Why was there a shortage of labour willing to work for wages in Africa in the 1890s?
The European employers found it difficult to recruit labour in Africa because historically Africa had abundant land and a relatively small population.
For centuries, land and livestock sustained African livelihoods and people had no need to work for a wage. In late 19 th century Africa, there were few consumer goods, so there was little reason to work for a wage. Europeans Were attracted to Africa due to its vast resources of land and mineral.
They came to Africa hoping to establish plantations and mines to produce crops and minerals for export to Europe. But there was an acute problem of shortage of labour.
The Europeans then used some methods to recruit and retain labour
(i) Heavy taxes were imposed which could be paid only by working for wages on plantations and mines.
(ii) Inheritance laws were changed so that peasants were displaced from lands. Only one member of a family was allowed to inherit land, as a result of which the others were pushed into labour markets.