The European Influence in Africa Exhibit

This exhibit demonstrates that many things in Africa were influenced by Europeans in the 19th and 20th century.

Section 1: African Colonization

When Africa was first discovered by Europe it seemed to be a race to get as much land as possible. Some countries were more successful than others but none the less they helped shape what Africa is today. The following map (Figure 1.1) shows what countries controlled what parts of Africa by 1914.


Figure 1.1

As you can see Great Britain and France occupied most of the nations. The main cause for such an uproar in Africa was the raw materials and trading opportunities. This caused countries to start colonization in Africa. Before discovery most of the continent consisted of groups and small nations who lived and worked the lands. Once Europeans can into the picture all of that was changed. Some countries would enslave the people to start production of raw materials while other countries would set up shop and employ the natives. Crops were utilized, a government was established and industrialization was put into effect. The image below (Figure 1.2) shows African workers in the rubber industry with their European supervisors.

Figure 1.2

Section 2: Government & Control

Once the Europeans came they started to influence or build the African governments. Some countries simply supervised while others took full control. In King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild, it talks about the grueling force of the Belgians in the Congo colony. Many of the natives were put into harsh slave conditions in order to produce and ship raw materials to Belgium because of King Leopold II’s iron fist. The author also recalls hearing a member of the CIA in Belgium comment on how they assassinated the first prime minister of the Congo after it gained independence in the 1960s (Hochschild, Adam 1998).  The follow image is a picture celebrating the the Congo’s independence in 1960 (Figure 2.1).

Figure 2.1

Eventually, all of the African nations gained their independence from European reign by the 1970s, though the effects of colonization and the horrors of forced labor still remain today.

Section 3: African Trade

The amount of resources made and found in Africa attracted Europeans to it. Goods like salt, cocoa bean, gold and copper came into high demand. King Leopold the II personally bought the Congo to gain goods for his personal gain. Other countries seemed to work with the people to export goods. The following image (Figure 3.1) is of a bracelet containing African trading beads, a very common craft made in the late 1800s.

Serving as one of several focal points on the bracelet are four millifore patterned antique/vintage (Circa late 1800’s – early 1900’s) Venetian trade beads (also known as African Trade Beads).:

Figure 3.1

Along with goods, slavery was a huge market in Africa. Many natives had no control over their governments, or had very little say in how the nation was run. Therefore, few could stop the human trafficking that took place after the Europeans realized they could force labor with little resistance. Though revolts did happen, none every made it far and they did not make a significant enough impact. Between 1861 and 1870 approximately 54,191 African slaves embarked to Europe. Due to harsh conditions and resistance only 46,135 made it (Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, 2013). Situations just like this happened on a daily basis in the slave trade world. In the end raw material are still exported from Africa, but by the independent nations themselves. Unfortunately, slavery is still an issue in some African countries today.

Work Cited:





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