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
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Both of these resettlements spiked disease morbidity and mortality rates to epidemic proportions. “The inhabitants of the Belgian Congo before 1880 were estimated to number about 40 million; by 1910 the figure had dropped to 15.5 million, and was 9.25 million in 1933” (Ransford 76).

One of the devastating diseases that was carried to East Africa was sleeping sickness (Ransford 111). The tsetse fly carries the sleeping sickness parasite, Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, and transmits it through its bite (African Trypanosomiasis). The isolated tribe’s total lack of immunity and the eastern migratory shift increased both the severity and rapidity of this disease for Eastern African regions. For example, the decline in the population of Lukolela from less than 6,000 in 1891 to only a little more than 700 in 1896, is due to this type of disease transference (Ransford 128).

Because the time during European Imperialism ignited mass movements within the African continent, the foreign invaders inevitably brought with them diseases to which the native peoples of that region were not immune (Ransford 47). Millions of human beings were affected by the unusual migration patterns, on both the part of the Europeans and the Africans, which upset the ecological barriers and generated devastating results.

Presently, epidemiologists continue to struggle with prevention of disease
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