Colonialism – Who Settled Where?

When referring to the colonialism of Africa, we often simply refer to the colonisers as being from European descent. However, the different countries that are included under the umbrella of Europe actually colonised different areas of the vast African continent (as well as other countries throughout the world).

Portugal was a significant figure in the colonialisation of Africa, settling in both Angola and Mozambique. In addition, they also colonised the South American country of Brazil.

Portugal was the first global empire that ever existed and, extending from 1415 to 1999, also the longest-lasting of the modern European colonialists. During the course of these six centuries, the Portuguese Empire spread throughout various places in the world and today, there are 48 Sovereign States as a result.

Image of Statue of Bartolomeu Dias in Cape Town,  South Africa, a Portuguese explorer who  sailed around the southern tip of Africa in  1488, the first European known to have  done so. He originally named the Cape of  Good Hope the Cape of Storms.
Statue of Bartolomeu Dias in Cape Town,
South Africa, a Portuguese explorer who
sailed around the southern tip of Africa in
1488, the first European known to have
done so. He originally named the Cape of
Good Hope the Cape of Storms.

Bartolomeu Dias was a Portuguese explorer who sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, in 1488 the first European known to have done so. He originally named the Cape of Good Hope the Cape of Storms. Thereafter, explorers continued to investigate the area, establishing outposts along the way. Of course, South Africa was not the only country being explored and used in this way by Portugal, and the global network that was established translated to enormous financial wealth for this European country. This put Portugal under significant threat as it became the target of rival countries and its empire began a gradual decline as it was too small to defend itself against huge global entities.

The Netherlands
The Dutch had one of the most significant influences on South Africa and much of its culture continues to reflect this. In addition to South Africa, the Netherlands also colonised Indonesia and Netherlands Antilles. The Dutch explorers followed the original Portuguese ones (such as Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama). However, their strategy was to use their military force and conquer existing Portuguese and, by that time, Spanish colonies, rather than trying to start from scratch, so to speak. The Dutch were instrumental in establishing indirect state capitalist corporate colonialism, which was accomplished via the Dutch East and West India Companies. The expeditions undertaken by this empire uncovered new and exciting territories all over the world.

By the late 1500’s, the Dutch controlled the global commercial playing field. By the mid- to late 17th Century, their rule was dubbed the Dutch Golden Age. Although it underwent times of political and economic turmoil, the Dutch empire only really collapsed when European imperialism crumbled following the Second World War.

Today, South African cities and towns still bear the Dutch names of years ago, including Johannesburg, Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark.

Algeria and Côte d’Ivoire are two of the African countries colonised by the French during the time between the 17th and 20th centuries. Other French colonies included Quebec, Haiti and Louisiana. By the 1800’s and 1900’s, the French empire was one of the largest and most powerful in the world. During the early 20th century, France occupied almost 9% of the entire surface of the earth.

France competed against England for supremacy, which initiated several wars between these two European entities. This lasted until the 19th century, when France established its new empire in Africa (as well as in South East Asia). During the Second World War, Germany occupied France, and the majority of the French colonies dissipated. However, some remained until the 1960’s, by which time most had gained independence.

In the late 1800’s, Germany formed a colonial empire. Although not as widespread and successful as many of the other colonisers, Germany did manage to colonise Namibia, which retains a strong German identity in its place names and high density of German inhabitants.

Great Britain
The British Empire was, undoubtedly, one of the world’s most significant, prevalent and powerful. It occupied areas in the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe (then known as Rhodesia), Kenya and South Africa. In fact, almost 25% of the surface of the earth belonged to the British Empire at one time.

This lasted until the latter part of the 1900’s, when countries and continents were vying for independence from British rule. Today, there remain some countries that are still under the British rule, but most of these have been granted a measure of independence and self-governance

Effects Of Climatic And Environmental Changes On Ancient African Civilisations

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the entire planet earth looked very different to what modern man experiences today. Continents were not yet divided, and the vegetation and animals were different. Significantly, the climate was also vastly different to what it is today. Climate plays an integral role in determining the plants and animal that live in a certain areas, as well as how habitable a place is for human beings.

In fact, even the theory of the evolution of man was dependent largely on the climatic influences on our ancient ancestors. It is hypothesised that the ancient versions of man were forced to walk upright, lose body hair and develop their coordination for survival in a changing environment. New skills also needed to be learned as farming techniques and living habits had to be adapted.

Ancient Africa experienced major vacillations between mega-droughts and Ice Ages, although these fluctuations occurred over thousands and thousands of years. As humans continued to develop and evolve through these phases, they needed to make major adaptations, not only to their ways of life, but also to their personal body structure. Prior to 135 000 years ago, the whole of Africa was lush and fertile, with a tropical climate. Then, the most intense mega-drought ever to occur hit the continent in the period referred to as the early part of the Late Pleistocene epoch. This is believed to have led to the migration of most of our human ancestors into other areas that were more habitable and fertile. Lake Malawi has been used by scientists as a rain gauge to ascertain water levels in ancient times. Research has shown that, during this mega-drought, the lake’s level dropped at least 1968 feet, or 600 metres! Evolutionists claim that this severe lack of water not only pushed ancient man from the area, it also forced aquatic animals (such as fish) to develop the facilities to be able to survive on dry land, thus evolving into land animals.

As people flocked out of the continent, only a very small proportion of this specific generation remained. Humankind as we know it is widely believed to have come from these few remaining on the continent, who evolved significantly and in response to the climatic changes.

These conditions continued until about 70 000 years ago, when the climate was again characterised by wetter conditions. These led to the growth and renewal of fresh vegetation, as well as an increased water supply to the region. More people were in the area during this time of abundance, and the population grew. This increase in numbers eventually led to migrations due to space limitations and the ownership of land.

Then, about 20 000 years ago, an Ice Age overcame the entire earth. This meant that the planet underwent a long-term period of cold temperatures over most of its surface. In places like North America and Eurasia, giant ice sheets covered enormous proportions of the land, making it impossible to farm and, sometimes, even live in these areas. This final Ice Age lasted for about 9 500 years. It forced most of the populations to migrate to the highlands, where they would be relatively protected from the ice sheets. Again, these civilisations had to adapt their farming methods, and change their diet, social habits, clothing and migratory patterns. This forced an evolution to a certain extent. Body hair was necessary to keep people warm, their skin lightened due to a lack of the harsh rays of the sun that they experienced during the mega-droughts, etc…

When this Ice Age came to an end 10 500 years ago, areas like the Sahara were left fertile and healthy. This made it and the other areas like it the ideal spots in which to settle as ancient man began to descend from the highlands. Animals and plants thrived in this environment, which made it very desirable in the eyes of mankind. The abundance of food, water and sunshine again changed the habits and physical structures of our earliest forefathers.

These conditions lasted for some time, but the Sahara in particular continued to experience fluctuations between humid and dry conditions. These eventually left the entire area unable to yield crops or sustain life for any extended period of time. Today, it remains a large stretch of desert. Then, approximately 2500 years ago, the group of people who had made their home in the Sahara began to follow the direction of the Nile River, which held promise of a rich water supply. The arid conditions of the Sahara and its surrounds continue to the present day.

Africa has, since prehistoric times, proven to be a place of fascination, life and evolution. Changes in the climate were often dramatic, and these were, to a great extent, responsible for determining the ancient civilisations that inhabited this vast continent. It is no wonder that many researchers and scientists maintain that Africa is the Cradle of Mankind, and research continues to yield fascinating evidence of this theory.