1885 Berlin Conference: How African nations were created by greedy White Christian West
Posted on March 4th, 2016

Shenali D Waduge

 It did not happen that far back, exactly 131 years ago an entire continent was cut and divided between greedy Western nations without so much as asking the African tribes if they minded. This was their notion of making the black people ‘civilized’. We look back on how Africa’s nations & borders were artificially created and become the root cause for most conflicts. British Prime Minister at the time Lord Salisbury summarised: “we have been engaged in drawing lines upon maps where no white man’s feet have ever trod; we have been giving away mountains and rivers and lakes to each other, only hindered by the small impediment that we never knew exactly where the mountains and rivers and lakes were.”

Africa before colonial division

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New Borders drawn by Christian West in 1885 after the Berlin Conference

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By 1914 Africa – the White West just took a pen and drew lines and allocated nations to themselves to plunder. How shameful. (this area for you, this area for me, this area is common)

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At the time of World War 1

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Partition of Africa took place after the invasion, occupation, colonization and annexing of Africa by Anglo-Americans between 1881 and 1914.  The white race arbitrarily set borders and created new countries that didn’t represent their heritage, setting the foundation for the problems that exist to date. African borders became what Europeans happened to have marked down during the 19th and 20th centuries.

European drive to acquire foreign territory became known as the Scramble for Africa. By 1914 only two countries of Africa managed to be free of European invasion – Ethiopia in the East and Liberia in the West.

The Berlin Conference was more or less to lay down some ground rules to the white nations who were restless to get their dirty paws into the African resources. Industrial Resolution meant the need for cheap labor, raw materials and new markets and of course competition and the Europeans were thirsty. The Berlin Conference was held on 15 November 1884 under leadership of German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck.  Article 34 of the Berlin Act bound any European nation that took possession of an African coast or named themselves as ‘protectorate’ needed to inform to have official authority over the area. This paved the way for the ‘sphere of influence’ doctrine – any nation that controlled a coast would control the hinterland. The doctrine of ‘effective occupation’ emerged from Article 35 that required a nation in possession of a coast having to prove they could control & protect freedom of trade and transit.

At no time during this horse trading did these White Christian leaders even stop to wonder that they were doing wrong in taking over lands that were not theirs. At the time of the conference, 80% of Africa remained under Native Traditional and local control. 14 countries thereafter divided Africa for themselves. Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden-Norway (unified from 1814-1905), Turkey, and the United States of America.

Decisions taken at the conference

  • Congo River and Niger River mouths and basins would be considered neutral and open to trade
  • Kongo Basin became a personal Kingdom (private property) for Belgium’s King Leopold II and under his rule, over half of the region’s population died
  • disregarding the cultural and linguistic boundaries already established by the Native Indigenous African population. What ultimately resulted was a hodgepodge of geometric boundaries that divided Africa into fifty irregular countries.
  • This new map of the continent was superimposed over the one thousand Indigenous cultures and regions of Africa
  • The new countries lacked rhyme or reason and divided coherent groups of people and merged together disparate groups who really did not get along.
  • By 1914, the conference participants had fully divided Africa among themselves into fifty unnatural and artificial States.

Colonisers partitioned Africa into spheres of influence, protectorates, colonies, and free-trade areas. The borders were designed in European capitals by Europeans who had not even set foot in Africa. Is the same not taking place under UN auspices in creating new states for Western geopolitical advantage?

Territories under dispute because of the West

Sudan : Is it because of the rich oil in Abyei an area of close to 11,000 sqkm  that Sudan and South Sudan are still fighting over and why the West declared it a ‘special administrative status’ in the 2004 peace agreement? Originally residents of Abeyi were told they could decide whether they wanted to be part of Sudan or South Sudan when Sudan was first separated but as usual that choice was denied.

Eritrea-Ethiopia : Badme town triggered war in 1998 and 2000 with both Eritrea and Ethiopia claiming it. Ethiopia won the entire disputed area

Nigeria-Cameroon – fighting over Bakassi peninsula on the Gulf of Guinea. The matter went to the ICC in 1994 and the judgement went in favor of Cameroon.

France, Madagascar & Comoros are claiming Banc du Geyser in Mozambique channel. France says it is part of reef in the Indian Ocean, Comoros says area is part of their exclusive economic zone given by UN on the Law of the Sea while Madagascar said it annexed the reef in 1976 because of oil.

Egypt-Sudan : Both claim Bir Tawil a 2060sq.km area along border between the two countries. Dispute arises from the Sudanese border and Egyptian border do not meet. Egypt has controlled the area since 1990s.

Mozambique: Glorioso islands a group of French islands in northern Mozambique also being claimed by Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles. Phosphate is found there.

Sudan-South Sudan: both claiming Jodha

Swaziland-South Africa : Tussle over KaNgwane which was created by Swazi people and declared Bantustan (black state) for Swazi people under apartheid. After the end of apartheid KgNgwane became part of South Africa.

Congo-Angola : Fighting over Kahemba region

Mayotte archipelago became an overseas French outlet after the over 200,000 population chose over a referendum in 1975. However the territory is part of Comoro Islands and even the African Union has protested against it being part of France. On January 2014, Mayote became an outermost region of the European Union.

Malawi-Tanzania: both claiming Mbamba Bay.

Ethiopia-Somalia: both claiming Ogaden sparking a war between the two in 1977-8. US took the side of Ethiopia while the Soviets backed Somalia. Afterwards the US-Soviets changed sides of allegiance with US backing Somalia and Soviets backing Ethiopia. Eventually Ethiopia gained control over the area.

Namibia-South Africa: dispute over Orange River borderline for over 120 years when UK-Germany defined boundaries of Namibia.

Having create the mess the West is now playing the ethnic card in other parts of the world entertaining minority demands for mono-ethnic independent states. Apply this theory to Africa there would be over 2000 countries based on ethnicity alone.

The West has done great damage to Africa. Nearly 44% of Africa’s borders are straight lines splitting at least 177 ethnic groups into two or more countries. 4 out of 10 Africans have their ethnic groups across borders artificially drawn.

A study has revealed that conflicts and casualty rate is 25% higher in areas where ethnicity is divided and is a key argument against the creation of a mono-ethnic Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka when over 50% of Tamils are living elsewhere. Such partitioning as in the case of Africa has shown that ethnicities that are a minority in one part want to unity with their kin across the borders. A shining example of what Sri Lanka can expect if Tamil demands are given.

Somalia is a perfect example. It is split between 5 countries – Somalis are in northern Kenya, southern Ethiopia, Eritrea & Djibouti. There have been at least 3 wars Somalis have waged in Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya to become part of Somalia. Somali’s national flag with white 5-pointed star against a blue background denotes these 5 Somali groups.

Similarly the Malinke’s of West Africa are found in 6 different countries – Senegal, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Ivory Coast and Gambia.

The Ndembu tribes are split between Angola, Zaire, Zambia while the Nukwe clans are split between Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana. The Alur’s are found in both Uganda and DR Congo while Ibibio are split into Nigeria and Cameroon.

Drawing straight line borders is written at length by Tarek Osman revealing how the British-French plan created modern-day Middle East. The British were represented by Mark Sykes while the French were represented by Francois Georges-Picot. Both believers that non-whites were better off under European rule.

It was in 1916 that Sykes pointed to a map and said I should like to draw a line from ‘e’ in Acre to the last ‘k’ in Kirkuk”. That was how these two men divided land under Ottoman rule since 16th century into new countries creating 2 spheres of influence. All these decisions again without Arab knowledge and broke a promise made by Britain to the Arabs in 1910s. This led to military regimes and uprisings.

Britain and France divided Turkish-held Syria, Iraq, Lebananon and Palestine between them.

Iraq, Transjordan and Palestine came under British influence. Britain also controlled Egypt

Syria & Lebanon under French influence. France controlled Maghreb

As in the case of Africa the newly created borders divided people by sects, tribes and ethnicity. It was the intention of the British-French to divide Lebanon as a haven for Christians (Maronites & Druze), Palestine with a sizable Jewish community, Bekaa Valley between two countries, Syria with Sunni Muslims.

The change of demography has triggered chaos which the West is again benefitting from.

Therefore, the entire African continent has been ruined because of the selfishness of the White Christian West and they are continuing to ruin while plundering the lands, people and resources further.

The West speaks about accountability little remembering that accountability and apology and reparations for crimes committed must begin with them first.

Africans are fighters unlike the Asians. Africans are coming out writing about what the West has forcibly taken from them and demanding justice. It is time the Asians woke up and start demanding justice for colonial crimes as well.

Shenali D Waduge

 

5 Responses to “1885 Berlin Conference: How African nations were created by greedy White Christian West”

  1. Charles Says:

    Great Shenali, you will remain the best journalist of our time. It is a great learning exercise to read your articles. Thank you Dear Shenali.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    Carving up Africa, S. America and SE Asia.

    European countries all have a winter. All of Europe were a hotbed of War for many centuries. Next war with the ME happened.

    The Southern countries are attractive, together with the tropical spices and fruits, and slave like labor. We understand. So let TRADE happen.

    Tamil Separatists are capitalising on this for Separatism.

    Grow TOGETHER !

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    This time around :

    *. Dignity of LABOR MUST BE MAINTAINED.

    *. NO DIVISON OF COUNTRIES – No more ‘Divide & Rule’.

    This is our wish.

  4. Christie Says:

    India was made by the British. That is our problem as well as Africa’s problem.

    There are millions of Indian colonial parasites who are still sucking the blood of Africa as they do to us.

    Like the Indian colonial parasites went to Africa on the back of the British and the best example is Mahatma Gandhi who acted as a Peon, a Sepoy and a Coolie for the British Empire.

    Africa is also suffering from the Indian colonial parasites.

    The only African to realize this was Idi Amin who kicked out Indian Colonial Parasites from his country Uganda.

  5. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    SHENALI !!!

    In my old age, I am still learning from you of the happenings of this great world of our. I read your articles with great appreciation to you. As Charles says, **YOU ARE THE BEST JOURNALIST OF OUR TIME** Alles gute.

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