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Actually, Berlin Conference is perceived by many historians, sociologists, scholars or even anyone with a little passion of history to have been a major event in history. The conference is commonly termed as the 'day of conception' as far as African colonization history is concerned (Falola, 2001). The meeting was held in October, 1884 at Chancellor von Bismarck's home bringing together a total of over fourteen delegates, thirteen of which represented European powers with United States taking the other remaining slot. The main agenda during the conference was setting the modalities though which the latter were to use during the colonization of the 'dark continent'. The motive of the conference to establish their colonies and rule Africa was very clear as none of the Africa then leaders was invited during the conference. The fruits of conference did not take long to be yielded as it was evidenced later in the year. By the 1885 deal was sealed giving birth to now historical era of colonization of Africa.
The major players during the colonization were Portuguese, French, British, and Germans which sought to establish their colonies in most parts of Africa. Colonies from France dominated most of West Africa; the vast Congo was occupied by Belgians, and the Portuguese occupying a small portion of West and establishing bigger colonies in the South. Interestingly, Germany which was a chief architect of the process and the host of the conference only established one colony for every region i.e. Western, Southern, Eastern, and Central African regions. The occupation continued over this period through to the beginning of 20th Century. However, it was until the end World War II when the changes in possessions were witnessed. These colonies later established their own ways of coping with the new jurisdictions which were described by varying climatic conditions, inhabitants, and environmental factors (Eyo & Zeleza, 2002).
As mentioned before, the British went ahead to occupy some parts of Africa with a vast occupation traversing from Egypt in the North through Kenya to south Africa in the far south, shown on the map. However, the country named Tanganyika; now Tanzania was later dominated and finally taken by Germans (Falola, 2001). The colonialists ruled these countries with what can be described as utmost racism and dictatorship. First; British used violence to widen its colony and to maintain order. Those in the field found it very difficult to adjust to apply methods which could be favorable to African as the major decisions were sent from The British Colonial Office which was located in London.
Secondly, British were also known for targeting specific ethnic groups in the countries they colonized. They preferred minority groups which were conservative as far their culture was concerned. Interestingly, British also chose those ethnic groups which they found their system of ruling more correlated to theirs. For instance, while colonizing Sudan, the British chose to favor the minority Arabs in favor of other Africans who contributed almost full percentage. Likewise, while colonizing Nigeria, they favored Fulani people who happened to be a minority compared to the rest of Nigerians (Eyo & Zeleza, 2002). This was also the case in other colonies but all process put prioritized the ethnic groups hierarchical systems just like British system. This is a clear example of the rationalization the British applied during the period. Subsequently, young men and women from these groups were recruited into the colonial military. As a result, the soldiers later turned against their fellow citizens who were in power by staging coups.
Apart from this, British colonies employed other systems of governance as means of rationalization. First, was through trading companies. This was where Britain gave private companies vast territories as their regions of jurisdiction. Examples of the companies were; United African Trading Company in Western region, Imperial British East Africa in the Eastern Region, British South African Company in Southern region. Such companies had no good for Africans but instead, they were meant to exploit all rich natural resources they were found within their areas of jurisdictions. Also, the Africans who were in leadership were conned to sign memorandums of cooperation to British colony. The companies later introduced they systems of taxation and forced labor.
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Secondly, the colony used the indirect rule; where the British colonies used African leaders to rule on their behalf forcing them crush their fellows. The Africans were literary made to rule but all decisions came from British officers. The system was first experimented in Nigeria. The British tried to impose the system in other region which absolutely failed. The third system was; the settler rule, this was where were put in place to allow a large population of Europeans migrate and settle in Africa as their permanent home. This was witnessed especially in East colony; Kenya. The final system was Condominium Government, where they engaged in joint colonization for example Egypt-Britain colony in Sudan (Falola, 2001).
All these brutal plans did not succeed in various colonial regions as the Africans jointly rose against all these. Unlike French, British did not assimilate Africans i.e. did not create French from Africans but rather discriminated them. The Africans did not take long before they realized what was behind the British tactics. As a result several movements and battles started. For instances, the recruitment of African youths into colonial military was a good chance for them to acquire skills. When these men withdrew, they assisted the nationalists to fight for freedom which eventually weakened their former counterparts.
While the Trading Companies were establishing territories, they failed to consider the traditional territorial boundaries. Consequently, the local ethnic groups rose against them arousing the need to get freedom. This was ignited by concern by the professional within the society who advised the locals for the need to retain their boundaries and laid working strategies towards battling the British. Furthermore, farmers associations, trade unions, and urban workers then organized themselves into political movements weakening the British further (Chikeka, 2004).
British East Africa sought to take up the lands from Africans especially in Tanganyika. They intended to impose their agricultural methods against the wishes of the locals. As a result local leaders like Julius Nyerere managed to unite Africans not only through Swahili language but also those White leaders who had the same prejudice over their fellow Europeans. The situation was correlating to Kenyan one as the farmers were also evicted from their settlement. This caused conflicts where the Britons finally accepted majority of the Africans in 1960, three years after which Kenyan acquired independence. Other countries had followed or later followed suit to overpower the white rule.
In Zimbabwe, there was rise in Chimurenga Resistance against the British South African Company. The company had tactically taken away the fertile land from the Shona and Ndebele peoples of Zimbabwe. BSAC used brutal force to crash Chimurenga. While trying to rationalize West Africa, British also were shocked with by the well organized Asante Resistance in the Gold Coast, now Ghana. The Asante kingdom posed a lot of threat to British rulers who trying expand their rule to the interior of the country but unfortunately the Asante were defeated at the battle of Amoafo. Finally, the same trial in Ethiopia and Liberia terribly failed. These are the only African countries which were not colonized. Through Battle of Adowa, Ethiopians were able to rescue themselves against the raging Italian and British colonies (Lucas, 1913).
In conclusion, colonization of Africa is a two-side situation. This means that it had both negative and positive impacts towards the natives and the Whites themselves. But the question is; where could Africa be without the decision by the whites to colonize it?
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