What Was The Driving Force Behind European Imperialism In Africa

Subject: Culture
Type: Argumentative Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 871
Topics: Africa, Imperialism


Africa is a remarkable continent, a nation that is rich in unspoiled beauty, natural resources and oil. According to studies, in 2017, it had a population of about 1.2 billion people. However, we can boldly state that the long-term consequences of European imperialism in the late 1870s can still be visible even today, in our modern world. We have to acknowledge the question of what exactly were the driving forces of European imperialism in Africa. Of course, the leading driving forces of European imperialism in Africa are various resources, power and national Darwinism/nationality.

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The origin of imperialism in Africa and natural resources as the driving force behind it

Back in the past, Europeans discovered that Africa possessed abundant natural resources, and in the necessity or desire to gain control over these resources, Europe decided to imperialize Africa. Initially, between 1500 and 1800, European slave owners and traders did not dare to go far from the African coast. This was due to the incurable at that time terrible disease — malaria. And even at that period, imperialization or even the establishment of colonies was the fundamental reason and intention for Europe. It was purely after the prohibition of the export of Africans into slavery that Europe’s concern for Africa became scientific. Following that, Europeans observed that Africa had a considerable number of natural resources that could be exported from Africa to generate money and improve their economies. These developments led to the Scramble for Africa”. However, since the European countries did not genuinely want to go to war with each other, they organized the “Berlin Conference” in 1884-1885. The European countries seized Africa and carved it into pieces for themselves, appreciating everyone who desired Africa except the natives of Africa themselves. In this way the imperialization of Africa began. The countries of Europe followed this and began to share Africa among themselves. With this transferred modern technologies that allowed collecting more resources more quickly and condemned the once self-reliant Africa to destruction.

The desire for absolute power as the driving force behind European imperialism in Africa

In the aftermath of the Scramble for Africa, the vast majority of European powers realized that they could become more dominant than the neighboring nations and dominate them. The desire for absolute power and maximum possible control is the driving force behind European imperialization in Africa. When states captured African resources and exchanged them, many of them perceived it as a method to acquire power over their surrounding rivals. Governments would not purely have a substantial influence in Africa and their own countries, but also control over the actions of their neighbors. The more goods exported from Africa, the more products states would be able to offer to European countries, which would come to depend on them as a distinctive source and indispensable trading partner. We can explore the justification of imperialism in Africa from the point of view of the British and Germans. In both positions the word “power” is present. From the British point of view, their most important goal is to spread England’s power on land and at sea, and similarly we see from the German point of view that they want to confirm and preserve their recently gained position of power for a long time. Countries desperately want to prove that they are more influential, more developed than other nations and their power is to be feared. To gain the necessary influence in the international arena, states must take as much as possible from Africa. The thirst for power forces them to essentially steal from Africa.

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Darwinism as the driving forces behind European imperialism in Africa

With the desire to gain power through resources, European imperialism rapidly drives nations to phenomena such as nationalism or Darwinism. Darwinism is fundamentally the Darwinian theory that species come by descent, with modifications, from parental forms, through the natural selection of those specimens that are best adapted for the breeding success of their species. Put another way, it justifies the concept that some people are better than others for the fact that they inherited better features than everyone else. Each nation required their state to be the best, which prompted the governments of each country to take more and more from Africans, no matter the cost. In this process, for the superiority in all aspects of many nations, the absolute destruction of Africa is clearly observed.

One could argue that the desire for power, resources or the concept of nationalism was not indeed the driving force behind European imperialism. It was the technology that was introduced with the industrial revolution. However, states had weapons and technology prior to the imperialization of Africa, but it was only when they began to “explore” and colonize that they obtained more sophisticated technology. Technology was not the driving force behind European imperialism, but it supported the driving forces.


Therefore, the three primary driving forces of European imperialism were power, resources and Darwinism. This resulted in many countries carving up Africa for its resources in order to obtain dominance over each other and prove that they were better than each other. The consequences of imperialism, nevertheless, cause their effects on Africa today. It all begins with the human drive for power, vast resources and nationalism.

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