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3. What Agreements Came Out Of The Berlin Conference

The reluctance to govern what the Europeans had conquered was evident in the minutes of the Berlin conference, but especially in the principle of actual occupation. In agreement with the opposing views of Germany and Great Britain, the powers finally agreed that it could be created by a European power that built a kind of base on the coast from which it could spread freely inland. The Europeans did not believe that the rules of occupation on the ground required European hegemony. The Belgians originally wanted to welcome this “effective occupation”, which required provisions that would “establish peace”, but Britain and France were the powers that had removed this amendment from the final document. Colonies were seen as assets in the “balances of power,” useful as trading posts in international negotiations. Colonies of large indigenous populations were also a source of military power; Britain and France used British Indian or North African soldiers in many of their colonial wars. In the age of nationalism, an empire was a status symbol; The idea of “greatness” has been associated with the sense of duty that underlies the strategies of many nations. Inevitably, the struggle for territory led to conflicts between European powers, particularly between the British and the French in West Africa; Egypt, the Portuguese and the British in East Africa; and the French king and King Leopold II in the Central African Republic. The rivalry between Great Britain and France led Bismarck to intervene and, at the end of 1884, he convened a meeting of European powers in Berlin. In subsequent meetings, Great Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and King Leopold II negotiated their claims on African territory, which were then formalized and mapped.

During the conference, the heads of state and government also agreed to allow free trade between the colonies and to create a framework for negotiating future European demands in Africa. Neither the Berlin conference itself nor the framework of future negotiations gave african peoples a say in the division of their homeland. Some argued that the conference was at the centre of imperialism. African-American historian W. E.B. Du Bois wrote in 1948 that in addition to the Atlantic slave trade in Africa, a major modern-day global movement is “the division of Africa after the Franco-German war, which prospered colonial imperialism with the Berlin Conference of 1884” and that “the first reality of imperialism in Africa today is economic” to explain the acquisition of the continent`s wealth. [23] Including a short break for Christmas and New Year, the West African Conference in Berlin was to last 104 days and end on February 26, 1885.

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