain, Germany, Italy, and Portugal.
To avoid conflict with one another in Africa, European
leaders met in Berlin, Germany. With little regard or
representation for native Africans, the European powers set
about carving up Africa according to the following guidelines:
- Any sovereign power which wanted to claim any territory
should inform the other powers in order to ... make
good any claim of their own.
- Any such annexation should be validated by effective
- Treaties with African rulers were to be considered a
valid title to
By 1900, the only areas of Africa remaining independent
were Liberia and Ethiopia.
In the 1830s descendents of the original Dutch settlers,
now called Boers,
migrated into the interior of South Africa and began to engage
in conflicts with the
Zulu. These battles
with the Boer settlers continued well into the late 1800s,
but never truly threatened Zulu sovereignty.
The Zulu were a south African tribe that placed an emphasis
on military organization and skill, as established by their
Shaka Zulu. Under Shakas rule,
the Zulu broadened their land claims throughout southern Africa.
Eventually, the Zulu came into the conflict with the
British army as they expanded their control over southern
Africa and invaded the homeland of the Zulu.
Despite early victories, the Zulu were eventually defeated
by the technology and vast resources at the command of the
British troops. Soon, all of southern Africa would come under
Rhodes and the Boer War
Cecil Rhodes was instrumental in assuring British
dominance of southern Africa. He founded the De Beers Mining
Company, eventually controlling 90% of the worlds diamond
production. After becoming prime minister of the Cape Colony
(now South Africa) in 1890, he used his influence to
strengthen British control over the region.
His master plan was to establish a Cape to Cairo
railroad line that would link British colonial interests in
Africa between Egypt and the Cape Colony in southern Africa.
The Boers, however, provided heavy and eventually armed
resistance to this proposal. After authorizing an aggressive
invasion of the Boer Republic of Transvaal which ended poorly,
Rhodes was removed from office. However, the seeds of the
War had been sown.
Great Britain decided to annex the Boer republics, and with
Boer resistance came the Boer War (1899-1902). By all
accounts the fighting was vicious, with the Boers employing
guerilla tactics and the British eventually using 450,000
troops to achieve victory.
In 1910, the various British colonies in southern Africa
were united as the Union of South Africa, eventually becoming
the nation of South Africa after
Because European nation carved Africa up with no regard
traditional tribal boundaries, Africa still suffers from
tribalism. Modern African nations often contain several
different tribes that harbor ill feelings towards one another.
Therefore, inter-tribal conflict is a common in Africa often
civil wars and power struggles within national