“The Scramble for Africa” – Thomas Packenham

22 02 2008

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading about how Europeans came to be so disastrously involved in Africa. The descent from the noble anti-slavery traditions of Livingstone to the effectively slave state of Belgian Congo, and forced labour across most of colonised Africa including British colonies makes a depressing read. At least two of the three Cs of the original explorers, Commerce, Civilisation and Christianity resonate with the modern aims of free trade and “good governance”. It will be interesting to see whether they get as badly corrupted by the 3 Cs. I fear it’s already happening.

“The scramble for Africa” is well worth a read. What could be a dry subject is made interesting by the little details and stories. The, ultimately misplaced, bravery and energy of a handful of men makes for a fascinating story, although a few more maps woukd have made things a bit easier to follow at times.

[Update] I just spotted that this is post #100




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