Technology facilitated superpower nations’ colonization of underdeveloped countries in a way that epitomized Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection whereby organisms better adapted to their environment have a much higher chance of survival and producing a greater number of offspring. Parallel this theory is the phenomenon that technological superiority is a critical advantage in the development and expansion of a single nation competing for supremacy.
One specific colonial battle that depicts this phenomenon concept of technological dominance is the gruesome Battle of Waterberg that took place on August 11, 1904 at the Waterberg plateau in German South-West Africa (Namibia today). The battle was apart of a series of colonial wars, the Herero Wars, fought between the German Empire and the Herero people inhabiting South-West Africa. Germany was interested in taking part of the scramble for Africa to accumulate power and land in these foreign areas, so German government encouraged their people to settle in the already occupied territory. The battle broke out over rage from Herero tribes who had reached their breaking point of discontent over the continuous takeover of German white settlements on their land. It would have been to the Herero’s well being if they had known beforehand of their doomed fate engaging in combat against the advanced German militia whom would decimate their people.
The Herero people were armed with basic rifles, the sole defense weapon they could obtain, while Germans occupying South-West Africa sent in General Lothar von Trotha with men, cannons, and machine guns, more advanced weapons that basic rifles had no chance against. The battle turned into an outright genocide of the Herero people, for the anarchy of local Hereros interfered with Germany’s colonial expansions, thus expediting Germany’s Lothar von Trotha’s goal of total extermination of the Herero people. Not an ounce of Herero culture was to survive this German takeover that implemented a social lifestyle to their liking, a foundation that seeped the Hereros of their home and freedom of living. Remaining Herero wanderers were gunned down by the never-ending pursuit of German soldiers or collapsed to their death from starvation and dehydration in surrounding deserts. Death was a miracle, for the unlucky survivors were thrown into concentration camps where they were forced to work on railroads and suffer torturous whippings until unconsciousness or even death. Germany’s exploitation of South-West Africa through social forces of warfare and technology to claim their rule created a racial hierarchy in the dismantled territory, made up of white Germans superior to all Herero survivors of the bloodshed. The concentration camps distinctly portray this change in South-West Africa’s society and structure brought on by German colonialism. A change in ideology could be drawn out from this too, for there was a shift in the view of an individual’s worth based off of ethnicity when Germany took over South-West Africa to colonize, whether it be you were categorized as a futile Herero or a leading white German.
In conclusion, the Germans’ capability of accessing much more powerful weapons such as cannons and machine guns led to the extinguishment of the Herero people which furthermore concluded in Germany’s colonization over South-West Africa and idea that their people had the absolute power over the ravaged Herero people. Once free people, the Hereros were converted into German slaves in the new implanted social structure.
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_military_systems_after_1900