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Migration and Disease in Africa during European Imperialism Essay

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The Relationship between Migration and Disease in Africa during European Imperialism


During the era of European Imperialism, from approximately 1880 to 1930, an increasing number of Europeans began to colonize West Africa. Because of this colonization many African natives migrated eastward, inadvertently transporting diseases to which the East Africans were not immune (Ransford 76). This phenomenon can be explained through examining the implications of geographical isolation, the effects of large-scale migration, and alluding to a specific example of disease transference in Africa from the west to the east.

Because of geographic isolation, human societies develop either genetic or cultural defenses against certain types of disease, an adaptation that keeps them free from major endemic devastation (Patterson 3). K. David Patterson, Associate Professor of History, describes the African environment as “extremely dangerous for outsiders” and goes on to say that Europeans “generally found Africa’s ‘fevers’ and ‘fluxes’ deadly until the beginning of tropical medicine in the late nineteenth century” (7). Similarly, once the geographic and cultural barriers between West and East Africa were broken down, they became extremely vulnerable to the other’s infectious diseases (Azevedo 121).

Nevertheless, Europe had still not entered into the scene, maintaining the balanced east versus west arrangement. Fear of the diseases, unsavory climate, shallow rivers and impassible swamps all deterred Europe from colonizing Africa (Ransford, 8). However, beginning in the late nineteenth century, the deterrence was outweighed by the pressures of European Imperialism, and many Europeans fled to the African front.
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...n Congo, specifically. It is extremely detailed in content, yet covers a variety of issues including imperialism, disease, climate, and indigenous tribes of the African Congo.

http://www.rbm.who.int (Roll Back Malaria – WHO)

A link that describes the malaria issues facing Africa currently. Malaria, along with sleeping sickness had a profound effect on the history of Africa during the Imperialist era. Specifically, this website advertises Roll Back Malaria which is an international mission to increase and hopefully help prevent future malaria epidemics.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/trypanosomiasis/default.htm (CDC)

This link goes to the Center for Disease Control and provides some basics about West and East African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). It also includes a weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report (MMWR).


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