This unit is about the Partition of East Africa though the European power had interests elsewhere.



Before the 1880`s European powers had interest elsewhere for example the British were interested in South Africa, Australia, News land. France was concentrating on her territories in Latin America. Therefore there attention was not forced on East Africa and until later. Germany and Italy was still consolidating their unity and solving their internal problems such that they could not join the colonial race.

Some rulers in Europe regarded colonies as expensive ventures which were not worthwhile undertaking.

The first Europeans who came to East Africa before 1875 were not aggressive colonialists / imperialists. They were mainly interested in acquiring knowledge about East Africa without necessarily conquering and colonizing the East African territories.

The Scramble and partition occurred when men on the spot e.g. Stanley, Carl Peters, Harry Johnson, William Mackinnon became colonialists.

By 1870, slave trade had not been effectively abolished and therefore East Africa was considered unsafe for Europeans.

Before 1880`s, the level of production of manufactured goods and the demand for raw materials was not alarming in Europe.

The threat to European industrialization didn’t develop until after 1880 because by then Britain was still the workshop of the World and there was low competition for raw materials and external market. The scramble started when each European country industrialized at a high degree and the need for getting raw materials and markets outside Europe increased.

Before 1875, there was a relative balance of power in Europe. France was a land power and Britain was a sea power.

Between 1870-71, Russia defeated France and Germany replaced France as the Land power. Britain was also threatened by Germany growing power and by 1880 had joined the scramble in a bid to remain on top of European politics.

The public opinion in Europe was also contributory factor. Before 1880, the rich people in Europe in Europe devoted their wealth to other ventures like evangelism but after 1880, the public opinion began to favor the accusation of colonies and this led to the Scramble and partition of East Africa.

Before 1880, France one of the important colonial powers was having problems with the establishment of the republic and her intention was forced on internal problems, she only recovered after 1875 and turned her attention on colonial possession, causing the scramble and partition.


The partition of East Africa occurred in mainly three phases. The first phase was between 1884 and 1885 (Berlin conference). The second phase occurred between 1886 and 1889 (Anglo German agreement). The third phase was from 1890 onwards (2nd Anglo- Germany agreement)


In November 1884, Bismarck a German chancellor organized a conference of the European powers in Berlin to establish ways of dividing territories in East Africa among European powers without going to war. At this conference the following were done.

Spheres / areas of influence were established and East Africa was divided into German East Africa and British East Africa.

Carl Peters treaties with the chiefs of Usagara, Ukami, Ungulu, Uzini and the Kilimanjaro`s region where recognized.

German access and influence over Dar es Salaam was recognized

The theory of effective occupation was established where a European country that claimed an African territory had to abolish slave trade, establish ports and trading centers and administer law and order.

After the conference, the Sultan of Zanzibar complained because the parts which had been given to Germany as part of his territory. He also claimed rights to the caravan routes to the interior which were now in the German spheres.

At the end of 1885, the British sent a committee to East Africa to look into the Sultan claims, so in 1886, the 1st Angro German Agreement was signed and the following were the provisions;

The line of partition was drawn from Lake Victoria to the coast with Germany taking mainland Tanzania and Kenya being taken by the British.

The Sultan was allowed to retain only a 16km strip from Tunghi bay in the South to River Tana in the North including the Islands and towns of Pemba, Mafia, Lamu and Zanzibar.

The Sultan`s claim over the Kilimanjaro region and caravan routes to the interior were ingnored.

The Germany was to control Wiitu through the German Wiitu Company although Wiitu was in Kenya which was British territory.

The Kenya-Tanzania border was drawn from the mouth of Umba to the foot hills of Kilimanjaro and both Britain and Germany agreed not to interfere in each others spheres.

Germany was to establish a custom house at Dar es Saalam and collect tax.

The question of Uganda and Western boundary with Congo were not delt with.

After the 1st Angro Germany Agreement, there arose conflicts between the British and German in the River Tana between 1887 and 1888.

Following the agreement of 1886, there were conflicts resulting from the activities of the chartered companies.in 1887, William Mackinnon pursued the Sultan of Zanzibar to grant a lease to the IBEACo for the control of his sphere of influence.

In 1888, when the company got a charter, the competition between the GEACo and IBEACo increased because German was afraid that the IBEACo could the British South African Company which was operation in South Africa and Central Africa and push German out of East Africa.

Britain was also worried that the German Wittu company could join the GEACo to push Britain out of Kenya.

As a result, In 1889 Britain made Lamu got to the Sultan who later handed it over her the Northern parts like Brava, Mogadishu and by the end of 1889, Britain occupied the Island of Pate.

In 1890, Carl Peters obtained treaties form Nabongo Sakwa of Wanga Mukulu of Western Kenya and from Mwanga of Buganda.

This worried the British so much and they sent Jackson of IBEA Company to Sign a treaty of friendship with Mwanga. When Mwanga refused, Britain decided to negotiate a new agreement with Germany which resulted into the signing of the 2nd Agro Germany Agreement of 1890 (Heligo land treaty July).

The following were decided upon;

The Uganda- Tanzania border was drawn and German surrendered her claims over Buganda which was placed in British hands.

Germany was to loose influence north of present day Kenya-Tanzania border.

Germany recognized the British Protectorate of Zanzibar, Pemba and the Sultanate of Wiitu.

Germany was then given the Island of Heligo Land in the North sea which was then important to her in Europe.

German was allowed to purchase her part of the coast strip from the Sultan at the cost of 200,000 pounds living him with only the areas that lay with in the British sphere of influence.

German was to take control of her spheres of influence from the German East African Company.

After the 2nd Angro Germany Agreement in 1890, another treaty was signed in 1891 between Italy and Britain in which Britain recognized the Italian claim over Ethiopia and Italy agreed not to interfere with Atbara tributary at Nile and this settled the Kenya- Ethiopia border in the North.

Following the treaty, Buganda was declared a British Protectorate in 1894 and in 1895, a similar protectorate was declared over Kenya including British East Africa.


There was loss of political independence and severenity. The territories became colonies or protectorates of European powers.

The scramble and partition led to creation of artificial boundaries which later created inter-state conflicts the boundary conflicts between Uganda and Kenya in Eastern Uganda.

It led to the break up of some groups of people through abituary boundaries be drawn by colonial masters e.g. Samiya, Iteso, Lugbra were separated.

It united the different groups of Africans under one colonial government e.g for the first time different political groups e.g. Bunyoro, Toro; Budanga etc. were united under one protectrate government.

It led to the growth of African Nationalism, many African groups were not happy so some took up arms to try and recover their lost independence for example the Hehe rebellion, Maji maji rebellion, Kabalega`s, Nandi`s, Mwanga`s resistance.

There was increased disunity among Africans those who were favoured by colonialists because of colabolisation couldn’t socialize with those seen as resistant could not be trated by colonialists.

There was loss of respect by traditional and local leaders who were publically humiliated e.g. being flogged in public.

African laws and values were replaced by European laws and this led to the breakdown of law and order.

There was loss of political power by African leaders. The Europeans interfered in the internal affairs of the East African states and these resulted in the internal affairs of East African States and these resulted in the break down of tribal authority.

There was introduction of cash crops like cotton and coffee which helped to strengthen legitimate trade and provide an alternative means of survival.

There was increase in trade between East Africa and European countries and this provided aboost to the East African countries.

There was increased exploitation of African resources and the Africans lost control over the use of their resources like land and minerals which were new under the control of the colonialists.

Slave trade and slavery were abolished and legitimate trade was encouraged and this helped to improve the standard of living of the people.

It led to loss of lives of the Africans because of the rebellion and those who resisted colonial rule.

There was displacement of people whose land was taken by the Europeans and they settled on it e.g. Masai, Kikuyu, Kamba who were chased from the Kenya Highlands.

There was introduction of monetrized economy where they used money to trade instead of a barter trade.

Introduction of foreign languages e.g. English, German, French etc

Adoption of European culture by Africans which undermined African culture

There was improvement in health and standard of living as people enjoyed services provided in hospitals, schools etc.

Increase in employment opportunities for Africans for example in mines, on plantations and as domestic servants though on exploitation basis.

There was improvement in transport and communication services as roads and railways were built.

Wide spread poverty among Africans who had to pay taxes to raise revenue for colonial administration and who had lost control of trade which was dominated by the colonialists and Indians.

There was growth of urban centres, some of whuch started as colletingcentres and others as trading centres for example Tabora, Nakuru, Dar es Salaam, Jinja etc.


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