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Motives for British Imperialism in Africa

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Motives for British Imperialism in Africa

Before the Europeans began the New Imperialism in Africa, very little was known about the inner parts of the continent. However, after some explorers delved deeper into the heart of Africa, the Europeans soon realized how economically important this area was, and how much they could profit from it. At the time, Britain had only small occupations of land in Africa, but after they realized that they could make money from the rich resources from the inner regions of Africa, they wanted to invade the African countries and take over. This led to the scramble and ultimately, the partition of Africa. During the Age of Imperialism, from 1870-1914, Britain was a major country, which proved to be true in the "carving up" and division of Africa. Britain was one of the strongest of the European countries, and had the power to take over much of the most valuable lands with the most rich and abundant supplies of raw materials and other resources. There were five main reasons for their imperialism. They were political and military interests, humanitarian and religious goals, ideological, exploratory, and lastly, but most importantly, economic interests.

As for the political reasons, Britain simply wanted to remain competitive with other countries, such as Germany and France. At the time, the British had no allies, and the other countries such as France and Germany, were getting economically more stable. By taking over Africa, and setting up colonies, they would have allies and a sense of protection. Germany and France were also some of the bigger powers in Europe, and the British feared them because they needed to keep up with the competition of their rival countries. They were pretty much forced to practice imperialism because of the growing threat of Germany and France. The British continued to be imperialists until the beginning of World War 1, in 1914, because they feared that they might lose their empire. They conquered and added on many parts of Africa, such as Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, the Suez Canal, etcÐ'... In most cases, the reasons for this was that were able to colonize these people and gain alliances with them and also to send out the message to other countries that they were still competitive. One prime example of this, was how Britain bought the Suez Canal into their own power. Fredinand de Lesseps, a French entrepreneur, built the Suez Canal along with his company. Because this waterway was built in the country of Egypt, the ruler was the one who funded this project. However, money ran short, and he was unable to pay off the loans he had due. Therefore, in order to pay off his debts, he was forced to sell portions of the canal to Britain and remained to do so until the British gained control of it. This is example is directly related to the most important reason of British imperialism, economic, as will be discussed in the second to last paragraph.

The exploratory reasons was perhaps the least significant, however it did play a somewhat important reason in British imperialism. Before the Age of Imperialism, the inner parts of Africa's landmass were not familiar to Britain, and other countries. Numerous expeditions of explorers revealed much of the geographical features of this continent. In this category, the name of the most influential figure of exploration must be mentioned, and that was Dr. David Livingstone of Britain. He was the most famous and recognized explorer-missionary. David Livingstone became the first of explorers to enter the depths of inner Africa. He took notes of all his accounts and opinions of what went on. With a more accurate land recognization, it made it easier for the British to go into Africa and take over.

The ideological reasons for the Age of Imperialism pertained to all of the European countries. However, Britain was the most influential, because they were strongest. They believed that they were the superiority of the world because of their race. Many Europeans thought that the conquering and destroying other weaker races was the best way of life and improving the species of human beings. They took up the scientific ideas of natural selection and the survival of the fittest and applied the concepts to the human social world.

However, some westerners actually genuinely thought that they should help and westernize the inferior countries of the world. The British went into Africa, thinking that it was their duty to spread their advances of medicine, law, western civilization, and the Christian religion. This was proved to be embraced in the "anthem of imperialism," called the White Man's Burden by Rudyard Kipling. He expressed in the poem that the duty of the "white man" was to teach and help the people who they cast the inferior rank to. However, it is hard to believe that this was Britain's most important goal in their imperialism.

Finally, the most important reason to British imperialism was their desire to advance economically. Their economy was primarily based on trade, and because colonies could be added as a form of imperial control, it only furthered and expanded trade. Because such countries as Germany and France began to rise to power, Britain

was confronted with competition, so they felt that they had to take the African land first. The British feared that as the other countries began to become stronger and more stable, they would steal their markets, so that is how the scramble for Africa starts. As for the Suez Canal, it became extremely important for money making

The French, who built the Suez Canal in Egypt, s the dilemma between constant competition with continental Europe is in the case of Egypt. The French had retained control of the land in the Versailles Treaty and in 1869 the great French engineer Lesseps built the Suez canal as a money making scheme for France to grant passage for traders interested in an easier route to the east. However, such a project takes funding, so the French owners of the canal sold pieces off as stock. The British took advantage of this and bought the canal away from the French establishing the feud between France and England over control of Egypt. The British then bought off the Egyptian Khedive, further establishing their power in the area. British control of Egypt, the Suez, and even the Nile river is marked by a constant competition with France. In 1882 when Arab forces attempted to seize Egypt from European hands, the British out-did the French by taking on the strong military role and crushing the Arab forces.

fter 1890, the reasons behind British imperialism in Africa were the same, with a new one added. The British had no allies. Colonies would provide them with allies around the world. They believed

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