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Allison Swann

Mr. Mogge

AP World History


African Response to Imperialism

Between 1800 and 1906 European colonialism of African countries escalated to an

unseen degree. At this point, colonialism took on a new name, imperialism. Imperialism is when

a country expands their rule on forigein domains for the purpose of securing political, economic,

and sociocultural control. The original response to European imperialism was not inherently

negative, with the posimises of cultivating a more sustainable and advanced society, but this was

not the reality. Imperialism was just an extended more legalized form of slavery. After the

Abolition of the Slave Trade Act was put itno law and enforced in the early 1800s slave trade

stopped, but the ability to go into other countries and use them for their economic rescources and

raw meaterials continued through impealrism. Although there there was an initial intrigued and

hopeful reaction to imperialism in Africa by European countries, maltreatment and abuse caused

by exploitation led to resistance to oppression from native African people.

In one way that imperialism was originally seen as a positive change, was in the contracts

created by the Royal Niger Company and signed by multiple African leaders in 1886. The Royal

Niger Company in the contract stated that these agreements were for “the bettering of our

country and people” but in this asked the chiefs to “cede to the Royal Niger Company” (D1). In

presenting themselves as working to better both countries they were deceiving countries about

their intentions in being there. Although this source is reliable in the sense that it is a primary

document, and a real one that was used, it was not reliable for the African people. The African

people were misled by this document ensuring that imperialism was for the better of both
countries. This is how it is useful in supporting the claim that although imperialism was

originally in good regards, as it actually played out it was extremely harmful. In addition,

represented in Document 4, this was not the case. Kumalo described their lives as similar to

slavery. He said “We were treated like slaves. They came and were overbearing. They harmed

our wives and children” (D4). So although countries represented themselves as benefit, they

oppressed the native people to an extreme extent.

This response to imperialism from Kumalo was not unique to the African people but

many chose to reissue imperialism through rebellions and wars, rather than continue to live

under this injustice. One such example is shown in Samuel Mahereo letter to another African

leader. In it he urges for rebellion, telling the leader “not to hold a lot from the uprising, but to

make your voice heard so that all Africa may take up arms against the Germans' ' (D7). And

many counties did fight back, through rebellion after colonization, or to prevent it. Ethopian is an

example of a war for prevention. In 1896, in the Battle of Adowa, Ethiopia fought Italy to senire

they could not imperialize Ethiopia, and they won. The painting in Document 5, shows the

different tribes and cultures all coming together to protect their country of Italy and being

victorious. This painting was also made from a particularly neutral standinding, coming from the

American Museum of Natural History. If this painting was made by and Italian painter, then the

viewpoint of accurate may be questionable, same as if it was painted by a Ethipoan painter. This

allows the document to perfectly represent the resistance to oppression that came about in

response to imperialism or its attempts.

Some countries had a different experience because colonizing countries addressed them

first, asking if they wanted protection of their forces present. But, they remained similar to other
Africa countries because despite expressing an initial unwillingness to have another country in

theirs, leaders were still ignored and forcefully imperialized. A prominent example of this being

the response to a British officer from an Ashanti leader. In which, the Ashanti leader explicitly

stated that that would “never commit itself to any such policy [the protection of England and

India]” (D2). Despite explicit staining this in 1891, in 1900 the British still came to West Africa

and abused the Ashanti people. The Queen Mother's speech to chiefs spoke in favor of rebellion,

stating that “ If it were the brave days of old, chiefs would not sit down to see their King taken

away without firing a shot” and that if the chiefs would not incite any action, their women of

West Africa would (D6). Document 2 was extremely useful in portraying the relationship

between countries that tried to protect themselves from imperialism, but were still forcefully

imperialised in a matter of years. Even when countries did not initially believe that imperialism

would benefit them, they were still forcefully invaded. This resistance to oppression was a

common trend throughout Africa.

There are other sources, that document imperialist countries giving their internet to

forcibly imperialize Africa countries as a way to further grow their own empires. One such

document was a ​speech​ given by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1901 to German troops before they

invaded African countries. In it he explicitly asserts that in order to stay a powerful entity,

they need to expand whether it be for “ journeys across the ocean, or in the service of the

battle flag”. In this speech he makes it clear that they are not going to other countries to

better them, but only to better themselves and make them stronger international powers,

especially economically. This shows how Germany and other countries deceived Afriacn

countries, just like in Document 1, but when their real intention came out African countries
related to resistance to oppression through rebellions and wars. Despite the initial innocent

appearance of Imperialism between 1880 and 1906 the horrible abuse caused by

exploitation led to resistance to oppression from native African people.