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in the Gabun country between 1855 and 1859, made popular in Europe the

knowledge of the existence of the gorilla, perhaps the gigantic ape seen by

Hanno the Carthaginian, and whose existence, up to the middle of the 19th

century, was thought to be as legendary as that of the Pygmies of


In South Africa the filling up of the map also proceeded apace. The

finding, in 1869, of rich diamond fields in the valley of the Vaal river,

near its confluence with the Orange, caused a rush of emigrants to that

district, and led to conflicts between the Dutch and British authorities

and the extension of British authority northward. In 1871 the ruins of the

great Zimbabwe in Mashonaland, the chief fortress and distributing centre

of the race which in medieval times worked the goldfields of South-East

Africa, were explored by Karl Mauch. In the following year F. C. Selous

began his journeys over South Central Africa, which continued for more than

twenty years and extended over every part of Mashonaland and Matabeleland.

(F. R. C.)


In the last quarter of the 19th century the map of Africa was

transformed. After the discovery of the Congo the story of exploration

takes second place; the continent becomes the theatre of European

expansion. Lines of partition, drawn often through trackless wildernesses,

marked out the possessions of Germany, France, Great Britain and other

powers. Railways penetrated the interior, vast areas were opened up to

civilized occupation, and from ancient Egypt to the Zambezi the continent

was startled into new life.

Before 1875 the only powers with any considerable interest in Africa were

Britain, Portugal and France. Between 1815 and 1850, as has been shown

above, the British government devoted much energy, not always informed by

knowledge, to western and southern Africa. In both directions Great Britain

had met with much discouragement; on the west coast, disease, death,

decaying trade and useless conflicts with savage foes had been the normal

experience; in the south recalcitrant Boers and hostile Kaffirs caused

almost endless trouble. The visions once entertained of vigorous negro

communities at once civilized and Christian faded away; to the hot fit of

philanthropy succeeded the cold fit of indifference and a disinclination to

bear the burden of empire. The low-water mark of British interest in South

Africa was reached in 1854 when independence was forced on the Orange River

Boers, while in 1865 the mind of the nation was fairly reflected by the

unanimous resolution of a representative House of Commons committee:10

``that all further extension of territory or assumption of government, or

new treaty offering any protection to native tribes, would be

inexpedient.'' For nearly twenty years the spirit of that resolution

paralysed British action in Africa, although many circumstances—the absence

of any serious European rival, the inevitable border disputes with

uncivilized races, and the activity of missionary and trader—conspired to

make British influence dominant in large areas of the continent over which

the government exercised no definite authority. The freedom with which

blood and treasure were spent to enforce respect for the British flag or to

succour British subjects in distress, as in the Abyssinian campaign of 1867-

68 and the Ashanti war of 1873, tended further to enhance the reputation of

Great Britain among African races, while, as an inevitable result of the

possession of India, British officials exercised considerable power at the

court of Zanzibar, which indeed owed its separate existence to a decision

of Lord Canning, the governor-general of India, in 1861 recognizing the

division of the Arabian and African dominions of the imam of Muscat.

It has been said that Great Britain was without serious rival. On the

Gold Coast she had bought the Danish forts in 1850 and acquired the Dutch,

1871-1872, in exchange for establishments in Sumatra. But Portugal still

held, both in the east and west of Africa, considerable stretches of the

tropical coast-lands, and it was in 1875 that she obtained, as a result of

the arbitration of Marshal MacMahon, possession of the whole of Delagoa

Bay, to the southern part of which England also laid claim by virtue of a

treaty of cession concluded with native chiefs in 1823. The only other

European power which at the period under consideration had considerable

possessions in Africa was France. Besides Algeria, France had settlements

on the Senegal, where in 1854 the appointment of General Faidherbe as

governor marked the beginning of a policy of expansion; she had also

various posts on the upper Guinea coast, had taken the estuary of the Gabun

as a station for her navy, and had acquired (1862) Obok at the southern

entrance to the Red Sea.

In North Africa the Turks had (in 1835) assumed direct control of

Tripoli, while Morocco had fallen into a state of decay though retaining

its independence. The most remarkable change was in Egypt, where the

Khedive Ismail had introduced a somewhat fantastic imitation of European

civilization. In addition Ismail had conquered Darfur, annexed Harrar and

the Somali ports on the Gulf of Aden, was extending his power southward to

the equatorial lakes, and even contemplated reaching the Indian Ocean. The

Suez Canal, opened in 1869, had a great influence on the future of Africa,

as it again made Egypt the highway to the East, to the detriment of the

Cape route.

Any estimate of the area of African territory held by European nations in

1875 is necessarily but approximate, and varies chiefly

The division of the continent in 1875.

as the compiler of statistics rejects or accepts the vague claims of

Portugal to sovereignty over the hinterland of her coast possessions. At

that period other European nations—with the occasional exception of Great

Britain—were indifferent to Portugal's pretensions, and her estimate of her

African empire as covering over 700,000 sq. m. was not challenged.11 But

the area under effective control of Portugal at that time did not exceed

40,000 sq. m. Great Britain then held some 250,000 sq. m., France about

170,000 sq. m. and Spain 1000 sq.m. The area of the independent Dutch

republics (the Transvaal and Orange Free State) was some 150,000 sq. m., so

that the total area of Africa ruled by Europeans did not exceed 1,271,000

sq. m.; roughly one-tenth of the continent. This estimate, as it admits the

full extent of Portuguese claims and does not include Madagascar, in

reality considerably overstates the case.

Egypt and the Egyptian Sudan, Tunisia and Tripoli were subject in

differing ways to the overlordship of the sultan of Turkey, and with these

may be ranked, in the scale of organized governments, the three principal

independent states, Morocco, Abyssinia and Zanzibar, as also the negro

republic of Liberia. There remained, apart from the Sahara, roughly one

half of Africa, lying mostly within the tropics, inhabited by a multitude

of tribes and peoples living under various forms of government and subject

to frequent changes in respect of political organization. In this region

were the negro states of Ashanti, Dahomey and Benin on the west coast, the

Mahommedan sultanates of the central Sudan, and a number of negro kingdoms

in the east central and south central regions. Of these Uganda on the north-

west shores of Victoria Nyanza, Cazembe and Muata Hianvo (or Yanvo) may be

mentioned. The two last-named kingdoms occupied respectively the south-

eastern and south-western parts of the Congo basin. In all this vast region

the Negro and Negro-Bantu races predominated, for the most part untouched

by Mahommedanism or Christian influences. They lacked political cohesion,

and possessed neither the means nor the inclination to extend their

influence beyond their own borders. The exploitation of Africa continued to

be entirely the work of alien races.

The causes which led to the partition of Africa may now be considered.

They are to be found in the economic and political

Causes which led to partition.

state of western Europe at the time. Germany, strong and united as the

result of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, was seeking new outlets for her

energies —new markets for her growing industries, and with the markets,

colonies. Yet the idea of colonial expansion was of slow growth in Germany,

and when Prince Bismarck at length acted Africa was the only field left to

exploit, South America being protected from interference by the known

determination of the United States to enforce the Monroe Doctrine, while

Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain already held

most of the other regions of the world where colonization was possible. For

different reasons the war of 1870 was also the starting-point for France in

the building up of a new colonial empire. In her endeavour to regain the

position lost in that war France had to look beyond Europe. To the two

causes mentioned must be added others. Great Britain and Portugal, when

they found their interests threatened, bestirred themselves, while Italy

also conceived it necessary to become an African power. Great Britain awoke

to the need for action too late to secure predominance in all the regions

where formerly hers was the only European influence. She had to contend not

only with the economic forces which urged her rivals to action, but had

also to combat the jealous opposition of almost every European nation to

the further growth of British power. Italy alone acted throughout in

cordial co-operation with Great Britain.

It was not, however, the action of any of the great powers of Europe

which precipitated the struggle. This was brought about by the ambitious

projects of Leopold II, king of the Belgians. The discoveries of

Livingstone, Stanley and others had aroused especial interest among two

classes of men in western Europe, one the manufacturing and trading class,

which saw in Central Africa possibilities of commercial development, the

other the philanthropic and missionary class, which beheld in the newly

discovered lands millions of savages to Christianize and civilize. The

possibility of utilizing both these classes in the creation of a vast

state, of which he should be the chief, formed itself in the mind of

Leopold II. even before Stanley had navigated the Congo. The king's action

was immediate; it proved successful; but no sooner was the nature of his

project understood in Europe than it provoked the rivalry of France and

Germany, and thus the international struggle was begun.

Conflicting ambitions of the European powers.

At this point it is expedient, in the light of subsequent events, to set

forth the designs then entertained by the European powers that participated

in the struggle for Africa. Portugal was striving to retain as large a

share as possible of her shadowy empire, and particularly to establish her

claims to the Zambezi region, so as to secure a belt of territory across

Africa from Mozambique to Angola. Great Britain, once aroused to the

imminence of danger, put forth vigorous efforts in East Africa and on the

Niger, but her most ambitious dream was the establishment of an unbroken

line of British possessions and spheres of influence from south to north of

the continent, from Cape Colony to Egypt. Germany's ambition can be easily

described. It was to secure as much as possible, so as to make up for lost

opportunities. Italy coveted Tripoli, but that province could not be seized

without risking war. For the rest Italy's territorial ambitions were

confined to North-East Africa, where she hoped to acquire a dominating,

influence over Abyssinia. French ambitions, apart from Madagascar, were

confined to the northern and central portions of the continent. To extend

her possessions on the Mediterranean littoral, and to connect them with her

colonies in West Africa, the western Sudan, and on the Congo, by

establishing her influence over the vast intermediate regions, was France's

first ambition. But the defeat of the Italians in Abyssinia and the

impending downfall of the khalifa's power in the valley of the upper Nile

suggested a still more daring project to the French government—none other

than the establishment of French influence over a broad belt of territory

stretching across the continent from west to east, from Senegal on the

Atlantic coast to the Gulf of Aden. The fact that France possessed a small

part of the Red Sea coast gave point to this design. But these conflicting

ambitions could not all be realized and Germany succeeded in preventing

Great Britain obtaining a continuous band of British territory from south

to north,while Great Britain, by excluding France from the upper Nile

valley, dispelled the French dream of an empire from west to east. King

Leopold's ambitions have already been indicated. The part of the continent

to which from the first he directed his energies was the equatorial region.

In September 1876 he took what may be described as the first definite step

in the modern partition of the continent. He summoned to a conference at

Brussels representatives of Great Britain, Belgium, France, Germany,

Austria-Hungary, Italy and Russia, to deliberate on the best methods to be

adopted for the exploration and civilization of Africa, and the opening up

of the interior of the continent to commerce and industry. The conference

was entirely unofficial. The delegates who attended neither represented nor

pledged their respective governments. Their deliberations lasted three days

and resulted in the foundation of ``The International African

Association,'' with its headquarters at Brussels. It was further resolved

to establish national committees in the various countries represented,

which should collect funds and appoint delegates to the International

Association. The central idea appears to have been to put the exploration

and development of Africa upon an international footing. But it quickly

became apparent that this was an unattainable ideal. The national

committees were soon working independently of the International

Association, and the Association itself passed through a succession of

stages until it became purely Belgian in character, and at last developed

into the Congo Free State, under the personal sovereignty of King Leopold.

At first the Association devoted itself to sending expeditions to the great

central lakes from the east coast; but failure, more or less complete

attended its efforts in this direction, and it was not until the return of

Stanley, in January 1878, from his great journey down the Congo, that its

ruling spirit, King Leopold, definitely turned his thoughts towards the

Congo. In June of that year, Stanley visited the king at Brussels, and in

the following November a private conference was held, and a committee was

appointed for the investigation of the upper Congo.

Stanley's remarkable discovery had stirred ambition in other capitals

than Brussels. France had always taken a keen interest

The struggle for the Congo.

in West Africa, and in the years 1875 to 1878 Savorgnan de Brazza had

carried out a successful exploration of the Ogowe river to the south of the

Gabun. De Brazza determined that the Ogowe did not offer that great

waterway into the interior of which he was in search, and he returned to

Europe without having heard of the discoveries of Stanley farther south.

Naturally, however, Stanley's discoveries were keenly followed in France.

In Portugal, too, the discovery of the Congo, with its magnificent unbroken

waterway of more than a thousand miles into the heart of the continent

served to revive the languid energies of the Portuguese, who promptly began

to furbish up claims whose age was in inverse ratio to their validity.

Claims, annexations and occupations were in the air, and when in January

1879 Stanley left Europe as the accredited agent of King Leopold and the

Congo committee, the strictest secrecy was observed as to his real aims and

intentions. The expedition was, it was alleged, proceeding up the Congo to

assist the Belgian expedition which had entered from the east coast, and

Stanley himself went first to Zanzibar. But in August 1879 Stanley found

himself again at Banana Point, at the mouth of the Congo, with, as he

himself has written, ``the novel mission of sowing along its banks

civilized settlements to peacefully conquer and subdue it, to remould it in

harmony with modern ideas into national states, within whose limits the

European merchant shall go hand in hand with the dark African trader, and

justice and law and order shall prevail, and murder and lawlessness and the

cruel barter of slaves shall be overcome.'' The irony of human aspirations

was never perhaps more plainly demonstrated than in the contrast between

the ideal thus set before themselves by those who employed Stanley, and the

actual results of their intervention in Africa. Stanley founded his first

station at Vivi, between the mouth of the Congo and the rapids that

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