The Scramble for Africa

1420s-1430s: Canary Islands and the Azores settled by the Portuguese.

1500-1850 Height of Atlantic SlaveTrade: Approximately 11 million slaves shipped from Africa, ca 1450-1850 (but the numbers are controversial).

1570: Portuguese establish colony in Angola.

1652: Dutch establish colony at Cape of Good Hope, South Africa; and colonizing Boers ("farmers"), or Afrikaners, begin settling large farms at the expense of San and Khoikhoi, non-Bantu speakers of the region.

1798: Napoleon's campaign in Egypt.

1805-48: Egypt breaks away from the Ottoman Empire under the rule of Mohammed Ali.

1807: Slavery abolished in British Empire.

1814: By 1814, the British had taken the Cape Colony from the Dutch East India Company and established a toehold in Southern Africa.

1815: British declare formal control of Cape Colony and increase British immigration in South Africa. Despite government resistance, Boers began to move inland in search of better land and, after 1815, to escape control by the British government.

c. 1816-28: Shaka, Zulu chief, unifies Nguni peoples and forges an impressive fighting force, launching the mfecane (wars of crushing and wandering) against neighboring black Africans and white Europeans throughout southern Africa. Shaka was assassinated in 1828, but Zulu power continued to rise

1822: The American Colonization Society (ACS) was formed to send free African-Americans to Africa as an alternative to emancipation in the United States. In 1822, the society established on the west coast of Africa a colony that in 1847 became the independent nation of Liberia

1830-47: French invasion and the deposition of the dey (regent) of Algiers. The French campaign to conquer northern Algeria ended in 1847 with the defeat of Algerian leader Abd al-Qadir (c.1807-83).

1834: A major threat to British power in Southern Africa came from the Zulu kingdom after they annexed many of the surrounding nations in the Mfecane wars. The year 1834 also saw the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire. This gave the Royal Navy an opportunity to dominate the seas around Africa as they attempted to enforce the ban and keep out growing French interests in the continent.

1836-37: "Great Trek" of Dutch-descent Boers north to lands across Orange River into Natal, South Africa, occupied by southern Nguni peoples in midst of the mfecane. The white Boer republics of Orange Free State and Transvaal are established in 1850s.

1845: Britain annexed Natal in 1845, as Boer opposition grew increasingly strong. By 1854, Transvaal and the Orange Free State were independent.

1850: Despite this, by the middle of the 19th century only a few European colonial outposts existed on the African coasts. This was the great age of exploration, when Livingstone trekked across the African interior to discover lakes and waterfalls in the name of God and Queen Victoria.

1852: Tukolor leader al-Hajj 'Umar launches Jihad war along Senegal and upper Niger rivers to establish an Islamic state.

1852: In South Africa, Britain recognizes Transvaal's independence.

1853-56: Dr David Livingstone crosses Africa and reaches Victoria Falls.

1860s: In the 1860s, the French began to gain more territory in Africa. In 1863, they declared a protectorate over Porto Novo on the coast of Dahomey and by 1868 France had acquired territory on the Guinea and Ivory Coasts.

1865-68: Wars between Orange Free State and Basuto people, in South Africa.

1867: The discovery of diamonds in the British Cape Colony in 1867 was an indication of the extent of the riches to be plundered from Africa, and foreshadowed the blood that would be spilt over them. The following year, Britain annexed Basutoland.

1869: Ferdinand de Lesseps's Suez Canal opened in 1869 with the backing of majority French investment.

1872: Cape Colony in South Africa granted self-government by Britain.

1873: The golden age of African exploration ended in 1874 when Livingstone died in Ilala. The British established missionary bases throughout Central Africa in the late 1870s whilst at the same time adopting an aggressive policy towards native populations and colonial rivals alike.

1874: The Gold Coast was declared a British colony in 1874, the same year that the British defeated the Ashanti, their former partner in the slave trade.

1877: Three years later Britain annexed the Transvaal and enraged its Boer population.

1879: The Anglo-Zulu War broke out in 1879. Zulu defeat the British at Isandhlwana, but are defeated in turn by the British at Rourke’s Drift, South Africa.

1879: George Goldie, the son of a Manx smuggling family, set out to seek his fortune in West Africa. By 1879 he had established the National African Company and was ready to set about conquering territory in order to gain the mineral wealth it held.

1879: Ten years after the opening of the Suez Canal, the anti-European Egyptian military leader Arabi Pasha led a coup against the government.

1880: In response to the British annexation of the Transvaal, the Boers raised the flag of the republic in Paardekraal in 1880 and asserted their independence.

1881: The Boers invaded Natal and forced the British into recognizing Transvaal's independence. The events of 1880-81 are known as the First Boer War.

1882: In 1882, Britain acted to restore order in Egypt. An invasion force was sent under the command of General Wolseley in 1882. They defeated Arabi Pasha easily and exiled him to Ceylon. In essence, this triggered the Scramble for Africa as the other European powers rushed to get their share of the cake before Britain took all the slices for itself.

1883: An uprising in the Sudan under the leadership of the infamous Mahdi threatened British interests in the Egyptian empire in the Sudan. The Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmed, annihilated General Hicks's force of 10,000 Egyptian soldiers at the Battle of El Obeid in 1883 and laid siege to Khartoum.

1884: Hiram Maxim, the American inventor of the machine gun bearing his name, formed the Maxim Gun Company Ltd in 1884. The gun was to play a key role in the defeat of African tribal warriors that allowed the rapid European takeover of their lands.

1884: General Gordon reached Khartoum in 1884 to evacuate the garrison but was besieged by the Madhi.

1884-85: The German Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, made up for Germany's late entry into the Scramble for African territory. He established his nation's credentials as an imperial power by claiming rights to land in Namibia, territory stretching from the British Cape Colony to Portuguese Angola, as well as Cameroon, Togo and, in East Africa, Tanganyika.

1885: The Berlin Conference: Intense rivalries among Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, and Portugal for additional African territory, and the ill-defined boundaries of their various holdings, instigate the Berlin conference. Here the powers of Europe, together with the United States, defined their spheres of influence and laid down rules for future occupation on the coasts of Africa and for navigation of the Zaire and Niger rivers. No African states were invited to the Berlin conference, and none signed these agreements. Whenever possible, Africans resisted decisions made in Europe, but revolts in Algeria, in the western Sudan, in Dahomey, by the Matabele (Ndebele) and Shona, in Ashantiland, in Sierra Leone, and in the Fulani Hausa states were eventually defeated.

1885: General Wolseley left Cairo to relieve Khartoum but the city fell after the massacre of the British-Egyptian garrison. The conflict took the shape of a crusading religious war, with the two fanatics, Gordon and the Mahdi, determined to wipe out the other.

1886: Goldie's National African Company was granted a Royal Charter allowing him to take over the lower and middle Niger in order to establish law and order there to do business. He bought some Maxim guns and took on armies 30 times larger than his own at Bida and Ilorin. The following year the British annexed Zululand.

1886: also saw the start of the Transvaal gold rush and the founding of Johannesburg. This was a reminder that Africa's vast mineral wealth was of central importance to the Scramble for Africa.

1889: Cecil Rhodes established the British South African Company with Lord Rothschild's help in 1889. This was the seed of the great De Beers company that still dominates the world diamond market today. Rhodes and Rothschild wanted the mineral rights and ultimately the territory itself that lay in Chief Lobengula's Matabele land. They formed the Chartered Company's Volunteers with 700 men and marched off to fight Lobengula's 3000 impi warriors. However, Rhodes had armed his men with the new Maxim gun. The 0.45-inch weapon could fire 500 rounds per minute: fifty times faster than the best rifle then available.

1893: Rhodes used the Maxim Gun for the first time at Shangari River in 1893. In the battle, 1,500 natives died but Rhodes lost only four men. He renamed Matabele Land 'Rhodesia' in honor of himself, having already become Prime Minister of the Cape in 1890.

1896: France takes Madagascar.

1896: Ethiopians under Emperor Menelik II successfully resist European conquest, annihilating Italians at the Battle of Adwa (or Aduwa). By 1914, only Ethiopia in the east and Liberia in the west remain independent of European colonial control.

1897: The British reversed an earlier setback in their Scramble for Africa when Lord Kitchener retook Khartoum.

1898: Kitchener wiped out the army of the Khalifa, who had succeeded the Mahdi, at the battle of Omdurman in 1898. He then set off down the Nile with a flotilla of gunboats to confront the French General Marchand, who was threatening British territory, at Fashoda. This precipitated the Fashoda Crisis when, ultimately unable to face a naval war with Britain, the French backed down.

1899-1902: The Second Boer War. Increasingly aggrieved at their treatment by the British, Transvaal President Paul Kruger attempted to take a stand. However, his ultimatum expired without agreement and the Boers laid siege to Kekwich and Rhodes at Kimberley and Baden-Powell at Mafeking. They also surrounded Ladysmith. In 1900, it looked as if the British response under Sir Redvers Buller and General Roberts had succeeded. The two armies joined at Bergendal in an apparently decisive victory and annexed the Transvaal. However, the Boers under Smuts and Botha led a guerilla warfare campaign against Roberts's successor Kitchener until they agreed to a peace treaty at Pretoria in 1902. Although the British "won" the war, they were forced to make concessions to Afrikaner (Boer) political organizations for internal control of South Africa, opening the path for Afrikaners to free themselves eventually of British domination and, in turn, dominate the black African majority in South Africa.

1904: France creates Federation of French West Africa.

1904: The Germans drove 50,000 of the Herero people of Namibia into the desert to die.

1905: Maji-Maji rebellion begins in Tanzania (German East Africa).

1906: In Zululand, the British brutally repressed a rebellion triggered by their attempt to impose a poll tax on the nation they had conquered.

1908: Belgium takes over Congo Free State.

1910: The Boers and Afrikaners gained control in the Union of South Africa's first 'general' election. Louis Botha became South Africa's first President.

1912: The South African Native Congress, later known as the ANC, was established in 1912 as an attempt to resist the white domination of its country. The ANC would finally succeed, 82 years later, in seeing the first democratically elected Black President of South Africa come to power. Nelson Mandela was inaugurated on 10th May 1994.

1912: French make Morocco a Protectorate.

1914: Britain and France occupy German colonies in West Africa.

1920: Pan-African Congresses meets in Paris, fueled by anti-colonial unrest and African nationalism especially among black missionary-educated and Western-educated elites. This  unrest is expressed in strikes in Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast, and Nigeria of British West Africa.

1921-26: Abd-el-Krim leads Berbers and Arabs against Europeans in North Africa.

1922: Egypt becomes independent from Britain under King Fuad.

1930: Haile Selassie crowned emperor of Ethiopia.

1935-36: Italians under Mussolini invade and annex Ethiopia.

1941: Ethiopia liberated from Italians by Ethiopians and British, and recognized as independent.

1951: Libya gains independence.

1952-59: Mau-Mau guerrilla war against British in Kenya. Kenya, with large white settle population, is led by Jomo Kenyatta into a lengthy campaign of terror and guerrilla warfare against the British, who label the rebels "Mau Mau." Despite British victory in 1956, thousands of lives are lost and negotiations finally forced preparations for Kenyan independence.

1954-62: War for independence in Algeria.

1957: Ghana becomes the first indepedent black state in Africa, under Kwame Nkrumah, through Gandhi-inspired rallies, boycotts, and strikes, forcing the British to transfer power over the former colony of the Gold Coast.

1958: All-African People's Conference: Resolution on Imperialism and Colonialism, Accra, December 5-13, 1958.

1958: White [Dutch-descent] Afrikaners officially gain independence from Great Britain in South Africa.

1960: 18 African nations gain independence.

1962: Algeria wins independence from France; over 900,000 white settlers leave the newly independent nation.

1963: Multi-ethnic Kenya (East Africa) declares independence from British.

1964: Nelson Mandela, on trial for sabotage with other ANC leaders before the Pretoria Supreme Court, delivers his eloquent and courageous Speech from the Dock before he is imprisoned for the next 25 years in the notorious South African prison Robben Island.

1965: White-controlled Rhodesia unilaterally declares independence from Britain.

1970s-1980s: Police state of South African white minority rulers hardens to maintain blatantly racist and inequitable system of apartheid, resulting violence, hostilities, strikes, massacres headlined worldwide.

1980: Zimbabwe (formerly Southern Rhodesia) gains independence from large white settler population after years of hostilities.

1990: Dramatic freeing of long-time black political prisoner Nelson Mandela by Afrikaner President de Klerk in South Africa. Ethnic violence erupts between Zulu and Xhosa factions and bitter rivalries evident among South African black majority groups and white Nationalist groups.

1991: Apartheid is abolished, and South Africa begins preparing for multiracial elections.

1993: Mandela elected President of South Africa.

(from the Royal Armouries site, with many additions.)