Ideological Motives Caused the Scramble for Africa: White Man’s Burden

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In the early 19th century the Monroe doctrine was set by the United States, this doctrine stopped European colonialism in the Western Hemisphere. This caused wealthy western powers to rush to gain new colonies in Africa. The driving forces behind European imperialism in Africa were economic, political and ideological.

There were various economic reasons for western powers to imperialize Africa such as vast resources and capitalism opportunities. In the document, D shows,” Angola, cotton, palm oil, palm kernel oil, coffee, and sugar. Fabrics, soap, candles, food products and food processing.” This shows what different resources each different colony exported. This document also shows whether each resource that was exported was used for industrial or economic reasons. In document E shows,” Africa, south of Sahara 1854 (less than 5 million British pounds). Africa, south of Sahara 1900 (around 27 million British pounds).” This document graphs out how much of a difference there was in profits throughout these two different centuries. It also color-codes the amount difference throughout the years. These were the two reasons that seemed to sum up the entire economical aspect of the African industrialization and colonization.

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There were also several political reasons in place. Such as increasing their land control, and increasing conquest in foreign lands. In document A, it maps out what colonies belonged to which country according to the berlin conference. This conference took place in 1884. The purpose of the Berlin conference was to divide up Africa between the European powers. In document C, depicts a wreath with all of Britain’s colonies, two ships one wooden and the other made of metal, and at the top of both it has a slogan which states,” An Empire on which the sun never sets.” This slogan means that the British Empire had colonies in every different time zone and that the sun was always up in at least one colony. Also, the two ships are believed to symbolize that the British empire was around for thousands of years in which ships were being built first out of wood and secondly out of steel. These reasons that played a major role in the political aspect of the scramble to colonize the African continent.

Finally, various ideological motives caused the scramble for Africa. Such as the White Man’s Burden race superiority. In document F, The white man’s burden, it states, “Take up the white man’s burden- The savage of peace Fill full the mouth of famine And bid the sickness cease and when your goal is nearest The end for others sought…”. This excerpt’s meaning can be perceived as this poem calling white men to go aid others even if it is not needed which would then be used as an excuse for taking over other lands. On the other hand, Lulu Baxter replied to Rudyard Kipling’s notorious poem with his poem called “The black man’s burden” in which he states, “Take off the black man’s burden, His mind can then expand. He’ll prove you are equal in the race, stand every whit a man. We’ll wait till the burden is lifted, and to those who crush us down, will come to the words of God to Cain, Thy brother’s blood crieth from the ground.” This excerpt from his poem can be perceived as stating that the African people were the ones who truly carried the burden of being colonized. Another ideological aspect was that white people believed that they were superior to the other races which caused them to not care for their actions against said races. As article B states,” But should not the German nation who is fundamentally so very capable so seaworthy so industrially and commercially minded successfully pave the way for this new course,”. This section of the document can be perceived as the Germans believe that the African people were not capable of industrializing and advancing on their own. This also meant that the Germans and other eastern powers believe that the African people are inferior.

In conclusion, the main forces behind the colonization of the African continent were economic, political, and ideological. Most of these reasons will still be present later on when the first world war begins to take off. 

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