Disruptions and continuities on the way to Kilimanjaro. Uses, shaping processes and transformations of a road system in the context of the Anglo-German scramble for East Africa (1880-1890s).
(Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris/Paris Sciences Lettres)
Paper short abstract:
This paper aims to focus on the coastal routes that led to Kilimanjaro during the 19th Century and to ask to what extent the Anglo-German scramble for East Africa, in the 1880-1890s, impacted the pre-colonial road system and resulted into a new regional organisation of these infrastructures.
Paper long abstract:
Throughout the 19th Century, Kilimanjaro had been an important landmark for the caravans that travelled from the East African coast to the hinterland: it was a spot for ivory and slave trades as well as for food supply. When in 1848 German and British explorers started to drive expeditions to this mountain, they benefitted from this developed road network by joining caravans in order to ensure their safety on the route. However, in 1884-1885, an imperialist competition for the colonisation of Kilimanjaro and the coast arose between Great Britain, Germany and the Sultanate of Zanzibar. Attracted by the economic potential of the massif, they were willing to consolidate a colonial road to the coast in order to take advantage of the regional trade. This competition finally led to the integration of Kilimanjaro into the German protectorate in 1890. This paper aims to question the importance of this geopolitical rupture for the organisation of the road system that pre-existed in the region, through administrative and cartographic sources. Indeed, the region between Kilimanjaro and the coast is particularly interesting as a study-case because it was the focus of both German and British imperialist speculations in the 1880s, and was finally divided into two spheres of influence by the 1886 and 1890 Anglo-German agreements. To what extent did the implementation of this boundary in this region transform the organisation of these pre-colonial infrastructures? To what extent did this reorganisation show that Kilimanjaro was a determinant factor in the making of imperial space?
Paving roads over well-trodden paths? The (dis-)use of everyday infrastructure from pre- to post-colonial Africa, 1800s to present