History of Colonial Africa

History of Colonial Africa

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The history of colonial Africa began with the arrival of the Portuguese. They were the first Europeans to enter the slave trade in the late 15th century. They traded for slaves at first, and for 400 years, they limited their involvement to trading stations on the African coast. From there, they sent slaves to Europe, often as household servants, and later to Brazil as plantation slaves. Few slave traders dared venture inland from the coast, deterred by disease and hostile tribes in the interior. But technology helped to overcome these obstacles. Increasingly lethal weaponry was developed that included repeating rifles, the Maxim machine gun, and artillery. And the discovery in 1854 of quinine provided an effective preventative of malaria. Diseases such as yellow fever, sleeping sickness, leprosy, yaws, and most of all, malaria, made Africa a very challenging environment for Europeans.

There were compelling motives for Europe’s conquest of Africa. Raw materials were needed for the industries of the Industrial Revolution. The prestige of owning African colonies showed strength to rivals, and missionaries spread Christianity. This culminated in the Scramble for Africa among European empires in the 19th century, whether for raw materials, strategic prominence, or as part of an effort to develop enduring colonies.

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Colonial Africa Index | Society: European PrimaryChange | Religion: ChristianitySpirit ChurchesIslam in Africa: Jihad | Power: GovernanceEconomic and Social ChangeScramble for Africa: France and BritainResistance | Slavery: Trans-Atlantic Slave TradeKingdom of AsanteKingdom of Dahomey Kingdom of Kongo Kingdom of NdongoKingdom of OyoEnd to the Slave Trade | Pre-World War I | World War II | British Colonies | Challenge to Colonial Rule | Shaka ZuluIndependence Movements | Pan-Africanism | African National Congress | Economy | East Africa: Power: PolitiesProgression | Ethiopia: ReligionPower: RevivalDisintegration | Kenya | Central Africa | North Africa | Southern Africa: SocietyPower: ColonizationMoshoeshoe | West Africa

Colonial Africa: Index


Society: European Primacy

Society: Change


Religion: Spirit Churches

Religion: Christianity

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Religion: Islam in Africa

Islam in Africa: Jihad


Power: Governance

Power: Social and Economic Change

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Power: Scramble for Africa

Scramble for Africa: France and Britain

Scramble for Africa: Resistance

Power: Slavery

Slavery: Transatlantic Slave Trade

Slavery: Kingdom of Asante

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Slavery: Kingdom of Dahomey

Slavery: Kingdom of Kongo

Slavery: Kingdom of Ndongo

Slavery: Kingdom of Oyo

Slavery: End of the Slave Trade

Power: Colonial Rule Pre-World War I

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Power: World War II

Power: British Colonies

Power: Challenge to Colonial Rule

Power: Shaka Zulu

Power: Independence Movements

Power: Pan-Africanism

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Power: African National Congress


East Africa

East Africa: Power

Power: Polities

Power: Progression

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East Africa: Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Religion

Ethiopia: Power

Power: Revival

Power: Disintegration

East Africa: Kenya

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Central Africa

North Africa

Southern Africa

Southern Africa: Society

Southern Africa: Power

Power: Colonization

Power: Moshoeshoe

West Africa

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