The Europeans' Roles in Africa 

1. Slavery
2. Colonialism and its effects
3. Different Kinds of Colonization 
4. The End of Colonialism

I. 15th - 19th century: Waystations on the the African coasts and slavery

Motivation 1: middle station to Asia -- The Arabs were blocking access to Asia.  The Europeans (Portuguese in the vanguard), began to explore Africa's coastline and to establish bases. 

1482 -- the first trading post at Elmina 
1498 -- Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope and sailed to India. (Asbury et al, p. 11)

Motivation 2: slavery -- The development of sugar plantation in the Caribbean and Americas leads to the need for )labour.   (See Slavery & The Middle Passage.)

1. enabled Europeans to industrialize at the expense of Africa;   
2. disrupted African families and communities; 
3. increased violence of some African elites and states against the other states; 
4. African labour strained.  
5. the beginning of African diaspora.  (Asbury et al, p. 12)

II. Colonialism -- 19th century to the end of World War II: Commercial possibilities --> "Scramble for Africa" 1880s - 1910  

Motivation 1: For European industrialists, the growing need was for raw materials and markets.  Their exploration was made easier by the advance of medicine, weaponry and steam engines.  (Asbury et al, p. 13)

Ways of Exploration--
1. popularity of adventure stories (e.g. Solomon's Treasure by David Livingston)
2. missionary
3. commerce --> production for exportation

Motivation 2: Need to exert more control -- Capitalism leads to intense political struggle and competition.   . . . each nation's businessmen, soldiers, adventurers, missionaries feared that their growing purchase on Africa could be stopped in its tracks or even reversed by rivals.  (Asbury et al, p. 14)

colonial control (Scramble for Africa)--
1. Land occupation -- Berlin Conference in 1884 --agreement to divide up Africa among European nations such as Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Belgium.
2. exploitation of labour power --> direct production away from the growing of food
3. economic 'thumbscrews' -- Africans were taxed, and failure to pay the tax was a criminal offence (Asbury et al, p. 15)
4. cultural imposition -- "the civilize" the colonized

Effects: (Besides those mentioned above)
1. 'tribalism': colonial borders split some ethnic groups into two, while bringing into the same political unit previous relationships or, worse, hostile to each other. 
2. position of women:
1) the burden of food production and child care increasingly fell on women
2) their position lowered in commerce and local crafts (e.g. textiles)
3) seen as inferior, not offered education or employment (Asbury et al, p. 14)

3. Different Kinds of Colonization

1. invasion and settlement
2. The British -- 'indirect rule,' using any traditional elitocal elites like local chiefs they could find, or create, as intermediaries.  . . . As long as they did not act as foci of resistance, or offend Victorian sensibilities, traditional cultures were tolerated. 
    The French --more interventionist and culturally committee.  . .  .creating local elites who would serve them and, in the process, become Frenchmen in language and cultural outlook, though never quite equal to whites.  
   The Belgians and Portuguese were the most authoritarian of colonialists.  

4. The End of Colonialism

1. resentment against economic exploitation;
2. reception of and resentment against third-rate education; --> Africans began to turns ideals that colonialists espoused--of national independence, democracy and human rights--against colonialism.
3. social changes, e.g. the forming of trade unions.
4. Pan-Africanism;
5. World War II: Africans helped fight the war for democracy, but the Europeans planned to keep colonial rule after the War.   (Asbury et al, p. 18-19)



Ashbury, Roy, Wendy Helsby and Maureen O'Brien.  Teaching African Cinema.  London: British Film Institute, 1998.