When the Europeans scrambled to colonize Africa, the reactions of the natives was progressively more apprehensive. At first the natives found that they could be peaceful with this strange new white man. Soon after, though, they found that these new men mistreated and cheated them greatly, and had superior military technology. Given these new conditions of the relationship the Africans decided it was in their best interest to take up arms against the Europeans and try to rid themselves of the harmful White Man.
In the beginning of the European- African relationship we see much evidence of civil exchanges, though the Africans seem to be apprehensive of complete European rule. From Document1 we see that the African rulers signed contracts with the Royal Niger company, allowing the British government to utilize the Niger river delta. This agreement upheld that the British could utilize this land for their economic needs, as long as the African rulers received a portion of the riches acquired. There was an original willingness to compromise with the White Man, but soon after, the Europeans began to get greedy.
We see this when the ruler of Ashanti wrote the Queen of England, declining her offer to add the clan to her empire, though they would like to remain friendly with them ( Doc 2). This wish for peace with the Europeans did not last long after this document was written. We see other evidence of European greed for land when Menelik II, emperor of Ethiopia sent a letter to Great Britian, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia (Doc 3). He stated that the Europeans simply could not split Africa because that would upset the strong Christian values of the region, and that the rule of the land must be seated in Africa. Though strongly worded, this letter remained civil with the Europeans and showed no signs of violence towards them. This was soon to change, though.
Soon after the Europeans began settling among the peoples of Africa, the natives saw their true colors. One account by a veteran of the Ndebele Rebellion against the British told of how the people were treated like slaves. This account told of violence, derision, humiliation, and rape (Doc 4). Another account from a Mojimba African chief described the British attacks upon the village. The chief recounted that after hiding out in the forest for the duration of the attack, they returned to “…: our brothers, dead, bleeding, our village plundered and burned, and the river full of dead bodies”(Doc 9). Other accounts of more mild wrongdoings. An Ashanti queen spoke to other chiefs of their Kings being taken away (Doc6). Many of these injustices performed against the Africans caused an uprising in their society; several tribes began to resort to violence.
As European violence increased, the Africans began to seek ways to take action against them. Yaa Asantewi, Ashanti queen mother, gave a speech to chiefs stating that if the men did not begin to take action against the European violence soon, the women would begin the fight the White Man themselves. This is quite significant because women were considered second class citizens, weak people who did nothing but the simple tasks in life. The Herero people also were compelled to take up arms against the Germans invading South-West Africa. In a letter he wrote “Let us die fighting rather than die as a result of maltreatment, imprisonment, or some other calamity. Tell all the chiefs down there to rise and do battle”(Doc 7). Finally, artwork can be analyzed from the uprisings against Europeans such as the Italians. Document 5 depicts the Battle of Adova, where the Ethiopians were successful in rising against the Italian troops trying to take over the region. Most relations between the Africans and Europeans ended in hostile revolutions organized by the native tribes, trying to rid themselves of the dreadful White Man’s rule.
Though they were not successful in ridding themselves of the Europeans until much later, the Africans put up a fight to get the White Man who oppressed them out of their land, after he charmed them with his false pretenses. Another supplemental document that may be used to analyze these two groups is an excerpt from the book “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. This work of literature depicts the story of a revered tribesman of the Ibo tribe and his relations with the invading European missionaries. Tracing the relations of Europeans and Africans through the provided documents we can see that the relationship was neither extremely tolerant or violent at first, but it progressively became the later.
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