Berlin conference refers to the international capitalist conference which was held in Berlin, the capital city of Germany from November 1884 to February 1885 under the Germany chancellor Otto Von Bismarck who was the conference chairman.
The main objective of this conference was to divide the African continent peacefully among the scrambling European powers so as to avoid the outbreak of wars/ fighting
European nations which participated in the Berlin conference were 27 nations including: Belgium, Britain, Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, German etc. Denmark and USA attended in the conference as observers who were to observe all activities of the conference.
WHY GERMANY MANAGED TO HOLD THE CONFERENCE
There were several reasons as to why Germany under Otto Von Bismarck managed to hold the conference of all capitalist nations and not any other nations like Britain, France etc.
Germany was able to summon the international conference due to the following: –
a) Military power. During the last quarter of 19th c Germany dominated Europe in terms of military strength. Germany was powerful militarily therefore other European nations feared her. Failure to attend the conference could end up into military punishment.
b) Economic strength. German was very powerful economically compared to other European nations by the last quarter of the 19th c. This also influenced Germany to hold the conference.
c) The influence of Bismarck. Bismarck was a very influential factor for Germany to hold the Berlin Conference. He was very diplomatic and propagandist and therefore the conference in Berlin became inevitable.
d) Enmity between other nations. This gave Germany an opportunity to summon the conference
e) Participation in scramble. Germany did not fully participate in the scramble for Africa and therefore was seen by other nations as the only solution for the division of Africa.
REASONS FOR THE BERLIN CONFERENCE
(AIMS/OBJECTIVES OF THE BERLIN CONFERENCE)
The Berlin conference was hold due to a number of reasons. Some of the reasons for the holding the conference was as follows:
a) To discuss the nature of the scramble for Africa so as to avoid conflicts of European over the African territories.
b) To divide Africa. The conference was summoned in order to discuss on how to divide the continent of Africa into colonies among scrambling European nations.
c) To solve and avoid conflicts. The conference also aimed at solving the ongoing conflicts between scrambling European nations in Africa and also avoid other conflicts which were likely to occur (To settle European conflicts which occurred before arranging the meeting).
d) To set up boundaries in Africa. The conference also aimed at setting up boundaries in African colonies so as to avoid interference among European colonial powers.
e) To lay down principles. The Berlin Conference was also aimed at laying down principles which were to be adhered in the division and colonization of Africa (To settle rules and principles on how Africa should be divided up among the European nations)
f) To solve the problem of industrialization. The conference was aimed at solving the problem of industrialization in Europe such as shortage of raw materials, markets etc. This was to be done through dividing the continent of Africa into colonies for the industrialized nations in Europe.
PRINCIPLES (AGREENMENTS/RESOLUTIONS) OF BERLIN CONFERENCE
The Berlin conference in order to divide and colonize Africa, laid down some principles to be adhered by all colonial powers. These were: –
i. Abolition of slave trade and slavery in Africa – Every nation after being given an area (colony) in Africa was told to abolish slave trade and slavery activities in their respective colonies.
ii. – it was agreed that that any European nation intending to have a colony in Africa must inform other nations through provision of treaties signed by African rulers.
iii. Peaceful setting of disputes – Any conflict that occurred between European nations was to be settled peacefully between the conflicting nations.
iv. King Leopold II to colonize Congo – Congo was given to King Leopold II as the conference recognized her influences.
v. European power which claims to any part of Africa would be recognized by the other powers if it was effectively occupied by such European power lie under this clause. The claimants were supposed to develop the areas through their missionaries trading companies’ explorers starting plantations and other economic activities.
vi. – the conference declared that Congo, the Niger River and other big rivers as free zones for international navigation i.e. Niger River under the authority of Great Britain and Congo River under the authority of Belgium. This means that the area was not supposed to be under control of one particular nation.
vii. Mutual agreement in drawing boundaries – There should be mutual agreement between two nations in drawing of boundaries.it was agreed to fix boundaries i.e. to divide up the African continent so as to create separate colonies where each European nation would be legally responsible to establish colonial rule.
viii. Free operation of missionary activities – Missionaries were to operate free in every colony without any restrictions.
ix. Fixing of boundaries – it was agreed to fix boundaries so as to create colonies where each Europeans nation will be legally responsible to establish colonial rule.
It resolved the international rivalries that involved in areas like Congo, Egypt and Nile.
It speeded the partition of Africa under the principle of effective occupation.
The Conference highligtened the unity and degree of cooperation among European powers.
The Conference opened the interior of African land for colonization.
It avoided the possibility of the emperior powers to inter into war during the scramble for Africa.
It led to the setting of colonial boundaries in African Continent
IMPACTS OF BERLIN CONFERENCE
Berlin conference had a lot of impacts to African continent. Some of these impacts were as follows: –
i. It intensified scramble for Africa. This later on led to misunderstanding between European nations, something which led to the emergence First World War.
ii. It laid down rules and principles for colonizing Africa. Therefore it legalized the colonization of Africa.
iii. It resolved hostilities among Europeans nations. E.g. Britain and France in Egypt
iv. It led to the drawing of African map and making of boundaries. This led to division of Africans e.g. Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania.
v. It led to division of Africa .Africa was divided into colonies among European nations
vi. It led to influx of Europeans in Africa who most of them were colonial officials and settlers who together came to colonize Africa.
vii. It led to total colonization of Africa (Loose of African control by themselves).