African History

by: sophie lee

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The Europeans first took an interest in Africa when they discovered Africa's slave trade

network. The Portuguese started the Transatlantic Slave Trade by adapting the existing slave trade to suit their own purposes. The Transatlantic Slave Trade and Middle Passage were both patterns of trade between Europe, the Americas, and Africa trading slaves and goods. The Europeans were interested in Africa even after the end of slavery because of Africa's abundant natural resources/raw materials, the want to expand their empire/territory (imperialism), expanding trade routes, and spreading Christianity. This was the age of colonialism (the forced control of one nation by another). When other European countries found out about Africa, they wanted a piece of land for themselves, too. Africa's land was distributed between Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain during the Berlin Conference. The Berlin Conference took place from 1884-1885 in Berlin, Germany. During the Conference, the European countries discussed how the land should be distributed. Even before the Berlin Conference took place, 10% of Africa was already under European rule. Ethiopia and Liberia were the only independent African countries. After the Berlin Conference, at least 90% of Africa was under European rule. The European colonization of Africa became known as the "Scramble for Africa".

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21st Century Issues in Africa

Some of the major issues in 21st century Africa are conflicts (such as civil war), genocide, drought, famine, poor education, poverty, and (epidemic) diseases (HIV, AIDS, and malaria). How are these issues linked? Poor education on issues such as diseases can lead to famine, poverty, and conflicts/genocide. Most of these issues occur in countries with a lot of poverty and areas where drought is not unusual. Conflicts/genocide has happened or are happening in Nigeria between the Igbo and Yoruba ethnic groups, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Sudan/South Sudan, and South Africa. Droughts (cause famine) have happened/are happening in large portions of Africa such as Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan. Poor education, poverty, and diseases are common in sub-Saharan Africa and Uganda.


CIVIL WAR- war between groups or regions of the same country in order to gain political power

GENOCIDE- systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group

DROUGHT- periods of little rainfall

FAMINE- mass starvation

POVERTY- difficulty meeting basic needs and wants (food, water, and shelter)

EPIDEMIC DISEASES- spread quickly and become widely prevalent throughout a given region

HIV- human immunodeficiency virus; virus that causes AIDS

AIDS-acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; a disease of the immune system caused by HIV which makes the infected person vulnerable to other diseases; can result in death

MALARIA- a tropical disease spread by mosquitoes

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Independence in Africa

At first, Africa and its inhabitants were under European rule, land partitioned and distributed during the Berlin Conference among the European nations that wanted to expand their empires/territories. Later on, after WWII/1950's & 1960's, African countries began to challenge European rule. Here, I will be explaining Kenyan, Nigerian, and South African independence and how the Pan-African Movement & nationalism led to their independence. First of all, what are the Pan-African Movement and nationalism? The Pan-African Movement is the idea that there is a global African community made up of native Africans and the descendants of African slaves and migrants across the world. It began in the late 1800’s-early 1900’s as a way to secure equal rights, self-government, independence, and unity for African people and encouraged self-awareness of Africans by encouraging the study of their history and culture.The Pan-African Movement marked the beginning of the nationalist movements that started to sweep across the continent, and also led to the founding of the African Union in 2001.Nationalism is a strong pride in one’s country and/or desire for self-government.

Nigerian independence from Britain is unique because it was granted its independence from Britain peacefully. Nationalist movements and organizations worked for Nigerian independence and eventually got it from Britain.

When the British took control of Kenya, many Kenyans believed that their land was taken unfairly. They organized a group known as the Mau Mau, which used force to win Kenyan independence and rights. The British mostly defeated the Mau Mau, but violence continued between the two groups. Over time, overwhelming support of the Mau Mau from Kenyans gave the British no choice but to give back Kenya's independence.

White settlers of South Africa began to call themselves "Afrikaners" and established Apartheid, an official policy of racial discrimination. it required segregation and took away the few rights black Africans had. The Dutch government took away their citizenship, forced to move onto crowded areas far from cities called "Homelands", and could not vote. Black Africans always had to travel with a pass and a white citizen; the punishment for traveling without pass and/or white citizen would be a beating. To protest their poor treatment, groups such as the African National Congress were formed to fight for rights, freedoms, and independence. Eventually, the United Nations declared Apartheid a crime against humanity, so South Africa and its citizens were free once again.