African Timelines Part IV: Anti-Colonialism – Reconstruction #northpark #edu


Part IV: Anti-Colonialism
19th to mid-20th centuries
African TimelinesTable of ContentsHistory, Orature, Literature, Film
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British abolish slavery in West Indies.
Emancipation of slaves in the United States in midst of Civil War.

Written Swahili poetry of Eastern and Southern African moves beyond Arabic themes to takes up such indigenous Bantu forms as ritual songs. The great religious poem,Utendi wa Inkishafi(Soul’s Awakening), written by Sayyid Abdallah bin Nasir, illustrates the vanity of earthly life through an account of the fall of the city-state of Pate.

1936 postage stamp of Zanzibar, a Swahili city, celebrating the Silver Jubilee of Sultan Kalif bin Harub ( British Library, Africa Collections: Prints, Drawings, Photographs):

Black African journalism and secular literatureemerge by writers educated in Europe or in European mission and government schools of the subSaharan colonies; e.g. in the Gold Coast [Ghana], newspapers established offering stories and Poets Corner, using British literary models but putting to new African uses. Africans increasingly publish creative writings in a number of African and European languages. By 1880s, literature of self-glorification and justification of Africanness prepares the way for resistance literature rejecting British and European culture.

TheNew Era, established in 1855, was the first newspaper in Sierra Leone to be owned by a private individual. The independent African newspaper press was used as a means of expressing opposition to various of the local governors :
Front page of New Era. vol. 3, no. 14, 29 June 1857
( British Library, Africa Collections: Prints, Drawings, Photographs):

Project Gutenberg at SAILOR: Maryland’s Online Public Information Network, offers David Livingstone’sTravels and Researches in South Africa; Including a Sketch of Sixteen Years’ Residence in the Interior of Africa, and a Journey from the Cape of Good Hope to Loanda on the West Coast; Thence Across the Continent, Down the River Zambesi, to the Eastern Ocean . (London, 1857):
Pathway. Project Gutenberg Electronic Texts: Listing by Author L Livingstone

Global European Imperialism at its height: The scramble for Africa proceeds, rationalized as a civilizing mission based on white supremacy. Europeans assert their spheres of interest in African colonies arbitrarily, cutting across traditionally established boundaries, homelands, and ethnic groupings of African peoples and cultures. Following a divide and rule theory, Europeans promote traditional inter-ethnic hostilities. The European onslaught of Africa that began in the mid 1400s progressed to various conquests over the continent, and culminated over 400 years later with the partitioning of Africa. Armed with guns, fortified by ships, driven by the industry of capitalist economies in search of cheap raw materials, and unified by a Christian and racist ideology against the African ‘heathen,’ aggressive European colonial interests followed their earlier merchant and missionary inroads into Africa
–Prof. Malaika Mutere, Howard Univ. African Culture Aesthetics, African Odyssey Interactive:
[Thank you, Lisa, for repairing this link.

In a late essay, Joseph Conrad described the actions of King Leopold II and other imperialists as . the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience and geographical exploration.

Symbols of Royal Power: Soul Washer’s Badge (Detroit Institute of Arts’ African, Oceanic, and New World Cultures: African Art), taken from the Asante king’s bedroom by Lieutenant R.C. Annesley of the 79th Queens Own Cameron Highlanders, when a British military expedition captured the Asante capital of Kumasi ( Gold Coast, now Ghana) on February 4, 1874.)

Mapping Colonial Conquest.
Consider the map of the world, with its 190 or so countries, each signified by a bold and uniform color: this map, with which all of us have grown up, is generally an invention of modernism, specifically of European colonialism.
–Robert Kaplan, The Coming Anarchy Atlantic Monthly Feb. 1994. Rpt. Atlantic Online

Map of Africa – 1885from Black s General Atlas of the World. While this map of Scottish cartographer John Bartholomew was being printed in Edinburgh, representatives of the major European powers were gathered in Berlin poring over similar maps and drawing lines on them lines that would become the political boundaries for colonial empires that would dominate African history for the next 75 years. Teaching with Maps. Newberry Library, 2000

Gallica (Bibliotheque nationale, France – in French: ) offers online exhibits of images from 19th century books and journals. Even if you can’t read French, review illustrations from African travelogues and ethnographies from the Library of the Musee de l’Homme – click on thumbnails to view larger images – including:

Color illustrations of Senegalese women and men from Esquisses s�n�galaises, Physionomie dupays, Peuplades, Commerce, Religion, Pass� et avenir, R�cits et l�gendes . by L’Abb� P. David Boilat (Paris: P. Bertrand, 1853): O=02300128

The Berlin Conference: Intense rivalries among Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, and Portugal for additional African territory, and the ill-defined boundaries of their various holdings, instigate the Berlin conference. Here the powers of Europe, together with the United States, defined their spheres of influence and laid down rules for future occupation on the coasts of Africa and for navigation of the Zaire and Niger rivers. No African states were invited to the Berlin conference, and none signed these agreements. Whenever possible, Africans resisted decisions made in Europe, but revolts in Algeria, in the western Sudan, in Dahomey, by the Matabele (Ndebele) and Shona, in Ashantiland, in Sierra Leone, and in the Fulani Hausa states were eventually defeated.

  • Berlin Conference: 1884Africa South of the Sahara Chronology (David W. Koeller, History Dept. Northpark Univ. 1996-1999):
  • Scramble for Africa(Brett N. Silva, IB History Page, Pleasant Valley High School, Chico, CA)with informative links:


  • Imperialism in Africa, with links to student projects(also Brett N. Silva, IB History Page):
  • The Berlin Conference and the Diplomacy of the European ‘Scramble for Africa’(Dr. David Leaver, History Dept. Raymond Walters College, Univ. of Cincinnati)

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