Tim PowellProfessor GonzalesHIS-111November 26, 2017International Relations: The Overlooked TruthIn modern-day society, nations interact with one another under the premise that either positive experiences occur, or situations that are considered less than favorable transpires. Specifically speaking, the foreign relations Europe had with Africa during the ancient times is older than the documented history itself. For instance, cultural influences enabled European nations to move through the Mediterranean blockade during the late Paleolithic and Neolithic periods.
The trend of the trans-Mediterranean cultural trade continued greatly during the ancient times and extended up to when the written history began. Moreover, the foreign relations Europe had with some of the African countries advanced during this ancient period. However, as time progressed, the European presence shifted gradually from being direct and overt to being more ancillary. Although their military existence and sovereign dominance over the African countries was abolished, political impact, economic influence and cultural acclimatizing remained throughout time. 1 Britain and France, with the rest of the European society, sustained a high level of support and venture while maintaining their dominance in trade – bringing in a substantial stream of educators, entrepreneurs, statesmen, vacationers and technical practitioners.The trade relations between the European countries, and to some of the African nations, significantly advanced due to the economic history of the African continent. The African land was well known of its fertility, thus, European countries explored “business-venturing” options by overtaking and colonizing the African nations. Also, Africa had reliable climatic conditions that was favorable for European countries in the regions, thus encouraging the European nations to establish more foreign relations in the region.
Before the European journeys began in the 15th century, most of the African leaders and traders had already created trade relations with the Mediterranean world, Western Asia, and the Indian Ocean regions3. They had also established trade links within the continent, where they used to trade with the local communities through exchange of goods and other products. Native relations between adjacent individuals fits into a better context of long-term trade.Countries like the Great Britain, Portugal and the Netherlands traders who commenced their mercantile activities along the Atlantic coast of Africa came across a stable region where they could carry out their trading activities comfortably that was controlled by practicality and ruled by knowledgeable indigenous rulers.
This made the European countries quickly establish trading ties with these local powers and initiated fortified “factories” or the warehouses that could aid and influence their mercantile activities4. These factories could however be used to store the goods and products generated through trading activities. Also, they would use these warehouses to defend their trading rights from other nations invasion.Independent Portuguese traders known as the lancados established themselves along the coastal regions and along the river banks of Africa which are the present Senegal and Angola nations. However, they got absorbed into the African community and operated as the middlemen between the Africans and the Europeans merchants. Some of the goods imported from Africa were cloth, iron, copper in ready form and as raw, and some cowry shells that were used by currency by the local communities.
Non-utilitarian goods such as jewelry, beads, curiosities and mechanical toys, and products such as alcohol could as well be traded to interested parties5. Catholic countries, such as Portugal, could not deal or move items (such as military artillery) effectively. They were prohibited from doing so. However, non-Christian countries were free to trade various types of goods. This is despite the fact that it was sometimes disputed how closely Catholicism was being followed in that region. In exchange of their goods, the European nations offered back products like textiles, carvings, spices, ivory, gum, and African slaves.On the contrary to common opinions pertaining the precolonial Africa, product was far superior and of higher quality compared to those from the preindustrial Europe. Due to technological advancements facilitated by the foreign investors, the smiths of the sub-Saharan regions of Africa drastically improved on the production of steel of better quality compared to those of their counterparts in Europe6.
There were also improved textile workshops particularly in the West Africa regions where the Europeans had settled that generated fine cloths for export even before the Europeans traders arrived in the regions.It might appear surprising that most of the European merchants and importers found more clients for their goods among the indigenous communities of West Africa. Nevertheless, the uniqueness and comparative scarcity of European imported goods together initiated a very important advantage over the indigenous products, and powerful leaders greatly embraced some of these products since they were very important in that some would be used as court regalia. For instance, some of these object items generated through traded would fashion according to the time they have been produced and hence serving as a Chokwe chief’s necklace from Central Africa7. Also, the European traders brought with them the white ceramic shells to the West African population that was used in woven baskets, these white ceramics were manufactured in Germany for use by the Portuguese merchants. In central African countries, they embraced the round white ceramic shells as they believed them to have spirituality symbolism. Therefore, due to high demand of these ceramic, the European traders produced more of these round ceramic shells to meet the high demand to the population of Central Africa as well as the welfares of their exchange partners.
Some of the indigenous rulers who excelled from these transnational trade activities initiated other valuable items, such as splendid lumber and ivory statues, from native handicrafts worker8.To conclude, the foreign relations that Europe had with African nations supported trade and energy. Europeans were greatly interested in investing in the African nation in order for them to acquire the relevant items to finance their industries in Europe.
Therefore, this influenced them to create a strong foreign relationship between them and the African populations.