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Africa during the Scramble: The Asian Empire

Alex Richards

A musical Hubble Space Telescope
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The Omani-Madagascar union is one of those things that you couldn't get away with in fiction because it looks too much like you're standard space-filling empire affair.

'I don't know what to do with Africa so... Oman-Zanzibar and Madagascar unify and control an empire spanning the entire coast from the Horn to the Zambezi' You'd just be met with howls of derision. Even if you just had that Empire be trading posts and vassalised tribes.
 

Gary Oswald

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The Omani-Madagascar union is one of those things that you couldn't get away with in fiction because it looks too much like you're standard space-filling empire affair.

'I don't know what to do with Africa so... Oman-Zanzibar and Madagascar unify and control an empire spanning the entire coast from the Horn to the Zambezi' You'd just be met with howls of derision. Even if you just had that Empire be trading posts and vassalised tribes.
You're not wrong but like the difference between a space-filling empire and an interesting bit of world building is just how much effort you put into explaining it.

If you actually go into detail into what both sides want from a union, why they'd agree with it and the tensions that come later, I don't think you'd get much criticism.
 

Jared

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You're not wrong but like the difference between a space-filling empire and an interesting bit of world building is just how much effort you put into explaining it.

If you actually go into detail into what both sides want from a union, why they'd agree with it and the tensions that come later, I don't think you'd get much criticism.
In my experience based on observation of several online AH forums over the years, you’d still get plenty of criticism... you just wouldn’t get much informed criticism.
 

Gary Oswald

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Assuming there's a slave uprising in a no-British takeover scenario and it's successful how would the other colonial powers in the region, like Portugal and France, react?
It's an interesting question isn't it? I think an Omani Haiti is a fascinating scenario.

My gut instinct is that everyone's going to be looking at the UK before they do anything. I wouldn't be surprised if both the arabs and the slaves would have weapons smuggled to them though.

Probably one of the European's jump on them. The problem with Zanzibar is it doesn't feed itself and the island is small enough that you can hit any part if it with a ship's cannon so there isn't really much any force controlling the Island can do against a hostile navy.

But nobody would want to piss off the British by going for it without their consent. I think I could be sold on it remaining independent if desperately poor due to having to convert the plantations to farms. But it's a massive longshot. It's so vulnerable and by and large all potential conflicts over African land wanted by multiple Europeans were resolved by someone taking it.
 

Geordie

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I particularly like the note that the Omani Empire was stuffed becaue they weren't white Christian slavers who could call in favours.
To this day, there are some tremendous white types (often Dutch, in my experience) who feel the need to bring this trade up in any discussion about plantation slavery, whether relevant or not (it usually isn't).
 

Gary Oswald

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I particularly like the note that the Omani Empire was stuffed becaue they weren't white Christian slavers who could call in favours.
The Portuguese got away with so much in the late 19th century by being white, christian and traditional allies of the Uk. It's ridiculous.

There might be an article in that but you had all these righteous British men campaigning against king Leopold and against Zanzibar and against these atrocities and then Portugal just sits happily knee deep in the slave trade and knee deep in rubber exploitation and just nothing.
 

Gary Oswald

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Have I just had a stroke?
You've got to remember that prior to the scramble, Europeans in Africa were essentially just traders in forts next to African Kingdoms. They tended to just put up the flags of up of their European masters so that they couldn't be bombed without retaliation.

So when we're talking about forts swapping between different European empires, what often happens is just the flags changing. So Hendrik Carloff at various points operated under swedish, danish, dutch and french flags depending on what the treaties back home said but it was still just always him.

During the 1780s the guy running a fort in Maputo was William Bolts, who had at various times worked for the british and the dutch but wasn't currently working for anyone. Now the area was officially Portuguese, though they had no men on the ground at the time, so Bolts was trespassing and so needed some protector to fly the flags of so that noone would try anything.

The people funding his trade at the time were bankers in Antwerp, Livorno and Trieste and so he managed to convince the landeshauptmann (mayor, I guess) of the imperial free city of Trieste to claim that the forts were part of Trieste and so Bolts got to put up the Holy Roman Flag.

Of course the Portuguese turfed him out anyway and Austria completely disowned him, there's no reason to think Austria even knew about it, but points for trying.
 
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