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The three main events one should consider in the European Scramble to establish hegemony in Africa are:
1. The establishment of colonies in Africa. This began with the establishment of the Cape Town settlement by the Dutch East India Company and continued with the establishment of the Congo Free State by Henry Stanley, acting on behalf of Leopold II of Belgium.
2. The establishment of British territory in Africa which began following the Napoleonic Wars. Ultimately, conflict between the British and Dutch settlers (voortrekkers) led to the Boer War (often called the South African War.) Native Africans fought on both sides of the conflict, primarily as a result of ill treatment by the opposing side. Because they did not have the firepower to compete, many were slaughtered wholesale.
3. The Berlin Conference called by Otto von Bismarck in 1884-85. The conference was called primarily to prevent a European war over African territory. As a result, all of Africa with the exception of Ethiopia and Liberia were occupied by European forces. Agreements reached at the Berlin Conference were used as justification to occupy territory in Africa and ruthlessly crush opposition from the native peoples. A prime example of this ruthlessness is the Battle of Omdurman in which eleven thousand native warriors were killed compared to twenty eight British casualties. The typical British attitude was expressed by Winston Churchill, who fought in the battle and described it thusly:
These extraordinary foreign figures…march up one by one from the darkness of Barbarism to the footlights of civilization…and their conquerors, taking their possessions, forget even their names. Nor will history record such trash.
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