AFRICA — THE CONTINENT, PEOPLE, AND HISTORY 720. The separateness of North Africa.— We commonly think of Africa as the conti nent of the black man, but black man's Africa really does not begin until we get south of the Sahara. This desert is one of the greatest barriers in the world. It has always been hard for men to get into North Africa from Central Africa, but very easy to get there from both Europe and Asia. Therefore Africa, north of the Sahara, is really a part of the Mediterranean world in peoples, history, government, and trade. For that reason we have already studied this part of Africa when studying about Europe and the Mediterranean regions (Secs. 540-567).
721. Neglected Africa.—Since the time of Columbus the white man has sailed all seas and settled all continents, but he has made less change in Africa, south of the Sahara, than in any other continent. He left most of it unexplored and called it the " Dark Continent" until long after he had made populous states in North America and South America. It remained unknown because the continent was hard to enter. When men go into a new continent, they usually sail up the rivers. But African rivers have falls not far from their mouths, so explorers cannot take their ships to the interior.
Another difficulty is the scarcity of good harbors. See how smooth the African coast line is. It is much easier to enter a conti nent like Europe, where an irregular coast line makes many good harbors. Even worse, the coasts of Africa near the equator are wet and swampy and unhealthful. Such coasts long kept men out of Central Africa.
The interior of the continent also presented barriers to the explorers. There were terrors to be encountered in the belt of thick forests near the equator. In this unhealthful tropi cal jungle, wild beasts, poisonous insects, and strange tropical fevers waited to attack the traveler. The Sahara Desert, stretching from sea to sea, was most difficult to cross. Perhaps the worst barrier of all was the nomad Arab of the deserts. He was a slave
trader and was as ready to trade white slaves as any other. He was very hostile to the people of Europe during the time when America was being explored.
At last, by about 1880, when the other continents were all taken, Europeans, hungry for land, faced the perils of Africa and made the hard journeys which were necessary to enter and take the land.
722. Dividing up Africa.—Sometimes,to get territory, the white men made presents to a native chief. Having pleased him with beads, brass wire, bright handkerchiefs, and other trinkets, they would then make a treaty with him. He would promise to recognize England or France or Germany as his protector, and the protecting country was permitted to develop resources and open up routes of trade. There were some small wars, but most of the tribes, armed only with spears and bows and arrows, were too weak to resist the good rifles of the Europeans. Only the Abyssinians are entirely independent. The Basutos, whom we shall study about later, have remained almost independent.
723. How white men rule Africa.—On the maps great areas of Africa appear to belong to various European countries, but in fact most of the people of Africa are still ruled by their native chiefs. For example, in the large British colony of Nigeria there is only one white man to every six thousand black men, but these few white men have somehow managed to rule. They stop most of the wars between tribes. Gradually the white men get more and more power. They run steamboats on the rivers. They directthe work of making hundreds of miles of railroad and telegraph lines. (Fig. 563.) They establish post offices and develop a large and growing foreigntrade.
724. Trade and tribal life.—Railroads and steamboats have the same effect upon house hold industries in Africa as they do elsewhere.
The Africans are rapidly giving up their old tribal industries, which provided all the things they used.