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coloring a map of the scramble for africa

Scramble For Africa Map

This exploration is for middle grades and high school, as the colored smilies show.  Learn about European colonization of Africa as you color a Scramble For Africa Map of the early 1900s.

5th thru 8th grades
9th thru 12th grades
Layers of Learning Unit 4-5
Layers of Learning Unit 4-5: Africa, U.S. Political Maps, Energy Conversion, Impressionism I

This European Colonization of Africa exploration is from Layers of Learning Unit 4-5, which is about the modern history of Africa and especially European colonization. The history units of Layers of Learning have lots of historical maps to color like this one. Learn more about Layers of Learning.

Europeans turned their attention to the colonization of Africa in the 1800’s. First they merely explored, then they began to trade (including the slave trade), and finally they wanted to control. It quickly became a race between European powers to see who could snap up the most land, power, and wealth in Africa. By 1910 nearly all of Africa was being controlled by colonial powers.

Step 1: Library Research

The first step is to search out and read information about the Scramble for Africa from authors who know and love their subject. Here are two suggestions, but if you can’t find these at your library search for books about Scramble for Africa, Africa colonization, King Leopold II, Boer War, David Livingstone, and Cecil Rhodes. The colored smilies above each book tell you what ages they are intended for.

5th thru 8th grade

Leopold II: Butcher of the Congo

by Tod Olson

A biography of King Leopold II from his childhood to his brutal conquest of the Congo. This series does not shy away from the wicked bits.
9th thru 12th grade

King Leopold’s Ghost

By Adam Hochschild

At 366 pages this popular history covers the essentials of the Scramble for Africa and the tragedies that were involved. A well written book about this time we should all be aware of.

Both of these books have disturbing details of brutality. That’s kind of the point. This was a brutal occurrence in world history. That’s the main reason we need to learn about it. So we can learn from it and not repeat what others have done. We highly recommend you read these books with your children or at the same time so you can have discussions and help them process what they learn.

Step 2: Scramble for Africa Map Exploration

After doing some background reading, color a Scramble For Africa map showing the colonies divided between European powers.

This is what the colored map will look like.

While you are coloring talk about the map and what it represents.

  • Why did Europeans want to control Africa?
  • Why was Africa relatively easy to conquer? It only took about ten years for nearly every scrap of land to be claimed.
  • How did African people suffer and why did Europeans treat others so horribly? How did Europeans justify what happened?
  • How is Africa still suffering from this time in history?

Step 3: Show What You Know

Have your children write 1-3 paragraphs on the back of their maps about what happened to Africa in their own words and then why they think it happened.

Additional Layers

Additional Layers are extra activities you can do or tangents you can take off on. You will find them in the sidebars of each Layers of Learning unit. They are optional, so just choose what interests you.

Additional Layer

Learn about some of the major religions of Africa. Christianity and Islam are the two biggest. How do the beliefs of African people relate to the history of Africa?

Deep Thoughts

Have a discussion with your kids about this: Historians call the desire to control other people the “Conquest Paradigm”. When have you seen the conquest paradigm occur in history? Why do you think humans want to control others? What are alternatives to the conquest paradigm?

Famous Folks

Roger Casement journeyed into the Belgian Congo at great personal risk in 1905 to learn about and expose atrocities being committed there. His “Casement Report” became famous and the impetus for removing the Congo from control of Leopold. Roger Casement went on to expose other abuses all over the world. He became the first one to investigate human rights violations by governments and other groups. Learn more about him and the Casement Report.

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