Conference Berlin Consequences B the History of Essay

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Conference Berlin consequences b)

The History of Contemporary Africa

Ever since parts of its region became colonized by Europeans (which began happening fairly regularly since the early part of the Anno Domini timeline), Africa has suffered an abundance of problems relating to its political, social, and economic spheres of existence. After its introduction to what is best termed a fledgling globalization through colonization in several of its countries by a number of European nations, Africa has understandably endured a number of issues relating to its primary systems of government, economics, and socialization. Although events related to the conclusion of World War II were largely responsible for decolonization in this part of the world, many nation states on the continent would struggle for several years -- and are still struggling -- to overcome the effects of colonization and the inherent instability it provided to many of the key infrastructures within today's existing countries. In order to best chart this painfully slow progression (that actually started with a rapid regression due to the consequences of colonization), it becomes essential to provide an overview of the history of the new imperialism that took place on the continent, before providing some contemporary examples of problems that exist in some countries there.

As alluded to earlier, the history of European colonization within Africa dates to the final centuries of the B.C. calendar. However, the age of new imperialism (which spanned from approximately the 19th century to the midway point of the 20th century) began in earnest with the Conference of Berlin, a meeting of major European -- most notably including Germany, France, and Great Britain -- powers in 1885 that set forth extensive guidelines for the partitioning of the continent amongst themselves. What is highly important about the Conference of Berlin, however, is that rules for international trade and for formally claiming territories was denoted within these series of meetings as well. In fact, the Conference of Berlin would help to pave the way for the highly specific partitioning of the African continent that would take place during the Scramble for Africa,
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in which the territories distributed to countries such as Portugal, Britain and France was sought after by other European nations.

Once such nations were able to successfully actuate the principle of effectivity (in which European powers had to demonstrate that they had a sufficient amount of political and military control over a certain segment of Africa in order to "legally" claim it), they were able to utilize a variety of colonization methods. What most European colonizers principally did was to utilize whatever region of Africa they were able to take for its natural resources, its contribution to Europe for raw materials, and for the source of labor the people in those areas could provide. How they went about doing so, of course, varied. Central to the colonization efforts were the suppression of the indigenous language and customs of the people in those parts of Africa which were typically replaced by those of the colonizer. Religion has always played a profound impact in virtually any European instances of colonization, as Christianity and the reading of the Bible was used to enforce African subservience and European dominance. Certain colonizers, such as the British, governed a country indirectly by supporting local regimes and making them subservient to the British government, while others ruled more directly with the presence of a centralized government on location that administered the will of a country.

Although new colonization efforts began to taper off at the start of World War I, colonization would not officially end within the continent of Africa until the conclusion of World War II, when certain facets of the Atlantic Charter were effected on a global basis. The Atlantic charter was an agreement between Britain and the United States in 1941 that denoted a number of specific goals that an Allied victory in World War II would produce. Most notably for Africa, however, was the third of the eight principal points agreed to, which was that all countries would have a right to self-determination. Due to the Atlantic Charter, and the efforts of people of African descent that aided the Allies during World War II, decolonization began in Africa shortly after the end of the Second War.

Still, once the Scramble for Africa ended and the decolonization process took place within much of the continent of Africa, there were a few important factors that are responsible for the root causes of…

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A large degree of political turmoil took place in Uganda following its liberation from colonization midway through the 20th century. A number of political factions vied for power in the ensuing years; many of these were associated with religious groups set up by the European colonialists, such as Catholic and Protestant supporters. Economically, the country had a strong Indian population that was in control of much of the commerce nad industry there, which is why dictator Idi Amin expelled them in the early 1970's. Deforestation issues have affected Uganda quite significantly. Urbanization and expanding farmlands are responsible for much of Uganda's deforestation problem, while like most regions in Africa, the population housed within this country has seen an explosion in the number of victims of AIDS and HIV. Civil wars and internal fighting, however, would regularly plague Uganda into the new millennium. In more recent times, efforts have been made to reduce barriers to women owning property and being an economic influence within this country. The traditional gender equality within Uganda has certainly circumscribed its growth.

One of the most insidious instances of neo-colonization in Africa, however, was evinced in South Africa. The system of apartheid, which was essentially a legalized subjugation of people of African descent that highly favored Europeans and those of European descent, was responsible for political instability for several years as black South Africans strove to overturn such a repressive regime. Apartheid was eventually overturned in 1994 with the presidency of Nelson Mandela, but economically, unemployment was largely rampant in the country as it struggled to transition to true independence. Other contemporary issues plaguing this country are a nationwide rapid deforestation process, as well as rampant AIDS infection (South Africa may have the most people with AIDS in the world today). Women have played a significant role in the true liberation of this country from first its colonial history and then its repressive reign of Apartheid, as is evinced within the perseverance and political inclinations of Winnie Mandela.

There were several things about Africa that I learned while taking this course. One was that there was a highly planned, systematic implementation of repression that is responsible for keeping Africa socially, economically, and politically years behind many other parts of the world. This repression truly took hold during colonialism, but the bouts of neocolonialism that many countries endured even after formal colonialism was dispelled certainly contributed to this cause. I was also unaware of the contemporary problems that Africa has regarding issues of deforestation. I had no idea that the cutting down of trees and the reduction of forests could take hold of this area as quickly as it had, and continue to affect the environments there today.

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