1. Prologue
  2. Slave Trade
    1. Why Slaves needed?
    2. Why African slaves preferred?
    3. Who ran the slave trade?
    4. Slave Trade: British Entry
    5. Triangular trade
    6. Middle Passage
    7. Slave Trade: Why declined?
    8. Slave Trade: Consequences
  3. Colonization of Africa: The beginning
    1. Explorers, traders and Missionaries
    2. Why Africa was easily conquered?
    3. The Scramble for Africa
    4. Bogus Treaties and Paper Partitions
  4. West and Central Africa
    1. Congo Free State (Zaire)
    2. Congo Epilogue
    3. West Africa: French Congo
    4. West Africa: Nigeria
    5. #EPICFAIL: Germany
    6. West Africa: Liberia
  5. Southern Africa
    1. Rhodesia, Cecil Rhodes
    2. Boer Wars (1899)
    3. Gandhi @Boer Wars
    4. Zulu War (1879)
    5. Gandhi Returned Medals
  6. East Africa
    1. #EPICFAIL: Italy
    2. Battle of Adowa
  7. North Africa
    1. Unhappy Germans
    2. Egypt, Suez Canal
    3. Egypt: British occupation
    4. Sudan
  8. Timeline of Colonization: Africa + Asia
  9. Mock Questions


Ok where were we?

  1. Meaning of Imperialism
Already covered click me
  1. Conditions that helped growth of Imperialism
  1. Conquest of Asia (Boxer rebellion, Rise of Japan etc.)
Already covered click me
  1. Conquest of Africa,
Covered in the present article
  1. Conquest Americas and the Pacific, Effects of Imperialism.
Will be covered in the next article

Slave Trade

  • Although Europeans started exploring Africa since late 15th century but for a long time their presence remains mainly to certain coastal areas.
  • But even these limited contacts led to the most tragic and disastrous consequences for the Africans- due to slave trade.

Why Slaves needed?

  • During this era, Spanish were ruling Americas.
  • But it led to resulted in the large-scale extermination of the original inhabitants of the Americas (=Native Americans).
  • Why? Because
  1. Native Americans were forced to work in gold and silver mines under inhumane conditions
  2. Native Americans lacked immunity to European diseases (smallpox, mumps, and measles)
Continent Slaves needed for Plantations of
N.America tobacco, rice, and indigo, Cotton
S.America Sugar

Why African slaves preferred?

Laborers Why unfit for plantation work?
Native American
  • They could easily run away and hide in jungles. They were familiar with the territories, knew how to survive on local plants and animals.
  • They lacked immunity to European diseases (smallpox, mumps, and measles) = died easily in plantation.
White prisoners /indentured servants
  • Not immune to tropical malaria and yellow fever= died easily.
  • They could also escape and blend in as white town-folks in the colony.

On the other hand, African slaves offered following advantages:

  1. African slaves came from an environment where those who survived into adolescence acquired some immunity to such “Old World” diseases as smallpox, mumps, and measles
  2. They also had some immunity against tropical maladies as malaria and yellow fever.
  3. Hence, African laborer lived three to five times longer than white laborers under the difficult conditions on plantations.
  4. When Africans ran away from plantation, they could neither go home nor disguise themselves among town folks. (Unlike those white prisoners).

Thus, African slaves=inexpensive labor for the plantation owners.

Most of the slaves transported in the Atlantic slave trade were adult men. Why?

  • Because African chiefs tended to retain women slaves, as agricultural workers and to bear more children.
  • Children were less economical to trade: because they cost as much to enslave and transport, yet brought lower prices when sold.

Who ran the slave trade?

  • In medieval times, Arabs had dominated the slave trade. They organized slave caravans and moved them from the interior to the Gold and Slave coasts (= Now region of Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria)
  • Then Portuguese entered the Slave trade business. They had two advantages over others
    • Early in the exploration race of Africa
    • Its Colony in Brazil was @relatively short distance from Africa.
  • Portuguese established a slave market in Lisbon.
  • Spaniards bought slaves from that Lisbon market and took them to American colonies. But later the demand for slaves in America increased, so slaves were sent directly from Africa to America.
  • The Spanish church saw the black-slaves as an opportunity for converting them, so also gave tacit approval.
  • Portuguese themselves also needed Black slaves to work in their sugar plantations of Brazil.
  • Slave traders raided African villages, kidnaped people and handed over to the European traders.
  • Some African chiefs also took part in this business. They sold slaves to Europeans in exchange of guns and ammunition, cloth, metal ware, spirits, cutlery, coins, decorative wear, horses, salt and paper.

Slave Trade: British Entry

  • Initially the Portuguese were dominating African slave trade. But then British decided to take over this business.
  • Sir John Hawkins went to Africa to bring slaves in a ship called Jesus. He also shared a part of his slave-trade profit to the British Queen Elizabeth I.
  • 17th Century:  a regular company received a charter from the King of England for purposes of trade in slaves. The share of the king in the profits from slave trade was fixed at 25 per cent!
  • Later, Spain gave the monopoly of slave trade to Britain. (=Spain only bought slaves from Britain, to work in their American colonies).

Triangular trade

It is the term used to describe the prosperous trading cycle across Atlantic as a result of Slave trade:

map-triangular trade

Triangle What happened?

First leg

  • European merchants purchased slaves from African chiefs in exchange of manufactured products from European factories. (clothes, cutlery, firearms.)

Second leg

  • They sold the slaves in the Caribbean and purchased such easily transportable commodities as sugar, cotton, and tobacco.

Third leg

  • Finally the merchants would sell sugar, cotton, and tobacco.in Europe and North America= truckload of profit.
  • They will use some of this profit to buy manufactured goods, then go back to Africa and get new slaves…..and thus trade cycle continued.

Result of Triangular trade?

  • Millions of Africans were uprooted from their homes.
  • Many were killed while resisting the raids on their villages.
  • In the American plantations, they were forced to work in inhumane conditions.
  • If a slave tried to escape from American plantations, he was beaten and tortured.
  • If a (white) man killed a runaway slave, local authorities even gave him reward.

Middle Passage

  • It is the term used to describe brutal manner in which slaves were transported from Africa to Americas, in Atlantic Ocean.
  • Slaves were taken in ships as inanimate objects. They were given less than half the space allotted convicts or soldiers transported by ship at the same time.
  • male slaves were kept constantly shackled to each other or to the deck to prevent mutiny.
  • In the ships, they were kept in such unhygienic conditions that sometimes even sailors revolted.
  • Not even half of the slaves captured reached America alive.
  • Lakhs of them died during the long voyage, Dysentery was the biggest killer.
  • So many dead bodies were thrown into the ocean that sharks regularly followed the slave ships on their westward journey.

Slave Trade: Why declined?

After 1850s, slave trade quickly declined. Why?

  1. European economies began to shift from agriculture to industry. Plantations remained profitable, but Europeans had promising new areas for investment.
  2. The slave-operated American plantations had to compete for capital and preferential laws with textile mills and other industries that hired free laborers.
  3. American slave societies approached the point where they could reproduce enough offspring to meet labor needs= not much need for further slave-import from Africa.
  4. Slavery was also a hindrance if the interior of Africa was to be opened to colonial exploitation.
  5. In fact, some colonial powers waged war against African chiefs/kings in the pretext of abolishing slave trade, so they could establish colony there. (recall how British used to wage wars on Indian princely states citing “maladministration” as a reason!)

Slave Trade: Consequences

  • It removed of millions of young men and women from Africa, led to depopulation that stifled African creativity and production.
  • Slaving and slave trading stimulated warfare, corrupted laws (making more crimes punishable by enslavement=to get more slaves.)
  • It created a class of elite rulers and traders.
  • Slave trade was the beginning of a dependency relationship with Europe.
  • This relationship was based on the exchange of Africa’s valuable primary products (slaves, ivory, timber, gold etc.) for European manufactured goods
  • This dependency continued after the slave trade ended, through a colonial period and beyond.
  • In this sense, the slave trade was the first step toward modern Africa’s current status as a region where technological development has yet to match that of more industrialized nations.
  • African culture mixed with Europeans and Native Americans: led to new mixed-races, music, literature, cuisine, culture, religious practices, deep impact on American history, civil wars etc.

Anyways, by the time Slave trade declined, the exploration of the interior of Africa had begun and preparations made by the European powers to impose another kind of slavery on the continent of Africa —for the direct conquest of almost entire Africa.

Colonization of Africa: The beginning

Initially the African coastal regions were largely in the hands of the old trading nations:

  1. Portuguese
  2. Dutch
  3. British
  4. French

They had set up forts in those coastal regions.

There were only two places where the European rule extended deep into the interior.

Northern Africa French occupied Algeria
Southern Africa The British occupied Cape Colony to safeguard trade routes with India

Within a few years, however, a scramble for colonies begat and almost the entire continent had been cut up and divided among European powers. (Just like the ‘cutting’ of the Chinese watermelon).

Explorers, traders and Missionaries

All of them played significant respective roles in the conquest of Africa. (Discussed in first article)

  1. The explorers aroused the Europeans’ interest in Africa.
  2. Merchants saw profit in the trade of gold, ivory and timber.
  3. The missionaries saw the continent as a place for spreading Christianity.
  • And European governments supported all these interests by sending troops. And thus the stage was set for conquest.

Three noteworthy explorers/adventurers were


Helped acquiring

  1. Cecil Rhodes
  1. De Brazza
French Congo
  1. Sir HM Stanley
Congo Free State
  1. Karl Peters
East Africa

Why Africa was easily conquered?

Late part of 15th Century
  • Europeans start exploring Africa.
  • Established commercial relations with some parts of Africa + started slave trade.
Until the middle of 19th Century
  • Interior of Africa was almost unknown to the Europeans.
last quarter of the nineteenth century
  • European control over Africa extended over about one-fifth of the territory of the continent

However, within a few years almost the entire continent was partitioned among various European imperialist countries. The Europeans occupied Africa at a much faster speed than they did in Asia. Why?

#1: Finance

  1. Economic might of the imperialist powers was much greater than the economic resources of the African states.
  2. African chief/kings did not have the financial resources to fight a long war.

#2: Military

  1. In terms of military strength, the imperialist countries were far more powerful than the African states.
  2. Most of the time, Africans fought with axes, bows and knives, while Europeans used a fast firing gun known as Maxium Gun. An English poet even praised this:

Whatever happens we have got,

The maxim-gun and they have not

  1. Even when African chiefs wanted to buy firearms, European traders only sold them rusted, junk, outdated rifles. They were no match for the new rifles and guns used by Europeans armies.

#3: Internal rivalries

  • The African states were not political united. (Just like Indian princely states of 18th century.)
  • There were conflicts between states and within states
  • Often these African chiefs/kings sought the support of the Europeans against their rivals. (Then Europeans will force them to sign treaty and take away the land).
  • But on the other hand, the imperialist countries participating in the scramble for Africa were united. (In the sense that they never waged war against each other but settled territorial claims in conference rooms).

The Scramble for Africa

Important: Before you proceed further, please click on following link to save certain Map files in your computer. And whenever a colony/country’s name comes you verify its location in those maps. (Otherwise everything will get mixed up by the time this article is over.)

Link for maps file:
Click me to download the Map files for African Colonization

  • All European countries were eager to get the maximum of African territory in the shortest possible time.
  • Often their competition/rivalry was about to result in a war.
  • But in every case, they avoided war and signed agreements as to who will get which part of Africa.

For example,

  • Both British and German was competing for East Africa. But in 1890 they reached an agreement to divide the region:
British They gave Heligoland to Germans
Germans They gave Uganda to British

In 1884-85, European States organized a Congress in Berlin to decide how to share out Africa among themselves. No African state was represented at this Congress. Treaties were signed between European powers to settle disputes over claims to African territories between themselves.

Bogus Treaties and Paper Partitions

  • Most of treaties signed between African chiefs and Europeans =were fraudulent and bogus.
  • The Europeans gave gifts to African chiefs and made them sign their thumbs on any treaties. (We’ll see the examples of how adventurers like De Brazza and Sir HM Stanley used this technique.)
  • Even when treaties were genuine, the Europeans misinterpreted the provisions in their favor.
  • For example, suppose an African chief had signed a treaty with a European country “X” to seek her support against a local African rival.
  • Later that European country “X” will claim the area to be their ‘protectorate’ state. And sometimes even exchange that territory with another European country “Y”, without consulting the local African chief.
  • Other European powers would also accept such bogus interpretations. Thus African occupation was done without any hindrance.
  • By the end of 19th Century, the partition of Africa was nearly completed in this manner.
  • This is generally referred to as ‘paper partition’ because the actual partition took much longer time longer time (due to internal rebellions by Africans against the European powers).
  • If you look @the African map: About thirty per cent of all boundaries in Africa are in straight lines. Why? Because the continent of Africa was partitioned on paper map, in the conference rooms of Europe.

It will be easier to understand the conquest of Africa by European powers if we study it region by region. But remember that European occupation did not take place in the order described here:

West and Central Africa

map-west africa

Congo Free State (Zaire)

  • Sir Henry Morton Stanley, an explorer, led expeditions to Congo River.
  • Then he founded International Congo Association (with the financial help from Belgium King Leopold II.) and made over 400 treaties with African chiefs.
  •  He’d give them cloths/cheap gifts and in return he’d ask them to place their ‘marks’ on a paper. But actually, these papers transferred their land to the Congo Association!
  • Stanley acquired more than 2 million sqkm land using this totally awesome technique. The whole area was rich in rubber and ivory. He called it ‘a unique humanitarian and political enterprise’, but it led to brutal exploitation of the Congo people.
  • 1885 (= when our Congress was formed): King Leopold claimed his rights over this entire ‘Congo Free(!) State’.

Congo Exploitation

  • King Leopold was mainly interested in the wild rubber, palm oil, and ivory of Congo.
  • His private army (known as Force Publique) would force the villagers to gather those resources. Anyone who resisted was beaten, mutilated or murdered.
  • Sometimes King Leopold’s agents would even kidnap Congolese women and children, and force their men to meet “quotas” of rubber/oil/ivory collection before releasing the hostages.
  • Force Publique troops would also chop off the hands of villagers- as a punishment and a method to further terrorize the Congolese into submission.
  • The soldiers would even collect such severed hands and present it to their commanding officers, to prove their efficiency and commitment to crush the rebellion.

Congo Epilogue

  • King Leopold alone made profit >20 million dollars from exploitation of Congo.
  • The population of the entire Congo state declined from some 20 million to 8 million.
  • The treatment of the Congolese people was so bad that even other colonial powers were shocked. British citizens formed association and demanded end of Leopold’s rule.
  • In 1908 (one year before Morley Minto Reforms), finally King Leopold was compelled to hand over the Congo Free State to the Belgian government
  • Now Congo Free State was called “Belgian Congo.”
  • Gradually, Congo’s gold, diamond, uranium, timber and copper became more important than her rubber and ivory.
  • Many of the countries, including England and the United States, joined Belgium in exploiting these resources.
  • British and Belgians together formed a company to exploit copper mines in Congo.
  • Later, this company played a very big role in Congo’s political affairs (just like East India Company in our case.)

West Africa: French Congo

  • While Sir HM Stanley is gathering land for King Leopold in Congo, another French explorer starts operation in the north of Congo River.
  • This Frenchman, de Brazza, uses the same totally awesome technique of Sir HM Stanley and makes African chiefs sign over their land to France.
  • This area named French Congo, and its capital town= “Brazzaville” (after his own name De Brazza!)
  • Now France set out to extend her empire in West Africa.
  • Soon she obtains Dahomey (present day Benin), the Ivory Coast and French Guinea.
  • By the year 1900, the French empire extended further into the interior: including present Senegal, French Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Dahomey, Mauritania, French Sudan, Upper Volta and Niger Territory.
  • Just like King Leopold’s regime over Congo, this French conquest also results in brutal exploitation of the people everywhere in Africa.
  • For example, in a period of only 20 years, the population of the French Congo was reduced to 1/3rd of its former size.

West Africa: Nigeria

  • Niger is the second great river of Africa (after Nile).
  • Control of Niger river = control over the Western Africa’s rich resources + easy transport of slaves.
  • A British company took the initiative in the conquest of Nigeria (for slave trade)
  • Another French company came in for competition. But in the end British company to buyout the French and became the ruler of Nigeria.
  • After a few years the British government declared Nigeria a protectorate of Britain.
  • In West Africa, Britain also occupied Gambia, Ashanti, Gold Coast and Sierra Leone.

#EPICFAIL: Germany

  • After 1880, Germany also starts adventures in Africa.
  • First she occupied an area called Togoland on the west coast; then Cameroons, a little farther south.
  • Still farther south, the Germans established themselves in South-West Africa. This led to local rebellion and German troops massacred more than half of the population.
  • Still she was unsatisfied, and wanted the Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique and Congo.
  • But then defeat in First World War started (1914) shattered her dream.
  • After the war, when the German colonies were given to the victorious powers,
German colony before WW1 After WW1 colony given to
Togoland + Cameroons Divided between England + France
South-West Africa Given to South Africa.
German East Africa
  • England. This region was renamed Tanganyika.
  • (Tanganyika and Zanzibar now ‘form the republic of Tanzania).
Ruanda-Urundi Belgium.


had only two colonies on the western coast of Africa

  1. Rio de Oro (Spanish Sahara)
  2. Spanish Guinea.


Possessed valuable regions of Angola and Portuguese Guinea. (and the British and Germans lusted for these colonies).

West Africa: Liberia

  • Except Liberia, the Whole West Africa was divided up among the Europeans.
  • Liberia was settled by slaves who had been freed in America.
  • Though she remained independent, she came increasingly under the influence of the United States, particularly the American investors in rubber plantations.

Southern Africa

Rhodesia, Cecil Rhodes

  • Cecil Rhodes was a British adventurer. He made truckload of cash through in gold mines (Transvaal) and diamond mines (Kimberly).
  • He was a partner in the famous “De Beers” diamond mining company. By his will, he established the Rhodes scholarships at Oxford.
  • He played instrumental role in forming the British South Africa Company, under a royal charter.
  • This company acquired territories in south-central Africa and named this area “Rhodesia” after Cecil Rhodes.
Rhodesia Now
Northern region Zambia
Southern Region Zimbabwe (1980)

Rhodes became famous as a great philanthropist. He founded the ‘Rhodes scholarships’ in Oxford university. but first of all, he was a profiteer and empire-builder. He said

“Pure philanthropy is very well in its way, but philanthropy plus five per cent is a good deal better.’ Rhodes’ dream was to extend the British rule throughout the world, and he certainly succeeded in extending the British Empire in Africa. The British occupied Bechuanaland, Rhodesia, Swaziland and Basutoland.

Boer Wars (1899)

  • In South Africa, the Dutch had established the Cape Colony. (Later British took over Cape Colony to protect their trade routes to India).
  • South Africa was the part of Africa where a large number of Europeans (mainly Dutch) were settled.
  • These settlers were known as Boers. They owned large farms and plantations. (later Boers were called “Afrikaners”)
  • British took over Cape Colony and abolished slavery. Boers did not like it, so they went north and set up two states, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. (Together called “Afrikaner republics”).
  • Transvaal was rich in gold, so the British plotted to overthrow Boer government.
  • This led to the Boer War (1899)=>Boers were defeated but they continued to live here.
  • Gandhi served from British side, as an assistant superintendent of the Indian volunteer stretcher-bearer corps. He was awarded Boer war medal for his services.
  • Soon after this, the Union of South Africa was formed consisting of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and Orange River Colony.
  • This Union was ruled by the white minority —Boers, Englishmen, and a few settlers from other European countries.
  • Later South African government later declared itself a republic.

Gandhi @Boer Wars

Gandhi also served in Boer Wars (from British Side). He wrote in his autobiography

When the war was declared, my personal sympathies were all with the Boers, but my loyalty to the British rule drove me to participation with the British in that war. I felt that, if I demanded rights as a British citizen, it was also my duty, as such to participate in the defence of the British Empire. so I collected together as many comrades as possible, and with very great difficulty got their services accepted as an ambulance corps.

Zulu War (1879)

  • British were interested in Zululand. They wanted Zulu population to serve as labour in the diamond mines across Southern Africa.
  • British troops initially suffered losses but ultimately won.

Zulu Rebellion (1906)

  • In 1906, the Zulu Rebellion broke out in Natal province of South Africa
  • This was actually a campaign against tax being imposed by the British on the Zulus, who were demanding their rights in their own land.
  • However, the whites declared war against the Zulus.
  • In this Zulu war/rebellion, Gandhi served from British side, as the officer in charge of the Indian volunteer ambulance corps. He was given Zulu War Medal for his services.

Gandhi Returned Medals

1920: During Khilafat movement, Gandhi returned the medals to Britain and wrote,

It is not without a pang that I return the Kaisar-i-Hind gold medal granted to me by your predecessor for my humanitarian work in South Africa, the Zulu War medal granted in South Africa for my services as officer in charge of the Indian volunteer ambulance corps in 1906 and the Boer War medal for my services as assistant superintendent of the Indian volunteer stretcher-bearer corps during the Boer War of 1899-1900. I venture to return these medals in pursuance of the scheme of non-cooperation inaugurated today in connection with the Khilafat movement. Valuable as these honours have been to me, I cannot wear them with an easy conscience so long as my Mussalman countrymen have to labour under a wrong done to their religious sentiment. Events that have happened during the past one month have confirmed me in the opinion that the Imperial Government have acted in the Khilafat matter in an unscrupulous, immoral and unjust manner and have been moving from wrong to wrong in order to defend their immorality. I can retain neither respect nor affection for such a Government.

East Africa

Map-East Africa

  • Before 1884, East Africa was not occupied by any Europeans. (Except Portuguese possession of Mozambique).
  • 1884 (one year before our congress is formed), German adventurer, named Karl Peters, came to the coastal region of East Africa.
  • He uses bribery and threats, makes the local chiefs to sign agreements placing themselves under German protection.
  • France and Britain also has interest in this region. But instead of starting war, they sit down and make agreement to divide the land.
Madagascar France gets it.
East Africa
  • Area Divided between Germany and England.
  • British called their region “British East Africa” (present day Kenya.)
  • It was Portuguese possession. Germany and England had planned to divide it but first world war cancelled the agreement.
  • King of Zanzibar says “East Africa as is my property.”
  • Germany and England appease him by giving a strip of coast land, 1600 kilometers long and 16 kilometers deep.
  • Even here, Germany and England divide the Northern and Southern half of the strip under ‘sphere of influences’.
  • 1905: (same year when Lord Curzon partitioned Bengal), the local Africans start revolt again Germans. 120,000 Africans were killed in this German colony.


  • In 1890, there was an agreement between Germany and England according to which Uganda was’ reserved’ for England. In exchange Germany was given Heligoland.
  • In 1896, Uganda was declared a British protectorate.
  • Germany also gave up her claims to Zanzibar and Pemba island, Witu and Nyasaland (present Malawi), but made more conquests in the interior.
  • The Portuguese colony of Mozambique was to be shared out between Germany and England, but the First World War stopped the plan and Germany lost all her colonies.

1914: first World War start. 1919: Treaty of Versailles signed and defeated Germany had to handover her colonies to the victors. let’s recall our table

German colony before WW1 After WW1 colony given to
Togoland + Cameroons Divided between England + France
South-West Africa Given to South Africa.
German East Africa
  • England. This region was renamed Tanganyika.
  • (Tanganyika and Zanzibar now ‘form the republic of Tanzania).
Ruanda-Urundi Belgium.

#EPICFAIL: Italy (Adowa, Ethiopia)

  • Like Germany, Italy entered the colonial race late.
  • The Italians occupied two desert areas in the ‘horn of Africa’ –Somaliland and Eritrea.
  • Later she got interested in Abyssinia (aka Ethiopia)

Battle of Adowa

  • The country of Abyssinia, now known as Ethiopia, was an independent state.
  • Italy wanted to declare Abyssinia its protectorate.
  • 1896: king of Abyssinia rejects Italy’s claim. Italy sends an army.
  • Abyssinia was able to procure arms from France and defeated the Italians. (Unlike other African states)
  • During this war, as much as 70 percent of the Italian force was killed, wounded, or captured, finally treaty of Addis Ababa was signed to declare peace.
  • 1935: like a defeated gambler, Italy makes second attempt to conquer Abyssinia.
  • Before the Second World War Except for a brief period during those years, Ethiopia, maintained her independence.

North Africa

Map-north africa


  • French occupied Algeria in 1830, it took her about 40 years to suppress the Algerian resistance.
  • It was the most profitable of France’s colonial possessions, providing her a vast market for French goods.


Both France and England wanted to control Tunisia. But they don’t go for war, they make an agreement.

British Gets Cyprus.
France Gets Tunisia.


  • Morocco is situated on the north coast of Africa, just south of Gibraltar.
  • Hence very important to the western entrance of the Mediterranean.
  • Both France and Italy wanted Morroco. But they don’t go for war, they also make an agreement.
France Gets Morocco
Italy Gets Tripoli and Cyrenaica (east of Tunisia).This region was already under Turkish Empire. So Italy sent troops, occupied two provinces and called it “Libya”.

Unhappy Germans

  • While France, Italy and England were busy dividing North Africa among themselves, they had ignored Germany.
  • German Minister said, “You(French) have bought your liberty in Morocco from Spain, England, and even from Italy, and you have left us out.
  • There were many international crises and it appeared as if war would break out.
  • But France appeased Germans by transfering 250,000 square kilometres of French Congo to Germany.
  • Similarly France also appeased Spain by giving her a small part of Morocco.
  • In 1912 France established her protectorate over Morocco. However, it took the French many years after the First World War to suppress the rebellions there.

Egypt, Suez Canal

  • During this era, Egypt was a province of the Turkish empire
  • Egypt was ruled by a “Pasha” (representative/Governor appointed by the Turkish Sultan)
  • But France was interested in Egypt, Since the time of Napoleon
  • A French company had gained a concession from Ismail Pasha, the Governor of Egypt, to dig a canal across the isthmus of Suez.
  • Suez Canal Connects Mediterranean and the Red seas. The canal extends 163 kilometres between Port Said in the north and Suez in the south.
  • The canal was completed in 1869 and aroused British interest in the area because it’d reduce the shipping time between Europe and Asia.
  • British PM Disraeli bought a large number of shares of the canal from the Pasha to make sure of keeping the route to India safe.
  • Disraeli called Suez canal ‘a highway to our Indian empire’.

Pasha’s game over

  • Later Egypt’s Pasha run into financial troubles. The British and French gave him loans and increased their interference in allocation of trading-mining rights. (just like in China).
  • When the Pasha tried to resist, he was forced to abdicate and a new governor was appointed.

Egypt: the cotton colony

  • Britain developed Egypt as a supplier of cotton for her textile industry.
  • The control of foreigners over cotton was total, from owning or controlling the land it was grown on, the cotton processing and cotton cleaning industry and the steamships it was transported.
  • But, There was not a single mill in Egypt. Why? Think about it!
  • During first world war time, Cotton accounted for 85% of Egypt’s exports.

By 1914 cotton
constituted 43 per cent of agricultural output. It accounted for 85 per cent of exports in
1913. Being a single crop economy was disastrous as Egypt became dependent on
imports for her essential food supply.

Egypt: British occupation

  • In 1880s, Egyptians started revolt against this Anglo-French control.
  • Britain sent her army in pretext of rest orating law and order and protection of the Suez Canal
  • The British assured that we’ll withdraw our troops from Egypt as soon as peace is established.
  • After the revolt was suppressed, Egypt came under British control.
  • When the First World War started, England announced that Egypt was no longer a Turkish province but a British protectorate!
  • Then Britain fully exploilted the natural resources, manpower and economy of Egypt during WW1. Crops were seized by the army. The British Treasury took over the gold reserves of the National Bank of Egypt.
  • After the First World War, Egyptian leaders started for the Paris Peace Conference to plead the case of Egypt, but they were arrested.
  • In the 1920s, Britain was forced to recognize Egypt as an independent sovereign state (but still, Britain retained her rights over the Suez and many other concessions)


  • Sudan, or what was earlier known as Egyptian Sudan, was jointly exploited by Egypt and Britain.
  • A Sudanese leader who had proclaimed himself the Mahdi had in the 1880s succeeded in overthrowing Egyptian and British control over Sudan.
  • His army had defeated Egyptian and British troops.
  • Later British and Egyptian troops waged a bloody war, killed 20000 Sudanese troops and recaptured Sudan. Thus, Sudan came under British rule.
  • The French at this time tried to occupy southern parts of Sudan but were forced to withdraw by the British.
  • France, however, was given a free hand to extend her control over what was known as western Sudan and the Sahara. France occupied these areas after a long war of conquest.
  • With these gains, France was able to connect her equatorial conquests with her west and north African conquests.

French and British Colonies

British territories French
  1. Nigeria
  2. Gold Coast
  3. Gambia
  4. Sierra Leone
  5. Kenya
  6. Tanganyika
  7. Nyasaland
  8. Uganda
  9. Rhodesia
  10. South Africa.
  1. Algeria
  2. Morocco
  3. Cameroon
  4. French-Congo
  5. Tunisia,
  6. Madagascar

Timeline of Colonization: Africa + Asia

first let’s check the timeline of African Colonization only

Timeline-Colonization of Africa

click to Englarge

Now let’s combine the timelines of Asian + African colonization (click to enlarge)

Timeline-Colonization of Asia Plus Africa

click to enlarge

Mock Questions

What was the contribution of following in the scramble for Africa (2 marks each?)

  1. Cecil Rhodes
  2. De Brazza
  3. Sir HM Stanley
  4. King Leopold II

5 marks (50 words)

  1. Battle of Adowa
  2. Zulu War
  3. Boer War
  4. Congo Free State
  5. Rhodesia
  6. Gandhi’s parturition in Boer War.

Comment on following (10 marks each)

  1. I put my life in peril four times for the sake of the Empire: at the time of the Boer war, at the time of the Zulu revolt…. I did all this in the full belief that acts such as mine must gain for my country an equal status in the Empire. But the treachery of Mr. Lloyd George and its appreciation by you, and the condonation of the Punjab atrocities have completely shattered my faith in the good intentions of the Government and the nation which is supporting it.
  2. When the war was declared, my personal sympathies were all with the Boers, but … I felt that, if I demanded rights as a British citizen, it was also my duty, as such to participate in the defence of the British Empire.
  3. I venture to return these medals in pursuance of the scheme of non-cooperation inaugurated today in connection with the Khilafat movement. Valuable as these honours have been to me, I cannot wear them with an easy conscience so long as my Mussalman countrymen have to labour under a wrong done to their religious sentiment.

12 marks (120 words)

  1. British Interests in following: 1) Suez Canal 2)Cape Colony 3)
  2. Examine the role of industrialization and capitalism in scramble the scramble for Africa.
  3. Explain these terms: i) Middle Passage ii) Triangular trade
  4. Analyze the impact of Triangular trade on Africa, Europe and Americas.
  5. How did adventurers and explorer helped in the scramble for Africa? Describe with examples.
  6. factors that helped Europeans colonize the Africa.
  7. Scramble for Western Africa and North Africa
  8. Scramble for Southern Africa and Eastern Africa
  9. Enumerate the factors that led to rise of Slade trade in Africa.
  10. List the consequences of African slave trade.
  11. By early nineteenth century, why did the trade in slaves lost its importance in the system of colonial exploitation?
  12. British and French occupation of Africa

25 marks (250 words)

  1. Why did Gandhi participate in Boer and Zulu war? Do you agree with Gandhi’s justification for his participation? Give reasons to justify your stand.
  2. Redrawal of national boundaries in Africa during the 19th Century.
  3. Colonization of Asia and Africa: similarities and differences
  4. Write a note on the Paper partition of Africa