The Scramble for Africa

The Scramble for Africa was powered not so much by conditions in Africa, but by the economic, social and political conditions in Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century. In economic terms, it was "not so much as an overproduction of ... goods in Europe as an undersupply of raw materials".

The scramble was fierce by July 1884 as France, Britain, Germany and Portugal had all staked claims on African territory within the previous five years.

From November 15, 1884 to January 20th, 1885, The Berlin Conference, under the chairmanship of Bismark, was convened to set up the rules of the Scramble. On February 26, 1885, the decision had been made:
  1. Any sovereign power which wanted to claim any territory should inform the other powers "in order to ... make good any claim of their own".
  2. Any such annexation should be validated by effective occupation.
  3. Treaties with African rulers were to be considered a valid title to sovereignty.
In addition, the powers were free to navigate the Congo and Niger Rivers.

There was no precedent in world history to justify one continent boldly talking about the distribution and occupation of the territory of another continent.
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Ras Alula and the Scramble for Africa: A Political Biography: Ethiopia & Eritrea 1875-1897, Haggai Erlich. Red Sea Press, 1996.
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The Scramble for Africa, Muriel Evelyn Chamberlain. Addison-Wesley, 1974.
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Scramble for Africa: The Great Trek to the Boer War, Anthony Nutting. Constable & Co., 1994.
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Scramble for Africa: White Man's Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876 to 1912, Thomas Pakenham. Avon Books, 1992.
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The Scramble for Art in Central Africa, Enid Schildkrout and Curtis Keim (eds.) Cambridge University Press, 1998.
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