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lying behind the coastline. During the year 1884 no fewer than forty-two

treaties were concluded with native chiefs, an even larger number having

been concluded in the previous twelve months. In this fashion France was

pushing on towards Timbuktu, in steady pursuance of the policy which

resulted in surrounding all the old British possessions in West Africa with

a continuous band of French territory. There was, however, one region on

the west coast where, notwithstanding the lethargy of the British

government, British interests were being vigorously pushed, protected and

consolidated. This was on the lower Niger, and the leading spirit in the

enterprise was Mr Goldie Taubman (afterwards Sir George Taubman Goldie). In

1877 Sir George Goldie visited the Niger and conceived the idea of

establishing a settled government in that region. Through his efforts the

various trading firms on the lower Niger formed themselves in 1879 into the

``United African Company,'' and the foundations were laid of something like

settled administration. An application was made to the British government

for a charter in 1881, and the capital of the company increased to a

million sterling. Henceforth the company was known as the ``National

African Company,'' and it was acknowledged that its object was not only to

develop the trade of the lower Niger, but to extend its operations to the

middle reaches of the river, and to open up direct relations with the great

Fula empire of Sokoto and the smaller states associated with Sokoto under a

somewhat loosely defined suzerainty. The great development of trade which

followed the combination of British interests carried out under Goldie's

skilful guidance did not pass unnoticed in France, and, encouraged by

Gambetta, French traders made a bold bid for a position on the river. Two

French companies, with ample capital, were formed, and various stations

were established on the lower Niger. Goldie realized at once the

seriousness of the situation, and lost no time in declaring commercial war

on the newcomers. His bold tactics were entirely successful, and a few days

before the meeting of the Berlin conference he had the satisfaction of

announcing that he had bought out the whole of the French interests on the

river, and that Great Britain alone possessed any interests on the lower


To complete the survey of the political situation in Africa at the time

the plenipotentiaries met at Berlin, it is necessary to

The position in Tunisia and Egypt.

refer briefly to the course of events in North and East Africa since 1875.

In 1881 a French army entered Tunisia, and compelled the bey to sign a

treaty placing that country under French protection. The sultan of Turkey

formally protested against this invasion of Ottoman rights, but the great

powers took no action, and France was left in undisturbed possession of her

newly acquired territory. In Egypt the extravagance of Ismail Pasha had led

to the establishment in 1879, in the interests of European bondholders, of

a Dual Control exercised by France and Great Britain. France had, however,

in 1882 refused to take part in the suppression of a revolt under Arabi

Pasha, which England accomplished unaided. As a consequence the Dual

Control had been abolished in January 1883, since when Great Britain, with

an army quartered in the country, had assumed a predominant position in

Egyptian affairs (see EGYPT.) In East Africa, north of the Portuguese

possessions, where the sultan of Zanzibar was the most considerable native

potentate, Germany was secretly preparing the foundations of her present

colony of German East Africa. But no overt act had warned Europe of what

was impending. The story of the foundation of German East Africa is one of

the romances of the continent. Early in 1884 the Society for German

Colonization was founded, with the avowed object of furthering the newly

awakened colonial aspirations of the German people.12 It was a society

inspired and controlled by young men, and on the 4th of November 1884,

eleven days before the conference assembled at Berlin, three young Germans

arrived as deck passengers at Zanzibar. They were disguised as mechanics,

but were in fact Dr Karl Peters, the president of the Colonization Society,

Joachim Count Pfeil, and Dr Juhlke, and their stock-in-trade consisted of a

number of German flags and a supply of blank treaty forms. They proposed to

land on the mainland opposite Zanzibar, and

The German flag raised in East Africa.

to conclude treaties in the back country with native chiefs placing their

territories under German protection. The enterprise was frowned upon by the

German government; but, encouraged by German residents at Zanzibar, the

three young pioneers crossed to the mainland, and on the 19th of November,

while the diplomatists assembled at Berlin were solemnly discussing the

rules which were to govern the game of partition, the first ``treaty'' was

signed at Mbuzini, and the German flag raised for the first time in East


Italy had also obtained a footing on the African continent before the

meeting of the Berlin conference. The Rubattino Steamship Company as far

back as 1870 had bought the port of Assab as a coaling station, but it was

not until 1882 that it was declared an Italian colony. This was followed by

the conclusion of a treaty with the sultan of Assab, chief of the Danakil,

signed on the 15th of March 1883, and subsequently approved by the king of

Shoa, whereby Italy obtained the cession of part of Ablis (Aussa) on the

Red Sea, Italy undertaking to protect with her fleet the Danakil littoral.

One other event must be recorded as happening before the meeting of the

Berlin conference. The king of the Belgians had

Recognition of the International Association.

been driven to the conclusion that, if his African enterprise was to obtain

any measure of permanent success, its international status must be

recognized. To this end negotiations were opened with various governments.

The first government to ``recognize the flag of the International

Association of the Congo as the flag of a friendly government'' was that of

the United States, its declaration to that effect bearing date the 22nd of

April 1884. There were, however, difficulties in the way of obtaining the

recognition of the European powers, and in order to obtain that of France,

King Leopold, on the 23rd of April 1884, while labouring under the feelings

of annoyance which had been aroused by the Anglo-Portuguese treaty

concluded by Lord Granville in February, authorized Colonel Strauch,

president of the International Association, to engage to give France ``the

right of preference if, through unforeseen circumstances, the Association

were compelled to sell its possessions.'' France's formal recognition of

the Association as a government was, however, delayed by the discussion of

boundary questions until the following February, and in the meantime

Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Holland and Spain had all

recognized the Association; though Germany alone had done so—on the 8th of

November—before the assembling of the conference.

The conference assembled at Berlin on the 15th of November 1884, and

after protracted deliberations the ``General Act of

The Berlin Conference of 1884-85.

the Berlin Conference'' was signed by the representatives of all the powers

attending the conference, on the 26th of February 1885. The powers

represented were Germany, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, the

United States, France, Great Britain, Italy, Holland, Portugal, Russia,

Sweden and Norway, and Turkey, to name them in the alphabetical order

adopted in the preamble to the French text of the General Act.

Ratifications were deposited by all the signatory powers with the exception

of the United States. It is unnecessary to examine in detail the results of

the labours of the conference. The General Act dealt with six specific

subjects: (1) freedom of trade in the basin of the Congo, (2) the slave

trade, (3) neutrality of territories in the basin of the Congo, (4)

navigation of the Congo, (5) navigation of the Niger, (6) rules for future

occupation on the coasts of the African continent. It will be seen that the

act dealt with other matters than the political partition of Africa; but,

so far as they concern the present purpose, the results effected by the

Berlin Act may be summed up as follows. The signatory powers undertook that

any fresh act of taking possession on any portion of the African coast must

be notified by the power taking possession, or assuming a protectorate, to

the other signatory powers. It was further provided that any such

occupation to be valid must be effective. It is also noteworthy that the

first reference in an international act to the obligations attaching to

``spheres of influence'' is contained in the Berlin Act.

It will be remembered that when the conference assembled, the

International Association of the Congo had only been

Constitution of the Congo State.

recognized as a sovereign state by the United States and Germany. But King

Leopold and his agents had taken full advantage of the opportunity which

the conference afforded, and before the General Act was signed the

Association had been recognized by all the signatory powers, with the not

very important exception of Turkey, and the fact communicated to the

conference by Colonel Strauch. It was not, however, until two months later,

in April 1885, that King Leopold, with the sanction of the Belgian

legislature, formally assumed the headship of the new state; and on the 1st

of August in the same year His Majesty notified the powers that from that

date the ``Independent State of the Congo'' declared that ``it shall be

perpetually neutral'' in conformity with the provisions of the Berlin Act.

Thus was finally constituted the Congo Free State, under the sovereignty of

King Leopold, though the boundaries claimed for it at that time were

considerably modified by subsequent agreements.

From 1885 the scramble among the powers went on with renewed vigour, and

in the fifteen years that remained of the

The chief partition treaties.

century the work of partition, so far as international agreements were

concerned, was practically completed. To attempt to follow the process of

acquisition year by year would involve a constant shifting of attention

from one part of the continent to another, inasmuch as the scramble was

proceeding simultaneously all over Africa. It will therefore be the most

convenient plan to deal with the continent in sections. Before doing so,

however, the international agreements which determined in the main the

limits of the possessions of the various powers may be set forth. They

are:— I. The agreement of the 1st of July 1890 between Great Britain and

Germany defining their spheres of influence in East, West and South-West

Africa. This agreement was the most comprehensive of all the ``deals'' in

African territory, and included in return for the recognition of a British

protectorate over Zanzibar the cession of Heligoland to Germany.

II. The Anglo-French declaration of the 5th of August 1890, which

recognized a French protectorate over Madagascar, French influence in

the Sahara, and British influence between the Niger and Lake Chad.

III. The Anglo-Portuguese treaty of the 11th of June 1891, whereby the

Portuguese possessions on the west and east coasts were separated by a

broad belt of British territory, extending north to Lake Tanganyika.

IV. The Franco-German convention of the 15th of March 1894, by which the

Central Sudan was left to France (this region by an Anglo-German

agreement of the 15th of November 1893 having been recognized as in the

German sphere). By this convention France was able to effect a

territorial )unction of her possessions in North and West Africa with

those in the Congo region.

V. Protocols of the 24th of March and the 15th of April 1891, for the

demarcation of the Anglo-Italian spheres in East Africa.

VI. The Anglo-French convention of the 14th of June 1898, for the

delimitation of the possessions of the two countries west of Lake Chad,

with the supplementary declaration of the 21st of March 1899 whereby

France recognized the upper Nile valley as in the British sphere of


Coming now to a more detailed consideration of the operations of the

powers, the growth of the Congo Free State, which

The growth of the Congo State.

occupied, geographically, a central position, may serve as the starting-

point for the story of the partition after the Berlin conference. In the

notification to the powers of the 1st of August 1885, the boundaries of the

Free State were set out in considerable detail. The limits thus determined

resulted partly from agreements made with France, Germany and Portugal, and

partly from treaties with native chiefs. The state acquired the north bank

of the Congo from its mouth to a point in the unnavigable reaches, and in

the interior the major part of the Congo basin. In the north-east the

northern limit was 4 deg. N. up to 30 deg. E., which formed the eastern

boundary of, the state. The south-eastern frontier claimed by King Leopold

extended to Lakes Tanganyika, Mweru and Bangweulu, but it was not until

some years later that it was recognized and defined by the agreement of May

1894 with Great Britain. The international character of King Leopold's

enterprise had not long been maintained, and his recognition as sovereign

of the Free State confirmed the distinctive character which the Association

had assumed, even before that event.

In April 1887 France was informed that the right of pre-emption accorded

to her in 1884 had not been intended by King Leopold to prejudice Belgium's

right to acquire the Congo State, and in reply the French minister at

Brussels took note of the explanation, ``in so far as this interpretation

is not contrary to pre-existing international engagements.'' By his will,

dated the 2nd of August 1889, King Leopold made Belgium formally heir to

the sovereign rights of the Congo Free State. In 1895 an annexation bill

was introduced into the Belgian parliament, but at that time Belgium had no

desire to assume responsibility for the Congo State, and the bill was

withdrawn. In 1901, by the terms of a loan granted in 1890, Belgium had

again an opportunity of annexing the Congo State, but a bill in favour of

annexation was opposed by the government and was withdrawn after King

Leopold had declared that the time was not ripe for the transfer.

Concessionaire companies and a Domaine de la Couronne had been created in

the state, from which the sovereign derived considerable revenues—facts

which helped to explain the altered attitude of Leopold II. The agitation

in Great Britain and America against the Congo system of government, and

the admissions of an official commission of inquiry concerning its

maladministration, strengthened, however, the movement in favour of

transfer. Nevertheless in June 1906 the king again declared himself opposed

to immediate annexation. But under pressure of public opinion the Congo

government concluded, 28th of November 1907, a new annexation treaty. As it

stipulated for the continued existence of the crown domain the treaty

provoked vehement opposition. Leopold II. was forced to yield, and an

additional act was signed, 5th of March 1908, providing for the suppression

of the domain in return for financial subsidies. The treaty, as amended,

was approved by the Belgian parliament in the session of 1908. Thus the

Congo state, after an existence of 24 years as an independent power, became

a Belgian colony. (See CONGO FREE STATE.)

The area of the Free State, vast as it was, did not suffice to satisfy

the ambition of its sovereign. King Leopold maintained that the Free State

enjoyed equally with any other state the right to extend its frontiers. His

ambition involved the state in the struggle between Great Britain and

France for the upper Nile. To understand the situation it is necessary to

remember the condition of the Egyptian Sudan at that time. The mahdi,

Mahommed Ahmed, had preached a holy war against the Egyptians, and, after

the capture of Khartum and the death of General C. G. Gordon, the Sudan was

abandoned to the dervishes. The Egyptian frontier was withdrawn to Wadi

Haifa, and the vast provinces of Kordofan, Darfur and the Bahr-el-Ghazal

were given over to dervish tyranny and misrule. It was obvious that Egypt

would sooner or later seek to recover her position in the Sudan, as the

command of the upper Nile was recognized as essential to her continued

prosperity. But the international position of the abandoned provinces was

by no means clear. The British government, by the Anglo-German agreement of

July 1890, had secured the assent of Germany to the statement that the

British sphere of influence in East Africa was bounded on the west by the

Congo Free State and by ``the western watershed of the basin of the upper

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