The division of africa - Berlin 1885 Joël Calmettes

26th February 1884. Scenes of joy at the Radziwill Palace in Berlin to celebrate the end of negotiations at the Berlin conference on Africa, which had lasted for four months. During these four months, the leading diplomats of the Western wor ld had determined the future of Africa, dividing it up into areas of influence and drawing borders at random. Yet not a single African had been asked for their opinion!

Still almost entirely terra incognita, Africa was at the mercy of European geopolitics. It had aroused the lust of many, in particular Leopold II, King of Belgium, who by shrewd lobbying during the Conference managed to win the vast state of the Congo for his kingdom (and would soon own it outright).

The negotiating table was the scene of both power struggles and human comedy. Each country lauded its own altruistic values,

invoked the white man’s mission to bring civilisation to the Africans, or cloaked itself in other good intentions.

Yet the bald facts continue to speak louder than their words, and Africa still bears their scars.

‘THE DIVISION OF AFRICA – BERLIN, 1885’ makes use of previously unexplored archive material and the insights of historians specialised in the colonial question to shed new light on this period of history at the end of the 19th century that would seal the fate of an entire continent for many years to come.