Europe imperialism over Africa resulted in situations where people like King Leopold completely abused and mistreated entire African tribes. But what exactly drove Europe to imperialize Africa? Europeans extended their power over Africa for three reasons: The newly formed economic demand, competition between nations, and the belief in cultural superiority. The European economy was transformed by
King Leopold II - A cruel ruler in Congo that made profits off of mainly ivory and rubber. He eventually was forced to sell Congo to the Belgian government because people found out how harsh his rule was. Cecil Rhodes - Believed in colonialism and colonized Zimbabwe and Zambia. He greatly exploited the resources there and made a large profit off of diamond mining. He was one of the most significant and influential promoters of Britain's imperial interests.
These region were wanted by the imperialist powers of this time, which were: Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. The United States and Japan were also imperialist powers; however, neither was involved in colonizing Africa. Economical, political, and social causes were the roots of imperialism. Economical causes included materials and markets. Materials were a cause as countries wanted to depend on themselves for raw materials.
There were cultural and economic motives for imperialism. First economic, Many countries were industrialized in 1900s, and they needed a lot of materials that they did not have. In order not to depend on others, which nobody wanted, many strong countries started conquering territories and had the necessary materials. Also, followed by the industrialization, population grew as quickly as never before. New jobs were needed and people who were unemployed, left to other countries to find jobs.As a result, Europeans left their home countries in record numbers in the 1880s.
(647) We can see the changes in the European nations that occupied Africa and how it might have posed a threat. Africa went from having only the “French Algeria and two British-ruled South African states,” to several European nations. (647) As a result, most of Europe wanted in and an international conference was held in Berlin that partitioned off different parts of Africa and called for countries to respect those boundaries. (648) From here on out, Africa and all other acquired areas suffered under Europe and the rest of the world’s imperialistic motives and models. This way of imperialism helped to create empires out of one’s conquest because it allowed countries to assert their dominance at other’s expense.
In the race of European imperialism, European countries dominated innocent African colonies. The driving force behind this? Africa’s bountiful resources. Before Africa’s colonization, the European presence in Africa was extremely limited, mainly due to lack of exploration and diseases (Background Essay). However, this changed as European prominence became largely influential through the discovery of Africa’s resource rich lands.
Europe’s insatiable capitalist quest led to its conquest of many parts of the world, including the Caribbean island and mainland states. The process started with the ‘discovery’ of the West Indies in the late 15th Century by Christopher Columbus, and continued through the Triangular or Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The need for land for the extension of Europe’s value-added assets resulted in colonisation of the West Indies, while the need for labour to till the soil led to slavery. Colonisation and slavery, therefore, are agents of capitalism. Imperialism is considered the plateau or highest point of capitalism, for imperialism is the conquest of lands and peoples for the imperialist regime’s extension of power and influence.
From the 16th to the 18th century, world superpowers from Europe and America alike sought to conquer more land as expressed through their colonization of bountiful countries and imperialism across the globe. Early instances of imperialism, including the Portuguese colonization of Brazil in the 1500s and the British colonization of the east coast of North America in the 1600s, had nations sending their own inhabitants to new lands and in search for money and power. The prevalence of the British and Dutch East Indian companies during the 17th and 18th centuries brought these nations highly coveted goods and spices, producing wealth that funded their growing empires and brought them prowess amongst the other powers of Europe. This sentiment extends
European nations ruled smaller countries, called colonies, and everyone competed with one another to get more colonies. The purpose of imperialism was and is to build up national wealth and influence by owing colonies. Both britain and France had a lot of colonies in Asia and Africa. In the 1880 and 1990, germany and Italy had decided that they wanted a colonial empire too. This global Competition for land caused a lot of conflicts and confrontations in many places.
In King Leopold’s letter to Henry Stanley, a journalist and Central African explorer, he tells him that it is “indispensable” to buy land from the Africans and have it under his “suzerainty”. This shows Leopold’s desperation to take control of as much land as he can. Furthermore, it is Leopold who will end up profiting from this lan purchase if it ends up happening, and it was also his idea for it to happen. In addition, Leopold is responsible for the mistreatment of the Africans, for as he says in his interview with Publishers’ Press in 1906, “It would be absurd for us to mistreat the blacks because no state prospers unless the population is happy and increasing … cruelty, even crimes have been committed … convictions before Congo tribunals for these offenses”. By publicizing this, King Leopold is hoping to gain the respect of Africans so he can expand his Congo and get more slaves for collecting rubber.