The greater part of Britain's experience in Africa between 1865 and 1912 is best described as being a competition with continental Europe, primarily Germany and England's long time rival, France. The British had instituted protectorates and semi independent trade colonies in Africa for about 200 years before 1865, the approximate year of Britain's development of a heightened interest in the "Dark Continent". The gains made by other countries in colonizing the land mass encouraged the British into action in an effort to retain their long held "upper hand" in the area of colonial trade. As other European nations made advancements in the settlement of the continent, Britain found itself pushed into a rat race to control Africa, to preserve its status as the "merchant nation" and to retain the vital role as the prime figure in the international trade scene.
The discovery of gold in the Dutch South African territory then known as Transvaal in 1866 led to Britain's first real strive at African land, and to its first notable spot of competition with another European force.
Dutch farmers, or Boers, had settled the land 200 years before, and had, up to that point, not faced any competition for the land from non -Africans. Even after 1815, when the British acquired the land under the Congress of Vienna treaty they expressed little interest in the supposedly barren land except as a pit stop on the route to India around the cape of Good Hope. The discovery of rich gold mines in the area changed all this greatly. The ever business minded British were quick to move in on the land, ergo the Boers as well. By 1877 the Transvaal was under British rule, but by 1881, the Transvaal was independent from Britain once again. After an unsuccessful...