Scramble and partition of East Africa

Scramble and partition of East Africa

  • The word scramble refers to the rush by European powers to acquire colonies in East Africa.
  • Partition refers to the division of East African territories among European countries i.e.
  • Uganda, Kenya and Zanzibar for Britain and
  • Tanganyika for Germany.

Reasons for the scramble and partition of East Africa

  • Need for  raw materials  i.e. most Europeans  nations wanted  to control  areas  of cheap raw materials  to  feed their ‘hungry’  industries  back home e.g. cash crops and  minerals.
  • There was the need to secure profitable market overseas for the European goods which had over flooded the European markets. 
  • There was need to secure areas where surplus capital would be invested i.e. the industrial revelation had generated a lot of wealth for the Europeans who wanted to set up plantations and exploit minerals.
  • There was need to resettle the excess population in Europe especially the slaves who had become useless after the invention of machines.
  • The strategic. Importance of River Nile also forced European powers to scramble for East Africa i.e. after Britain had occupied Egypt; she wanted to control all the countries through which R. Nile passed i.e.  Uganda and Sudan while Kenya was to provide an in-let for Uganda at the coast.
  • King Leopold’s activities in  Congo  i.e. The  Belgians had gained a lot  of wealth  from the minerals  and forest resources in the  Congo  and  this  forced other European  powers e.g. Germany  and Britain  to rush  to E. A so as to exploit her resources.
  • Mineral discovery in S. Africa in 1867 by the Dutch also forced other European powers to rush to E. Africa with the hope of exploiting minerals.
  • The growth of nationalism in Europe created the need for international recognition and prestige among European countries i.e. a country with many colonies was considered great and superior.
  • Power imbalance in Europe also created a need for colonies e.g. after the 1870—1871 Franco – Prussian war France lost her mineral rich provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. This caused her to rush to Africa to compensate for her loss and similar Germany and Britain could not sit back.
  • The Berlin conference of 1884 — 1885 also increased the need for colonies by European powers i.e. it was a platform that was used to divide African territories among European super powers.
  • The European powers had a desire of stamping out slave trade which they regarded as evil and a crime against humanity.
  • European powers wanted to spread Christianity because they didn’t want to see Africans go to hell. I.e. E. Africa was seen as a place where seeds of Christianity would be sown. 
  • Europeans also wanted to civilize Africans who were considered backward and barbaric and this was to be done through the introduction to western Education.