Berlin Conference Essay

Berlin Conference Essay-47
Kipling bemoans that the African people will come “slowly to the light” and would lament their release from “bondage.” In essence, Kipling believed that these non-white racial groups were so backward that they would be unable to comprehend the benefits of Europeanization.

The conference further decreed that for future imperialist claims to garner international recognition, "effective occupation" would be required.

In other words, no longer did plunging a flag into the ground mean that land was occupied.

Inside the continent, territory was important for its location.

Great Britain, hoping to link Cairo in the north with Cape Town in the south, wanted north-south dominion; therefore, all the territory between those two points gained strategic value.

The only notable exception to this was Ethiopia, a strategically (especially after the opening of the Suez Canal) placed state at the horn of Africa.

By the early 1870s, Ethiopia was in danger of invasion from the British, French, and Italians.One of the justifying principles behind colonialism was the need to civilize the purportedly backward peoples of Africa.Fifteen years following the Berlin Conference, the supposed imperative of civilizing non-whites was expressed in Rudyard Kipling’s poem published in 1899 in Mc Clure’s Magazine entitled “White Man’s Burden”: To seek another’s profit And work another’s gain Take up the White Man’s burden— And reap his old reward: The blame of those ye better The hate of those ye guard— The cry of hosts ye humour (Ah slowly) to the light: “Why brought ye us from bondage, “Our loved Egyptian night?The conference also created some definition for "effective occupation," noting that significant "economic development" was required.Given notice by King Leopold, the major European powers sprung into action.Within forty years, by 1914 and the end of the scramble for Africa, Great Britain dominated the breadth of the African continent from Egypt to South Africa, as well as Nigeria and the Gold Coast; the French occupied vast expanses of west Africa; the Germans boasted control over modern-day Tanzania and Namibia; the Portuguese exerted full control over Angola and Mozambique.Only Ethiopia and the African-American state of Liberia remained independent.However, by the early 1890s, Menelik's plans began to unravel as war seemed imminent.In 1889, Italy claimed Ethiopia as an Italian protectorate.” The idea of the White Man’s Burden was to better (“seek another’s profit”) an ostensibly backward people (anyone who was not white).The lines following this initial declaration reveal the prevailing attitude in regards to how such a civilizing mission would proceed.


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