Reflections on World History

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Ch. 18: Colonial Encounters, Indian Responses & the Scramble for Africa

It is difficult to find a single comment or question about these various sources. To start with India, what seemed good or valuable about living under British domination, and what things seemed detrimental? With regard to Africa, I think we need to work through why the Europeans chose to divide the continent amongst themselves. Why did it suddenly seem so important to the Europeans to take control of Africa? They had been trading with Africans for hundreds of years. What made them take such a different approach during the last third of the nineteenth century?

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26 Comments

  1. Anna B. says:

    Document 18.1 is a letter to the British governor-general of India from Ram Mahon Roy, who is a highly educated member of society. The British had planned to establish a new school in Calcutta. If the British had planned to establish a school with British instructors, teaching a more Westernized education, then the children of India would have been presented with an opportunity not available to those before them and one that would further their education more than had ever been possible. If this had been true, it would absolutely have demonstrated great value of living under British rule. Of course, this was not the case; the school in fact was being established and would be run by instructors who had been taught a traditional Indian education, or ‘Indian Pandits’ as Roy called them. In reading this source, it is clear that the question Roy wanted to raise to the governor-general was, “What is the point of establishing a school no different than those that already exist?” He voices that this would be a way of keeping India in the darkness; inevitably preventing this country from growing or gaining any form of independence. This would be detrimental to India as it would not allow growth and expansion many country’s (like the British) were experiencing at this time. This would be ideal for British rulers, as India would continue to rely on them, and be incapable of rebelling or gaining enough knowledge and power to govern themselves. Roy’s attitude reveals that he sees Indian culture is not as developed as the culture of the British, especially in the field of sciences. He states that not much improvement can occur from the continued Hindu teachings the country was accustomed to, which seemed to involve religion heavily and not incorporate mathematics and science as much as a more westernized education would. Roy’s letter voices his ideas for a future India, that it could be prosperous and grow if it was introduced to new forms of education and not stuck so deep in its ways. This could be the very thing British rule wants to continue to suppress, as a colony kept in the dark would be easier to rule.

  2. Sidney Nelson says:

    Visual Source 18.2 displays the cover of a French publication. In the picture is the commander of the French expedition, Jean-Baptiste, who was known as a hero for leafing his troops on a legendary journey across Africa for over eighteen months. This visual source suggests a lot about the role of violence in the scramble for Africa. First, everyone in the picture holding a gun looks very serious and focused, and also somewhat mad. You can tell that they took their battles very passionately. In addition, the commander standing over the body of a dead soldier and pointing to the left depicts the harshness that went on at the time. Although many soldiers had died, there was no time to grief, they had to keep it moving. You can tell that they were very determined on their voyage and would do just about anything to complete it. The overall role of violence during this time was most likely very brutal and forceful.

    Sidney N.

  3. Matthew C. says:

    Visual Source 18.1 displays a perfect example why Europeans needed to control Africa. From the source, I can immediately tell that they needed Africa as a shortcut from the West side to the East of Africa, sense it is faster than traveling around the continent. Also, I figured that the African shortcut could be used as a war resource because it would let the Europeans transport items a lot faster to a certain destination. In addition, the sun rising in the background means a beginning for the Europeans.A beginning of power and reign if they conquered Africa, because Africa was a obstacle to overcome if no one could travel through it.

  4. Krys M. says:

    Visual source 18.4 had the most resonance in my mind. The British and the French are normally huge rivals but in this source they are toasting to each other. I believe this is because they experienced similar things in the case of attempting to rule Morocco and Egypt. Both the French soldier and the British soldier are standing on reasonable large piles of skulls and bones. This must be to show the Europeans’ unfair dominance over once flourishing African nations. It is clear to see that this source was from the perspective of the African people because there is a dead Moroccan body atop the pile of bones as well as an Egyptian body being hanged in the midst of a European celebration of victory. This picture is to criticize the faulty European handling of colonial rule. The French soldier held a rifle with a sword at the tip in his other hand while the British soldier was holding a whip and carrying a sword on his hip. This means that colonial rule was by no means a diplomatic or peaceful ordeal. In my opinion, an act such as what took place in this source could only be fueled by a deep and over-exaggerated belief in manifest destiny. What else could possess the European people to churn up dead bodies from a cemetery, kill innocents, burn down Casa Blanca, or hang dozens and whip countless others mercilessly?

  5. Jessica says:

    Visual 18.5

    Shown in this painting, the Battle of Adowa was an African accomplishment and victory that put Africa to the world’s attention when Ethiopians defeated Italy, a European country. Although the author of the painting is unknown, I believe he wanted to show the audience that for the first time, since the beginning of European expansion, a non-white nation had defeated the European power. It is a picture of the Ethiopian side versus the Italians; To the painter, the Italian army was depicted as much smaller compared to the Ethiopian army, ultimately portraying how he believed the Europeans did not stand much of a chance against the other. Emperor Menelik is shown as an important person (upper left corner) because he is not upfront in the chaos but rather in the back watching over his men. You can tell the painter had a passionate pride for his country because at the top of the image, the saint of Ethiopia is painted in the center riding a white horse with the colors of red, yellow, and green.

    Jessica H.

  6. Kameron H says:

    Visual source 18.3 depicts Cecil Rhodes as a giant standing over the continent of Africa. Rhodes was a British buisnessman and politician who advocated imperialism. Rhodes had an idea of constructing a railroad that stretched “from Cape to Cairo.” The image is a silent criticism of Rhodes’ idea. With Rhodes being drawn out as a giant one can see the massive power the railroad would give to Britain . The telegraph line held in his hands reveals that the railroad would further expand the communication Britain had across the continent. Ironically, the huge continent of Africa is portrayed as tiny under the boots of Rhodes. The fact that the continent is illustrated as barren shows the plan the British rulers had for the African people living there. The rifle seen on Rohdes’ shoulders indicates that violence would be used as a means of obtaining this goal. This image challenges the assumption that the scramble for Africa was mainly for romance and emotion rather than economic interests. The idea that a British maan is standing over a continent presents the idea of economic expansion itself.

  7. Daisha B. says:

    Visual source 18.3

    In the image it is an 1892 cartoon basically showing the humorous view of a British man by the name of Rhodes standing with long legs stretching across Egypt and South Africa. At the time “the scramble for Africa” was taking place. In this image I believe that it shows that these conquests weren’t just for economic reasons, but for personal reasons as well as greed. To take a land from a people who have their own values and ways of life and to say it wrong and force your ways upon them is completely terrible and incorrect.
    In the image Rhodes is dressed for exploration but he is also strapped with a gun. I know that many would argue it was for “just in case” scenarios; however, I feel that if your intentions are pure then it would require the forceful ways they did things. The violence and the raping of helpless people truly do bother me. This image sickens me because the world and all it has to off is truly for everyone, but at the same time you don’t take from other and claim that they are leading a life lesser than they life that they want to present to them.
    Not only did the Europeans take from Africa and destroy they’re culture, they also did the same to Native Americans in the Americas. This image just puts the icing on the cake for me. It gives the illusion that they feel their race is superior and that they can take whatever they want with no holding back. It is truly sad to me.

  8. Arian Amiri says:

    Visual Source 18.1 is a depiction of a board game, which shows how important the “Scramble for Africa” really was. The first thing I noticed was the pathway and shortcut from the west coast of Africa to the east coast of Africa. This pathway is numbered 1-58, which I am assuming are the number of moves it takes to get all the way to the east coast from the west coast of Africa by each player or participant. This pathway is a historical account of David Livingstone and Henry Stanley’s traveled pathway. Livingstone was a British missionary and explorer of central Africa whose mission was to expose horrors of the Arab slab trade. Stanley was a British journalist; also an explorer of Africa like Livingstone, gained his fame by finding Livingstone deep in African territory far from the passage route that they both traveled. This board game focuses on the path way because of its importance as a shortcut through the land rather than traveling around it. Its importance is shown through the lives of David Livingstone and Henry Stanley. Through this passage, I am sure there were many encounters by Europeans with the indigenous people of these parts of Africa that were traveled through. I doubt these encounters were pretty. They were probably gruesome and brutal for the native Africa people.

  9. Shamira says:

    I usually am more fond of the document sources because I feel as though they can be better analyzed, but the Visual Source 18.4 really captured me. The painting seems very ironic in that when one thinks of the French and British relations, most think of their nationalistic rivalry. Though, in this photo two soldiers, one French and one British, are toasting. This in itself causes an eyebrow to raise, but when one gazes at the full photo, you see the two soldiers standing on a pile of bones with a town burning on the French side and person being hung on the British side. This sort of camaraderie gained over the similar destruction of a people leaves me awestruck. This painting symbolizes though these two nations are not the most friendly to each other, they are behaving similarly and have something in common which calls for a sort of amicable toast.

  10. Ruby says:

    Visual Source 18.5 was drawn by an unknown Ethiopian
    artists during the 1940’s and depicts a war between Ethiopia and the Italians. You can tell that this painting is a clear expression of how the artist felt about the Ethiopian victory at Adowa. At first glance your attention is quickly drawn to the middle of the painting where people are being brutally massacred. Comparing both sides of the painting you can see that the Ethiopian army is larger than that of the Italians, giving the Ethiopians more of an advantage over the the Italians. I believe the artist was trying to express that the Ethiopians had a better, strong army regardless of what the Europeans may have had going for them. Also the description of the painting talks about Ethiopian Emperor Menelik at the scene in the upper left corner under a royal umbrella. Even more interesting though is the Empress Taytu on a horse with a revolver taking part in the war.

  11. Devin Northcutt says:

    Visual Source 18.2 shows us a viewpoint of a more brutal and forceful Africa during this time. The source shows the commander Jean-Baptiste and his troops holding up guns. The look upon their face shows that they came to over take the people of Africa since they had traveled so far for so long. They look very serious in this picture, which shows more of the brutality and forcefulness came from. Jean-Baptiste was known for being a good soldier which means that his soldiers were probably trained very well to be good soldiers, which means that they all took battles very seriously. They took their battles just as serious as their voyage; they were sent to do a mission and the would complete it by any means necessary.

  12. Joslyn P says:

    While some things seemed valuable about the British domination over India, in Document 18.4, Mahatma Gandhi explains his definition of civilization and its cons. Gandhi expresses that the British’s ambition for civilization was an “incurable disease” and according to him, this is what was detrimental to India, taking the people away from the former Indian way of life their ancestors had set. To most, civilization is good; the evolution of people traveling by foot to present day air planes can be defined as civilzation. People being able to kill many behind master machinery from having to use strength of one’s own hands can be defined as civilization, but Ghandi critized all that most saw as a good thing. To him, civilization was a disease of the British that included loosing one’s self in the hunger for power and wealth. He even blamed the advancement of railroads for the spread of diseases and faminie due to the export of all the grains being taken away to be sold in markets for profit. Gandhi believed Western civilization caused the people to be taken away from God as it propogated inmorality, while Indian civilization elevated morality, as its forefathers were happy with the small villages they had.

  13. Rashundra Martin says:

    The Visual Source 18.3 is a portrait of Cecil Rhodes, a British businessman and politician, standing over the continent of Africa. He was an advocate of imperialism. Rhodes constructed a plan for building a railroad in Africa that would stretch from Cape to Cairo. This picture yields a certain sense of criticism because it portrays Rhodes as being a giant standing over the continent of Africa. With him being depicted as a giant, it suggests that Great Britain would have the most power over Africa than any other European country. The railroad would produce extreme revenue for Britain because many of the other conquering countries would be using the railroad for transportation and trading. Rhodes is holding a telegraph in his hands which would infer that communication would expand across all of Africa. It is funny to me that the large country of Africa is substantially smaller than Rhodes in the picture as if Africa would be submissive to European rule. There is a rifle on the shoulder of Rhodes in the picture suggesting that the Europeans would use violence to overtake Africa if need be. Everyone wanted their share of Africa and felt like they should not be left out of getting a “piece of the pie.” Though the scramble for Africa was supposed to be based on a sense of emotion, it ended up being a scramble for economic advancement.

  14. mina-s says:

    With India, some mixed feelings can be observed in document 18.1. While the British were busy colonizing India, there was an instance in which a school was to be built. Roy is from India and is highly educated. In his letter, while at first, he was excited about the school to be built, later, he discovered it was futile. He did not support the creation of this school because it was not going to teach the students anything new or current, or relevant to the world that they were living in at that time. This is an example of a Western power being imperialist – using energy to produce a substance of which was not even for the benefit of the colonized, but rather as a tool to say to the other powers of that time, what little “good” they were doing, to not seem so tyrannical or oppressive during this time.

  15. Samuel says:

    Africa is one of the richest continents on the planet if not the richest, as it relates to natural resources. With that being said, one should not be hard pressed to answer the, “why” component of the European involvement in Africa question. It is commonly thought and encouraged in academia that historians’ not be emotional people. However, how can any person with the any portion of African blood not become enraged, offended, humiliated, and what-not, when one day, out of “thin air” we find-out how Europe divided the sacred mother-land and its precious metal, and stone resources like a group of barbarians divvy up a day’s quail hunt portion.

  16. Jazzzmin says:

    I believe that the Europeans desire to take over Africa was so sudden rapid due to the fact that they were running out of places to expand to and conquer. Also the fact that Africa had multiple highly sought after resources along with the competition that Europe faced from other continents to take of areas. I think that the Europeans chose to take a “divide and conquer” approach with Africa in order to make the takeover seem less invasive and intimidating in order to decrease the amount of resistance that could occur.

  17. Denny says:

    In the visual source 18.1 reflects how the Europeans leaders were taking over Africa turning this into colonial territories all around. Even though European were taking over, African people wasn’t going to give up easly their territory which turned this to be a bloody war that left behind many deaths. After the slave trade was ending, European began to look Africa in as market for industrial products, raw material, spread out Christianity, etc. also, in the picture called “the scramble of Africa” show a very good description of how these colonies were engaged which each other, and something that really caught my attention was the pathway that was made to get from one side to the other side of the country to make negotiation with people from the east side.

  18. Levon Austin (Jay-T) says:

    Document 18.2 displays how the English were cruel towards India and how wealthy Muslims were to assist in protecting those less fortunate in dealing with the English. 18.2 gives great detail of the damage that was done in India and also lists out ways on how the issues will be resolved around the destruction of the British government on India. India, at the time, suffered financially and trading became a lot different and more difficult because of the British government taking over. One of the few benefits India does receive is the benefit of using the British government’s steam vessels and steam carriages. Those that were native to India were treated very unfairly and were looked at as lower class citizens and citizens that were not very important. Englishmen were looked at as Superior to the natives. In document 18.2 religion was also pointed out to be a key factor to what was going on at the time. Englishmen were said to perish when they die and Hindus and Muslims, the opposite. Throughout history it seems as though Europeans were the main conflict of a lot of events that took and believed the whole world revolved around them.

  19. ajones188 says:

    Upon analyzing Document 18.4, it is evident that the Europeans (the British and French as portrayed in this image) seemed to thrive on destruction (the burning Casa Blanca) and death (the bloody body, the mounds of skulls, the man hanging, etc.). Oddly enough, the French and the British are portrayed as pleasant equals as if their hatred for each other didn’t exist. This along with the destruction makes it more likely that this painting was created by an Egyptian as opposed to a European.

    -Anastasia Jones

  20. Grecia C. says:

    In Doc. 18.1 Roy, a highly educated Hindu who does not see value in the establishment of a new Sanskrit school due to the fact that it will not teach good things for the youth based on the Vendata. From what Rot has explained, I can see why he would be opposed to this matter. As he mentions, “The Sanskrit system of education would be best calculated to keep this country in the darkness…” British rule seems to want to keep India in a stage where they can teach the new youth what they want them to learn in order to keep them under their power and Roy can clearly see this happening as he mentions the Sanskrit school system not being up to date or a teaching that will involve progress.

  21. dzdavidson says:

    One thing that comes across clearly when reading all of these blog posts is the inherent violence of imperialism, a topic we will no doubt be discussing in class today. Thank you for these intelligent commentaries.

    • Shanakay W says:

      The document that I found interesting was visual document 18.5. This visual source was painted by an unknown Ethiopian Artist, in Ethiopia,in the 1940’s. During this time the Italians tried to overtake Ethiopia and the only way to maintain order was to go to war, thus resulting in the Battle of Adowa. Source 18.5 was painted for the Ethiopian people, as a sort of trophy to celebrate the victory of the the Battle of Adowa; Ethiopian pride. The Ethiopian painter depicts the Italian as being wicked and evil. The painting shows that the Italians were the ones that were being killed and they were shown as the losers of the battle. Unlike the Italians only the faces of the good were visible. The full faces that was presented were those of the Ethiopians and they were portrayed as being great winners of the war.

      — Shanakay W.

  22. Marcusmvg says:

    It seems to me to the European world wanted a stack in Africa. In the 18.1 it shows that Africa was divided into different factions of the European nations and some countries stayed in the area for hundreds of years. Even Though, the Europeans were taking over the natives peoples of the African lands were not just giving up their land without s fight of course. This created many civil wars throughout Africa for independence from Europeans. They saw Africa as a breeding ground for natural resources that’s what made Africa so valuable to the Europeans and they were going to get the land bey any means possible

    Marcus G.

  23. Simbuilder5 says:

    While reading “An Address to Two Hundred Million Fellow Countrywomen,” the one idea I got was there is always rebellion to good or to truth. “Whenever you stand for something, and you stand for goodness and truth, you will always get resistance,” (Lauryn HIll). This idea has proven to be true in my personal life and in Qiu Jin’s era. She lived in a world where females bound their daughters feet to the point of breaking bones just to please a man. Then there is the marriage. A female in 1900 would be married by matchmakers to a man they could not have an opinion about. Qiu Lin talks about the religious viewpoint to the marriage. If the marriage is horrible, it must be because you did something in a past life. If it’s wonderful, you should be thankful. Qiu Jin said that heaven did not create this maze of rationalization, men did. Women are responsible for all persons born and therefore the marriage setup is irrational. I threw Lauryn Hill into the blog entry because it gave a current viewpoint on the idea that this document gave me. Qiu Jin wanted women to rid themselves of the luxury of taking the backseat and going along for the ride. She preaches for women to become complete human beings, which is goodness and truth. Qiu Jin was eventually beheaded for wanting truth in 1907, which proves Lauryn Hill’s and my theory that if you stand for truth, you’re going to face resistance.

    Winston S.

  24. Jose F says:

    The European imperial takeover of Africa during the 1800’s proved to be a race of dominance, power, and resources. Visual Source 18.2 shows an image of French commander Jean-Baptiste Marchand by a French publication depicting the conquest of African territory. Since this image was published by a French source, it includes bias by showing the commander in a heroic context with several patriotic themes. It also shows the high amount of violence included in this campaign. Every individual in the image is shown holding a firearm, while the main person of the image, the commander, is shown standing over the dead body of an African combatant. The image also shows some solidarity towards the Africans by including several African combatants fighting side by side with the French forces.

  25. DHarris says:

    In Visual source 18.3, the artist depicts Cecil Rhodes as a giant standing over the continent of Africa. Rhodes was a British businessman and believed in imperialism. Rhodes had an idea of constructing a railroad that stretched the whole length of the continent. By Depicting Rhodes as being a giant it is a metaphor for the massive power the railroad would give to Britain. The telegraph line held in his hands reveals that the railroad would further expand the communication Britain had across the continent. He holds a rifle on his shoulder as to show that violence would be used as a means of completing the train track.

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