Black History

The Berlin Conference 1884-5



Again, I stumbled across this major historical moment in Europe. I say again, because many posts I’ve been posting recently, I’ve seen through Pinterest – just by chance or reading/hearing the name of something and doing a bit of Wiki research. I didn’t use Wikipedia for this post, in case you’re wondering… But I used another source which is quoted at the end.

I’ve written this post without much of my own personal input. I struggle to find the reason why Europe wanted more control over Africa…It baffles me.  But of course it simply could be because Europe, at the time, thought blacks were still inferior than themselves, not utilising their land well enough and therefore needed help from their white “superiors”…………………………………

Right okay.

So anyway, let’s begin:

“The Berlin Conference was Africa’s undoing in more ways than one. The colonial powers superimposed their domains on the African Continent. By the time Africa regained its independence after the late 1950s, the realm had acquired a legacy of political fragmentation that could neither be eliminated nor made to operate satisfactorily. The African politico-geographical map is thus a permanent liability that resulted from the three months of ignorant, greedy acquisitiveness during a period when Europe’s search for minerals and markets had become insatiable.” (H.J. de Blij and Peter O. Muller, Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts (1997) p. 340).

The long and the short of it, this conference was held to distribute power and control to European authorities…of course the African governments were not invited.

The Berlin Conference took place during the late nineteenth century, where at this time, Europe had, near enough, claimed most of the Motherland. European governments were eager to expand their footprints in the African continent but mainly for their country’s benefits. Imagine most countries in Europe all having the same idea! So, to prevent war among their neighbours, the European authorities came together in this conference to lay down the foundation of the “now familiar politico-geographical map of Africa”

At the request of Portugal, Otto von Bismarck, the imperial chancellor and architect of the German Empire, scheduled the conference, which included the US, to agree to politically dividing Africa and to rid confusion. European imperialists had a mutual purpose for the conference: exploitation of the African land. About 80% of Africa was under native control in 1884 and so the Western powers had to do something to sweep the rug from under the African government’s feet, so to speak. There were fourteen European representatives who attended the conference. Of those fourteen governments, five major powers – the British, the French, the Germans and the Portuguese had the most control colonising Africa. The British had the East, some parts of the West and Southern Africa, the French had control over most of the West of Africa, the Belgians, had the area called The Congo, the Portuguese had West Africa and Southern Africa and the Germans had areas in the East, West and Southern Africa.It was the coastal areas of Africa which were colonised by European authorities. In the conference, the European powers wanted to head inland for Africa’s resources. It took them three months from November 1884 until February 1885 negotiating boundaries inland, completely ignoring the cultural and linguistic establishments already in place by the native African population.

By 1914, Europe had “succeeded” in dividing the African continent among themselves into fifty states.


I always wonder, what would the continent of Africa be like without these intruders in their land – without the British and French imperialists or the Portuguese and Spanish dictators. What if the people in Africa had formed their own union, like the Europeans had done and rebelled against them? How did the European man forget that he learnt his ways from Africa… Woah, that’s another story by itself.

I’m not angry, I’m curious that’s all. The Berlin Conference just makes me wonder what else has taken place in these big offices – what other schemes are out there to try and control and manipulate people. It just makes me wonder…



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