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African colonziation in the 19th centrury essay

The dominant image of Africa projected by European writers in the nineteenth century was that of a place of savagery and chaos. The African landscape was like nothing encountered in Europe, and early explorers emphasized the differences between the cities or countryside they knew at home and the tropical jungle, arid open spaces, and indigenous flora and fauna of Africa.

The people of Africa were characterized by Westerners as lacking in morality and intelligence, being perpetually childlike, demonic, and practicing outlandish, barbaric customs.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Europeans were largely ignorant of Africa, although Portugal had been engaged since the mid-fifteenth century in the trade of African slaves. Britain's slave trade began a hundred years later, and by the eighteenth century was flourishing, but because the slave business was handled internally by African and Arab merchants, few Europeans actually traveled to Africa.

  1. It was cheap and convenient. Some feminist scholars have claimed that female European travelers who wrote about Africa were more sympathetic in their depictions, but others have contended that women writers' imperialist attitudes are just as entrenched as those of their male counterparts.
  2. The theory and practice of indirect rule is commonly associated with Lord Lugard, who was first the British high commissioner for northern Nigeria and later governor-general of Nigeria.
  3. European Imperialism in Africa 1352 words - 6 pages have played sports against them growing up and you do your shopping there. The tribes of the lower Niger River had experienced these same things in the late 19th century.
  4. The British colonizers, unfamiliar with these novel and unique political systems and insisting that African "natives" must have chiefs, often appointed licensed leaders called warrant chiefs, as in Igboland, for example.
  5. This scramble was so intense that there were fears that it could lead to inter-imperialist conflicts and even wars.

By the end of the eighteenth century, the abolitionist movement in Britain began to have an impact on British attitudes. Some of the first representations of Africa and Africans in European writing were composed by Europeans—mainly abolitionists who expressed their outrage at the injustices of slavery—who had never traveled to Africa.

This, coupled with the discovery of quinine to ease the symptoms of malaria, heralded an age of Western exploration in Africa.

The Impact Of 19th Century European Imperialism In Africa

Those who traveled to Africa generally did so for commercial gain, although many also sought scientific and geographical knowledge or to convert the natives to Christianity. Early reports from travelers, such as the Englishman Thomas Foxwell Buxton, depicted Africans as ignorant, superstitious, and barbaric, and practices such as cannibalism and ritual sacrifice were highlighted and sensationalized.

Later accounts by the famous explorers of the second half of the nineteenth century—including Sir Richard Burton, Samuel White Baker, David Livingstone, and Henry Morton Stanley—became more sophisticated, and included more nuanced details of African customs and ways of life.

  • As Italy intensified pressure in the 1890s to impose its rule over Ethiopia, the Ethiopians organized to resist;
  • This situation was compounded by commercial conflicts between Europeans and Africans;
  • European Imperialism in Africa 1352 words - 6 pages have played sports against them growing up and you do your shopping there;
  • African forces in general fought with bows, arrows, spears, swords, old rifles, and cavalries; the European forces, beneficiaries of the technical fruits of the Industrial Revolution, fought with more deadly firearms, machines guns, new rifles, and artillery guns;
  • According to Derrick Murphy, in 1875 only ten percent of Africa was occupied by European states;
  • It confronted a determined and sagacious military leader in the Ethiopian emperor Menelik II.

Nevertheless, the portrayals continued to be negative and patronizing. But the reading public at home was mesmerized by romantic accounts of travelers who endured great hardships in the dark and mysterious continent. Indeed, in most explorers' accounts, Africa is simply the backdrop to the heroism or Christian fortitude of the European explorer, and Africans are depicted as weak and pitiable creatures.

Livingstone was regarded as a national hero at home, a saint-like figure who took it upon himself to bring Christianity into the darkest corners of the earth.

But although Livingstone viewed Africans with more sympathy than most of his countrymen, he held that Europeans were superior to African colonziation in the 19th centrury essay, and he assumed it was his mission to civilize and educate Africans in Western ways. By the end of the nineteenth century, European travel to Africa had become more commonplace, and even a number of women journeyed there. The Englishwoman Mary Kingsley, one of the first female explorers, made pioneering trips to West and Central Africa and wrote about her experiences in her travel narratives.

Probably the best known of these is H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines 1885an adventure book for boys that relates a journey into the heart of the continent by a group in search of the legendary wealth said to be concealed in the mines of the novel's title.

Other works of fiction set against the backdrop of Africa included Olive Schreiner's novels The Story of an African Farm 1883about a woman living on an isolated ostrich farm in South Africa, and Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland 1897a critique of Cecil John Rhodes's colonialism. Certainly the most famous of all nineteenth-century works of fiction set in Africa is Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, a novella that was first serialized in 1899 and later published in its entirety in 1902.

For decades the novella was regarded as a harsh condemnation of imperialism, the first work of fiction to attack the Western attitudes that had been used to justify conquest and colonization.

Achebe pointed out what he saw as the essential racism of Conrad's attitude, as the author presents Africans as less than human, childlike, lacking in free will, and unable to act. Achebe also noted that this was the standard approach to Africa in Western fiction. This dehumanized portrayal of Africans was typical of the Western idea of Africa, according to Achebe, and he argued that Westerners continue to view Africans in this light.

Following Achebe, a number of literary critics began considering the racism and dehumanization in works by Westerners in Africa. Although some studies had appeared in the 1960s and 1970s exploring the attitudes of colonial writers, after the mid-1970s critics became more attuned to the negative manner in which Africans and their culture were portrayed.

  • Some astute African leaders maneuvered and ruled as best they could, while others used the new colonial setting to become tyrants and oppressors, as they were responsible to British officials ultimately;
  • Later accounts by the famous explorers of the second half of the nineteenth century—including Sir Richard Burton, Samuel White Baker, David Livingstone, and Henry Morton Stanley—became more sophisticated, and included more nuanced details of African customs and ways of life;
  • Some of its major articles were as follows;
  • It was cheap and convenient.

Many of these critics claim that Europeans' depiction of Africa was actually a representation of their deepest fears and the unconscious aspects of themselves that they refused to acknowledge. The representation of Africa as a dark, mysterious, dangerous place full of savagery and brutality was, critics have argued, actually a representation of the European psyche. Critics have also shown how the deeply racist views about Africans in literary works affected the European public, shaped imperialist attitudes, and made colonization possible.

Feminist critics in particular have emphasized how the African landscape is repeatedly feminized and sexualized.

The Colonization of Africa

Some feminist scholars have claimed that female European travelers who wrote about Africa were more sympathetic in their depictions, but others have contended that women writers' imperialist attitudes are just as entrenched as those of their male counterparts.

Most of the English-language criticism on the representation of Africa has tended to concentrate on British works, although some critics have written about how continental Europeans and Americans viewed Africa in the nineteenth century.

Few Africans in the nineteenth century had the opportunity to offer their own portrayals of their countries and people, but one notable exception is Edward Wilmot Blyden, a West Indian writer who settled in Liberia and who wrote about Africa's political future and African culture and character.

Several critics, notably V. Mudimbe, have written about Blyden, delineating, among other things, how Blyden's views contrast with nineteenth-century Western attitudes. While literary critics now acknowledge that the bulk of nineteenth-century literary works about Africa were racist and hardly representative of the real Africa, they also claim that the Western image of Africa in the twenty-first century is based on those nineteenth-century ideas.

They lament that Hollywood movies, the Western news media, and literary works by Westerners continue to represent Africa as a backward place whose people need Western intervention to save themselves. According to these critics, Africans' accomplishments, complexity, and humanity are rarely portrayed.