Sutton Coldfield

Foreign History

Place: United Reformed Church, Sutton Coldfield, B73 6AA
Day: Weekly on Thursdays.
Time: 2.00 pm
Cost: £2
Speaker: Toby McLeod

Definitive meeting dates are displayed in the Monthly Programme.

Subject: Foreign History 'The Scramble for Africa'

The Scramble for Africa

Rhodes - Africa! It seems that Africa is seldom out of the news with frequent famines and civil wars, to the Rwandan crisis of the 1990s, the death of Robert Mugabe and the rapid exploitation of the continent by Chinese industry and business concerns.

The roots of Africa’s current woes date from the years from 1880 to 1914 that saw unprecedented European colonisation of the continent. Fired by missionary zeal, patriotic pride and the thirst for valuable raw materials, the great powers of Europe carved up Africa between themselves with scant regard for the wishes or aspirations of the indigenous peoples.

The history of Africa in subsequent years has been wholly shaped by the dark and bloody events of this sombre chapter of imperialist expansion. Join Toby McLeod in this journey into the Dark Heart of Africa explained with lively illustrated talks that will open up this hitherto little-explored area of history and provide a useful background to recent and current events in Africa.

Footnote.

I studied these events of the late Victorian era through to the commencement of World War I with great interest both at school for my GCE (as it was then) and again at University, but that was over half a century ago so I am ready for refreshed enlightenment of this incredible period.

This interest has taken me to the battlefields of Natal - Rorke's Drift; Isandlwana; Blood River; Speion Kop; Ladysmith; Cetswayo's Kraal etc, where the battles of the period can be imagined and almost re-enacted by being present at the locations of the events.

The illustration depicted here, in 'Sage' and on the A5 posters on the notice board is of Cecil Rhodes' 'Cape to Cairo' vision.

We have so far been introduced to the situation in Africa during the 19th Century and the second talk concentrated on the great explorers before a comprehensive guide to the mineral discoveries in South Africa - the discovery of diamonds at the 'Big Hole' in Kimberley - and then gold on the Witwatersrand. At that time both were situated in the Boer Republic of the Transvaal, and it was these discoveries - amongst other factors - which led to conflict with the Boers.

At the same time trouble was brewing in the Zulu kingdom - present-day KwaZulu Natal, which led to further battles at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift. These battles have been immortalised in the films 'Zulu Dawn' and 'Zulu, in which Michael Caine made his film debut.

Colin Little.

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