Between the year 1881 and 1914, an intrusion and control of Africa by European nations resulted in a mass colonization of most African countries. This invasion is referred to as the “Scramble for Africa.” By 1914, 90 percent of Africa was colonized, compared to 10 percent in 1870.
Ethiopia, known as Abyssinia at the time, was invaded by Italy twice but their efforts to colonize the country were unsuccessful and Abyssinia, or Ethiopia, remained independent. Liberia was established as an independent colony created for freed slaves by the American Colonization Society. In 1839, it was declared as a commonwealth and, in 1847, Liberia was declared completely independent.
Liberia and Ethiopia; the only ‘two’ never colonized African countries. How it all began….
African history records only two countries which are considered to have survived the scramble for Africa and remained independent during the invasion, partitioning and forceful ruling of Africa by European nations.
The scramble for Africa which took place within a span of about four decades, between 1980 and 1914, involved European nations invading, occupying and colonizing Africa territory. In the year 1970 the foreign nations were controlling a tenth of the Africa soil. By 1914 90% of Africa was under the control of the Europeans.
Two nations however, were still independent the whole period; Ethiopia formerly known as Abyssinia and Liberia. For both countries, their status of freedom from foreign rule is however a subject of debate.
The history of Liberia exposes the controversy of their consideration as a never colonized country. The country was established by Americans in 1821. It started as Cape Mesurado Colony, a creation of the American Colonization Society, and later expanded to become the Colony of Liberia in 1824. The American Society for Colonization of Free People of Color of the United States (ACS) was started by white Americans in a bid to displace Free Blacks from the United States. They believed that Free Blacks should not have find home in the US but should be repatriated.
Although Liberia received partial independence in 1839 through a commonwealth declaration it took them eight years to become a self-independent nation on 26 July 1847. Even after independence the nation was seen as a colony of America and therefore, it was completely ignored by the European nations during the scramble for Africa in the 1880’s.
On the other hand, Ethiopia could have been a colony of the Britons. British were in Ethiopia as early as 1868 when they marched to remove King Theodore from power. Theodore had been accused of imprisoning people from the west. After a successful overthrow the Britons considered it not worth to take Ethiopia as their colony.
Italians made an attempt to have Ethiopia as their share of Africa. They invaded in 1893 but were shamefully defeated by the Ethiopians to become the first European losers in a colonial war. This led to the Italy-Ethiopia war conducted in 1930’s. Italy eventually succeeded in 1935 after the second invasion that was ordered by Mussolini. 9 May 1936 Abyssinia became the colony of Italy. The Italians merged the new colony with Somalia and Eritrea to form Africa Orientale Italiana (AOI – Italian East Africa).
Emperor Haile Selassie received support from the US and Russia after making an impassioned appeal to the League of Nations on 30 June 1936. His appeal was however, obstructed by the several League of Nations countries who supported Italian colonization.
On May 5, 1941 Ethiopia regained its independence and Selassie was reinstated as the Emperor of Ethiopia.