Friday, June 7, 2013

Deconstructing History: "Berlin 1885: The Division of Africa"


On February 26th, 1885, at Chancellor Otto von Bismarck's official residence in Berlin, the "Berlin Conference on Africa" came to a successful conclusion. After three months of negotiations amongst the leading diplomats from all the major European powers (and the US), the "General Act of the Berlin Conference" had been agreed. And a large part of Africa's subsequent fate had been set in motion. 

For at a time when an estimated 80% of Africa remained under traditional and local control, the purpose of the Berlin Conference had been for the Great Powers to establish rules amongst themselves for the colonization of Africa and the exploitation of Africa's resources. Including the division of territory, the drawing of maps, and the establishment of Congo -- as a personal possession of the Belgian King. Not surprisingly, no Africans had been invited to the Conference. 

Using actual transcripts taken down at the time, BERLIN 1885: THE DIVISION OF AFRICA combines reenactments of the Conference proceedings and previously unexplored archival materials, with the insights of historians and scholars from six nations, to discuss the politics, implications, and legacy of the first international conference about Africa.