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The Changing Balance of Power in 19 th -Cen. Africa.

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Presentation on theme: "The Changing Balance of Power in 19 th -Cen. Africa."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Changing Balance of Power in 19 th -Cen. Africa

2 Historiographical Questions Why did the relationship between Europeans and Africans shift towards colonialism in the middle of the 19 th century? How significant were local African factors?

3 Africa in the 19 th Century Trade patterns (with Europeans) well established—400 years Coastal communities well acquainted with individual Europeans and European culture (unlike other areas) Post-1807 crackdown on the Atlantic Slave Trade dramatically changed the nature of trade, but could not immediately end three centuries of practice 19 th cen. had particular Islamic significance

4 Trade and Political Authority Trade could provide a base for strong centralized authority, but it also had potential to create new elites Where political authority was built on control of trade, legitimacy required continued trade (and prosperity) In some cases, entrepreneurs could parlay wealth into political status, undercutting existing systems of lineage and aristocracy New wealth (and new ideas) could threaten previously held values

5 Foreshadowing Colonial Incursion: Kingdom of Kongo/Angola Initial Portuguese contact included Catholic priests Sense of similarity between Portuguese and Konglese By c. 1500, key government leaders had converted to Catholicism King of Kongo viewed King of Portugal as ally—seized French ships who tried to trade “illegally”

6 Religious conversion produced social/political dissent, weakened monarchy, promoted factionalism Portuguese began to try to influence court politics and succession King of Kongo lost even more legitimacy, civil war began to disrupt trade Portuguese agent took on more and more political power, Portugal eventually claimed the region as a colony

7 Another Example of Local Factors: The Gold Coast By the mid-18 th century, British had gained control of the coast from the Portuguese and the Dutch Asante Kingdom (inland) grew wealthy and powerful through trade with the coast Fante groups along the coast sought protection from Asante from the British

8 In 1817, the British representative declared the Fante to be “under British protection” This met with violent opposition from the Asante, and was renounced in 1828 British influence grew, and missions and missionaries arrived Although the British government sought to disentangle itself from alliances with the Fante, the Fante themselves formed the Fante Confederation to demand British intervention to protect them from Asante encroachment By 1874, the British had formalized its claim to the Gold Coast, which they defined to include both the Fante and Asante

9 Religious Revival Millenarian significance to 19 th cen. in Islam Rise of jihad states in West African interior— aimed at overthrowing nominally Muslim governments (1 st half of the century)—Sokoto Caliphate most prominent example Mahdist movements (2 nd half of the century)


11 Explaining the “Scramble for Africa”

12 Explanatory Factors to Consider Missions Abolitionism “Legitimate Commerce” Settler Colonies Communications and Transportation Technology Medical Technology Military Technology Intra-European Politics

13 Missions to Africa London Missionary Society founded 1795 Non-Conformist Protestant missions enjoyed broad public support Churches/missions a major force in the abolitionist movement

14 “Man-on-the-Spot” Initially, traders—but missionaries were some of the most influential “men” Supplied governments and the public with information about African geography and cultures

15 Impact of Abolitionism British ban on the slave trade (1807) increases British power (in particular, naval power) Turns much of the supply of slaves inward, driving social activists in Europe to demand intervention to end slavery in Africa Creates class of “recaptives” Drives the rise of “legitimate commerce”

16 Recaptives Removed by British from “illegal” slave ships Settled in Sierra Leone, some sent to Nigeria as missionaries Samuel Ajayi Crowther

17 “Legitimate Commerce” Redirection of slaves into plantation agriculture Products included cocoa and palm oil Tied African farmers and merchants into world markets Enticed European chartered companies

18 Settler Colonies Possible primarily in “Mediterranean” climates, although Portuguese settled on coasts of Angola and Mozambique in the 16 th and 17 th centuries Algeria claimed by France from 1830, settlement extensive but restricted primarily to coast. Cape Colony settled by Dutch in 1652, taken over by Britain in 1806—Britain undertook a campaign of settlement Early settler colonies experienced many of the same exploitative dynamics as later empires, but also witnessed distinctive types of cooperation between Europeans and Africans

19 Communications and Travel 1850s-1860s: steamships became an efficient mode of shipping and travel 1869: opening of Suez Canal 1870s-80s: telegraph cables laid connecting Africa with Europe

20 Advances in Medicine Quinine prophylaxis came into use in the 1840s Bleedings and purges fell out of favor as remedies for fever Theories of sanitation began to develop

21 Military Technology Industrial techniques transformed the production of guns Repeating guns introduced in the 1870s 1884: Maxim gun revolutionizes firepower

22 Intra-European Politics Increasing industrial rivalries, especially between Britain and Germany Shift away from “free trade” Hardening racial attitudes

23 1884 Berlin Conference Recognized Leopold’s “International Association” Partition of African territory largely theoretical Imperial claims required “effective occupation”


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