What are some examples of European exploitation of African resources?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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One notorious example of European exploitation of African resources occurred in the Congo in the late nineteenth century. The region was controlled essentially as a private fief by King Leopold II of Belgium, and he invested heavily in companies that he in turn gave the rights to exploit the region's resources, especially wild rubber. Agents of the rubber firms operated with complete impunity in the region, setting quotas for rubber on villages, and punishing villagers with whippings, mutilations, and hanging if they failed to live up to them. One favored form of punishment was chopping off the hands of villagers deemed insufficiently productive. 

Another nineteenth-century example would be the exploitation of South Africa's mineral resources, especially gold and diamonds, by the British. To this end, they took lands not only from natives but from Afrikaaners, or colonists of Dutch origins. This led to the Boer War at the turn of the twentieth century. As the English gained control of the mineral-rich Transvaal and Orange Free State, they exploited not just the regions resources, but its people. Natives were employed in mines owned by British corporations, including the royally-chartered Royal South Africa Company. 



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