Central Africa 1884–94

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Map Code: Ax01949

The Berlin Conference (1884–85) fired the starting gun for the ‘Scramble for Africa’. Britain was the most ubiquitous, with Cecil Rhodes (‘I would annex planets if I could’) carrying out a concerted land grab from the south, while a network of British protectorates in the north stretched from Egypt to Zanzibar. Zanzibar was also home to the clove plantations of its Sultan’s right-hand man, ivory and slave trader extraordinaire Tippu Tip, who met, and double-crossed, both Stanley and Livingstone, and fought (unsuccessfully) the Belgian occupation of the Congo (1892–94). Germany’s Bismarck, a new convert to colonialism, muscled in with fervour, garnering an approximation of modern Tanzania in return for recognizing British precedence in Uganda. Germany also staked a claim to Cameroon, while France, more active further north ushered in its ultimately vast equatorial colony with Gabon (1885). Straggling Italy was humiliatingly thrashed by Ethiopia at Adwa (1896), and had to content itself with Eritrea.

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