Monday, December 9, 2019

Agreements and Weaknesses of The Berlin Conference

Berlin Conference of 1884/5 was a meeting conducted by Bismarck of Germany when the rivalry for the Congo of Africa and other colonies in Africa almost brought most European Nations to a state of war. The Berlin Conference which can also be called the Scramble and partition of Africa was conducted therefore to prevent the scrambling nations from resorting to the use of arms as nationalism was at its peak during this period. The Conference was therefore to discuss in a peaceful manner European claims to sections of Africa and to lay down general rules governing the occupation of any part of Africa by European Nations.

There were certain Agreements at the Berlin Conference which are explained in detail to the understanding of the young Historian and for easy scholarly study;

  • Effective Occupation Policy; this was one of the most important resolution at the Berlin Conference as any European Nation planning to lay claim and control of any coastline of Africa should back it up with an Effective Occupation' which is setting up a direct or indirect administration in the area of occupancy.
  •  Informing Other powers at the Conference: Any European Nation laying claim to any section of Africa should also inform other powers present at the conference of Berlin. (Powers present at the Conference; Britain, France Germany, Portugal, Spain and Belgium) This was done to show off respect and recognition to other European powers.
  • All Nations were free to trade and navigate on the Congo and Niger Rivers respectively, though this would later result to issues, but that would be discussed in our subsequent articles)
  • Putting an Effective End to Slavery and Slave Trading in Africa: this was another resolution at the conference of Berlin (November 15, 1884/5) that in a way benefited Africans because slave trading was halted for good as the new administrations took over their respective colonies. 
  • The Civilization of the whites should also be extended to Africans; this was aimed at making the Europeans teach the Africans their own patterns of living. (This led to the setting up of different administrations by different European Nations
Like I stated severally in the above, the conference of Berlin had its weaknesses and Achievements that are worthy of mention here,

Weaknesses of Berlin Conference of 1884
  • All European Nations present at the conference of Berlin agreed that all Nations were free to trade on the Congo and Niger Rivers respectively but failed to show in parctical and executable terms the way to achieve this. The absence of a practical method of executing this agreement led to the establishment of the trading monopolies on the Congo and Niger Rivers by Leopold of Belgium and Taubman Goldie and they never allowed any other Scrambling Nation come close. 
  • The Conference also agreed that Nations should establish effective occupation on any coastline of Africa but failed to mention the interior. This almost led many nations to war but in response to this another conference was conducted in Brussels (1890) which corrected the initial flaw extending the coastline to the interior of Africa.  
Worthy to Note also is the undisputed fact that the Berlin Conference had a number of Achievements which include;
  •  The most important achievement of the conference was that it made the partitioning of the African continent be a peaceful activity with no nation requesting for the use of arms.
  • It paved way for other powers such as Germany, Britain and France to engage in the struggle for African lands.
  • The conference recognised the Congo Free State and Belgian occupation of Congo and her International Association for the Congo.