FOR the last century, Europe's interest in Africa has been the conversion of the heathen, the annexation of colonies and investment for profit in African labor and raw materials. Once, investment in Africa involved the slave trade and the transport of Negro labor to America. American Negro slavery, through the crops it raised, the commerce it gave rise to, the cities it built and the inventions it inspired, helped bring the Industrial Revolution. With the new industrial era began the decline of the slave trade and slavery and the utilization of African labor in Africa to develop African resources. Thus the search of finance capitalism for new fields of exploitation introduced a new set of problems into the relations of Africa and the white world.
In 1870 a young man dying of tuberculosis, Cecil Rhodes, began to dig diamonds in South Africa. Within a year he was a millionaire. Within a decade he had planned an empire built on diamonds and gold. A few years later he set his face toward the copper, tin and platinum of the inner regions of the continent. A bearded roué in the royal palace at Brussels caught the significance of the trend and planned an international state in central Africa, nominally for "scientific and philanthropic" motives, but in reality out of the love of gain. Even Bismarck, against his better judgment, felt obliged to follow England and France into colonial imperialism.
At first these political schemes led only to expense and controversy. Gradually, however, economic profits began to accrue. Foremost among the sources of these profits was the mineral wealth of the Rand, which was to furnish half the world's gold and most of its diamonds. Another -- one that steadily increased with the years -- was the vegetable oils from which Europe and America made their soap. Later, with the electric age, came copper -- one of the greatest copper reserves in the world is in Northern Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo -- to be
Loading, please wait...