The Berlin West Africa Conference: 1885
The Berlin West Africa Conference (and the Act it promulgated) is often regarded as pivotal in the developing momentum of the scramble. Representatives of fourteen countries met in Berlin in November 1884 at the invitation of Germany and France. It was preceded and precipitated by growing tensions and rivalries in West Africa mainly over control of the Congo basin, but also over territories elsewhere particularly along the River Niger. Stanley had conducted an expedition on the Congo for King Leopold of Belgium in order to establish Belgian influence there and he met the Frenchman De Brazza who was engaged in a similar exploit on behalf of the French. This was accompanied by the ritual signing of treaties with local chiefs — notably the famous treaty with Makoko which was ratified by the French parliament in a blaze of imperialist publicity. The British and Portuguese meanwhile signed a treaty in February 1884 giving Portugal control of both mouths of the Congo.
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