Africa’s Search For Identity by George Twumasi
Colonialism impacted the African continent socially, politically and economically both positively and negatively, with far less of the former to be proud of; and disproportionality, more of the latter to contend with. Arguably, from a Eurocentric perspective, colonisation had positive social, economic, and political impact on Africa. These included:
- the introduction of a Europeanised version of Christianity and a missionary led system of education. Most missionaries introduced Western education in Africa by establishing mission schools to educate indigenous Africa about Western values and culture.
- the defence of colonised African protectorates against predatory enemy tribes through the exercise of European military might, warfare strategies, policing techniques and weaponry to defend the indigenous workforce and valuable natural resources.
- the introduction of mechanised technology across Africa for the purpose of building infrastructure comprising schools, medical facilities, railways, roads, office blocks and buildings, warehouses, trading posts, residential zones, and communication networks.
- the development of modern industries including the establishment of plantations for the growing of cash crops like cocoa, coffee, tea, rubber, and cotton. and the creation of mining conglomerates to extract gold, diamond, copper, bauxite, uranium, iron-ore, etc.
- the introduction of European language including English, French German, Dutch, and Portuguese; to enable indigenous Africans to communicate in a rapidly globalised world without any difficulties.
For the European, colonialism made the world aware of Africa’s rich culture and its abundance of resources; a future basis for post-colonial African countries to trade on the international markets was established; fast-moving consumer goods were introduced, and new jobs were created for those who would otherwise have been lacking in new trades and skills. Naturally, the leaders of those tribal groups that sided with Europeans, grew richer.
Moreover, for many European conservatives, a far stronger and superior governance framework – which is still in existence in most of the countries – was subsequently established to ensure
continuity. However, the negative effects of European colonisation has had far-reaching consequences on the African personality and psyche than the positives outlined above:
- First, ahead of being colonised, Africans were taken as slaves to the new world and forced to work on the plantations without pay.
- Second, on the African continent, the Europeans seized land from the Africans to establish plantations for the growing of cash crops and forced the people to work on these plantations for a meagre wage.
- Third, Africa’s culture was diluted, traditions were taken away and their ways of life were destroyed. The Africa’s understanding and appreciation of his or her traditions and religion was completely destroyed.
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