The Scramble for Africa
The Association for Promoting the Discovery
of the Interior Parts of Africa (commonly known as the African
Association), founded in London on June 9, 1788, was a British
club dedicated to the exploration of West Africa, with the mission
of discovering the origin and course of the Niger River and the
location of Timbuktu, the "lost city" of gold. The formation
of this group was effectively the "beginning of the age of
Organized by a dozen titled members of London’s upper-class
establishment and led by the zeal of Sir Joseph Banks, the original
aim of the Association was discovery, although halting of the
slave trade and commerce later became equally important. Political
and religious themes were discouraged.
The African Association also felt that it was the great failing
of the Age of Enlightenment that, in a time when men could sail
around the world, the geography of the Dark Continent remained
almost entirely uncharted. The Ancient Greeks and Romans knew
more about the interior of Africa than did the English of the
Motivated by sincere desires for scientific knowledge and the
abolition of the slave trade, yet not averse to gaining opportunities
for British commerce, the wealthy members each pledged to contribute
five guineas per year to recruiting and funding expeditions from
England to Africa. Along with British government, the French and
Germans later became involved in exploration, but generally with
less elevating ideals. In 1830 the Royal Geographic Society (RGS)
was founded, a short time later it absorbed the Africa Association.
The London Missionary Society's star was rising also, desiring
to 'bring god to the heathen' and were actively sending missionaries
to Africa and elsewhere. Those missionaries that did arrive in
Africa, some found exploring either a natural adjunct to their
mission or an accidental by product of their search for converts.
Livingstone, Krapt and Rebmann, to name but three.
During the Victorian age of exploration from 1844-88 the likes
Hanning Speke, James
Augustus Grant, Richard
Francis Burton, Oscar
Savorgnan de Brazza, Hermann
von Wissmann, Verney
Lovett Cameron, John
Rowlands (aka Sir Henry Morton Stanley), Dr.
David Livingstone, Sir
Samuel White Baker and his wife Florence
crisscrossed the African continent in an age unparrelled in geographic
exploration. What followed their collectiive expeditions became
known as the Scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa
or Partition of Africa. Because of these great explorers and what
followed forever changed the great African kingdoms and the peoples
of the continent.