Can the scramble for Africa be understood as a single process?
Nowadays the ‘Scramble for Africa’ may be remembered as a brief period, from around 1880 to 1900, of ultra-colonialism on the part of several European nations, in particular Germany, France and Britain but also Belgium, Portugal and Italy, in which the continent of Africa and the ten thousand or so polities it contained were partitioned between them (Brooke-Smith 1987, 1). It is also often cited as the cause of many of Africa’s problems today (eg Harrison 1993, 45) and thus Ferguson (2003, 222) has suggested that ‘Scramble of Africa’ might be a more apposite term. Although ‘scramble’ was early adopted as a description of what was happening, for example Keltie uses it in The Partition of Africa published in 1893 (eg 189, 444), as Betts (1966, vii) suggests it tends to promote a certain interpretation of events, emphasising both their haste and interconnectedness. However, as Koponen (1993, 117) observes, while much may be known about the events of the ‘scramble’, there remains no consen