Who first established colonialism in Africa


Stefan Mair

Dr. Stefan Mair is a member of the Foreign Office's Africa Advisory Committee. Current focal points mainly concern intra-African interstate relations, democratization aid and international election observation as well as German interests in Africa, state collapse and conflict resolution. Mair has published several books and essays on these topics, including "Africa south of the Sahara" (1999) and "German-African Relations" (1998).

The spread of colonialism in Africa from the middle of the 19th century - mainly through the Europeans - led there to a fundamental structural change in political and economic systems with far-reaching effects. Missionaries, researchers and adventurers in particular drove colonization forward.

Extract from:
Information on political education (Issue 264) - the spread of colonialism


Until the middle of the 19th century, European foreign rule over African regions was usually limited to a few trading establishments and fortified bases on the coast and its immediate hinterland. Exceptions to this rule were the attempts by the Portuguese to establish themselves deeper in today's Mozambique along the Zambezi in the 16th century. Added to this were the advances made by the settlers of the Cape Colony, who in the middle of the 18th century moved the settlement boundary about 800 kilometers to the northeast in a large trek. Long before the Europeans, Arab traders based in Zanzibar had set up trading branches far within East Africa, which mainly served the slave and ivory trade.